Category Archives: Adoptive

Raising children born to other mothers.

Shut the Window

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A few weeks ago, I had a very trying few days.  It seemed that everyone I knew was going through something that caused me concern.  I would talk to one person and hear about their struggles and wonder how I could help.  I talked to another and hear their worries and wondered how I could help.  I, myself, had a bunch of things going on and my mind was racing with how I was going to deal with each situation that needed to be addressed.  I spent my evening considering all the possibilities and had no clear answers on anything.

I dreaded bedtime, knowing that when it’s time for my body to shut down, it often signals my mind to wake up and worry.  Very frustrated, I went to bed, and couldn’t fall asleep.  The windows were open at our river house this warm evening and the songs of the crickets and frogs were not bringing me peace. As a matter of fact, the more I listened the louder they sounded and the more alert I became.  “What am I going to do about this noise?!  What am I going to do about these things I am worried about?!”  All of a sudden, an answer came to me….Shut the window.  Seriously?  Shut the window?  It’s that simple?  I got up and shut the window and the sound of silence filled my bedroom. The noise stopped.  I realized then that I could do the same thing with worries and concerns.  I could shut the window to the outside noises and problems that were confronting me.  Every time a worrying thought came to mind, I chose to shut it out.  I found that by “shutting the window” to those nagging concerns and thoughts, I could fall asleep.

I shared this story with my friend and the following week I got a T-Shirt in the mail and it had “Shut the Window” printed on the front.  Friends, it is that simple.  We can choose to shut the window to a lot of situations in our lives and we can give those concerns to God. “Do not let your hearts be troubled, You believe in God.”  It’s that simple…..Shut the window.

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John 14:1-4     Jesus Comforts His Disciples (The title could read “Jesus Comforts Insert your name.)

14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

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Fear!

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It starts as almost a butterfly in your stomach and unless you acknowledge it and deal with it, it will overtake you. Sometimes you think it is just a bit of anxiety or nervousness but then you realize the beast that it is.  FEAR!

Every day he starts with a little disobedience, a little lie, a bit of a bad attitude.  No biggy, but compounded over time you realize that your annoyance turns into something much greater.  You stop being concerned about being disrespected.  You stop worrying that you haven’t taught him enough. You have moved way beyond trying to discipline, you’ve been at that for years.  You realize that you have done your part and now you live in a constant state of fear.  OR, you could if you allowed yourself.

Every now and then, you will be tempted to allow yourself to feel the full weight of the real fear that is there.  You project what the future may look like.  He will start stealing from others and not just from family. He will start lying to authorities and not just his parents. He will misplace his trust in someone who doesn’t love him as he disregards the wisdom of those who do. He may join a gang, experiment with drugs, dabble in pornography. Oh, given his history, any of these may be his reality.  BUT WAIT!  You’ve done all you can.  You can’t allow yourself to go there!

You truly may have done all you can, but what you can’t do, God can. You are not limited by your own abilities, you have a creator and he knows your child intimately.  He already knows the plans he has for her and for you. You are not to fear. I have heard that the Bible says “Fear Not” 365 times, one for each day of the year.  I have found that that isn’t entirely accurate, but how many times should He tell us to “fear not?”  He’s God.  We should listen the first time.

So, dear friend, listen when someone tells you to “fear not.” It really is a waste of an emotion. It accomplishes nothing and it hurts you even more than it hurts your child. Remember, you’ve been afraid before and you will probably be afraid again in the future.  There’s no sense staying there now.

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For God has not given us a spirit of fear,

but of power and of love and of a sound mind.           

                   2 Timothy 1:7 

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“Gotcha Day”

confetti-celebration-background-colorful-vector-illustration-43624485In my family, we don’t celebrate what many in the adoption world call “Gotcha Day.”  We celebrate our kids’ birthdays, but we don’t celebrate the actual adoption day because we were a family long before the courts announced that we were.  Many families who adopt out of foster care feel the same way.  The actual adoption day is so full of emotions and not all of them should be celebrated.  So many years, the date and day go unnoticed by me, but today I noticed.  Six years ago today was our final adoption day for K.  She would love to be hosting a party tonight, but instead, it’s business as usual with her at a dance lesson, her dad out hunting, her brother watching TV and the sun rising and setting the same as it always does.  So, though I won’t celebrate, today, since I noticed, I will reflect.  I dug out my journal and thought I’d share:

10-3-11           K’s ADOPTION DAY.  Oh Lord, my house is full. All of my family safe and sound under one roof. What a blessing. What a gift.  Today is Kaylee’s adoption day and I am full of emotions. I’m nervous, excited, scared and still a tad worried.  What a journey this has been.  There have been times when I’ve held a broken K and cried, there have been hugs to reassure her return, there have been days of crying in my closet refusing to eat. So, today we rejoice. Help me Lord to be a witness to you. Help me be grateful in all circumstances. Help me to witness to you. Let your light shine through and let this day be a celebration. Bring JOY to this family and healing to K.            *** Wrote the above and then read the Upper Room.  “In the same way your light must shine before people so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven. — Matt 5:16 TEV Thought for the day: People are watching. What will my example inspire?”

“Your example will inspire others.”

It is my prayer that I’ve set a good example for others and that I have been a good witness in this continuing journey.  Let’s all try to make our examples inspire others!

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Dear Friend,

IMG_0585I’ve been writing and re-writing this Thank You note in my mind for days and the truth is, I can’t quite figure out how to write it yet. You see, there is no way I can explain what your kind deeds have meant to me without first telling you all the negative things that have been going on in my life and I think you know me well enough to know that I’m not a negative person. So, in the interest of trying to explain and in the hopes of being vague enough to not cause more grief, I thought I’d let you know how important your kind acts have been!
This spring there has been a war raging in our home. Nothing big enough to make the papers, but it has been a constant deluge of bad situations. Every day, I was confronted with something, figured out a way to handle it, and the next day it was a new surprising event. God is good and continued to show me grace and favor in the midst of the chaos. (Note: I said “in the midst” He did not shield me from the chaos but was beside me!) My son had some major trauma that was not in his control. No one should have to deal with what that boy had to deal with and all of it during his senior year. You know, that year that is supposed to be full of rainbows and dreams? His was full of doubt, trauma and an ugliness that I can’t even begin to imagine. Not knowing how to cope, he acted out with bad behaviors of his own which caused him even more pain. And, as his pain increased, his parents’ pain increased. And though his trauma took center stage there was a lot of other things going on in our lives too that we had to contend with.
That’s where you come in. You will never know what your kind words meant to me. The note, the card, the meal, the call, the hug, the plant, the text, the shoulder to cry on, the idea,  and the desire to lessen our pain in any way did not go unnoticed. Now, if you friend, were unaware of the struggles we were facing, you helped simply by being you. You made me smile, you encouraged me by assuming that everything was “normal.” You went for a walk with me, sewed a costume, mentioned mimosas, rolled your eyes, gave me a pedicure, shared an empathetic nod, and changed back into clothes to go out with me after you had already put on your PJ’s. You showed up for no reason and just were there for me. You asked me to do something and thought I was capable when I didn’t feel like I was capable of anything. If I eluded to some struggles you lifted me up in prayer. (I know you did, because I could feel it!)
I desperately want to share more with you. I want you to know how bad the details are so that I can then tell you how good my God is, but I don’t think that would serve Him well. I want to tell my side of the story to counter what may be being shared around town, but I won’t. I’ll simply thank you from the bottom of my heart for being my lifeline and helping me celebrate spring and all of it’s successes. I refer to this time as the season of Blessings and Burdens and I’ve had my share of both! You have been a blessing.  Thanks again!

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Elijah was afraid[a] and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.      

The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.                                                                         –1 Kings 19:3-7

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Drama in the Big Scheme of Things

65f65cabdf08d84f8a204e05f610870e_drama-queen-tags-queen-drama-drama-queen-clipart_241-183We have a 10-year-old girl “Drama Queen” in our house and the word “drama” has become a very common vocabulary word in our lives.  Every day there is some sort of “drama” we are dealing with.  Miss Susie So-and-So didn’t talk to her at lunch, the teacher didn’t explain the homework well enough or her brother laughed when she asked him to pass her the salt.  It always seems to be something.  Though it is a bit annoying, it has provided us as parents with the opportunity to teach her some truths that we have learned over the years.  For example, your best friend in the fifth grade may truly not be your Best Friend Forever, you really won’t die if you don’t pass this test and everyone else isn’t really going to (fill in the blank.) Susie will speak to you again and really someday you won’t even remember what you were fighting about….and eventually you may even run into her in the grocery store and for a moment forget her name! Give it time, you may even laugh at yourself someday.

We parents know. It’s not a big deal in the big scheme of things, so why all the drama?

I was sitting in church yesterday and had an ah-ha moment.  It was if the Lord himself was shaking His head with a crooked smile on His face.  “Oh Linda, this is not a big deal. One day you won’t even remember why you were bitter about this. You will realize that person didn’t intentionally hurt you and you may even recognize how silly you are being.” God knows this is not a big deal in the big scheme of things…no matter what it is. We don’t need all the drama.

I gave it some thought and recognize that this house has more than one “Drama Queen” and even a couple of “Drama Kings” from time to time.  Just as it would be easier for our 10-year-old to listen to her parents and look at the big picture, so too, would it be easier for us all to listen to God and look at the big picture. He knows the big scheme of things, He created it!

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  –Jeremiah 29:11

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Life Changing Letters?

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I and D. Two little initials. another label we have been wanting for a few years. Our son is ID (Intellectually Disabled.)  Praise God!  The answer to our prayers!  Officially, our son is Intellectually Disabled.  Can you tell I find myself at the end of a long special needs journey?  The journey to yet another diagnosis.

My son has always had challenges.  It started before the age of 3 when a physiatrist (Physiatrist, NOT Psychiatrist) said that he couldn’t evaluate all of my son’s physical special needs because of his ADHD symptoms.  He couldn’t examine him well enough because my son wouldn’t be still long enough for him to check bones and muscles.  That was the first of our many life altering initials.  ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) paved the way for us to hear many more:

OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)

ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder)

RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder

PDD-NOS (Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified,)

CP (Cerebral Palsy)

SID , now called SPD, I believe (Sensory Integration Disorder or Sensory Processing Disorder)

ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder)

NVLD (Nonverbal Learning Disability)

DDD, now called DCD (Developmental Discoordination Disorder or Developmental Coordination Disorder)

My son has received all of these labels and probably more than I can remember right now!  As you can see, we’ve been playing this game so long that many of the labels have changed their names, probably to sound a bit less ominous to the shattered parents.  And, we have been on this journey hoping for an MH/MR diagnosis until the term MHMR became politically incorrect and no longer existed.  Mental Handicap/Mental Retardation is now called ID (Intellectually Disabled.)

He may now be ID today, but my son is the same as he was yesterday before he had these new letters added to his list.  His behaviors always remain the same, it’s the label that changes, not the kid. Why am I doing the happy dance because of this new label?  The reason for my celebrating is that this diagnosis opens doors more easily for a kid that has always had struggles opening doors.  It will help and assist him when I am not longer able to be his advocate.  It will give him more people on his team and more funding to pay for them.  It will help.  And, that is all we can hope for.

For years he has been borderline IQ.  His scores were consistent and he fell just above the label.  His verbal abilities surpass his understanding and his good verbal abilities make him appear to have a better understanding of things than he does.  My husband blames me for this discrepancy because I read to him too much as a child.  But the truth is, as parents we do everything we can for our kids and as parents of a special needs child we work even harder.  We go to therapies, we adapt our homes, we seek, we search, we implement plan after plan.  We actually work to get our children as informed as we can.  THEN, when it comes to test scores, we find out we may have done our child a disservice because his intellect has improved a couple of points, but it prevents him from receiving much of the assistance he needs.  Yep, I shouldn’t have spent all those hours reading to him.  What a crazy system we have in place.

Today I will celebrate his new set of initials.  Each of the above named initials has introduced me to a disorder and a challenge, but each one has also enlightened me.  It has also opened doors to friendships I would not have had, to an understanding that I would never had sought out, and to a recognition of those struggling.  It has been eye opening as well as door opening.  I just pray that this last set of initials will assist and aid my son as he grows into the adult that his chronological age now says he is.

 

 

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DSM V – Reactive Attachment Disorder

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Do you know about this?  Do you have any idea what it is?  Is there anyone you may know that may have adopted out of foster care who may be suffering in their home?  It’s not just for adoptive and foster families, but this real mental health issue exists and wreaks havoc in homes in your neighborhood.  It would help us Reactive Attachment Disorder Parents out if more people knew about it and made an effort to understand the disorder that is impossible to understand.  We’d like you to try to make sense out of this disorder that makes no sense.  Please read and try to understand…if you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask.

The DSM is a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the handbook used by health care professionals in the United States and much of the world as the authoritative guide to the diagnosis of mental disorders. It is like the check sheet that you need to have to get a diagnosis and you need to get a diagnosis so that you can get the help and services you need.  AKA – how insurance will pay and how much they will pay depending on diagnosis.

DSM-5 Criteria for Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)

The DSM-5 gives the following criteria for Reactive Attachment Disorder:

A. A consistent pattern of inhibited, emotionally withdrawn behavior toward adult caregivers,(NOTE THE WORD CAREGIVERS – That means to everyone else this child may appear helpful, polite and pretty typical) manifested by both of the following:

  • The child rarely or minimally seeks comfort when distressed.(Is used to taking care of himself, so will do so even if he doesn’t know how.)
  • The child rarely or minimally responds to comfort when distressed.(Doesn’t respond appropriately to any kind loving attention….again….from the caregivers….he’ll let everyone else love on him, just not the ones who love him the most.)

B. A persistent social or emotional disturbance characterized by at least two of the following:

  • Minimal social and emotional responsiveness to others (might care about you, might not.)
  • Limited positive affect (refers to the extent to which an individual subjectively experiences positive moods such as joy, interest, and alertness.  Looks very distant and isn’t really joyful at typical times like birthdays, holidays, etc.)
  • Episodes of unexplained irritability, sadness, or fearfulness that are evident even during nonthreatening interactions with adult caregivers. (Just ticked for no apparent reason and the more you try to help, the more irritable he gets. At home will rage since home is his most threatening environment for him.)

C. The child has experienced a pattern of extremes of insufficient care as evidenced by at least one of the following:

  • Social neglect or deprivation in the form of persistent lack of having basic emotional needs for comfort, stimulation, and affection met by caring adults (Babies need someone to respond to their cries.)
  • Repeated changes of primary caregivers that limit opportunities to form stable attachments (e.g., frequent changes in foster care) Something needs to be done about this to help prevent this disorder!!!!!
  • Rearing in unusual settings that severely limit opportunities to form selective attachments (e.g., institutions with high child to caregiver ratios)

D. The care in Criterion C is presumed to be responsible for the disturbed behavior in Criterion A (e.g., the disturbances in Criterion A began following the lack of adequate care in Criterion C).

E. The criteria are not met for autism spectrum disorder.

F. The disturbance is evident before age 5 years.

G. The child has a developmental age of at least nine months.

Specify if Persistent: The disorder has been present for more than 12 months.

Specify current severity: Reactive Attachment Disorder is specified as severe when a child exhibits all symptoms of the disorder, with each symptom manifesting at relatively high levels.

Thank you for your interest in reading this post to the end and learning a little bit about this very real, very disruptive diagnosis.  

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