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.

 

Mary, Joseph, and the Shrink

Our latest worker, aptly called Mary Poppins by my friend, came to see the shrink with us this morning. I knew Mary Poppins was clueless and I planned on calling her supervisor this afternoon and either getting a different worker or discontinuing the agencies services.

The shrink was pleased with how well GB was doing and Mary sat there quietly. That took 10 minutes of our hour. The other 50 minutes were devoted to Hope. Honestly, I am not quite sure how everything fell apart, but when we were done with Hope, the SPOA application was put on hold, Hope was off the anxiety medication and we were coming back in three weeks.

Nothing has changed with Hope’s behavior. When she is interacting with me it has actually gotten worse. I feel like not only wasn’t I being heard by Mary, but now I was also not being heard at the shrink’s. Joe (The Dad) won’t talk about anything beyond “now”. I am not willing to waste another three weeks with everything staying the same or getting worse. Last week, Hope’s service providers took 12 hours of my time, plus numerous phone calls to arrange details. With SPOA paperwork derailed, there will be no RTF or RTC this year. Life will just go on.

I can not and will not do it anymore. Joe has Hope. I will no longer discuss Hope, answer calls about Hope, go to meetings about Hope, make plans concerning Hope, or schedule Hope’s appointments. I won’t even call to get Mary Poppins replaced.

All our services for Hope are time sensitive. We are midway through our time allotted for all our outside help. Nothing has changed. Reams of paperwork filled out, endless hours of meetings and therapy, and nothing is better. I am willing to work hard for Hope to become a functioning part of our family. I am done playing the system’s games.

And if that brings out the Trolls, makes me evil or a failure, so be it. I am already screwed.

Tower of Babel

We have all the support we can get for Hope. There are six professionals- one shrink, 2 therapists, 3 workers- and none of them agree on how to help Hope, much less on what the next step should be. I interact with each of these people and I am unable to keep who said what straight. I have tried to pin them down via email summaries, but two of them flat out refuse to do emails.

Hope has still not been alone with me since the end of August. I have not been attacked. Most people are thrilled at this huge progress. It doesn’t excite me. I AM happy my body is healing and I have been able to have some mother-daughter interactions with her. But the core problem is there. Nobody has even tried to work on Hope’s physical aggression. One worker hands her ultimatums, another worker reasons with her,and the third worker believes that at almost seven, Hope is too young to deal with these issues and I have to work on letting what happens on one day flow through me and start fresh the next day.

I am close to overwhelmed again. I see my own therapist tomorrow.

A Mixed Bag

  • The girls enjoyed planting wave petunias in GB’s garden. Hope asked for a garden of her own.
  • GB’s  anxiety level is at an all time high. I started Tapping with her last week and now she wants it every night. She says she sleeps better.
  • Hope hasn’t bitten me in two whole days. Her psychiatrist said I had to go for a tetanus booster and told me  that the prognosis for Hope was pretty grim.
  • I called the waiver worker yesterday morning and she spent an hour and a half telling Hope that physical attacks had to stop. The worker is meeting with the school tomorrow, as it is required by one of her forms.
  • We are driving to Raleigh, North Carolina, for my niece’s graduation tonight.
  • GB’s teacher said she has been resistant for the last couple of weeks. I made an appointment for next week so that GB, the teacher, and I can meet. I am not sure exactly what “resistant” means.
  • Hope is up to 15 mg daily of Abilify. That is a lot for a 60# six year old.
  • I have to call my doctor this morning to get an appointment for my tetanus booster and to make sure I have enough Valium to knock me out for the car ride. The Dad did not want to put Hope in respite while we were in North Carolina.

My Friend, the Papoose Board

The first week after Parenting in SPACE was better. Hope didn’t seem to care that we were gone, DAY (Defiance, Aggression, Yelling) was working well for both girls. The Home and Community waiver worker worked with Hope and I to come up with safety plan, which incorporated  the Papoose board. We went to visit friends for three days and were rage free. It wasn’t good- Hope was still stealing and lying everyday and she ended up with 3 or 4 DOs most days, but it WAS better.


Then Therapy Tuesday came. Right now, we are not doing therapy on Tuesday because we are still on waiting lists for an attachment therapist- lot’s of them. Hope had been caught Monday night with a toy that she took from her classroom. I told her she would have to return it. Tuesday morning I checked to make sure the toy was in her book bag. I told her I was going to email Ms. V.Y. Teacher, so that she would know what was going on. Nothing new- I have been in regular email contact with her teacher since Hope’s honeymoon ended. Hope has always been aware of it.


Tuesday morning brought a different reaction from Hope; she swiftly crossed the room and kicked me. She then sat on my laptop so I couldn’t email her teacher. I called her on aggression because she kicked me and told her to have a seat. She raged. She raged through the bus pick up. she raged through the first hour of school. She raged in the Papoose board, so nobody got hurt. When she calmed down and was in control of her body again, The Dad took her to school and the school  therapist processed the stealing behaviors with her again.


It was pouring after school  and I waited at the bottom of the driveway in my car for their bus to come. GB got off the bus complaining of too much homework, and Hope got off with her arms crossed in front of her trying to pin me with her death ray stare. They got in the car and I drove up and around the driveway to the front door. GB quickly went inside to see the Dad. I was gathering up my stuff to bring in when I felt a sharp pain on my head I looked up to see Hope’s face inches from mine. She had unbuckled and deliberately head butted me because she thought I was taking too long. I told her that head butting was aggression and she had to go inside and take a seat. She raced ahead of me and by the time I got inside, she had already kicked The Dad. We went through the Papoose board routine and Hope calmed in less then thirty minutes. The Dad let her up and reminded her that she still had time to do and a DO when her time was done. The Dad went upstairs to take a work call and moments later, as I was walking into the kitchen, Hope comes over and deliberately sunk her teeth in me and kept on attacking. I wrestled her into the Papoose board and ended up with another bite, a lot of claw marks, and a bruised right breast. It took over an hour for her to calm down. I wasn’t taking any more chances of being beat up today, so Hope had a PRN and her night time meds before I let her up. I fed her a quick dinner and she was in bed by 6:00.When she realized her night was over, she started screaming again.I told her I hoped tomorrow would be a better day.

Wednesday  was better- only one rage and Hope caught up on her DOs. We all had ice cream for dessert, she went to bed easily, and I had reasonable hopes for Thursday. Hope went to school with minimal difficulties Thursday morning and did a good job on her HW without trying to involve anyone else. Dinner was uneventful and I was hoping for a quiet bedtime. My hopes were dashed when Hope spit her medication in my face. I gave it back and insisted she take it. Once she had swallowed her meds, I turned to check her tub. That was the first time she bit me. She got four bites on me before I got her out her safely out of the bathroom.  She raged for the better part of an hour. Once she calmed down, a quick bath was followed by bedtime.


I am discouraged and sore. Tuesday was the worse day Hope has had in over a year. I am grateful for the Papoose board, because without it, I would have looked like an abused woman again. The HCWS worker is meeting with us and the school today to finish our service plan. I hope they provide some support soon.

Therapy Tuesday Is No More

Today we went to see the girls’ psychiatrist. She gave her blessings to stopping therapy until we find a Dan Hughes trained attachment  therapist. We are currently on four different waiting lists for  therapists I have interviewed over the phone. I will interview them in person as they have openings. The psychiatrist is concerned with finding GB more time away from Hope and the stress that accompanies being near her.  That should be possible now that we have waiver services for Hope.


Hope had four vicious tantrums over the weekend. The Dad is no longer allowing her to triangulate (thank you, Michael!) and Hope is not taking it well. The waiver service social worker is coming today to help us set goals for Hope. I have no idea of how many hours we are going to get, but I am hopeful.


We had several instances of Hope acquiring things that do not belong to her.  Trying to track down where they came from.

Support Needed

Today, at 3:30 PM Eastern Time, Hope’s ICM caseworker, the new waiver caseworker, and the new caseworker’s supervisor are meeting with The Dad and I here to see what support they can give us. If they say her needs are too intense, the only help left is an RTF and we won’t do it. 


Please pray for us all- that we will have support from this program and peace will visit (at least occasionally) again.