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.

 

Why I am Proud to Be a Trauma Mama

A Trauma Mama is an ordinary mother who chooses to parent a child from the hard places. For various reasons, our kids have experienced things no child should have to experience. Abandonment, abuse, overwhelming neglect. Trauma. Children from Trauma can not be parented in the ways society takes for granted that neuro-typical children are raised. Ordinary parenting does not work with children of trauma. You need to have a whole different perspective on parenting.


Children from the hard places are different. They have never learned the world is safe. Their internal tapes are filled with shame, anger and worthlessness. They have no self worth and instinctively sabotage any good that comes into their lives.


As a Trauma Mama, my parenting is based on years of hands on experience. It is also based on years of literature, past and current. Not only books, but every scientific article I can find. I attend seminars that introduce new techniques that might be useful. And I have my other Trauma Mamas who share their hard earned knowledge with anyone interested.


Being a Trauma Mama is not for the faint of heart. It is 24/7, it is intense, it is relentless. And when I am not sure I can do it another second, my Trauma Mamas are there to tell me I am doing an awesome job and to breathe, I can take the next step.


A lot of Trauma Mama’s have multiple children who came from trauma. Our children do not  define us as Trauma Mamas. How we chose to react to their behaviors and the commitments we make to them are what defines us.


That is why I am proud to be a Trauma Mama.

It’s All Our Fault…

Hope is in the midst of a major regression. We have gone back to the basics. Tomorrow’s post is on strong sitting. A couple of weeks ago, The Dad had written to the Texas parents, asking if, for Hope’s sake, they would be willing to talk about the trauma Hope experienced. Today he got a response. They said they would think and pray about the answer to the Dad’s question. 


More interestingly, part of their email read:

                   Sadly, we believe that her feelings of abandonment are heightened because of her inability to remain in contact with us.  The very thing we felt so strongly about has now happened, without Hope’s control or ours.  In an ideal situation, both families agree to communicate and embrace the pain and loss, in order to help the child and family come to a place of restoration, healing and forgiveness.

Despite every person involved with Hope’s mental health have advised against any contact at this point, the Texas parents remain stuck where they are. I have known disruptions where on going contact works and is even desirable. They are not her birth family, but they are the only family she ever had.  My RADling is currently stuck in her behavior, but slowly she is starting to share what happened in Texas. As long as she is slowly sharing the trauma, I am not inclined to allow contact with Texas until I understand what went wrong.

Psychiatrist and Hope

Hope and GB had an appointment with the psychiatrist this morning. GB went first and had a normal visit. Then it was Hope’s turn. Hope behaved no differently in the doctor’s office then she has anywhere else recently. The psychiatrist was very concerned. She mentioned total lack of empathy, dangerous behaviors, and no desire to please anybody at this point. For the first time since Hope came home, the psychiatrist wants her back in two weeks. I am glad she sees what I see- sometimes I worry that I am over reacting. I mentioned this to the doctor and she told me she saw these things during Hope’s time in her office. I am also scared. The psychiatrist said our first priority has to be getting Hope into a room, away from GB. I am looking for a contractor to make necessary modifications.

Strength

Hope is having a tough time. She is angry and lashing out at everybody. My best guess is the holidays are exacerbating our normal, difficult life with RAD. There are minutes when I want skip Christmas completely. It is not reasonable and I never take any action to abolish Christmas in our family. Sometimes, though, it is so tempting.


Hope is just starting to talk about the trauma she experienced in her previous adoptive family. That is a sign she is experiencing some feeling of security with us. I don’t think she wants to feel any security with us. I think she would rather stay in LalaLand and pretend life in Texas was good and she didn’t have behavior problems until we kidnapped her. Hope knows this isn’t true, but is much more comfortable in the alternate universe where it is true. I can’t imagine living through the trauma she lived through and still having the will to  fight the world. I keep reminding myself that Hope’s strong will is ultimately one of her greatest strengths. It just makes the now so hard.