Making parenting mistakes since 2008

Category — family

No I am not

Yesterday soon after Fudge and Ramona left for school my phone beeped, it was Calvin messaging me. He led with a comment about ” why was I so mean to people” and it went down hill from there. He carried on about how horrible I was for awhile and when I told him I was not going to respond to his abusive statements anymore he made a few more comments and then stopped.

One of the things he brought up in his rant is how I stopped letting him into our home when he missed curfew and came home in the middle of the night because he feels that I should of let him in. He neglects to recall that this went on for months and once I did stop letting him in I did make sure that he had a safe place to go for the night and that the social worker involved in our family was totally on-board with this strategy. It may of not been the best idea ever but we drew a line in the sand and explained our choice to him again and again but he still is unable to see or acknowledge that all he needed to do was come home by curfew or communicate with me about where he was and when he would be home.  Instead he is using as a way to complain about what a bad parent I am and one of the many ways that I have wronged him.

I think that is the hardest part of dealing with his mental illness and attachment disorder is that he is unable and unwilling to acknowledge that his choices impact his world. Everything is my fault. I am his punching bag and every time he is unhappy with anything he takes it out on me. Intellectually I know that it is not me, I know that I have done my best and that love and all the years of therapy were just not enough for him but emotionally he rips my heart out and steps on every single time he verbally attacks me. It takes every ounce of self control I have to remain calm and not to freak out and rant back at him.

There is no page, no chapter, no anything for what to do when your child becomes abusive to you. I would not put up with behaviour from a partner or friend but because he is my child I am expected to take it, to be resilient and strong and to keep on loving him. I do love him but I have zero desire to be with him in any capacity and the thought of him coming home at any point sends in a full blown panic. It is so very hard, impossible even to acknowledge that parenting him has led me to a place where I feel as though being with him for any length of time would be the hardest thing I have had to do in years.

 

November 29, 2017   No Comments

From Crisis to Crisis

I love pinball machines, really old ones with actual buttons and paddles and million lights. I could waste a pocket full of change playing them, happily pushing those buttons and flinging those balls from paddle to paddle. The various themes amuse me, the lights and sounds are familiar and comforting, they remind me of the 80’s and of a smaller calmer world.

Lately Pinball has been a pretty good analogy to explain things. I feel as though I am pinball machine ball between paddles and in a giant pinball ball game full of children’s crises. One of my kids is always in crisis it seems and although there are calm patches they are small and filled with the repercussions of the last crisis.

This week Fudge ran away, again. This is not a new behaviour, it is one both Fudge and Calvin have used extensively to try to cope with things that they find overwhelming. This time he was missing for close to 24 hours and he was found quite by accident because someone who knew he was missing saw him. He had mad no attempt to contact us, no attempt to get help, he just wandered the streets all night scared and alone because he could not make a plan to fix the situation he had gotten himself into. It was horrible, it is always horrible when one of them is not where they are supposed to be. Once we had him home we had to pick up the pieces and the running away stemmed from school issues that were underlying things that have continued to blow up all week long. Fudge just does not understand why other teens will not be as forgiving of his behaviour as he would be of theirs.

Ramona creates drama daily, 11 and puberty is killing me. It’s all stuff I can handle but it is so exhausting have to keep your eyes on a kid at all times. She is stealing, sneaking and lying to the best of her ability and I think she gets away with a lot at school that no one even notices. I have been to her rodeo but I was hoping this 3rd trip might be a little less exhausting.

And then there is Calvin who messaged me last night to ask for stuff that we have here in the house that he has decided he has to have. It is stuff I am not going to let a transient 17 year old have, stuff I have saved from when he was a kid and stuff that is not just his but also has been shared with his siblings. When I said he could not have it and explained why he told me yet again that ” he is not my child and it I can control him”. This is his new mantra, I am not his parent and yet he messages me to demand the things that I have saved for him from all the years that he lived here and the memories we built together. He doesn’t seem to understand that he if he hateful and mean to me I am not likely to do the things he asks and there doesn’t seem to be a way to get him to understand that. He is not living in our home, I have million mixed feelings about what has happened with him and am trying hard to work on process it but when he says things like that I just go straight to mad.

Its all chaos all the time and I know that the kids thrive on the chaos, I know their brains think that the chaos is normal but the banging around like a pinball could stop for a bit and that would be ok. I think we would all be able to remember how it feels.

 

November 17, 2017   No Comments

Normal?

I was talking to someone last week about some of Ramona’s antics, I often refer to her as my easy kid and she had gotten kicked off the bus, created some chaos at a birthday party that spilled over into school and then tried to make some other kids feel as bad as she did. While I was rambling on and laughing about how ludicrous it all was the other persons eyes got big. They had been parenting a long time and they had never ever encountered behaviour like I was talking about in any of their kids.

I guess when your version of normal involves having video cameras and door alarms in your home so you can keep everyone safe your reality tends to become a little skewed after awhile. But this is our normal and although it exhausts me and I am so very tired of chaos I often forget that everyone does not live like this. I forget that other families are able to do fun things and not have it end in melt downs or kids asking to go sit the car because their sibling is excluding them and they can’t cope. I forget that tantrums from older kids might not involve smashed dishes or calls to the police when someone doesn’t come home after storming out the front door in a rage and isn’t home by curfew.

The version of normal in my house is exhausting. It has worn me down and there is very little joy found in parenting right now. I try to find it, some days I try to create it or to build it in so that I can feel some joy with my kids who are at home but it is so hard because I have little motivation to do so because it so often ends in disaster. It is easier to let them watch TV and entertain themselves while I hide in my room binge watching Netflix so that we do not have manage functioning in the world outside our home. I know I am not alone, I know other families who are doing the very same thing, trapped in their homes because it is just easier that way.

This is not what I thought I would be doing 10 years after I started parenting, this is not what I planned but this is where I am.

November 6, 2017   No Comments

And so very much has happened.

I have kept this space, paid for the domain year after year because I was not sure that I was ready to be done here, I was not sure if I wanted to say good-bye to this little corner of my world and to all that it contained. In the last few months the desire to come back here has weighed heavily on me because I used this place as a spot to process feelings and there is a lot of processing going on in my world. I also know that in my own processing there is so much that can be learned from others and so much that I can share, a reminder that although I do feel terribly alone at times I truly am not.

In the last 6 months Calvin has left our home, he is now 17 and there is a story there that will come out with time but to say that it has been hell would be putting it mildly. Fudge is struggling in huge ways with choices Calvin has made, the choices we have made as parents and with being a teen a who has experienced all that he has in his life. We are hanging on by a thread moving from one crisis to the next begging for help and services where there are none and hoping that we make it. Ramona has not been untouched by the drama and trauma that has ( and continues to) unfolded in our home, she adds to in her own ways and withdraws from it in others.  She also misses Calvin and adjusting to him not being in our home has been very hard for her.

I have been left feeling as though I have been broken. I am working at putting the pieces back together but the process of having Calvin go last spring was devastating and as we tried and tried to get help and were turned away again and again I became very hopeless. I felt like we worked so hard and that no matter what we did love was just never going to be enough. It was a hard place to be, not wasn’t, is.  It is a hard place to be, because I am still very much in that place and I know that even though I love my children and have surrounded them with people who love them and have met all their physical needs it still might not be enough to heal them.

So here I am, a much different Mom than when I started this place but I need it as much now as I did then. I am going to keep it real, to be honest about parenting adopted teens with mental health issues, about adoption breakdown, about openness with birth families and the lack of support for families struggling like ours. Happy to have you if want to read along.

November 3, 2017   No Comments

Dear Ramona

Dear Ramona,

This letter marks the end of your 11th month as my daughter. It also marks the last first that we have celebrated together, your 7th birthday. This last year has been a year of new things for you, new traditions, new experiences  a new family and now as we approach a year since you moved in with us, since you became our daughter,  there is little that you have not already experienced with us.

We had a party for you on your birthday, it was a good day, you handled it all so well. You wanted a princess party and that is exactly what you had complete with a pink castle pinata ( although there was not a disney character to be seen because I am still anti disney princess even though you are not) . There was no stress, you were comfortable and happy surrounded by people you love.  Actually that is not completely true, when someone told you that you could get your ears pierced now that you are 7 you burst into tears because as much as you want them pierced you were afraid that it is going to hurt. Aside from that though it was a fabulous day.

20130113_175150

You continue to be full of life, to challenge me every day and to remind me to slow down because you are not going to be little forever.

The other day I came down stairs and saw you sitting in the kitchen like this, making notes in notebook about something that your brothers had been doing, it was the cutest moment. You have a lot of cute moments and you still talk like you are 65 most days. You keep us in stitches when we are not totally frustrated by your choices and as hard as it sometimes is to be your Mom I would not trade you for anything.

I am not sad to see the last first for you in this family pass, I look so forward to the many years of celebrations and experiences that we are going to have, you me and all those boys that we love. May your seventh year be filled with joy, love, many blessings and at long last a sense of security, cause baby girl you are stuck with me.

love you

Mom

February 13, 2013   1 Comment

False Allegations

The title of the post is pretty self explanatory. Last week someone over heard something one of my children was saying to other children. They questioned him and then took the information they had and called the child protection authorities.

The reason they called, the reason my son said it, and the fallout from what he said are all details that I am not going to share here.  But, that being said I wanted to talk about what happened because I am not the first parent to be in this situation and I may find myself in it once again although I must say that once is more than enough.

So when the phone rings and the call display send you into a panic or there is a social worker on your doorstep and they tell you that someone has reported you for hurting one of your children you need to talk to them.  Do not slam the door in their face or hang up on them cursing. Remain calm and find out as much as you can before you say anything. Then be honest about what goes on in your home. Be honest about your feelings, experiences and about just how horrific your kids behaviour can be.

You have rights and you have the right to find out what you are being accused of and when the report was filed. You also have the right to expect that your children (who have experienced more than enough trauma already) may need to be interviewed/talked to in a way that may not be as conventional as the worker would like it to be. You need to act in the best interest of your child and you also need to try to manage the fallout that may follow. For example we did not let any worker into our home but met with them at other places so that the kids would not be triggered by having social workers in their safe place.  They offered to come to us, I said no.

Spend some time trying to piece together what happened on the day of the allegation. In our case there was almost a week between the call coming in and us hearing from them. Once I knew what day it was I was able to explain that little day in out lives to the worker, it was a doozy of a day let me tell you. In fact this month has been horrific on all sorts of levels and I have not hidden that fact from our adoption worker who was able to shed some light on that for the worker doing the investigation which was really helpful.

Make your world an open book, sign consents so that information can be shared between therapists and other professionals who may know your family. Talk to your friends, offer references to the worker, share documentation that you may have. Talk to a lawyer and see what your rights are and what can and can not be done. If you are secretive it is not going to do anything but drag things out.

Stay Calm – yeah I know easy to say, it was brutal to do. I was only calm when I was talking to the worker doing the investigation, for everyone else I was a basket case. I was hurt and angry, I am still hurt and angry a week later. This was not a club I had wanted to join, I know it is one that a lot of parents who are raising hurt kids belong to but it was one I was hoping to avoid.

Perhaps we should make t-shirts and make it a real club.

December 27, 2011   14 Comments

to be clear

Just to clear up a few things from with in comments on yesterdays post. We were one of three families that were being considered for these children, they interviewed us and disclosed personal information to us about these children. We grew attached, and began to hope they would be ours. We were very aware of their complex issues and were willing to commit to them anyway. When we were not chosen we moved on thinking that the system had done what was best for the children in matching them with a family that could meet their needs better than we could.

When that placement failed the agency did not let us know that the children were coming back into the system. Rather than trying to place the kids with a family who already knew all about them they decided to act as though we did not exist. Thinking about what those children have endured still takes my breath away.

I do plan on being vocal about how the system is failing and in particular about how badly this agency has screwed up, but I need to wait until I am calmer and until I see what happens. The last thing I want to do is jeopardize our chances of adopting again even if it is not these two kids.

October 19, 2011   4 Comments

This can not be the case

I mean that, I can not believe that I am going to type what I am about to type, I can not believe that this has happened.

I went to Toronto on Sunday to go to the Adoption Resource Exchange in see if there were any potential kids out there who might be a good match for our family. I walked into the room and the first photo I saw was that of the two boys who we had hoped to be matched in the spring. I wrote about them directly here and less directly in this post

I stopped, I stared, it literally took my breath away.

I talked to some other people about what was happening, I gathered my emotions and went over to the table. The worker we had worked with was not there but someone else recognized me, we chatted briefly. I could not really articulate what I was thinking or feeling because I was shocked that I was looking at the photo of two little boys who I had longed to add to my family. Two boys who continue to believe that they are not good enough to have a forever family because they adults making the decisions have yet to find someone who is not going to give up on them.

Well that’s not true, we would not of given up.

But we were not the right family because we are not cultural or ethnic match, we live far away and we have kids. We were not enough and yet the family who was deemed good enough gave up when the going got tough.

I can not believe that this has happened to these kids.

I do not know why they did not call us when that happened, I do not know why they did not consider us a second time. I have asked and not been answered. I do not know if at this point we will be considered again or if they are to busy trying clean up this mess to even pay attention to the fact that if they had come back to us we would of dropped everything and made it work. I did tell them that, I did tell them we were still waiting, I am not sure if they heard me or if they were to busy listening to all other people who wanted a chance to find out more about two very beautiful little boys who the system had failed yet again.

The only thing I do know is that there are two little boys out there who need a family and the distance, their culture or ethnic background, their economic status or any other middle class concerns should come far below whether parents have skills to help kids with attachment disorder because those skills will help these kids, who cares about the rest of it.

I mean really, at the end of the day do any of the other things matter, love and commitment build families.

October 18, 2011   12 Comments

Longing

Michael’s  (aka E’s) family is about to get a baby to foster and I must say that I am jealous to say the very least. I have written about learning to be happy with the family I have, about it being enough and it is enough. In fact it is great but my heart still longs for more children and I am working on it.

I am frustrated by the fact that we were the right family for two very broken boys that no one else would take but that we can not be the right family for another child. I am feeling the sting of infertility as more and more people around me announce pregnancies and new babies and my life is destined to remain without a baby to nurture. It is hard, it hurts me to core and there is little to be done but to learn to cope with the pain and these feelings.

To be honest, I have had to learn to cope with a lot of things that were out of my control and it’s crappy. It sucks to not be able to dictate how and when our family will grow or not. It is hard to watch other people get to nurture children from infancy while I know that I will likely never get that privilege and that is not to say that my children are any less fabulous but there is a part of me that longs to have a baby in my arms. Sometimes the realisation that it is unlikely to ever happen is hard to swallow and makes it hard to keep the tears in check as another person tells me their due date.

To add to my overwhelming feelings of loss I am also trying to wrap my brain around the fact that tomorrow is my last appointment with my therapist. With a woman who has journeyed  with me for 13 years and has seen me through more than anyone else. She has held my hand through serious depression, through loss and grief,  through joy and wonder. I am working on moving on, I have not seen her all summer on purpose, I have stayed away so that I can start to move on but saying good-bye to her tomorrow is looming large and yet it needs to happen, I need to close that door.

My grief at this moment is heavy, it is weighing me down and as if that was not enough I spent 30 minutes doing homework with Fudge. I need you know that this alone would make anyone crazy let alone me given the way that I am feeling this week.

I know I will survive, I will learn to cope, to let this be enough, to let go of the dreams of more kids and babies in my arms, but it is hard and sadly I do not think that it is going to get any easier in the next day or two.

September 28, 2011   9 Comments

oh trauma

Oh trauma how I understand you ( sometimes) and how I wish more parents who were parenting hurt kids did as well.

Let me explain.

I just hung up the phone with Anne’s ( formerly known here as T, aka the boys older sister, but I am giving her a name following the same literary theme I used with my boys) foster father. She was recently moved again and she is not doing so well. The problem is that she has been moved so many times that no one pays any attention to any of the trauma triggers that are compounding her behaviour because no one is going to read the 10 inch thick file to find all the dates that might be issue for her.

The thing is, someone should.

Dates matter because even if a child is not able to vocalize their stress around certain events it is present and effects their behaviour. The fall is a particularly tough time for Anne, Calvin an Fudge because it is when they got apprehended. Both Calvin and Anne remember it, blame themselves and associate being apprehended with Anne and Fudge’s birthdays. Anne’s birthday is Thursday, Fudge’s is in 3 weeks, no wonder Anne is acting out. To add to the stress at this time last year she successfully broke down a placement  by calling the cops and making false allegations against her foster parents.

It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out this is going to be a tough few weeks for her.

She has RAD, she is in her 4th home since she destroyed her relationship with her prospective adoptive parents because she was afraid to be loved. Her story is a tragic one and the hardest part for me is that her tragedy is also my kids tragedy because they love her and they want her to be a part of their lives but it is so hard to do when she is out of control.

She needs to be parented by people with training, she needs support and structure, she needs a lot more than she is getting and I know that she is not going to get it because the system is not equipped to deal with her. It is so frustrating to watch them fail her again and again, we offer help and support but everyone puts their fingers in their ears and pretends that this time they have found the right placement for her. They will not hear that there is no right placement for her  because they are not addressing her issues. She wants to go live with her birthmom and if they let her go back to birthmom things are not going to be any better because she is not any more equipped to deal with an angry teenager with attachment disorder than she was to deal with an angry kid with attachment disorder.

There is little I can do but watch the train crash.

 

September 20, 2011   8 Comments