The Dad Asked

Last night The Dad asked me to write a post like yesterday’s post, except make it about Hope instead of GB. There have been some logistical issues. We have only had Hope for a little over a year. I don’t know the real Hope. We haven’t broken through the RAD yet. Hope is still physical whenever she rages. And she is still raging. My instant reset button is broken. I know a lot of you understand that.  I can’t keep her safe without risking getting hurt- especially in public. I will not willingly take Hope some place public by myself because of that. So today’s post won’t be the same. It will be shadows of future possibilities.

Hope is an angry little girl. Given her background, it is unreasonable to expect anything else. I get 90% of her anger. Again, it is unreasonable to expect anything else. I do not always deal well with being the constant focus of her anger. The Dad wishes that were different. So do I. Right now it is not.

Hope is not FASD, ASD, Bipolar, or ADHD. She is broken. What happened to her with her first adoptive family broke the child God made. God gave us this child to help her become what he intended. She has music in her soul. She is never as happy as when dancing her ballet. She trusts no one- not even The Dad, although he gets more trust than anyone else. The fact that she does trust The Dad more than anyone else, gives me hope… the ability to trust has not been completely destroyed. Hope is so far behind because of the neglect she lived with- she is missing concepts such as first, last, yesterday, tomorrow. After a year of working on them, they are still not usable. Rhyming words and beginning sounds do not exist to Hope- yet she wants to read and takes every opportunity to “read” to me. A drive that strong comes from a survivor. Hope has cause and effect and the ability to think abstractly. She frequently chooses not to use them, but having them puts her so far ahead of most of our kids.

Part of me regrets adopting Hope. I am too old, Hope’s needs are so different from GB’s, it never stops. This part of me is real. There is another part of me that knows God meant Hope to be ours. God believes The Dad and I are the people Hope needs to heal. I have found that arguing with God is usually a waste of energy and time. I would rather put that energy into Hope. Hope can heal. I can help.

Broken?

I have had children in my house for over thirty years. By society’s judgement, each child was broken in some way. I never questioned that assumption. After all, I was very busy meeting the needs of these children and fighting schools, social groups, and neighbors, trying to make a place for them. When society’s opinion was thrust into my consciousness, I would look at my kids and see why they were considered broken and then move on. There was 9 year old Ralph, who sat and talked to my car’s headlights while he snacked on my flowers. There was 14 year old Vernon, who in anger set more than 30 fires in his home town before he came to me. There was a 5 year old who didn’t know what a broom was and hadn’t ever heard the word no. I was only mildly surprised when he tried to beat up his soccer team… the whole  team. I had children with TBI, schizophrenia,and trauma histories that were beyond anything I could comprehend. Yet these kids went to regular schools and were expected to meet ordinary expectations. It was inevitable that these children, and my others, were considered broken. Yet, even in the beginning, I was aware that “broken” was only part of it.

My kids made me laugh, could be kind, and were frequently creative. They found joy in the ordinary and let me come along for the ride. They had compassion for those weaker or more disadvantaged. Everyday traditions could make their eyes shine. This was my life for a long time. I stopped taking in kids in 2002. My kids were older, had graduated from high school and I enjoyed a year of a social life with friends whose children were also more grown up than not.

GB is my granddaughter. She went to the NICU directly from the birthing room. I took custody of her at two months and her parents were gone before she turned six months. GB didn’t smile at all and missed her  early milestones. She  started EI at seven months. I didn’t know what was wrong, although I knew there was a problem. Like all my earlier kids, society considered GB broken. But I was different, I had changed. At 11 months, I found out she was FAS. By the time she was four, I knew she was bipolar. At seven and a half, autistic was added. Each diagnosis felt like I had been blindsided. Intellectually, I understood them and knew they were right. Emotionally, I was equally sure there was nothing broken about this child.

It has taken a year of contemplation to come to term with these incompatible ideas. GB is not neuro-typical. She is also not broken. She is exactly what God made her to be. God knows her gifts and her challenges and has given me the honor of being her mom. I love her smile. I love watching her dance as she is carried away by the beat of music.I share her joy as her garden blooms with color.  I enjoy the pride she has in her cartwheels, in her ability to swim, and the food she cooks for us. I know it can take GB several minutes to be able to verbally express a thought. I see that she is able to relax and share real communication with only the few she trusts. I know that I have to check for minefields before I put her in any new situation. I am responsible for making sure she gets enough sleep and that she eats when she needs to. She can’t tell me what hurts or why she can’t cope. It is part of who she is.

GB is not broken. She is exactly the person God made her to be. She is my gift from Him.

Give a fish…

The attitude of entitlement has me pissed off big time. Quasi-adults- people between 26 and 39+- who think that they are entitled to have life’s problems solved to their satisfaction by resources outside themselves. I think about when I was in my late twenties and early thirties. The people I knew would never publicly talk about having to exist on bread and water, much less post it on FB. Of course, their money wouldn’t have been spent on cigarettes, grand lattes, and drugs… they would have fed their kids. Their money wouldn’t have been spent on premium cable, high speed internet, or top-of-the-line data plans for their iphones, either. Their kids would have eaten. A television in every room (including kid’s bedrooms) didn’t even occur to them. How can you consider yourself independent when you are living off of public assistance, charity, and private bailouts?

Remember the saying “Give a fish, they eat for a day. Teach them to fish, they eat for a life time”? There is a lot of truth in there. The real question becomes “What do you do when they decide learning to fish is too much work?” I don’t comprehend. It is like I don’t speak the same language and there are no translators around. I find it mind boggling.

This is my rant and a regular post will return tomorrow. I will go back to speaking a language I do understand.

Hope’s Class May Have a Real Therapist

Hope’s class has a new therapist. Third one in the 13 months we have had Hope. I met with him. He seemed almost lost and definitely uncomfortable. I had just about given up when he brought up her diagnosis. It turns out the school has Hope’s diagnosis down as an adjustment disorder. After observing Hope for several hours, in her class, over the course of a week, the therapist spent hours going through Hope’s records. The poor therapist was struggling to find a diplomatic way to tell me my daughter had Reactive Attachment Disorder. After I stopped laughing, I gave him a short history. He was amazed she is doing so well after only being with us for a year.  I guess everything is relative.

Hope’s CSE

We had a CSE for Hope this morning. It was the first one for Hope without Mrs. V.S. Chairperson. Everybody was prepared with the materials needed. The speech therapist went over the speech eval done on Hope over the summer. She provided detailed information and well formulated goals for Hope’s IEP. Hope teacher discussed where Hope was in the process of learning to read and said right now, Hope requires her one on one involvement to read. Nobody at the meeting seemed aware of district standards to be promoted to first grade. Mrs. Director will find out before we meet again.

I have 6 week programs reviews scheduled for both girls, back to back. I can’t believe how smoothly this year is progressing. Not at all the black sinkhole of energy it was last year. Thank you, God! I really appreciate it!

God Came Swimming

Hope and GB at the indoor pool

The Dad’s attempt at letting yesterday be a new day for Hope didn’t work.  She made it through dance, but didn’t last the party. Fortunately, it was only twenty feet to get out of the building. The Dad has had high hopes for the progress he has seen (and hadn’t physically seen a meltdown, since he is usually not here for them) and was very disillusioned about Hope’s rage. MK took him to the movies last night, but it didn’t help.

We woke up this morning and I couldn’t stand dealing with the behavior and attitudes that would have to be dealt with at church. Everybody needed something different. So we all went swimming. When Hope asked why we weren’t going to church, I told her we were bringing God swimming with us. The kids burnt off some energy, the adults relaxed a bit.

All swum out

We have Hope’s first CSE of the year tomorrow and do not see the shrink for another three weeks. I hadn’t thought the rages were gone, so I don’t have as much to rethink. I decided some time ago that I would not be taking Hope out in public by myself and that is still true. The Dad has to figure out for himself what he thinks they can handle.