Category — family
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
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
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
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 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
I have been feeling reflective lately, I have seen and heard of some horrible tragedies both here in the world of my virtual friends and among people I know and love in real life. Children, husbands, wives, whole families have been dealt unexpected blows that have made their world spin out of control. It is devastatingly sad.
It has made me think about my family, about the people I love and about my intense desire for more kids. It is no secret that I want more children, that we want more children, me, my partner, my kids we are all waiting for the phone ring but it is starting to feel like it might not happen. It is starting to feel like this might be all there is in our family and that should be enough.
I have two kids who are working really hard to be regular kids, I have a great partner and all the things that a family needs ( I want other things but I do not need them). I have so much and yet I long for more.
When does the longing for things that may not happen go away?
I talk about the challenges of the system in Canada, I talk about how hard it is to be rejected by workers who will not place children with us but I rarely talk about how it makes me feel, because on a deeply personal level it hurts to be rejected over and over again. I already know the pain of not being to control whether or not I birth children, the pain of hoping that maybe this time and this time never happening or never lasting. I can handle this pain, as deeply painful as it is to have my body betray me in this way it is something that belongs to me and I can work through it. I have a partner who loves me, who hears me, who understands my sorrow around our infertility because although I say it is mine we are a couple and in many ways it belongs to both of us.
The journey of adoption does not belong to me though, other people are in charge, other people make the choices, others decide that we are not right for this child. The sorrow that is felt around those decision does not belong only to me, it also belongs to P and to our boys. It is as a family that we moved forward with a plan to adopt again and it is as a family that we wait and wonder if it will ever happen. It hurts to hear my kids ask when it will happen, to hear them talk longingly about when we have more kids and things will do together. It is hard to make them understand that it is not up to us.
It is completely out of our hands.
So perhaps it is time to move on, even if it is just in little ways, time to hope less for what could be and enjoy the wonder of what I have instead of longing for what might be. Even though the thought of moving forward in this way takes my breath away, because there little I want more than another little person to pull into my lap at the end of a long day for one last hug before bed. But I have two who give pretty fantastic hugs and maybe that is just going to have be enough.
September 15, 2011 7 Comments
Apples were not what I expected when I looked inside this bird nest yesterday and yet that is what I found. An apple that had fallen from the tree and landed safely in a nest protecting from crashing to the ground.
That apple landing in that nest got me thinking about the blog post the was brewing in my head about adoption about the life we have chosen to live. I started to think about how it all just sort of happened the first time and now that we want it to happen again it seems as though it is an impossibility. It would be the same for the nest and the apple, it happening again would be a challenge, not impossible but hard, especially hard in this case considering we took the nest and ate the apple.
I have talked before about how challenging the adoption system in this province is and about how hard it is to convince some social workers that a family that has children is capable of handling other children. It seems as though everyone is looking for a 30 something childless couple who will be willing to adopt children with serious emotional and behavioral issues. I know that there are families out there who are like that, I know that they exist but what is so wrong with the experience we have gained from parenting our kids already. What is so wrong with wanting to do that again for another child who is stuck in a system that means they do not know from one day to the next where they will be at bed time.
It is pretty hard to find parents who are experienced in attachment issues and the behaviours that go along with it if they have not already parented kids who have those issues. And yet here we sit,waiting. We are repeatedly told by workers that we have great skills, that we are a great family but they are placing the kids with another family. There are kids 30,00 kids waiting for families in this country and yet because we we are not conventional family and we have already adopted we can not help those kids have families who love them.
We can not give them a family where you can crawl into bed on with your parents and cuddle or go apple picking every year on the labor day weekend or where you know that Friday is always pizza and a movie night. A family where sharing hugs and cuddles is a daily occurrence, where favourite foods are made when someone is feeling blue, where a love of reading is nurtured and where traditions matter. A family where boys long for and ask for siblings and where you will always know that you are wanted.
It’s hard to be told no when you know that there are children who need families and you know that you have the space and skills to help them.
September 4, 2011 3 Comments
I heard about a little girl yesterday, a little girl who needs a family, I am thinking we could be her family (I know your all shocked to read that), the thing is I do not know if I am up to the challenge.
We want more kids, we want to adopt again but we are struggling against a system that is not really ready to place kids in families that have younger children through adoption. It is crazy though because in one breath everyone says they need experienced parents for these kids and yet the best way to find experienced parents is to find people who have successfully parented kids like that in the past – which usually means they have kids in the home.
This little girl though, she will need a lot of love and patience and support because oh my goodness she has a had a rough start. All kids need all of those things but when you are parenting kids from trauma there needs to be more of it and I am not sure that I will have enough of all those things for her.
You see adding children to our family would be a challenge for all of us, we would all need to shift and change and grow but I would end up doing most of it. That is not a bad thing, it not something I want change, it just is our reality, that is how our family works. P has job and I am home, it’s the choice we made.
This little girl, she needs a really great family, she needs a family who gets her, who will love her unconditionally in spite of her many challenging behaviours. She needs people who are going to be there for the long haul and there is a huge part of me that thinks we could be that family, but there is also a part of me that thinks it might be to much. That being said, if I knew before we adopted the boys, what I know now about they needed I would of thought it was more than we could handle as well.
Does my expereince parenting children who have survived significant trauma make me more apprehensive about adopting again? Yes. Does that make me a better a parent? I think so.
The other piece of this puzzle is that this little girl and I share a common history and on deeply emotional level I get it, I get it in a way that other people will not ever get it. Does that make me the right person to be her mother though – I wish I knew that.
You know like that big read easy button from that stationery store, could I just push that and be done with it.
Yeah I know there is no easy button, just wishing there was.
Since I don’t have one I am packing a cooler and heading to the lake for a day of fun with some friends cause there are 0nly 12 more days till school is back
August 24, 2011 9 Comments
I have been mulling over this idea for a few weeks and the best way to write about it because what I thought about openness before I adopted, soon after I adopted and now 3 years later are all really different. Last night read a post over at Roztime about Inclusive Foster Care and it got me thinking about how to write about openness and how I really should just say what I feel and think because maybe some others will have something to add to the conversation and that might give me some perspective.
I have never met my children’s birth mother, I have read about her, I have made judgments about her but I have never met her. She is mythical in my sons minds, she has a pretty high pedestal and that is okay. Calvin has started to vocalize how if he if he lived his birth mother she would never _______________ (fill in the blank for whatever consequence he has ). We usually burst that bubble for him pretty quickly, I remember longing for a family where I did not have to follow the rules as well.
That all being said my children have no contact with their birth mother which is a complicated matter because they have 2 sisters who do have contact. It is messy and frustrating and frankly way more detailed than I can get into here, it is also not all my story to tell.
When we first adopted the boys we agreed to openness with both birth parants via letters twice a year. It was reasonable, the boys needed to write to her and to deal with the loss of her in their lives. They are still processing that loss but their need to communicate with her in that way has diminished a great deal as time has gone on. This year May came and went and they were not at all interested in writing to her. I respected that and guilty as I feel about it I have not written to her either. I have not written because I do not know what to say because we have stopped giving the boys her letters. We stopped last Christmas because they were just not appropriate and they tend to make the boys more upset than happy and that is hard for all of us. I have kept them and I have no doubt that the boys will be angry at me when they find out that I withheld them from them.
I think that a big part of the problem is that she has not processed her loss of them and so she writes to them as though they are just away at summer camp rather than moving on with their lives with another family. It is heartbreaking to see the pain she is in and yet I can not help but be angry at her for the choices that she made. She was given ample opportunity to learn to parent appropriately, the law was broken to give her more time, support was provided and yet she was unable to put her children first. I do not understand her choice, I do not understand why she was unwilling to change for them and yet then changed in order to parent a child who was born once the others were already in care.
In an ideal world I would like to be able to have a relationship with her in some way but I can not see how that is possible. I have learned in the last weeks that she is crossing all sorts of boundaries in other relationships and that concerns me. It worries me because I am afraid that she would undermine the work that we have done to help the boys heal from what happened to them as young children. It worries me because they deserve so much and yet at this time she has little to offer. Her family is of little help as they also continue to cross boundaries that are not theirs to cross and continue to try to have access to the boys in sneaky and inappropriate ways.
I think open adoption is a wonderful thing. I think that children who are growing up in adoptive homes are doubly blessed when they have birth families who can maintain healthy relationships with them. I think that when reunification is the goal it is great to inclusiveness in foster homes. I think that there are lots of families who make all kinds of things work in all kind of situations. A part of me would really like to be one of those families.
But, regardless of what I think about what might be or what could be I am faced with a situation that is none of those things. I have talked to our adoption worker and she is going to speak to the boys birth mother (again) about what can and cannot be included in letters. She is going to let her know that the children have not been receiving her letters nor the money that her mother has been sending them. The worker is going to try to get birth mom to begin to work through this so that she can have a realistic relationship with our children. Yes they are ours, hers and mine (well not just mine), ours. I will not for a minute pretend that she is not important to them but at the same time I want to save them from the heartache that her empty promises cause for the boys.
It is complicated, I wish there was an easy answer.
July 6, 2011 10 Comments
In late April I learned about some boys who needed a family. We applied, it looked positive, it looked like it might happen, it looked like we might be parents to 4 really soon. Then last Friday we got a phone call that let us know that the “team” had decided to place the children in a family without other children because although we had all the skills needed to parent these boys they felt as though we would be unable to do so given that we already had kids.
I was devastated. I had tried to guard my heart against caring about them, I had tried to say it would be okay if it did not happen. Then when it did not happen it hit me like a ton of bricks.
I knew that they might not choose us, I knew that the fact that we already have adopted kids was seen as a strike against us, I knew that they might not understand why we wanted to do adopt again. But, I was hopeful that they would believe that we knew what we could and our kids could handle and that our worker who was supporting us would not say yes to something that we could not do.
Regardless of what I thought, they said no.
I now understand why people walk away from adopting from foster care in this country and go abroad instead. There is no reason that the system needs to work like this. We are qualified, we have a completed homestudy and we have room in our home and our hearts and yet we are waiting because we can not find a worker who will place an attachment challenged child in a home that has kids who had attachment issues.
Yes I just wrote, had attachment issues, they had them, they raged and broke things and rejected me but they are healing, they are learning to love and I am pretty hopeful that we can help other kids heal as well. I know that people do not understand why we would want to do this again, why we would mess with a good thing. Well, we will mess with a good thing because there are kids who need families, there are kids who need to heal and learn that the world is not just an unpredictable and scary place. There are kids who deserve better than they are getting now.
There are 30,000 children available for adoption in Canada, over 9000 of those are in the province of Ontario. There are kids available, there are kids who have serious attachment issues and need therapeutic parents, parents with experience raising kids like them and yet they will not place those kids in families with other children. It seems to me that it would pretty hard to find parents who were experienced in raising kids with serious attachment issues if it was not something they had already done which would usually mean that there were kids in the home. It’s like desperately looking for an Macintosh apple but only looking Granny Smith trees, it is pretty much an impossible task.
When we began parenting our kids we had no idea how to be therapeutic parents, we had no idea how to make this work. I made a lot of mistakes, I still make mistakes, I am human but I have learned a lot and I am continuing to learn.
As hard as it I will continue to put my heart out there and fall in love with kids that might one day be ours so that eventually one will.
June 29, 2011 13 Comments