Good Night, Irene

Thanks to Hurricane Irene, there was no CSE this morning. We had no real problems. Lost internet, cable and our land line. Have zillions of reasonably small branches all over the yard and a pool filled to the brim. However, all around us, rivers and creeks overflowed, trees went down, roads were washed away. Most people in my county still have no power. The school has no power.

The Director of Special Education has no idea of how to meet GB’s needs in district. GB has decided she wants to be home schooled. That won’t meet her social needs at all.

The Dad is going away, so there will be no CSE before school starts in a week. I am not happy.

Incidentally, I wanted to thank everybody who responded to my last post. Before I cried, I went through my usual you-are-ours-forever spiel, but it didn’t seem like enough. I finally told her she couldn’t leave until she was old like me. There was clear disbelief on her face that slowly changed to a smile. I am not naive enough to think the abandonment issue is resolved, but I am hopeful that we took a tiny step in the right direction.

Tears

Today Hope asked me how many days she had lived here. I told her a year and a day. She asked again how many days she had lived here. I answered 366 days. She asked me how many days before she had to leave. I didn’t let her see me cry.

Real Progress :)

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of Hope’s Adoption. The Texas parents called. AND I HAVE NOTHING TO TELL YOU ABOUT! There was no fall out the entire trip. Hope was Hope. She is RAD. BUT there was no escalation, no sabotage of a good thing. She enjoyed the hotel, swimming, and the Strong Museum. She was a pain in the rear at restaurants and in the car. I am doing the happy dance.

Mini-Break

I had so much fun at the Strong National Museum of Play with my Trauma Mamas, that today I am taking my whole crew to the museum. We came up last night, had a nice dinner, and went swimming. It was our one year anniversary with Hope. The Texas parents called. Hope seems to be OK- at least no more RAD them usual. I hope it lasts at last through museum. I am looking forward to the visit.

GB was supposed to stay with Bio-grandparents tomorrow, but they called and said her Birthmother will be there. GB started crying, saying over and over “you won’t make me go, will you”. I told GB I wouldn’t make her go and now the bio’s have decided I am trying to keep her away from them. They say I am trying to keep her away from GB. Sometimes, open adoptions are difficult. Yesterday was one of those times.

Loss

Mary provided daycare for GB for three years while I was teaching and in school. Two years ago she was diagnosed with stage IV liver cancer. She has been on chemo since. She wanted to do respite for my girls when she felt good enough. GB loves her and it worked out well for both of us.

Today I got the inevitable call. Mary is dying. No more chemo, just hospice to keep her comfortable. GB has already experienced so much death, so many loses. Please pray for me as I help her through this painful time.

Coming Up on a Year

Exactly one year ago today, we were packing for the trip to Texas to adopt Hope. It is difficult to believe a year can go by so quickly, yet be so long. There are things I wished I had known in the beginning: how quickly Hope would potty train, how hard it was going to be on GB, how bright Hope was, and how all her problems came back to RAD. I wish I had known how the last adoptive parents’ guilt was going to flavor my life all year. How little the school district was going to listen and how much they had to learn for themselves. Just how tired I was going to be.

There are things I should have consciously remembered, but didn’t; How good Radlets are at triangulating and how much energy it takes to be at least one step ahead. How their radar finds the moment you are least prepared to deal with, so when they start Radishing, it gets maximum effect. How hard it is to keep yourself focused on the hurt child, when all you really want to do is make them go away.

None of this was on my mind that day. I was excited and scared and had a knot in my stomach. An old Irish saying was “God watches over fools and drunks”. I am not a drunk, so that leaves me a fool.

Things We Don’t Want to Know

Most biological parents have a comfortable sureness that they know their child. Most adoptive parents also are sure they know their children. Then there are adoptive parents of special needs kids. They, too, are reasonably sure, after a couple of years of living with them, that they have a large amount critical knowledge on their kids. Most of the time, all these parents are right.  Sometimes, though, the outside world gives us a piece of information that blindsides us. Biological or adoptive, someone says something to us that does not fit into how we see our child. Denial is our instinctive reaction. We know our kids! We would have noticed.

The first thing that a parent may notice is that in the past, people or professionals have said stuff to us about our kid that it didn’t fit the kid we knew, we either laughed, got annoyed, or felt attacked. After it ate at us for a while, it went, or mostly went, away.  This time, someone, a professional, school personal, or someone you are close to, says something or suggests something that you have never given thought to or have already ruled out. Our reaction is denial, sometimes mixed with hurt or anger. Perhaps we feel overwhelmed, maybe to the point we feel that someone has knocked the wind out of us. This time, our feelings won’t settle down. Time passes and the reasons that person gave for what they believed are still bouncing around our head. Eventually, our mind acknowledges that there was some truth behind what was said and we start the difficult task of researching and integrating the bit of new knowledge into our world view.

I can give you several examples from my life. When we adopted MK we knew she was exposed to alcohol in-utero. The specialists completed testing in 1986 and assured us MK had gotten lucky. She did not have FAS. I was relieved. After a difficult childhood and a more difficult adolescence, a neuropsychologist who evaluated MK at 17 said she was FASD and RAD and probably would need some support the rest of her life. It was not a diagnosis I was prepared for. I had never heard of RAD and FASD had all ready been ruled out! Seven years later, I find myself mostly in acceptance. It was a long, hard journey.

We knew that GB had a lot of delays when we got her. She started Early Intervention at 7 months. EI suggested taking here to see a neurologist. I did and within 2 minutes of examining her, the doctor announced GB suffered prenatal exposure to alcohol and had FASD. Nobody had ever mentioned it before and I was blown away. Over six years later, after much research and multiple evaluations,   I have integrated this into my worldview of who GB is.  Last fall, in the middle of a neuropsych, I was told GB was autistic. They gave solid reasons for this diagnosis, but a took a lot of research and observation of GB- months’ worth- before I knew they were right.

These are examples of things I didn’t  want to know. Most parents have at least a few of these moments. Special Needs parents tend to have more than a few. It is really difficult to process and then deal with these world changing truths.  I remember being so angry at the neurologist that first announced  that GB was FASD that I simply walked out. Shooting the messenger is neither kind nor productive. Although that is what I wanted to do when the neuropsychologist told me GB was Autistic, I was able to refrain. It still took months before I accepted the diagnosis .

Each loss, each blow to our kid’s future, needs to be grieved. The only way to get through denial to a place of acceptance is to go through the grieving process. Then we move on to make sure our kids get what they need.