Category Archives: Adoptive

Raising children born to other mothers.

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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The “H” Word

HIt’s the rainy Monday morning after we adjusted our clocks and lost an hour of sleep this weekend.  To say this family was slow moving is an understatement and the one who had to wake the latest was by far the slowest, yet she always is.  The 9 year old love of my life is pokey.  When out and about and playing, she is full of energy and on the go, go, go, but to get ready to go, go, go anywhere is a challenge.  Even if we are planning to go somewhere of her choosing, she just takes a long time to get ready.  The only thing that makes her move slower than the snails’ pace she is already moving at is to use the “H”  word, “Hurry.”  Add an “Up” at the end and it slows the process even more, throw in an exclamation point at the end and she may just sit down, stop entirely & have a good cry.

This has been an ongoing problem in our family and I recently attended Calm Parenting University (yes, I’m serious) for some pointers. I learned a lot, but implementing the tips and tricks is going to take an incredible amount of awareness & patience.  Though I have only briefly studied Kirk Martin’s method and cannot claim to add calm parent to my resume, he did give me some food for thought. I’ve decided to try to implement my own version of his approach.

One thing that was pointed out in class was the stress our kids are under and many times it is stressed placed on them by their parents.  I get it.  I do.  I don’t know how to fix it, but I get it.  I did become aware of some of my stress inducing behaviors.  One being the “wake-up-we’re-late-hurry-up-get-moving” morning greeting I wake my daughter up with each school day.  Yeah, not my finest moment as a mom.  Kirk suggested we just sit on the side of the bed as they begin to wake and then ask them something fun to get their thoughts headed in the right direction.  As he was saying this, I thought, as he predicted I would, “Where the heck am I going to find a few minutes to sit on the side of the bed while she gently wakes?”  However, I’m doing it and Kirk was right, I get the time back in the end as I prevent melt downs and tears.  So, I am pleased to say that I am on day 5 of my 21 days to try to develop a new habit regarding this.  As I am doing well on this front (5 days….I am doing okay) I cannot seem to remove the word, “Hurry” from our morning, even though I recognize how detrimental it is to really accomplishing the act of hurrying.  Each time she hears the word, she seems to slow down.  It’s obviously a trigger for her, so I need to attempt to remove it from my vocabulary.  What does that look like?

I don’t know if it will work, but I’m going to increase my word power and attempt to use some new “hurry” words.

  • Dear, let’s advance to brushing your teeth.
  • I like the way you expedited the dressing process this morning.
  • Wow.  You are fired up today, look at the way you threw those covers back.
  • Please quicken a bit, the bus is on its’ way.
  • Rev ‘er up girlie, we’ve got places to go and people to meet!

Thanks to a thesaurus, I could also try: Get the hammer on, hasten, lay a patch, make tracks, open up, peel rubber, & step on the gas, but somehow, I’m not sure those would be beneficial.

Actually, I’m not sure how any of those will work, but at least I’m thinking.  As I try to eliminate stressing my kid out with the hurry up in the morning, I hope you might become a little creative in your verbiage too.  Maybe if we do, we could have a better start to the day….especially the rainy Monday after Daylight Savings time.

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Nowhere To Go !

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No.  There sincerely is nowhere to go.  We have a son with Reactive Attachment Disorder.  What does that mean?  That he appears healthy and well on the outside and his inside is filled with rage and distrust of his parents.  To others, he’s a sweet, charming, polite kid.  To his adoptive parents, he’s a thief, a liar, a menace.  And we took an oath and adopted him.  Because of his early care…or lack thereof, he has decided he doesn’t want to love, so anytime, he finds himself getting closer to us, he does something off the wall to push us away.  And, each time, the push needs to be harder.

As a toddler, it was little sneaky things, an extra cookie, a stolen video game.  Now, as he approaches adulthood, it’s a stolen gun, a broken TV and stolen car keys. No matter how much instruction he receives, it appears he will self destruct in his own poor choices.

I’d like to say that this morning was a shocker,  but this traumatizing event, was just another day.  Another day of lies, violence, screaming and a home ruled by mental illness.  I’d like to say this is rare, but quite the opposite.  This is how we live.

The aftermath leaves us bruised physically and scarred emotionally.  He rages, goes to school and I receive a message that says, “Paul is arrive safely at school.”  I reply, “Mom and Dad are traumatized at home.”

So, after a morning like this, what are we going to do?  Should we heed the advice of many caring concerned people?  “He should go somewhere.  You can’t live like this anymore.”  I agree 100%!  He should go somewhere.  Where might that be?  There is no special place for kids with RAD.  There is no known therapy that cures, there is no group home, there is no residential treatment facility with an open bed waiting for me in this moment.  In this moment, there are text messages to friends who may or may not be able to help me today.  A wait for a psychiatric bed in a hospital could be months, a call to police would have them responding to a situation that would diffuse on their arrival.  He needs to go somewhere. There is no where to go!

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a RAD support group meeting where I met 8 other families with kids just like mine.  Amazing.  We are not alone though society would think we were.  We live in an isolated existence where no one knows what to say or how to help.  We laughed, we shared war stories, we understood.  Today I texted a few of those families and received cyber hugs & support.  Today’s pain is raw and feels huge….however, when I am once again in the comfort of these special people in a few weeks, we will have a laugh over my husband burning my son’s mattress.  We will joke about us finding the hidden cigarette lighters and stolen cheese. We will laugh on the outside and cry on the inside as we each lose a little more hope each day.  Oh how I wish that didn’t have to happen.  That we could have hope.

A statement my 9 year old reminds me of at times like these: “Mom, remember you always say, ‘You can steal my money, but you can’t steal my joy!'” Maybe I need to apply it to hope.  “You can steal my cell phone, but you can’t steal my hope.”

This morning I screamed, I cried, I raged.  Today I will post scriptures and messages about patience and will strive to look at things above.  I will try to turn the events around so that I can survive another day, another evening…even another moment.  I will search deeply for hope.  It is my HOPE that we will all make it through.  That we will somehow heal, somehow cope.  There is no place to go.  We have to figure out how to live and have hope here. “Be patient, then brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming.” Someday we will be able to go there.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.
Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waitingfor the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.  –James 5:7-8

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On a Scale of 1 to 10…

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On a scale of 1 to 10 how hard is it to raise a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)?  The obvious answer is 1,432 because it is MUCH harder than you think, however each day could be rated differently. No matter the number though, it is always HARD.

There are days that fall into the 1 – 5 category.  Days full of shirts not tucked in, fingernails dirty, teeth not brushed, food spilled, dirty dishes, homework battles, inappropriate remarks, small things broken, lies, arguing and small time defiance.  These are a given.  These are EVERY day.  Every. single. day. Then there are days that a scale of 1 to 10 doesn’t even touch the surface. These include behaviors like fits of rage, breaking banisters, pulling wall paper off of walls, reporting parents to authorities, stealing money, cutting arms for attention, stealing weapons, punching holes in walls, throwing furniture, ripping cabinets off of walls, lighting matches and dropping them inside the house, threatening classmates, shoplifting, pornography at school, etc.  These things don’t happen every day, but they happen more often than most RAD parents let on.  Generally speaking, I would say that parenting a RAD kid is usually a 5-6 with a 10+ thrown in here and there.  It is hard.  Always hard. Chronic.

When a doctor asks you to rate your pain and you have to try to figure out a number you want to just scream, “I don’t know, it’s pain!”  We wonder why we have to rate it at all.  The same is true for why you would even struggle with trying to rate your “hard” as you parent your kid with RAD.  “I don’t know, it’s hard!” It’s for perspective.  It’s to see things a little differently.  Maybe objectively instead of emotionally.

I can tell you that yesterday was a 10+, my house & heart have the scars to show it.  But, today he’s in the shower, he’ll go to school and I have hope that it might be a 2 or 3.  More than likely it will be at least a 6 or 7, but I doubt it will be a 10.  That’s something.  That’s progress. We wake each day with a new scale, yes, there is some leftover “hard” from the day before, but generally, we get to start again.  May there be some relief.  May you have a “good” day….shoot for an under 5!

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