No More Twirly Skirts

GB came home from school yesterday agitated. Her speech was pressured and she couldn’t make eye contact. I couldn’t understand most of what she said. There was one phrase she kept repeating and I finally caught it. “No more twirly skirts”. It didn’t make sense. GB loves twirly skirts. GB and I went through her breathing exercises and I prompted her to hold on to the twirly skirt thought. She did.

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GB said that her first friend in her new class, S, said they couldn’t be friends if GB was a “goody-goody”. I asked what a “goody-goody” was. GB said they wear twirly skirts, sit by the teacher, and never get their “cards” pulled. (Cards are pulled in her class when a rule is broken.) I pointed out to GB that she loved twirly skirts and hated getting in trouble. She answered that if she wanted to be friends with S, she would have to change. I tried talking about the difference between trying not to annoy people and trying to change who she was. I confused her. She told me S found goody-goodies annoying.

I asked her the difference between real friends and people who just say they are your friend. The blank look on her face told me it was time to stop. We will revisit this with her therapist tomorrow.

A Word From Our Sponsor…

I haven’t posted in a while. I have been writing. I have not been sharing what I write. I have been contemplating why I share my writing here. After taking a break, I have found an answer that I am willing to sit with for now. I write because it helps me clarify my thoughts. I share because I do not want to be alone.

To sponsor something is  to support an event, activity, person, or organization financially or through the provision of products or services. My writing is my product . I am supporting my sanity. It sounds overly dramatic. Living in a place/space where the word “normal” has no meaning makes it easy to lose sight of the road you travel on. We are in the middle of change. The girls have each faced their own challenges… challenges made more difficult because change in its self is difficult for them.

 

GB is in a new class. The old class wasn’t working and was beyond what I could fix. Even though there was only eight students sharing the teacher and the two aides, the teacher was unwilling to have her working at her speed. While I was trying to determine why this class was no longer working for GB, I found out that in the two and a half years GB was there, the end of the year reading scores were not data based. It was the teacher’s best guess. Since GB’s IEP was based on this information, her IEP did not satisfy legal requirements. The school is anxious to meet GB’s needs anyway they can. I have not yet figured out what I want them to do. The class GB is currently in is larger, with thirteen other students. On the plus side, four of the students are girls and GB is developing a nice friendship with one of them. Her anxiety level is subsiding. Most days she is relaxed and happy. The downside of this class is its academic level. None of the students are close to functioning on grade level. Right now, GB needs what this class has to offer socially and emotionally. It is not a long term solution. I plan on leaving her there for the rest of the school year, so I have time to look for something more permanent.

Hope has not had a good month. She has taken the physically aggressive rages into the school. She bit one of the classroom aides. The spike in unacceptable behavior was accompanied by Hope feeling sad for the first time. This is a huge development. Hope has a new therapist. Besides working with Hope, she is helping us develop a treatment plan. She also insisted on us defining where the line was that would put Hope in an RTC. She reasoned that by defining it a head of time we would avoid making a rushed decision in a crisis. Hope’s treatment plan is still being constructed. We are working to keep everyone safe while Hope tries to deal with her very difficult feelings.

There is a lot more to share, but there is time. Nothing needs to be rushed. I wanted to end on a good note, so I am closing with this picture: GB’s favorite activity in her new class is learning to play the recorder. “Hot Cross Buns” never sounded so good.

GB practicing the recorder.

GB practicing the recorder.

 

 

 

When Adoption Doesn’t Work

MendedNobody goes into adoption with the thought “What if this doesn’t work”. Nobody. I have been quiet here because I have been busy thinking. There was a minor brouhaha at another adoption blog. The blogger is in a tough spot and I would not personally have the gonads or the presumption to tell her what the right thing to do was. Apparently, there were enough people who put their opinions out there. There were the “protect your *real* children” crowd, which were inevitably followed by the “all the children are *real*  children crowd. Last I looked, the *real* issue is safety– no more, no less.

Her situation really wasn’t out of the ordinary. She had adopted an older child, a teenager. The child had mental health and behavior issues. When you adopt an older child, that is what you have to deal with. This lady, in particular, had the added weight of being days away from delivering a child and having her husband walk out on her. She was physically unable to keep her teen, younger child, herself, or a new born safe. Families do not work when the parent(s) can not keep everybody safe. It is not a matter of choosing one child over another because of their *realness*.

Serious mental illness is more common  in adopted children, but biological children are not immune either. The mental health resources in this country are scarce and insufficient to meet the needs of the people, including children, who need them. Families who are fortunate enough to have their own resources to use can keep their families together by such over the top measures  as renting two apartments or buying a second house. For most people, that kind of solution is out of reach.

I have more than a few friends who have had to disrupt an adoption. Like the vast majority of adoption that don’t work, mental illness and traumatic experiences were part of the child’s experience before they were adopted.

The parents have used every resource they found- social workers, therapists, medication- read every book, tried every method and hit the same wall- nothing they do keeps their child safe. Disruption or dissolution of an adoption is never easy or pain free. These people have poured more of themselves into their child to make the adoption work then any outsider could imagine. They freely give of their resources; emotional, financial and physical. When their adoption fails, the pain and guilt stays around for a long time- sometimes forever.

The real solution to the disruption/dissolution dilemma is to fix the underlying problem. This country has outstanding medical services. It is time we had mental health services to match.

 

Back to School

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Today was the girls’ first day back to school after winter break. GB started her new class in her new school. They take different buses, but leave and arrive within a couple of minutes of each other. After they were safely on the bus, I began to worry- serious worry that consumed my mind and left no room for everything else.

It is hard to send any child into a new school situation in the middle of the year. It is even harder when that child has disabilities that make communication difficult for them. My primary goal is that she feel competent at school and finds joy on occasion. I still want her to learn as much as she is capable of learning. I do not want to put limits on the future of a child who hasn’t turned 10 yet.

GB came home with a smile, one page of homework, and lots of things to share. Day 1 went well. Hope came of the bus whining and complaining and pure attitude. She struggled through homework and when it was bath time, she lost it. She didn’t come back. The bottom line on Hope is that she still is not safe. Her psychiatrist is suppose to come back this month.The medication she is on does not cut it. We meet with her new therapist Friday. I am hoping she will lead us in a new direction.

My moment of the day: laying in bed with GB, working on a word search puzzle. She is a very visual kid and is good  at them. We enjoy them together and it doesn’t hurt her vocabulary or spelling skills.

Christmas Is For Family

Jakob Gabriel, mom, grandpa, and ... yup great grandpa.

Jakob Gabriel, mom, grandpa, and … yup great grandpa.

Christmas is family time. We started with friends before Christmas, did Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with just our nuclear six and had my sister and her family for Christmas dinner. Before my sister left this morning, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law arrived. We had an unexpected surprise when not only Jimmy and his family visited this afternoon, but also brought my first great grand baby- Jakob, who will be a week old tomorrow.

I am fighting off a bug and couldn’t hold him. The Dad had no problem taking my turns as well as his.

GB was thrilled to be taken out to lunch by her biological grandparents and her aunt. Hope did lots of sleigh riding at Bella’s. All the kids enjoyed the snow. No excitement and minimal drama makes for a good Christmas at home. The drama? That can wait until I have enjoyed the rest of my holiday.

Family Traditions

Mali

My sister and her family arrived from North Carolina in time for Christmas Dinner. Our matching pajamas have become a family tradition. We were blessed with six inches of premium snowman making snow. So far, we have had three game nights, a beautiful snowman built, gone to a movie, and went roller skating. Skiing is on for tomorrow for the older kids. Bowling and the city are still on our to do list. Everyone has been busy. GB fell asleep waiting for her bath tonight.

Happy Holidays to All. May you enjoy your family’s traditions, whatever they are, who ever they are with.

It Is the Little Things…

I have decided that at this time, in this place, for GB, happiness is more important than being educated. The decision made at last week’s CSE was that her class was working at a level and speed GB was not capable of handling. The decision was unanimous. She

IMG_0917will do a thirty day trial, in a new class, starting January 2, 2013.

The Dad and I met the teacher and observed the class. It is officially called the “Multiple Needs” class. The new teacher went to GB’s class yesterday and spent an hour. GB liked her. GB visits the class for three hours tomorrow.

It was agreed at the meeting,  since GB was leaving, and the work was beyond her, Mr. Teacher was not going to place any demands on her. Sounds straight forward enough. Unambiguous.

GB has missed every recess because of incomplete work. That is four days straight. I have called him, emailed him, and wrote in her notebook. Finally, today I sent an email to Mr.Teacher and copied the principal and the Director of Special Education and told them that the next time she missed recess would be her last day in that class room. The principal and Director of Special Education are unhappy, although it wasn’t clear who they were unhappy with.

GB is looking forward to her new class. For now, that is good enough for me.