Having a child who needs line of sight, within hearing range, and sometimes within reach, 24/7 is tiring. It is not only tiring for me, it is tiring for her. The activity in the house moves from place to place with The Dad, with MK and she is stuck behind with me. She is always bored, crying and pouting that there is nothing to do. Her attention span is four or five minutes at best, unless she is in the pool, where she can last twenty to twenty-five minutes. We are working on a boredom jar, which is just a decorated container filled with things to do that take approximately fifteen to thirty minutes each. Some are fun, like painting, some are ok, like building with one of the five types of blocks we have, some are physical, like jumping on the trampoline for ten minutes and some are work, such as emptying the dishwasher or doing a sheet of math. When we have it finished, I will have the answer to the statement “There is nothing to do”.
Since Hope’s Attachment Therapy Intensive is scheduled for the day after summer school starts, the school district does not want to pay for either girl to go. I understand their position. The girls would miss 8 days out of a 30 day day program. It doesn’t even bother me if GB doesn’t go, because I had hesitated to sign her up. A relaxed summer, with Hope in summer school may be just what she needs. I want Hope to go, not only because that is key to a relaxed summer for GB, but because after going through the kindergarten program twice, with one on one academics, Hope still is not sure of all her sounds. I am trying an approach with the school that I haven’t tried for years… I simply asked for what I wanted, nicely, with no threat, implied or otherwise. I am interested in seeing how it works out.
It is 90 degrees out and only noon. Hope is looking for a fight, but I am refusing the bait. I am so tired of therapeutic panties. She has had to sit numerous times already today, but has done so without going off. Why? The combination of a really hot day and a swimming pool in the back yard. Hope really doesn’t want to lose swimming this afternoon. I am not too proud to use what works!
Earlier, I wrote about the blessings of seeing the results of some of the seeds we planted. It was a blessing in and of its self. I was so proud of Jimmy and how well he has done. His children are beautiful. Sunday was pure joy.
I have continued talking to Jimmy and his family. The everyday conversations we have had over the past three days reminded me of one irrefutable truth. Kids that age out of our foster care system never have it easy. Jimmy spoke of working hard, but never having benefits. His wife has spoken of the frustrations of trying to keep her kids healthy with only medicaid, which greatly limits your choice of treatment providers. The seventeen year old spoke about being considered white trash in some of the schools she has attended. the eleven year old boy only wants to now what his dad was like when he was a child.
I know Jimmy made life harder than it had to be by choosing to dissolve the adoption. But the anger he felt at being removed from the Dad he loved was real. The anger and hurt he felt when his mother kept his siblings and refused to work with the county to get custody of him was real. I understand it. Life is not fair. The pain never completely leaves. The System sucks.
|Jimmy, 27 years later|
|My newest grandaughter- who came looking for me.|
Thirty plus years ago we had three boys. You know about J. He was an infant. Robbie came as an adoptive placement at eight. When he hit puberty at 12 he started hallucinating. The only way we could get treatment for him was by dissolving the adoption. It wasn’t what we wanted, it wasn’t what he wanted but there were no other options. The third boy was Jimmy. He came to us as a foster child when he was 10. The county wouldn’t let him go back to his dad. His mother was the permanency plan. When she made only one of her scheduled weekly visits in six months time, that plan was scrapped. We eventually adopted him. When Robbie was placed in an RTC, the anger boiled over in Jimmy. He hated me, he hated The Dad, he hated rules, he hated chores. After six months in a treatment group home, Jimmy was still adamant that he did not want to be adopted any more. After four years as a foster then adoptive placement, we dissolved the adoption. It was painful. I was young and reasonably clueless. That was almost 27 years ago.
Wednesday, I received a FB message from a 17 year old girl asking if I had an adopted son named James. Thursday was Hope’s big meltdown. I didn’t look at the message until Friday. I answered that I had an adopted son named James a long time ago, but he had chosen to end the relationship. Saturday afternoon, we exchanged more information and it was apparent she was talking about my Jimmy. She then told me that Jimmy was her father and she was kinda my granddaughter.
Saturday night, Jimmy started a chat on FB that lasted over an hour. He left here angry, but was now able to place the anger at the county for taking him away from his Dad and his mother who abandoned him. Sunday morning after breakfast and showers, I opened FB and Jimmy was there waiting. He lives about an hour and a half from us. This afternoon, he brought his wife and his three kids to meet us. His two youngest did well with our girls and his oldest daughter stayed right by me. It was amazing the details Jimmy remembered. The Dad got out two huge picture albums and the two of them went through them picture by picture. The visit lasted six hours and there were no strained moments.
Jimmy had grown into a man that I liked and enjoyed. He has been married 19 years and is a good father. Sometimes, you get to see the flower that came from the seed you planted… even if it is 27 years later.
Hope did not want to eat lunch before swimming yesterday. She threw her sandwich across the table, I said, “no swimming this afternoon” and we were off and running. Hope spent last night in respite and I emailed the attachment therapist to see how fast we could schedule our intensive.
GB and I took advantage of Hope’s absence. We went shopping, swimming, and then grilled. We tapped and she went to sleep last night in less than 5 minutes. She climbed into my bed this morning and we took advantage of our unscheduled time to cuddle.
I am still getting anonymous critics on my last couple of posts, but they aren’t particularly interesting so I am just leaving them there. Our time with the Attachment Therapist convinced me that adopting Hope wasn’t a mistake. The waiver people are giving me plenty of one on one time with GB. There is no way that disrupting Hope is in her best interests. Or for GB’s for that matter. Adoption is forever. Hope may need an RTF, but we are still her family. Even children who can’t function in their family’s home, deserve to have that family.
I am excited to begin our journey with Attachment Therapy. I hope it is soon.
There were a couple of questions after my last post and I would like to try and answer them.
The first question was what is an intensive? This is an obvious question that should have been part of my last post. Sometimes I forget that not everybody who reads my stuff lives and breathes adoption, attachment, and RAD.
When speaking about Attachment Therapy, an intensive is a method of delivering that therapy. Therapy happens, with the child and parents, on consecutive days. After each days session, the parents are given specific exercises to practice with the child for the rest of the day. Therapy continues the next day. An initial intensive usually runs about 10 days.
The advantages of an intensive is that the parents and child are immersed in the therapy and unlike weekly or biweekly attachment therapy, sessions where not everything “takes” can be corrected the next day. Also, since one day’s session is directly followed by the next day’s session, the material is fresh for everyone, including the child.
All though every Attachment Therapist varies slightly in method, the goals are similar. They promote the connection between the parent(s) and child, help set up a healthy relationship where the child depends on the parent for what they need, addresses the trauma issues the child has, and gives the parents the tools they need to continue working on the child’s attachment.
In our initial appointment, the Attachment Therapist worked on eye contact, compliance, and trust between us and Hope. Eye contact is very important. Children with RAD avoid all eye contact unless they are using it to get something. The Attachment Therapist required eye contact every time Hope spoke.
The Dad and I spent 15 minutes discussing what would happen during our intensive and listening to the Attachment Therapist’s assessment on where Hope stood. We were doing better than we thought, but have a long way to go.
Hope and I survived the weekend. The psychiatrist Monday cancelled, but we got in touch by email and decided that all the clonidine was doing was making Hope tired, so we stopped the morning and afternoon doses.
I was a little surprised at the responses to my two last posts. I hadn’t realized or even considered how many people feel entitled to judge my lives’ work.
Monday, after meeting with the waiver worker, we drove down to Philadelphia and had the pleasure of spending the evening with friends. On Tuesday, we spent most of the day with the Attachment Therapist. The Dad and I took the first two hours and then my friend brought Hope to join us.
It was a long and tiring afternoon. These are the things I took with me when we left.
- Hope experienced a lot of trauma, most of it when she was pre-verbal.
- She is on the severe end of the Reactive Attachment Disorder spectrum.
- There are small chinks in her armor that the Attachment Therapist thinks she can work with.
- Hope had much more difficulty maintaining eye contact with the Dad. She really struggled.
- Hope found it easier to maintain eye contact with me.
- The Attachment Therapist was pleased with what we have done so far.
- She thinks she will need 6 or 7 days for Hope’s intensive instead of the usual 10.
Now we have to match schedules.
Hope held it together for most of the session. Of course, once Hope was in the car to go home, she fell apart and raged. We weren’t surprised.
Attachment is so fundamental, I hope we can schedule Hope’s intensive quickly. The Attachment Therapist believes that after Hope does the work of the intensive, all the other services she receives will be much more effective.
All of my children had birth parents who couldn’t or didn’t want to care for them or never knew of their existence. Hope was adopted by somebody else who couldn’t/wouldn’t deal with her severe mental illness. My kids had been screwed long before they were mine. My oldest RAD (26) also has FASD. We may not meet your standards, but we meet our commitment. 20,000 to 30,000 teenagers age out of foster care every year, with no family to fall back on. The last thing society needs is more kids aging out of foster care with no support. My children are not neuro-typical. Fortunately, they have someone who makes sure they get the services they need as adults.They have love, treatment, and a family that doesn’t disappear on their eighteenth birthday.
That may not seem like much to you, but compared to the children never adopted, they have it all.
To those you have shown so much kindness and caring; Hope has been on edge but so far we have managed to keep things contained. Hope enjoyed her picnic at school today. GB loved her end of the year gymnastics and Hope held it together for the whole 40 minutes. A success for today.