Category — adoption
Then the penny drops and I figure it all out. Sometimes I am really slow, like painfully slow at realizing the obvious and even though other people point it out to me I still don’t really get it.
Let me back up, things have been hard here for awhile, some of it is my kids behaviour, some of it was winter, some of it was my depression and some of it was just that lately life was not quite what I had thought it would be. I was lulled into this false sense of security with my boys and around December things started to fall off the rails with them and things have been really hard ever since.
They have both come so far and I thought that things would just keep getting better, that the healing would continue and that it would all be good. Then it stopped being good, in fact it got really hard and as a certain small girl started to attach to me, to actually love me I realised that the boys only are still insecurely attached. That was a big moment for me. It is normal for humans to give and receive love, it is part of taking care of one another and it was not until I started to be loved by Ramona that I realised that the relationship I have with the boys is much different.
You can google insecure attachment if you want to learn more about it but what it means is that they both still struggle with trusting that I am going to meet their needs, keep them safe and that they will be loved unconditionally. Neither of them is very good at understanding that love is a reciprocal thing that is both given and received. They are both stuck in the stage of toddler/preschooler where it is normal and appropriate for it to be all about you and what you need. They are unable to realise that the needs of the people around them might be impacted by their behaviour and choices. They both often go straight to a tantrum just like a toddler when they do not get there way. There is nothing quite like a 12 year old having an actual stomp your feet and scream your head off tantrum to remind that something is not right in their brain.
We have had the boys for 5 years his July and we are sill having the same conversations about boundaries, personal space, sharing, talking, not hitting, etc that were having when they were 6 and 8. When I say the same conversations I do mean the very same ones.
Calvin is still unable to maintain a relationship with kids his own age, when we go out he gravitates towards the younger children and will happily play tag or in the sandbox for hours on end. I have no problem with his this but other kids are starting to wonder about his behaviour. Kids his own age whom we have known for years will no longer really associate with him because they are maturing and moving on to being teenagers and he is not. Calvin is unable to understand that other people have emotions and that his choices affect how other people are feeling.
Fudge is a different story, there are other factors at play for him and in many ways the profound neglect he suffered as an infant has and will continue to affect his daily life. That being said he has made huge strides in his attachment to me and unlike Calvin he feels remorse and tries to make things better after he makes a mistake. I have some of the best apology letters from him because he although he has cognitive issues that effect his impulse control and other aspects of his daily life he genuinely wants to be in relationship with people even if it scares him to death because he so very afraid of losing the people he loves. He works at having friends and although he struggles with being socially appropriate he wants, and is mostly able to maintain superficial friendships with his peers.
And although I try not to compare my kids it is really hard because parenting Ramona is so different.
Ramona has been here a year, her ability to understand when she crossed the line, ask forgiveness and change her actions amazes me. She is empathetic towards others when they are in pain and tries hard to make amends when she has wronged someone. She gets that she makes poor choices and can talk about how her choices effected the outcome of a situation. She is attaching to both P and I and actually desires to be loved and accepted by us as her parents. Now that being said she does rage, tantrum and manipulate every single situation and without her meds I can barely contain her. She struggles with friendships, sharing and tries to control everything but I expect that from her and things are getting so much better and she grows and feels safe here.
So the other day when I realised that Ramona was loving me, that she was genuinely concerned for my well being I had to stop and have a little cry because I have never felt that from the boys in the same way. To be honest I am not sure that they are able to love in the same way. Not because they do want to but because the damage done to them as little kids means that their brains are not wired the way they should be. I know that, I understand that, but my heart often forgets because I pour myself into these kids everyday. I do everything I can and when there is nothing in return it hurts, it hurts because being loved is a normal part of relationships and it makes me so sad that they are still having such a hard time loving and being loved.
April 7, 2013 No Comments
Someone broke my kids. It was not me. Before I knew better, I probably made things worse for a while but I was not the one who broke them. I quickly figured out that I was in over my head and started to learn about how to parent these kids in a way that would ensure we would all survive until they were adults. I am still learning though.
That being said my kids are not like kids who were born to me. I have never birthed a child but I do know about family, relationships and child development. My kids are not like biological kids and it frustrates me when people tell me that all kids behave like my kids. Yes all kids do the things that my kids do but attached children who have not experienced trauma do not behave like their whole life depends on lying about whether you took the nail clippers and stashed them in your room. Taking the nail clippers should not create a raging tantrum and days of fallout. But here it does. For kids who have experienced trauma and neglect, this is their normal. Taking those nail clippers, testing that limit with your forever family might mean that you have to leave because you have had to leave so many other places where you wanted to stay so you better deny it, you better protect yourself because if you are vulnerable you might get hurt.
My kids brains are broken. It is not their fault, they did not ask for this.
In-spite of their brokenness I love them fiercely. I love them when they are raging at me and throwing boots at my head. I love them when they scream that I am bitch and that they never wanted to live here anyway. I love them while they sob ( my heart breaks and I cry right along with them) about just how very unfair all of this. I love them when they use pee as a weapon of mass destruction and when try to beat the crap of adults and kids alike. I love when they tell me I am not the mother they wanted or that they did not want to be adopted. I love them they break my stuff and steal things that are special to me. I love them when I have to supervise them like a jail guard at every event because one of them might be totally inappropriate of they feel as if they might away with it this time. I love them when they try to manipulate other adults into feeling sorry for them when they are not getting their way. I love them when they pretend they can not do something just to make me crazy or run away and scare the crap out of me. I love them when they remember the pain of their trauma and then spend days making everyone around them miserable because that is how they are feeling inside.
I love these kids in a way that only a mother could and there are days when the last thing I want to do is love them. There are days when I am so angry that I wonder why on earth I ever agreed to this, when I wonder what was I thinking when I signed up for this.
Deep down I know why and most days I actually have to stop and remember that I was thinking they deserved a chance. I was thinking they deserved a family, that they did not deserve to grow up in a world of uncertainty and that knowing you are loved to the core of your being, regardless of your choices, is so very important.
Parenting these broken babies is so freakin hard, their pain, their anger and their grief has overwhelmed me and yet I am still here. I am still committed. I never knew I was strong enough for this but I am. It is the hardest thing I have ever done, it hurts. There are days when I wish this was not my life. Days when I wish I was just like those people who I used to be friends with, the ones who have regular lives where the effects of trauma does not permeate every moment. We are not friends anymore, they do not know how to cope with my kids or with the way that I have changed in the last 5 years. There are moments when I miss them, moments when I wish they were able to understand but they are only moments. Then my kids start screaming and they pull me back to reality, that is not my life.
This is my life, someone broke my babies and I am trying to help them heal.
February 28, 2013 9 Comments
- There is some serious grieving going on in my children’s lives.
- This is nothing new for any of my kids, they have a lot to grieve, older child adoption means that they remember their losses in a way that effects their lives on a day to day basis.
- Ramona has been doing some serious grieving for her foster family, she held out hope for a long time that she would go back to them and with her adoption she has realized that this home is really where she is going to stay.
- Her realization of this fact is both fabulous and devastating, she is really challenging to live with but I am so proud of her because she is processing some really challenging emotions and she is only just 7, 2 whole days of being 7 now.
- The boys, both of them are dealing with the permanency of the shift in their family, I think one of them was holding out hope that she might not stay although he never said that in so many words.
- The completing of her adoption process brought up a lot of feelings for both of them though and they too are mourning people that have moved through their lives.
- To add to their grief and pain, we had to tell them this week that one of their foster parents had died.
- He was not an old man, he lost a long fault battle with cancer and although he was not someone they were close to any longer, his death was yet another loss for them.
- Fudge took in particularly hard, his cognitive delays make his questions that much harder to answer and deal with.
- He for the life of him could not understand why the world did not stop rotating when B died and how exactly it took 3 days for us to find out and then tell him.
- There is a lot of being gentle going on, a lot of hugs and a lot of trying to work things out without anyone losing a limb in the process.
- Last week was really long, I think this week may be longer.
- I need to make time to be here more often because I also have my own grief and lately it seems to be looming larger than life, writing helps, I need to make time to write.
February 4, 2013 4 Comments
I know it’s been quiet around here.
Things have been hard, really hard and when they get hard like that I turn inward, I get depressed and I tend to bury my head in the sand.
About 6 weeks ago something happened with one of the kids, something that made their future, the reality they will live, the challenges they will face seem so much more real than they ever have before. I was angry about what they had done, the child in question did not really understand why I was so angry. 36 hours later after my head and exploded the child did the same thing again. I was so far past mad I could not even talk to the kid. Then 2 weeks ago just after Christmas that same child did a different thing but it was the sort of thing that really made me wonder if anything we ever said was heard or if it was all just gibberish.
The reality is that the child question does not have the ability to understand cause and effect. They should be able to understand that when they bend their finger all the way back it will hurt and then stop doing it but this child can not. They are bending their own finger all the way back, crying because it hurts and not understanding that they are the one who can stop the pain. That may seem like a rather primitive example but some days things just like that are happening.
To top that we are in the heart of all sorts of big anniversaries for Ramona and that is bringing up all sorts of behaviour which in of itself is more than challenging. I am pretty tired of being called a bitch by a 6 year old. In the midst of all this Ramona made some allegations against a person from her past which a probably true and now we have to deal with yet another interview with social workers.
Last week was one of the hardest weeks I have had in a long time, I was depressed and hiding in my house in my footie pj’s hoping that if I hid long enough spring would come, the light would return and the all the hard anniversaries for my kids would pass and we could just go back to it being summer. It didn’t happen. It’s still winter and they are still being tough as nails.
I did reach out to some friends to vent though, I did express my frustration and sadness and one of my very dear friends made an offer to give me a break, to take all 3 of crazy homeschooled kids so that I could have break. So that is what we are going to do, take a break, without our kids for the first time we are leaving them for a whole week and heading to the southern sun.
The thought of this break, this time to recharge is going to carry me through the next 10 days or so, it is the carrot I so needed. I will also leave all of the people I love and head to Orlando in March which is totally different kind of break and much needed one as well. (If you are interested in coming Orlando because you parent or have parented kids with attachment issues you can find information here)
I am going to be ok, I just need to take of my needs as well as theirs.
January 10, 2013 3 Comments
Things are on the repeat cycle. Twice in the last week I have been ready to throw in the towel and each time it has been with a different kid.
I went to our adoption support group tonight and after it ended I stood talking with other Moms, Moms who live my life and it made such a difference. I so needed them tonight. There are a group of us who keep going, I think we are scaring away other people but oh well, this is it people, this is real, adopting older kids is not all unicorns and rainbows and it most definitely not the same as parenting biological children.
I am tired of trauma.
I love my kids, I would do anything for them but the feeling like a hostage because one of them tries to hurt people when I leave, we do not need that to happen. And the pushing me till I explode part, we could lose that too, I would be okay with that.
What kid spend 3 hours pretending they are unable to learn to count by 5’s and tells you to go ahead and take their favourite stuff away because they DO NOT CARE – my 6 year old that’s who. That would be the same child who uses every swear word in the book and then hits me when those are not effective.
Yesterday was so many levels of insane I can barely even talk about it without getting angry. I mean that in all honesty. I was so angry and so frustrated that I sat silently for more than hour because if I had spoken I would of said something so horrible to one of my kids that we might never of recovered. They knew how mad I was, they played together without fighting for over an hour. Amazing what having an insanely angry parent can do.
Someone I love is coming to visit tomorrow and holding on to the joy is going to get me there.
Sometimes it is the little things that make it so that I can try again tomorrow.
November 21, 2012 1 Comment
Clearly I spoke to soon. It’s been seven days since Calvin had a tantrum, he didn’t make it to eight.
Frustrated barely begins to cover it.
November 15, 2012 1 Comment
Yes this could totally be a post about a homeschool math lesson but it is not. Nor is it a post about how to create a triangle out of manipulatives I know, I know that might be a really exciting thing to write about but I am talking about attachment disorder and my kids fantastic ability to form a triangle between herself and two other people and then manipulate that situation till she gets what she wants.
She is a master.
The boys did the same thing, they were pretty good and tried hard to make it work but Ramona can do it with the skill of a ninja, you have to be watching to see it and even when my eyes and ears are on her I still sometimes miss it.
Lately she has been working on it with the boys, the problem is I am wise to her games and today she had to pay them back in Halloween candy which she hated and they loved. They are now encouraging her to be mean and manipulative so they can get more candy. She of course no longer wants to play, funny that.
November 7, 2012 3 Comments
This is Christine, I love Christine, I stalk her but she totally know that so you can go ahead and stalk her to, really it`s okay I can share.
She is one smart cookie. Press play there, listen to her and then take a deep breathe and be silly.
We make up a lot of songs around here cause we have some kids who get really, really stuck. I was rather proud of this mornings and thought it might make you smile so feel free to sing along.
Cold Oatmeal ( to the tune of the Farmer in the Dell)
I like my oatmeal cold,
I like my oatmeal cold,
I don`t care what my mother says,
I like my oatmeal cold.
I can take all day to eat it,
I can take all day to eat it,
I have no where to be today
So I can take all day to eat it.
My brothers are laughing at me,
My brothers are laughing at me,
I don`t care if they laugh all day
Cause I like my oatmeal cold.
My raisins are walking away,
My raisins are walking away,
My raisins are bored and they don`t care
that I like my oatmeal cold.
I won`t do what Mom says,
I won`t do what Mom says,
My ears work fine but I don`t care
cause I like my oatmeal cold.
I think I probably had more verses but this morning wa a long time ago and I can`t remember them now.
This week has been insanely long, I have 2 kids working through all sorts of huge feelings. I have managed in the last week to teach them that you can totally make Mom blow if you push her hard enough and when she is sick you do not have to push very hard. I have also taught them that singing along tends to make your siblings even more crazy than they already are, so leave the singing up to Mom. It`s a good thing I don`t give up easily cause this week past week I totally might of done it.
Tomorrow is another day, I have my singing voice on and will look for my patient pants in the morning.
September 19, 2012 1 Comment
I have this boy, he is funny, adorable and has the ability to light up a room with his laughter. He has a great sense of humour, he loves sports and music, he is his little sisters hero. His name is Fudge and I love him in a way that only a mother could. He makes me crazy with his misbehavior and his antics but underneath all that silly little boy behaviour I see a glimmer of the wonderful man that he is going to grow into. A man who will be a fabulous at whatever paths he chooses to pursue because if there one thing that persistence is good for it is being successful.
I have not always been able to speak of him in that way, there was a long time when neither of us wanted to love one another. We have moved through that in many ways, it took a really, really long time, years in fact but then this week, he reminded me how very hard things can be with him.
On Wednesday he took me to a place I have not been to with him for a while, a place where he reminded me just how tenuous our relationship was for much of the first 3 and half years that he was my son.
There was a time about 2 years ago when I had given up hope that Fudge would ever love me. I talked about it then and you can read about here and here. They were dark days for me, days when I thought that things might never get better. Weeks and months when I had to let P be the only parent Fudge’s had because he was not willing to let me be his parent. I cooked his meals and did his laundry, I kissed him goodbye and goodnight but really that was all. P did everything else, all the nurturing, all the conflict resolution, assigning of consequences, all the stuff parents do for their kids was up to him. It was the only way to make it work. Fudge hated me, yes I said hated. It was not me as a person he hated, it was me as his Mom. He had been so hurt and he was missing the Moms he had before so profoundly that there was no way he could attach to another woman who said she was going to be his Mom. He had no reason to trust that I was not going to leave him even though I said was not.
I almost gave up more times than I would like to admit. I almost threw in the towel and stopped trying because I felt like it would never change. In the spring of 2011 he and I started therapy together again. I was committed to giving our relationship a chance to be something more than it was, something more than just a kid and his caregiver which was how I felt. Therapy was hard, he consistently talked about how the grass was greener everywhere else, about how I was not as good as everyone else and how really there was nothing that I could do that would be good enough.
I cried a lot.
But I kept going. Looking back I am not sure how, I am not sure what kept me going during those really dark months. I know that I was holding on to the fact that if he never attached to me it was not my fault, that I would of done everything I could to make him feel safe and loved. I could only show it to him though, I could not make him love me, that was up to him. There were times when I wondered what giving up would mean for our family, his brother was doing well and after much discussion we decided that it would just mean that P would be his only parent, that was really hard for me to think about and admit.
Week after week we pushed through, things got way worse, way harder and then almost a year after we started things started to change. I wrote this post then, the changes I was seeing in him gave me so much hope for our relationship. He let me do things for him, he came to me for comfort and just to say hello, he wanted to brush my hair and to touch and to be touched. These were all huge steps for him and although there were times when the last thing I wanted was to let him touch me I did it, I sucked it up because I knew that this was what he needed.
When things finally started to change I was apprehensive, I was not sure that this was going to last but it did, he is slowly but surely attaching and it makes life with him so much more enjoyable. It makes me happy to be his Mom, I look forward to being together and not dreading our every interaction.
We have our moments though, it is not all roses and sunshine around here let me tell you. This week I was reminded of that, on Wednesday he and I had an epic blowout, we were both so mad at one another the other kids were steering clear of both of us. Later when we were both calm, I talked through what had happened with him and apologised for totally blowing my top and he looked at me and said, ” you kind of had a right to be that mad, I was being a jerk.” I just about fell off my chair, I was floored by his ability to notice what he had done and admit it such a short time later. He is attaching, I am attaching and we are going to be ok even if it did take 4 years to get here.
This was also posted today at Hopeful Parents, it is a great place, you should go check it out.
September 8, 2012 6 Comments
This hard. I have said that before and I am about to say it again. This is hard. It makes me feel better when I voice that, when I speak the truth openly and let world in to all the pain and frustration that is parenting kids that other people hurt. I must say that I also know that parenting your own bio kids can be hard as well but I can only speak of what I know and that is older child adoption.
We have spent the last four years of parenting Fudge and Calvin and there are days when I feel as though there is no way that I am ever going to make it through their adolescence and they are not even actually teenagers yet. Then you add Ramona to the mix and not only am I outnumbered but their joint super powers are like kryptonite against my therapeutic parenting powers.
This week has been really hard.
Epic tantrums, big emotions, pee in places I would rather it not be, hurt feelings, mean words, anger, sadness, thrown food, lies, manipulation and triangulation just begin to scratch the surface of the things I have dealt with.
Tuesday was among the worst days I have had in a long time. Once it was over I took a deep breath, changed my expectations for my kids and talked myself into changing the way I had resorted to handling things lately. It was not working and if something did not change there was no way that I could keep the gray away until 40.
I put on my patient pants, I lowered my voice, I challenged myself to remember that some of this was just kid stuff and not only hurt kids behaviours. I worked on that for Wednesday and Thursday, it was a bit better, not great but better.
Then there was today, I threw a curve ball at my kids. changed up their routine with the announcement of unexpected ( although welcomed and loved) guests for supper. The house looked like a bomb went off, there was nothing to make for supper and I was busy canning peaches. Guests were not on today’s list. But I need to say aloud that my kids pulled together, listened to me, cleaned, got along and made it all happened. Were the chores all done properly, nope, was there bickering yep, did kids have to repeat thing, oh yeah but no one hurt anyone else. Progress I tell you, progress.
My kids look for fights with one another and with me, they long for the chaos that an argument brings and when I do not engage, when d I just call them back and make them fix it ( even though it is the 3rd time they are sweeping the bathroom because they have missed behind things each and every time even though it has been specifically mentioned multiple times,) in those moments I am Wonder Woman because when I can stay calm I am not feeding into the chaotic crazies that they want.
It is hard to stay calm in when yogurt is hitting the fan or when they walk away in the middle of a sentence but it really does work. I did not raise my voice once yesterday and although there were lots of reasons for me to yell my head off ( and trust me I am one loud mama) I didn’t do it. I was calm and quiet and it worked. Today was a little tougher but I did not yell about the big stuff although I did raise my voice but mostly just to be heard over the lawnmower or for kids to stop carrying one another like sacks of potato up and recently mopped staircase because the paper work after the big accidents is horrendous .
It’s hard, this parenting stuff, but keeping some perspective about my reactions is helping make it a little easier this week.
May I be wise in the coming week.
August 24, 2012 5 Comments