Tag Archives: foster care

Crazy Faith

 

crazy faith

In October, I saw a video that changed my fall and possibly my life.  It was Crazy Faith by John Waller.  This song and video moved me and I didn’t exactly know why.  Why was I drawn to this song?  Why did I listen to it over and over?  Why did it become my prayer?  I don’t know, but I do know that it has changed me in some way.

My journal entry for October 5, 2016:  “Lord, I want a Crazy Faith – I want something where I am scared and have to rely on you and not myself.  That’s a scary prayer!  It scares me but I know I need to do something for you that I can’t do on my own.  I want to take a leap of crazy faith.  Lead me Lord.  I want it to be of you.  Let me hear your call.  Let George hear your call.  Fostering was crazy faith, adopting was crazy faith. Lord show me where you want me.  I sincerely feel I am on the brink of something big and I don’t know what it is, but it’s scary and exciting to know it will be a part of your plan.  (If I can stay out of your way!)”

When we were foster parents, it was very clear that we were responding to God’s call to help these families.  We would get a phone call and not miss a beat with our family.  We would grab a newborn at the hospital, take an older child to the dentist, drive someone to practice and then make dinner.  It was so “easy.”  We relied fully on God to grant us the supplies, the time and the energy to assist each one of these precious children and He did just that. We relied.  He provided.  With over 50 children, the phone rang, our busy schedules got busier and we didn’t fret or worry about how things would get done.  God made it all work out.  We relied.  He provided.  We had a crazy faith.

Since those days, we have had a few occurrences that we have had to hold on to God and his direction to get through the situation, but I didn’t feel it like I did when fostering.  I continue to feel like most of what I do, I could do without including God in every single detail and as scary as stepping out in faith is, sitting still in complacency scares me more. I began praying for a Crazy Faith situation.  Daily I ask God to let me know something crazy he would like me to do.

So, what has happened?  What crazy thing have George and I done since we made this our prayer?  I wish I could say that we have built an orphanage in a foreign country, or sold our house and gave the money to the poor, but quite honestly, though we are prepared to answer a call, we haven’t heard it just yet.  That said, we have done some things that appear “normal” but are really “crazy” to us.  We have intentionally taken ourselves out of our comfort zone and have begun asking questions.  We are seeking our Crazy Faith opportunity.  We have been consistent with prayer and Bible study (crazy for us at times.)  We have reached out and shared our desires with others. (Really crazy for us to share like this.)  We have attended 4 different churches to listen, learn and grow. (Crazy, I’ve sat in the same church pew for over 50 years.) We’ve asked others about their ministries, we’ve toured places, we’ve read books, we’ve kept the search alive.  We want a Crazy Faith.

As we hope for an opportunity to arise, we also recognize that we are already pretty crazy when we are able to be faithful.  As I shared in my last post, things here at home are not good many days.  It takes some Crazy Faith to love a child who has difficulty loving you back.  It takes crazy faith to repeat the same set of instructions to a child a million times. (No exaggeration.)  It takes crazy faith to keep trying to fight the good fight when the situations look so bleak.  As much as I want a new Crazy Faith experience, i’m starting to think that God has decided that we are crazy enough.  We may not need a new ministry or opportunity to present itself but we may need extra prayers and commitment to stay faithful in the crazy opportunities we have already been granted.

I do hope you’ll continue to pray for my family and our crazy faith.  And, while I wait for the next “big” thing to come along, I’ll continue to have crazy faith while serving in the capacity I already am.  I’ll have crazy faith and pray out loud with someone.  I’ll have crazy faith and volunteer for something that I don’t have the complete skill set to accomplish on my own.  I’ll be crazy and offer to help someone when I don’t think I can fit one more thing into my day.  I hope you’ll join me and have some Crazy Faith of your own!

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Reactive Attachment Disorder – What is it?

My recent post,Reactive Attachment Disorder stinks! created some buzz among my readers.  Those who have a child with RAD, understood and probably felt some relief knowing that others are in the same boat.  Others, those who know my son personally, find it very hard to believe that life in my home is as difficult as it is sometimes.  He simply does not display these behaviors around others.  BUT, that doesn’t mean that it is not true.

I am the parent of a special needs child, however, my kids’ disability is the inability to receive love from his parents.  This makes treating this disorder extremely difficult.

While researching for a fact sheet or a tip sheet on Reactive Attachment Disorder, the shortest one I found was 3 pages in length.  Who wants to read that?  Even those of us in the trenches get bored with all of that, so it is my hope to share some information, the Cliff Notes of RAD – In a nutshell:

Paul has RAD which means that he did not develop an attachment with his primary caregiver early in life.  This lack of connection influences his physical, neurological, cognitive & psychological development. It produces ongoing feelings of rage, deep shame, a lack of trust and a fear of attaching to anyone. He has an inability to understand cause and effect and a compulsive need to control everyone and everything. He has difficulty regulating his emotions and his behavior.  His fear, rage & distrust is so bad that he may explode when a limit is set or a line is drawn.  He truly believes that he will die if he is not in control.  He was deeply hurt, afraid & lonely as he survived severe neglect.  He developed strategies to survive this time in his life and those strategies are to manipulate and control any situation he considers unsafe.  The battle for control is constant.

So, if I ask Paul to put his shoes on…he may feel out of control.  He doesn’t put his shoes on so that he can control that situation.  Even the smallest of things.  If asked to put his plate in the sink, he may put it beside the sink to remain in control.  If you don’t live it every day, you may not even notice the little ways in which he controls things.  Some subtle attempt to control can be interrupting, asking someone to repeat themselves even when he heard, mumbling, ignoring, fidgeting, refusing to put forth appropriate effort, & telling lies.  Children with RAD often maintain control by demonstrating learned helplessness.

You may never see Paul rage.  He’s not angry at you…he’s not even angry at us, but he is angry at the situation of neglect that he experienced and he will take it out on those who love him the most now. You may get the opportunity to see some of the other symptoms:  Lack of guilt or remorse, blames others, difficulty with cause and effect, stealing, lying, manipulative, lack of empathy, poor impulse control, overly friendly to strangers, mood swings, tantrums, refuses to do assignments or does them poorly, & has abnormal eating habits.

That said, I love Paul.  I knew I was meant to be his forever Mom after just a few weeks of knowing him.  I knew I could make a difference in his life.  We’ve come a long way…yet we have a long way to go.  Please keep us and all those who are parenting children with this confusing diagnosis in your thoughts & prayers.  We need them.  Thank you for understanding that this disorder just might be something you will never understand.

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Reactive Attachment Disorder Stinks!

Sobbing.  Uncontrollable.  Raging.  Screaming. Senseless Words.  Pain so deep you drown.  Daily.

I could say my son suffers from Reactive Attachment Disorder, but the truth is that the whole family does.  He is triggered internally, some sort of flashback, some sort of feeling he is uncomfortable with and we all suffer.  I don’t know what today’s trigger was.  He spent the day with the Psychiatrist.  They discussed all the progress he is making and decided to cut back on some medication.  He and his Dad went out to eat and chatted about the Pittsburgh Pirates on the way home.  He went downstairs to play some beloved video games and I asked him to burn the papers (we do that around here.)  He opened the drawer to the matches and saw that I bought him a new lighter.  He ran to me with hugs of thanksgiving and headed out.  He completed his task and then headed to the chicken coop and decided to show the birds the flame.  He didn’t really do anything, he just put the lighter inside the chicken wire and showed them.

I caught him and yelled for him to stop.  He stopped.  And, it went all down hill from there.  He and his Dad were screaming, his sister & he couldn’t be in the same room, he was sent to his room where his throaty screams echo throughout the whole house.  He pounds the walls, pulls the wallpaper off the wall, throws things and screams to us about God.  He texts his friends, threatens to call CYS & berates our efforts to help him figure this out.

Reactive Attachment Disorder wins again.  It has attacked the one who has attachment issues and it has poisoned the whole family for the evening.  I won’t be going to church with my husband, my plans have changed, there’s no fixing this, there’s no consequences.  There’s just pain and bitter disappointment for all.

I’d love to say this doesn’t happen often.  And, actually, yesterday we complimented him on it happening less frequently, but today it has happened.

He doesn’t have reactive attachment disorder anymore….we all do.  We all react.  We all have real pain.  We have all been traumatized!  He has calmed down.  He yells down the stairs in a sweet voice, “Mom?”  I respond as any other hurt and wounded animal would, “Shut Up!”

I’d like to say that I responded differently and to be honest, I have responded to the same situation differently before…about a gazillion times before.  I’ve done everything the professionals tell me to.  I’ve attended the workshops, I’ve been in therapy, I’ve read the books, I’ve responded appropriately, but today I reacted instead of responded.  Maybe this approach will work.  Doubtful.  The hope that has gotten me this far is like sands in an hour glass and I’m about on my last grain of hope.

Being Me, I will turn this all around.  I know that.  I know I will write about flipping the hour glass over and how I will recognize that God renews my hope just like the sands in the glass.  How the sand will all be at the top and slowly trickle to the bottom again.  God does renew me & I know He will again.  But right now I’m just mad.  I’m mad at unanswered prayer.  I’m mad at the people who didn’t take care of him when he was a baby.  I’m mad at the people who think they know what he is like.  I’m mad at the agencies who don’t have a clue.  I’m mad to know that I am one of many hurting parents trying to deal with this diagnosis.  I’m mad at a child welfare system that keeps moving kids around and creates this disorder.

But, mostly, I’m mad about missing church.  Instead of church I’ll sit here and sob.  I’ll ponder the situation and wonder what I’m to learn from this.  I’ll cry out and ask why it has to be like this.  I’ll realize that I will never know.

Reactive Attachment Disorder Stinks!

PS – It appears I’m in good company and not the first person to ponder.  I googled “Angry David Psalms” –

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel. In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed. But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. (Psalm 22:1-6)

I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you. You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows. The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the LORD will praise him—may your hearts live forever! All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations. All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—those who cannot keep themselves alive. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn—for he has done it. (Psalm 22:22-31)

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The Final Count

Today I was cleaning out that drawer in the kitchen…you know the one…nail clippers, matches, pennies, cork screw, paper clips, chalk, buttons, receipts,stamps & bits of paper.  I came across a piece of paper with dates and tallies on it.  A very important piece of paper.  The final count was 1,220.  Hmmmm….I knew what it was & I knew what it meant, but I want to keep you guessing.  Those tallies could represent sleepless nights, tears, anxious moments, hugs, prayers, arguments, court appearances & good byes.   Or maybe I made a hash mark for every hello, broken promise, doctor appointment, parental visit, kiss, or court delay.  A tally for each book read, each butterfly kiss, each game of ring around the rosie?  It actually is a count of days that included all of those.  The final count was 1,220 days that my daughter spent in foster care.  She had been alive approximately 2,016 days on the day we adopted her.  There is something terribly wrong with a system that does this to children.  However, we are no longer making tallies….she’s been ours legally for about 1,581 days and counting. Though the journey began and ended in different places than we expected, we are so blessed that we get to be her forever family.  Together We Rise is an organization that frequently publishes pictures of kids & their final foster count.  I wish there was a way we could all work together to make those numbers smaller. My thoughts and prayers go with all foster families who are still keeping track!

http://togetherwerise.org

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Anne of Green Gables – A Foster/Adoption Story?

book tree

Well, I finally did it.  I read Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.  I really enjoyed it.  I must admit that a boxed set of Anne of Green Gables books has sat on my daughters’ book shelf for years.  I never touched them.  (I’m not sure they did either until recently!)  However, in June, after my son shot part of his thumb off & I was as traumatized as he was, my friend, Judy, mailed me a copy of this book and thought I should read it.  I loved the sentiment, but must admit that when I started it, I found it too wordy to read aloud to my 8 year old daughter and not quite “intriguing” enough to read it for myself.

This Christmas, I asked my adult children to simply gift me a with a book of their choice for me to read in the new year.  My daughter, Lori, chose to give me Anne of Green Gables.  OK, I get it.  I needed to read this book.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I’m not sure if I would’ve if it hadn’t come so highly recommended, but I trust Lori and Judy and I read in earnest.

Amazing!  Anne of Green Gables is full of intrigue.  Why did Judy choose it for me when I was going through an extremely difficult time with my adoptive son?  Was it because Anne has the ability to look at every situation with rose colored glasses on?  She is extremely grateful and uses her imagination to dream away any sorrow.  Was that what I was supposed to do?  It certainly would’ve helped. Or did Judy think I should read about how Anne of Green Gables became part of a family because in addition to Anne’s sunny disposition, there is some real foster/adopt stuff going on that I could relate to.  This book was written in 1908 and much of it applies today. On page 7, Marilla gets to hear what many of us get to hear when we hint that we may be fostering or adopting.  Mrs. Rachel, the “well meaning” neighbor, speaks her mind:  “Well, Marilla, I’ll just tell you plain that I think you’re doing a mighty foolish thing – a risky thing, that’s what.  You don’t know what you’re getting.  You’re bringing a strange child into your house and home and you don’t know a single thing about him nor what his disposition is like nor what sort of parents he had nor how he’s likely to turn out.  Why, it was only last week I read in the paper how a man and his wife up west of the Island took a boy out of an orphan asylum and he set fire to the house at night–set it on purpose, Marilla –and nearly burnt them to a crisp in their beds.  And I know another case where an adopted boy used to suck the eggs — they couldn’t break him of it.  If you had asked my advise in the matter–which you didn’t do, Marilla –I’d have said for mercy’s sake not to think of such a thing, that’s what.”  Some of us have heard very similar versions of that story when we made our intentions known.  And, some of us live and struggle with those stated behaviors!

By page 12 most people would start to diagnose Anne with ADHD.  Oh the chattering about anything and nothing!  Words, words, words.  Was she trying to block out her reality as she drives to a new place with a strange man?  Can you imagine how she must’ve felt heading to an unknown place with only the clothes on her back?  There are about 400,000 Americans in foster care now who know.

Now I’m not going to tell you the rest of the story…this isn’t a book report, but I do want to challenge you to read this book. Anne is a child who is charming, annoying, quirky, and comes to her new family with a lot of baggage.  She is a survivor and so are her foster/adoptive parents.  She can teach us a lot.  Now, if you don’t have any interest in the foster/adoption part of the story, I think you will benefit to possibly trying to think like Anne a bit.  She is inspiring with her imaginings and there are timeless quotes that we should all take to heart.

“Tomorrow is a new day, with no mistakes in it.”

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think.  It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”

Thanks Judy!  Thanks Lori!  True kindred spirits!

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