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.

 

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.

Good Bye 2012

2012 was a long year and I am not sorry to see it go. My health reared up and demanded attention. I lost my focus with Hope, lost it in a sea of attachment. I forgot I was trying to make Hope an integral part of my family. I let others take the lead with Hope. I have never done that with one of my kids.

I thought I was improving my relationship with Mk, but it was superficial. She still hates me and thinks I hate her. I have been married almost 35 years and this year I came closer to divorce then ever before.

There were mixed events. I got to know GB’s needs much better. The cost? I had to face how much damage alcohol exposure prenatally did to her. My pain has steadily increased, but I discovered acupuncture provided relief. I dared to reach out to new friends. It is a much better way to live, but it sometimes results in pain.

There were a couple of blessings. Jimmy came back into our lives. I have three new grandchildren and became a great grandmother for the first time. We found a team of four therapists to work with our family.

2013 holds the joy and promise of healing and a new start.

Happy Versus Educated: Part II

mamabear

The comments on my last post left me much to think about. Thank you to each person who took the time to share their thoughts. I realized my first post was incomplete. There are children who have special needs and are being educated and are happy. This is not the situation I find myself in. However, I should have stated that this decision is not one that  all parents of children with special needs face.

I have a meeting tomorrow with Hope’s school, but it is not consuming my energy. Hope has been as volatile and hard to contain at school as she has been at home. In true RAD form, she has been trying to triangulate between us and her school. This is one of those periodic check in meetings to try and contain the manipulative behavior.

Wednesday the CSE is for GB. GB’s situation is different. GB is never a problem for the school and always works hard. I expected this to be an easy year. Even though she changed schools, she brought her teacher, aides, and support services from the old school. The new school is the neighborhood school, with all the social opportunities that implies. The only note of warning in the background was GB’s state test scores from last spring. They were as low as they could be. The committee assured me that the tests did not really measure what was learned. Having been in the education field for so many years, I knew the one thing these tests were good for was to predict who would be able to pass the exams in high school and earn a diploma. When I said that out loud, nobody could disagree with me.

This year GB’ teacher  has structured things differently. GB is still in a class with seven other students, two aides, and Mr. Teacher. This year, all eight students are doing Saxon fourth grade math. It replaced the Touch Math GB used the previous two years. Saxon has a spiraling curriculum, which means that they cover a little bit of everything each year, each year going into more detail. At the moment, they are doing two step patterns, place value, fractions and multiplication with regrouping. GB struggles with simple repeating patterns, does not understand that for fractions to work, the pieces have to be the same size, and was working on multiplication facts with Touch Math. Since the class is doing math as a group, GB is lost much of the time. The whole group is working on fourth grade spelling. GB comes home with spelling exercises where she can read less than half the words on the list. Homework is taking eighty minutes a night, when GB is cooperative and focused. GB’s anxiety level is through the roof.

GB is a fourth grader this year, but the aides still require ice cream money and school store money to come in a labeled, sealed envelope- a requirement none of the other fourth grades have and one she doesn’t need.

CSE meetings only go well when I can tell them exactly what I want and why. I have no answers going into this meeting. I only know they better be expecting Mama Bear.

Grateful

I was spitting tacks when we left for my sister’s last night. The Dad insisted on taking the Prius because the saving in gas is significant. I couldn’t imagine any amount of money worth traveling with Hope in the Prius on a ten or eleven hour ride. My fears were valid. Hope nutted up and The Dad spoke softly and called her his “baby”, while growling at GB to leave her sister alone. I should have just stayed home. My frame of mind was the pits at that point and I couldn’t find the peaceful spot inside that my therapist and I have been working on. So I switched my focus to keeping my mouth shut.  I was successful. I figured I wouldn’t say another word until we were at Lynn’s house.

I was startled by a huge bump and the strangest sounds coming from the car. Three in the morning, three hours from Lynn’s, we hit a deer. The Dad couldn’t open his door and a tremendous amount of steam rose from the engine. GB and Hope woke up, but,  thankfully, no one was hurt. Hope was snarly, which is how she always wakes up. Fortunately, while she raged earlier, she didn’t lose it then. We waited a half hour for a Virginia State Trooper and another half hour for a tow truck. By 4:15 we were in a hotel room.

This room has a complete, full size, set of stainless steel appliances, including a garbage disposal, and granite counter tops. The bedroom is completely separate. There is a kitchen table, a couch, a desk and an easy chair.

This morning we woke up to find we didn’t have comprehensive on the Prius and would have to pay cash to solve this problem. Not great, especially since, the Dad just took a half time leave, and our living money was cut in half.

I am grateful because:

  • Ten years ago, The Dad would have lost it completely. He stayed intact and dealt.
  • GB has always been a good car rider and trusts us completely. Telling her everything was going to be ok and her believing us was big last night.
  • Hope was Hope, but when we hit the deer, she didn’t rage, she just got snarly.
  • God has always met our needs and I trust that he will this time.
  • We will get to my sister’s by Thanksgiving, even if it is not on my schedule.

Most of all, we are all safe and together. Everything else pales beside this.

Wishing you all a Blessed Thanksgiving!

When Things Change…

The last week have been full of many unexpected changes. It has now been a whole month without Hope attacking me.  This week I realized it has also been a whole month of me not being Hope’s mother. That is not acceptable to me. We have two different agencies involved with out family to help Hope. We saw nobody from either of them this week and Hope’s behavior hasn’t been any better or any worse. She has still raged, she has been nasty, and she has been physical with GB. Monday the newest worker, Mary Poppins is coming to meet. I have scheduled 15 minutes for this meeting. I plan on telling her I see no benefits for our family in her visits and we will not be using her agency’s services any more.

I now have over 12 extra hours a week available, since Kenny chose to let go of this world and move on to the next. I have done a bit of crying, but overall I feel proud of him…the courage it took to deliberately say “I am ready to go”. I want to have that kind of courage when it is my time. I kept a regularly scheduled appointment with my cardiologist and heard that I have been upgraded from “cardiac insufficiency” to “heart failure”. I go to St. Peter’s this week for tests that, among other things, will measure the ejection rate of my heart. It explains my ongoing fatigue and how difficult it has been to get anything accomplished.

Divide and conquer techniques have made life easier for GB. The school, in its infinite wisdom, decided GB could skip recess in order to mainstream. I am not sure of their reasoning, since I spent Wednesday and Thursday with Kenny and only had time to remind them, via email, that they could not mainstream her without my permission and they did not have it. I meet with the school this week to figure out the next step.

GB is still heavier than is healthy because of the loxapine. I printed of two healthy eating charts, one for me and one for GB. I will take them to Stapl*s to get them laminated. I hope, by making us more aware of what we are putting in our bodies, we can improve our eating patterns. If we are both doing it, it might be easier on GB.

Kenny’s funeral is Tuesday. For many reasons I have avoided church in the last year+. I will be there Tuesday.

What a Prize!

Hope comes home from school, all excited because she “earned” a prize. She shows us an ipod. We are stunned and speechless for a solid minute. The Dad recovered first and took the ipod from her. He turned it around and saw his name and phone number etched on the back of the ipod. No explanation convinced Hope she was caught. 

Now it seems funny in a lot of ways. After all, she IS only 6. It is also scary. Hope’s ability to see things as she wants them to be, instead of how they are, has me worried about the future.