Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Visit #...whatever

I have no idea anymore what number visit we are on. I lost count of them along with the therapy appointments.

At this point everything is blurring together into one fuzzy transition memory.

The most recent visit ended today. Middle-One has gone back to the foster home until Thursday.

It was a terrible, horrible,no good, very bad visit. Middle is now spending every waking minute trying to push us away with all of his might. It must hard being him. It has to be awful to be that afraid. To not trust the people who say they love you most. To feel the need to not only be in control of you, but to stay on top of everything everyone else is doing too. It must take a great deal of energy to fight, watch, stir up trouble and micromanage everyone at all times.

I can tell you that it most definitely is not fun for us!!!

It's respite time

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Random RADness

You have heard the phrase "He will cut off his nose to spite his face". I never really understood that until I began parenting RAD kiddos.

Middle loves to be outside. Even in the sub-tropical wet heat of Alabama he will be outside in long pants and a black shirt and not seem to notice. He will be outside for hours. He will play with others or alone.

So it is a common tool for us to use the privilege of going outside to teach cause & effect (you do this you get that).

Middle began asking to go outside right after breakfast. He was reminded that we must do school and chores first and then we can play. He did his chores and returned...

"Can I go out now?"

"Did you do your reading and journalling?"

"NO!, do I have to do that today, I didn't think we had to do reading today"

"Yes, you do, we work then play"

He grumbles and whines but returns to his room and proceeds to read.

A few minutes later he returns and plops his journal and book down next to me and leaves. I look at his two sentence long journal entry and call him back.

"Tell me about the chapter you read"

He proceeds to try to convince me that he actually read it all but he obviously didn't so I send him back with book and journal... more whining and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

He returns... too quickly (No wonder I never get anything done during the day LOL).

We discuss the chapter and his *copied* journal entry again. I send him back... same ole, same ole.

He returns AGAIN... this time he discussed the entire chapter so I call it done.

"Can I go outside now?"

"Did you read your other book?"
(the first one is non-fiction, second one is fiction)

More whining........

He returns again, with book in hand.

"ok, mommy...NOW can I go outside?"
(at this point I and the other boys are so ready for him to go outside just so he isn't interrupting every 5-10 minutes)

Tell me about the chapter you read.
He tells me enough, so I say...

"Ok, you can get ready and go outside"

He pokes around his room and walks back and forth through the dining room where I am trying to work with Bright-Eyes. He ends up behind us watching Bright-Eyes do a lesson on the computer, I ask...

"Are you going outside?"

In his whiniest voice Middle pleads...
"Do I HAVE to go outside, can't I stay in?"

A peek into Attachment Therapy

All the appointments have been similar recently. With Mr. T and I there has been a lot of strategy talk concerning ISPs and communication with the foster care provider and the SW. For the boys the same goals (ask & listen) are gone over. The same discussions (birth story, emotions and behavior) are repeated.

This week was different...

Actually over the past few weeks there has been a disintegration in waiting-room behavior. Therapy begins with "Family therapy" which takes place between the AT and the parents. The children's choices and behaviors are discussed before AT brings them in and begins to work with them (in our presence). This places us in the therapy room for 4-5 hours and the boys in the waiting room, just outside the door, for 4-5 hours. They are able to control their behavior, they have done so before. They are even encouraged to bring things to do with their time. They have, however, chosen the Lord Of The Flies way of life.

We began therapy with a summarizing of what we and AT had each heard concerning the ISP for placement. (which was that they can't find time to do it before school begins). We discussed the behavior of each child.

AT again reassuring us that Ebear is probably behaving as a normal teen and we are reacting to triggers every time he strays off the rigid path. In other words... Mom, Dad, Relax! ;o)

Middle-One is stressed because there is no placement date yet and no support or communication from the FCP so he has a foot in each camp and is being pulled like a wishbone. This results in freakishly controlling behaviors. Our instruction from AT is to remain in control at all times. If Middle refuses to quit arguing or follow instruction and follows me with the intent to keep poking and prodding until I explode, then I should not react by answering or responding to him but should instead provide some type of consequence. This consequence can be anything I choose...just so long as *I* choose it. Some suggestions were... to just hug and love on Middle and have him come sit with me, so pull him in when he is trying to make me push him away. Another is to just silently go to his room and take something... anything at all, doesn't matter what. Then encourage him to think and figure out why. I could also give him a chain-analysis sheet to complete to help him figure out why (he is not likely to actually do that LOL). And another is just do something off the wall... Mr. T suggested an Irish jig.... I'm liking that idea more and more. When in doubt, dance!

Bright-Eyes is living out of a duffel bag. Hasn't run, but wants us all to know that he can and will whenever he feels like it. He is in his "You can't make me" stance (rather unpleasant when we can't "make him" take a shower). AT told us to take his duffel bag and all of his clothes. *sigh* There are times when my heart just aches for this child and all he has been through, but those times are decreasing and being replaced with the desire to just get in his face and tell him to cut it out already and stop being a prima-dona!!!!!

Soon after we all began to talk, the noise level in the waiting-room began to rise. We were hearing things thrown and people slapped. Lots of arguing and some outrageously loud laughing. Mr T went out there the first time... I went out the second time. The third time AT asked if she could address the issue and let them have it!... didn't stop them.

We brought Bright-Eyes in and began working with him. During that time we had to continue addressing the older two (now this a a HEALING 16 y/o and a 14 y/o...so we aren't talking about toddlers! There were things thrown, a ball bouncing, wrestling, laughing, arguing...... At one point when we had corrected them again, Ebear got on board but Middle began playing with all the toys... LOUDLY!!!!!! AT corrected him AGAIN!

As you can imagine, it was ridiculously tiring and unproductive.

We took a lunch break. During this time Mr. T and I had the boys clean up the TRASHED waiting room. We passed out sandwiches, crackers and fruit and of course Middle wanted something different and wanted to sit with his feet stretched into the path of traffic. Sad... we are so hard on him. Feeding him food that he likes and expecting him to not trip others. It's hard being him.

When it was time to resume Middle feigned sleep (guess all that rough-housing and exaggerated play, wore him out). LOL. He stretched out on the couch (we have told him not to do this) he closed his eyes and pretended not to know that AT was back and it was his turn... ok, so be it... AT called the other two boys in to the therapy room and closed the door.

We had a rather enjoyable family session without Middle, for about an hour. AT talked with the other boys about how each of them was doing and how they perceived the behavior of each brother. Ebear really opened up and shared some deep feelings... He has come so far. At one point Middle knocked on the door to see what was going on and AT opened the door and told him that we were busy and closed the door. ...... Sometimes therapy is too enjoyable. ;o)

AT observed that the four of us, together, were loving and supportive and enjoyed each other's company. We talked about the difference in dynamics with and without Middle. We do hope he will choose to be a part of us... one day.

When we were finished AT advised everyone to not get pulled in if Middle decided to be angry at having missed his session but to remind him that he chose to miss it. He never did show any concern about it one way or the other.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

An open letter to the "system"

Dear System,

You are trying very hard to save the world. That can be such a good thing. Your heart may be in the right place... But, if I may be so bold as to share...

There are children who do desperately need your help. Children who are being hurt and damaged need someone to step in and rescue them. They need to be taken out of harms way. Do it quick!!! Do it NOW!!! Do EVERYTHING you can do to prevent further harm and damage. Protect them with everything you've got!!! Pour all of your heart and soul into your job to make a change for the better in their lives. But make sure that you are protecting a child in need and not destroying a family.

There are some children who have been damaged and hurt. I understand that you tried. You did the best you could in getting them out... well, maybe in some cases you didn't really do the best you could. The fact is that they are damaged now. They need help to heal.

We and many other families have chosen to make some of these children our own. Please hear me.... We did not make the mess. We simply chose to pick up the pieces and try to make something good out of the destruction of others.

We do NOT need you to come in and protect our children!!! We do not need you to sweep in like Superman and take over ... you missed that opportunity when you allowed OUR CHILDREN to be harmed by former families!!!!!!!! Though we do thank you for removing them eventually. Now we are at the helm and we are parenting and caring and loving and nurturing. WE ARE NOT THE BAD GUY!!!!!!!!!!!!! And most of us already know how to parent our special needs child. We know because we have researched and read and learned and sought help for year so that we could be the parent they need. We have invested our lives and hearts and souls... sometimes we have sacrificed our homes, jobs, marriages and even laid other children upon the alter so that we could help the damaged child to heal and be whole.

If you want to do something and you feel the need to be involved or if we seek you out and ask for help... just help us. Support us. Under gird us. Empower us. Find out what we want for our children... don't tell us what we need to do.

At the point that we invite you in we have likely already invested years into learning what we need to do and what our children need. We just need an extra pair of hands or pockets, to get us on the way.

Just because we seek help does not mean we want you to take over.

Do you have children? Do you know what it's like to live with a child who is damaged and bent on destroying everything and everyone in his path? Please do not tell me that since you were a child that you know what it's like for him........ Please do not tell me that you have read a book/attended a conference/or helped many other kids with RAD or any other disorder, because unless you have walked in my shoes you do not know what my life is like. And unless you have recovered from RAD or struggled with Bipolar or DID or SID or PTSD, then please don't say you know how my child feels.

System, you are broken. Even while you seek to fix the world, someone needs to fix you.

When you take families who are strong and loving and trying to help their damaged child, and place them into the slot for abusive or neglectful families you have done a great injustice to society.

When you go through the check lists of requirements for families who maltreat their children and force strong healthy families to meet these requirements simply because they are what you do and on your check list, it creates the problems you say you are trying to avoid. You can't help a stressed out family by adding to their stress! You can't ease the burdens of an overwhelmed family by adding to their demands!

When you take a child who doesn't understand the abstract meaning of "family" and you tell them that whoever they live with at the moment is their family and you remove the power and authority of the parents, you FURTHER DAMAGE THE CHILD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That is not helpful!!!!!!!!!!!! When you tell the child that they don't have to obey their parents or even ask them anything because someone else is in charge and then you attempt to reunify that child with the castrated family, you have damaged the structure of the family unit!!!!!!

Now let's discuss what you do when you remove a child from harms way. You do know that children need to be nurtured. So could you try to place children into homes that would provide care and nurture. See... toddlers and preschoolers who spend 10 hours in a day care, classroom setting only to come back to a foster home where they are bathed and fed and put to bed, is NOT HEALTHY!!!!! Yes, I know that you are over worked, yes I understand that you have a shortage of foster homes... but there are foster homes with stay at home moms who are fostering older teens who would be better served in the career household, while the little ones who need to bond and attach should be with a full time caregiver and not shuffled around from person to person.

And even though you are short of providers couldn't you do something about those who obviously are in foster care for an income and not for the kids. Can you justify a foster care provider who refuses to provide adequate food and nutrition, does not provide a time or place for enough sleep, refuses to supervise, learn about the child's needs or provide for their routine health care? No! That can't be justified!

If someone is going to be a foster parent they need to be willing to give and sacrifice. This is not a niece or nephew staying with them for a few nights. This is someone's child being entrusted to them. This child has needs...that's why they are in foster care! Most kids in foster care have been through trauma and loss. They need a caregiver to care.

System!!!!! You are responsible for these lives!!! You are responsible for the damage that is done. You can't go in and take over someone's life without being responsible for the outcome.

Furthermore... remember that you too are human. Before you accuse someone of lying, go back and check your own information. You could be wrong. Before you reprimand someone for questioning or misunderstanding, make sure you have first given them information. Before you speak keep in mind that listening first is always wiser than speaking in haste. Adjust your own paradigm and try to see things from their perspective. Who knows... you may grow and learn and become a better system than you ever imagined possible.

If you should shift in your views and begin to see the needs of us families who parent damaged children, let me know. I think we should discuss what you actually could do to make the world a better place.

Until you are ready to look at our side, stay out of our parenting and just help. Be a servant leader and not a authoritative dictator.

System, you are broken, but not without redemption. I have hope that you too can be helped and healed.

A Mom

*This will be a work in progress ;o)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Where are we?...

I'm feeling a bit lost these days. I am no doubt depressed and I can't seem to focus on any one thing. Mr. T feels that I should blog and have neglected to so am not getting my thoughts and feelings out... maybe, but those thoughts and feelings have become rather dark and I'm not sure I want to let them out lest I find they take on a life of their own.

I have missed documenting 2 or 3 (or 4?) therapy sessions, as many home visits and an ISP meeting. (I will attempt to post about these and will edit this post as I do)

We are right up against reunification time. There have been some changes in the date. He was to return on June 29th (court date). We were supposed to have custody restored then. But our AT felt that Bright-Eyes and the family were not ready and needed more time and/or more structure. So custody remains with DHR for now and we have another court date at the end of September.

We wanted to get camps lined up so that Middle isn't at home with us all day, every day. He is disruptive and no one can accomplish anything. The bookend boys are still schooling (as we homeschool year round). AT felt that if there was no structure then we needed to wait until school so that Middle was in school during the day taking some stress off of all of us at home. As of now we are still trying to work out a plan. The camp plan got blown out of the water at the ISP because it was assumed that all camps were full... I am still kicking myself for not calling that morning to verify openings. The SW told us that if we learned of anything to let her know and they would arrange things... BUT!!!... By the time we did verify openings and get back to the SW she was out of the office for a week and a half and couldn't work it out. Feeling a bit sabotaged there, she might have clued us in to plans to be away.

Our AT is now going to bat for us and trying to work out a return home date and we are looking into doing the camps ourselves and seeking reimbursement later. Possibly risky but we don't want to continue this back and forth arrangement. It is stressing everyone out. IF the foster parent was willing to communicate and work with us it might be a good thing, but she is clearly not and it's making Middle crazy to have to wait and live in two places at once.

The visits have gotten worse. We knew they would and are not surprised. Our AT still reminded us that things will continue to get worse before they get better. But the reality of living in the midst of that "worst" is becoming more than I can deal with. When I read the blogs of others I feel great guilt because I don't face the depth of darkness that many others face and yet I find that I am at my limit. I admire the strength of those who are facing more.

The ISP meeting was an agonizing experience. I was astounded at the behavior... arguing, accusing, defending, deflecting, blaming..... These are adults????? I wanted to blow a whistle and establish some rules of conduct... And why is *my* parenting discounted while the foster parent's more punitive parenting style is set as a standard? My therapeutic, teaching, parenting is not bad parenting! It is molded and modeled to fit my kids and their needs. I am not a punitive parent... not saying that punishment is always wrong, for the right kids that might work, but for my kids it doesn't. I mean, REALLY???? Helping my child to process cause and effect and see his responsibility for his choices, is NIT-PICKY!?!?!?! I should just punish him and never speak of it again???????? Ummm... He doesn't connect that! And trying to teach life skills is not accepting him the way he is?????????? Ummmmmmm...... I think he is capable of learning some manners without losing his self esteem in the process. And how do logical/natural consequences *NOT* teach responsibility?

Mr. T might be attending the next and final ISP because I just don't think I can be the subject of their attacks again.

The therapy sessions seemed to get better but they have gone downhill now too. He sat chewing his nails and fingers through the entire last session, gnawing like a caged animal trying to get free. I was surprised he didn't draw blood.

I felt that the entire last session was a game to him. He pretended not to hear, he asked questions that were off subject, he interrupted, he ignored, he said "I don't know" ... AT felt that he did hear and was working. Maybe.

Our latest "tool" is to tell Middle to think about and figure out, the answers to such questions as "Why are you always mad at me?" and "Why are you so mean to me" and "Why do you take all my stuff away?" and "Why don't you let me do anything?"

These are the questions we hear when he is ranting and raving at us for enforcing a consequence to his choices and actions. He isn't making the connection that he *did* something to bring about a consequence, he just wants to blame everyone else... and chase us down and yell at us creating chaos for all.

We are supposed to tell him to think about why and come up with answers... but if he is raging and following us around being completely oppositional, it's not too likely he is going to work with us on figuring out cause and effect.

I find myself pulled into his drama... I try to answer his questions but he yells over me and obviously doesn't really want answers... AT says that even if the consequence is me going to my room to get away that I just need to tell him that if he continues to spout venom that I will leave. I did just that yesterday but the anger that I saw in Middle was frightening. I wonder how everyone can be reporting that he is fine when we see so much anger.

I am afraid. I don't want to give up on him... but I am scared of what he might do.

Gloom, despair, and agony on me, Deep, dark depression, excessive misery

Just saying ;o)