Prep

The Dad and I spent some time today preparing for our meeting with Hope’s new therapist tomorrow. We agreed that our immediate goal is to have Hope safe to be around. Until Hope is safe to be around, nothing else can happen. Right now, Hope is not safe. People and animals are always at risk.

Any prayers or good wishes you have are appreciated. I feel as though we are looking for a small miracle.

Welcome, 2013

Exactly one  year ago, I wrote this post, https://adoptingspecialneeds.wordpress.com/2012/01/page/3/ . My word for 2012 was going to be “moment“, as staying in the moment. Looking back, I would have to say I failed more often then I succeeded. There was a a 3 month period over the summer where I was unable to start fresh each moment. Getting physically beat up can do that to a person.

The last couple of months The Dad has been Hope’s primary caregiver. Yesterday, Hope raged and got him with a head butt in the face. It looked painful. She kicked me, but it didn’t catch me by surprise, as she had already kicked The Dad’s brother.

Hope is on medication, which she wasn’t on this time last year. Her raging is a little less in terms of frequency and intensity- but not much. This year provided very little healing for Hope.

We have a new configuration of therapists lined up. If you are interested you can read it on the other blog.

I am looking at 2013 as a fresh start, but I decided to use the word “moment” again. I do not want to repeat all of 2012’s mistakes again this year. I still think an RTF is Hope’s best shot, but I am willing to try a new approach. For Hope’s sake, for my families sake, I pray for healing.

No Answers

Another tragedy. Another shooting. Still no gun control. Still unwilling to fund necessary mental health treatment.

Politicians insisting on protecting unborn fetuses, while refusing to commit to caring for these children after they have taken their first breath.

Having several adopted children with RAD or the adult version of Borderline Personality Disorder, yet not having community support or even a consensus of what treatment will help.

My youngest is still struggling every single day. I did not take her from her mother. I did not cause the damage that torments her. I try to make a difference and then hear RAD is just an excuse to abuse children.

I have no answers. Do you?

Whose Mistake?

We went to Radio City Music Hall and saw their Holiday Spectacular. We went with another family. We took the train down to Grand Central. We meandered around Rockefeller Plaza. The kids each picked an activity from the MOMA gift shop as a souvenir. We had hot dogs from street vendors and went to the 1pm matinee. Our seats were in the second row and each girl had cotton candy and a Radio City Music Hall Santa hat which came with cotton candy.

The show itself was an absolute success. All the girls were mesmerized.

Dinner was not as successful. We had reservations, but the restaurant was $50 an entree and had no kid’s menu. My Fillet Mignon  and the sauce it came with was delicious. Everybody else had trouble finding something they thought they would eat. I didn’t recognize most of what was on the menu.

Hope had an awful day. The only time she enjoyed herself was during the actual show. She was difficult all day. She had two full blown rages. In the middle of Manhattan. We had no graceful exits,

That old dilemma again. We want her to enjoy the family time with us. She can’t handle anything but a small, confined world. I am glad Hope had the experience of seeing the show. I never want to take her anywhere again.

Why Attachment Therapy?

A reader, JM, left the following comment:

I’m curious, if you don’t mind answering, why you chose to do Attachment Therapy with Hope as opposed to other therapies? Also, what do you think about the controversy and criticism of Attachment Therapy?

As we have recently made yet another four hour trip to see the attachment therapist, I thought this would be a good time to start to answer this question. I can only start to answer because Hope’s treatment is a work in progress.

When we Hope first joined our family, it was obvious that she had been severely neglected. Abuse, both sexual and physical, was red flagged by Hope’s behavior the first couple of weeks home. From the moment we took Hope, it was apparent that her rage was focused on the mother. That would be me. Hope has been seeing two trauma therapists since she came home. Last spring, the physical violence against me reached dangerous levels. A friend of mine, who had adopted a child from a Russian orphanage, had used the attachment therapist we are using with good results.

The therapist was Dan Hughes based, and also treated trauma. We did an eight day intensive in July and it was difficult. Difficult for us, difficult for Hope. The therapist told us how seriously disturbed Hope was. She said Hope maybe unable to live in a family, but there was still a spark there to work with.

Hope is not my first child with attachment issues. My first child was adopted at 10 weeks. He cried for the first three months he was home. My oldest daughter, who has FASD, was adopted at 6 months. When my daughter came home, she smiled at everyone. She never cried. She would take right away to anyone she came in contact with. Everybody, including me, thought it was a blessing that she adjusted so well. This was 27 years ago and nobody in the adoption world was talking about attachment issues. She wasn’t diagnosed with RAD until she was 17. She still struggles.

I was looking for a healthier outcome for Hope. I realize attachment therapy comes with a lot of controversy. The “holding” therapy is the source of much of that controversy. Children have died from it. Some of those deaths occurred because parents didn’t feel “in charge” and therefore did not educate themselves on the therapy their child was receiving. By not taking charge themselves, they became subservient to the therapist and allowed physical abuse. The Dad and I are always in the room with Hope and we always know exactly what is going to happen. The only time there is any “holding” involved is during trauma work. During trauma work Hope is rolled up in a blanket on a mattress before it begins.

I feel that since Hope is so young the best outcome for her is for us to become her psychological parents. I still think it is possible for The Dad. I am not sure it is possible for me. I do not know if Hope will ever let anyone be her mother again. This leads me right to where I am. Does Hope have to accept me as her mother in order to grow up healthy in our family?

I have no answer to that question. I can’t find anything in the literature. Most of the literature is written with the assumption attachment is necessary and then goes on to how to get the child attached. I am sure that secure attachment would be the best outcome. Nobody looks at  how to help a child who is not capable of attachment. There were some case studies of unattached child who grew up to be sociopaths, but no examination of unattached children who grew up without becoming sociopaths. I was looking for a study of the differences between the two groups.

I am sure this doesn’t fully answer the question, but I don’t really have an answer. We are a work in progress. Hope is a work in progress. Day by day, we look for new paths, partial answers.

Hope

Hope Has had another difficult week. It has been two months since The Dad has been her primary caregiver. She has good moments, but overall every day is a struggle. School has also been a struggle, with Hope escalating to physical aggression. We are on our way to Philadelphia. Tonight, we visit friends. Tomorrow, we see the attachment therapist.

Hope’s hair was done in corn rows (not by me). She loves them, especially the pearly pink beads. I hope they last more than three days!

News From Texas

 

Hope has been really struggling. We have been at a loss to help her. Part of the problem is that Hope had such limited speech while see was living in Texas and when she first came to us. She was really non verbal during the abuse and trauma she endured in Texas and nobody in her Texas was talking.

I received an email a couple of days ago. It was from Hope’s Texas Mother’s mother. Hope’s Texas parents are divorcing. Hope’s Texas Gramma said that now that they are divorcing, she felt free to ask her ex-SIL for my email address. She offered to share all Hope went through that she knows about.

Some answers may finally be available.

Changes

On Monday, we had a very short meeting with Mary Poppins and she is gone. The Dad is considering taking a leave of absence from work so that he can continue working with Hope. He is not ready to put her in an RTF and I am not ready to have her 7 hours away. For the time being, we are at a stalemate. We continue to do things as a family and Hope continues to struggle. The school has upped Hope’s therapy to twice a week, individual sessions. Hope is again seeing an outside therapist. We haven’t seen the waiver people since September 17th. The case manager is coming out tomorrow.

Today was Kenny’s funeral. It was four hours long. The Dad spoke. I do not remember much of it, although I do remember crying a lot. I know Kenny is out of pain and I believe he is with God. I think the tears will pass. I am selfishly reluctant to admit I will not have Kenny’s friendship again on earth.

Everything changes and nothing changes- all at the same time.

Visiting with J. and Family

We spent two full days with my friend, J., and her family. J and her most excellent husband have adopted three children from trauma backgrounds. Their youngest is very close to Hope in age and behaviors. The two girls became quickly inseparable. GB and J.’s two oldest also enjoyed being together. It was good to spend time with J. and meet her husband. It was good for The Dad to have the opportunity to be with adults who “get it”.

 

Canada is a beautiful country. I have driven through parts of it before as we drove to Michigan, but this is the first time I have seen Canada in daylight. The reds on the turning trees were beautiful. Beautiful old homes and vast fields with wooden fences that were different than any fence I have seen before. I have always assumed Canada was just like the USA, like a  far north state. It is and it isn’t.

 

J. and her family were so warmly welcoming it was like coming home. When Hope’s first trip to the bathroom resulted in a shaving cream cans worth of mess, there was no surprise. Hope continued to be Hope and J. was ready for it and the time flew, with everybody enjoying themselves. The acting out behaviors were just a ripple in our time together.

 

When we had to leave this morning, Hope did not take it well. We stopped at a Starbucks for coffee right after leaving J.s. Hope started raging in the car and continued on the side of the drive thru lane. It lasted for over forty five minutes. Once she was done, it was still six hours to home. She was nasty and miserable for the rest of the ride. When we stopped to eat, The Dad took Hope to sit at a different table to eat. It should not have bothered me as Hope was being so nasty I didn’t really want to deal with her. It did.

 

J. lives in the middle of nowhere. One thing J.’s husband said last night, as we visited over (good) wine, was that they could never raise kids from the hard places  in suburbia.  Living in a place where 12 or more neighboring families hear your kid rage is stressful. Part of it is the knowledge that sooner or later CPS will show up on your doorstep is wearing. It also makes putting your child outside to rage an option we don’t have.

 

J. has offered to take Hope in respite for a while. Other people I trust have also offered. My fear is how Hope will react. It is not yet a rational fear. I still have some processing to do.