Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Today Was a Good Day

It's been a long time since I have written on this blog.  This is because life has been overwhelmingly hard for the past 6 months or so.  Mike accepted a different position which required us to relocate once again to another state.  We have all been adjusting and getting settled into our new normal.  One of the girls has not fared well throughout these many transitions and changes.  Only a select few of you know what's been going on these past few months.  It's been incredibly hard for our entire family, but today was a good day.

As soon as we moved here C started spiraling out of control and it just kept getting worse.  We got her in with a therapist that was covered under our insurance, but she had the foresight from day one that she was not quite qualified to assist C with the issues she was experiencing and she suggested we get her into intensive in home therapy.  This made a lot of sense to us since 100% of her issues were occurring in the home.  Our stumbling block was that this therapy was not covered by our insurance.  In the meantime we were able to secure a diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder (I will write more about this in a later post).

Today Mike and I appeared before a board of people who are the ones who decide if we would get the funding we applied for or not.  C's school social worker has been a God send and has helped me through this application process.  VA has funds set aside for interventions that would prevent a child from going into the foster care system.  Obviously for us disrupting her adoption is not an option, but nevertheless this is where the funding we applied for comes from.  We applied for funding to cover 8 hours a week of intensive in home therapy for the next 12 weeks and we were APPROVED!

You may be thinking "I wouldn't want a stranger in my home for that much of my time every week!".  I agree and feel the same way, however, this is how we are going to help our girl.  We have to make sacrifices.  All of us need help in how to cope with her behaviors and manipulation.  It won't be forever, it's just a season.

I then had a meeting with the professionals at the school about any possible accommodations we felt she may need at school.   Let me point out that they came to ME asking for this meeting.  This is amazing to be because in Ohio I had to fight and get an advocate just to get a meeting about accommodations for one of the girls.  C isn't having any issues at school, in fact she presents as a very sweet, helpful and well adjusted kiddo.  While this is a good thing, it makes me feel like a nut job whenever I am telling teachers what is going on at home.  Today the vice principal looked me in the eye and made sure I knew that they 100% believe me and do not want me to feel like they think I'm crazy.  I melted into a puddle of tears.  We are so blessed to be at this school with these professionals that GET IT!  That's so rare!  Also, a bonus, was there were donuts at this meeting.  Some people drink when they're stressed, I eat carbs and sugar!

I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.  My full time job, since we moved here, has been managing her appointments, finding professionals, calling insurance companies and trying to access resources.  I can finally exhale.  I ask that you pray for our girl. Pray for healing for her heart and mind.  Pray that she can learn to allow herself to be loved. Pray that I can take some time to do some self care as I am so weary.  Thank you all for your love and support.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Requirements to be a Mother?

You don't expect to walk out of a church service on Mother's Day feeling defensive and ready to write an email to the pastor.  That's exactly what happened yesterday.  It was all very well intentioned, however I felt ON FIRE for my fellow adoptive mamas.

It started out by the pastor asking fun questions to the audience of probably at least 200 church goers.  "Who gave birth to the largest baby?" he asked, which was followed by multiple mothers in the audience raising their hands and sharing the weight of their very large babies, the winner got a flower from the worship leader.  "Who was in labor the longest?" was the next question followed by the same result.  The rest of the moms in my eye line seemed to be enjoying this little competition and hearing these horror stories of birth.  The final question was geared toward grandmothers.  Those were the three questions that they used to encompass all mothers.

How do you think that made the woman feel who has had 4 miscarriages and has been unable to carry her babies full term?  How did that make those mothers feel who have adopted children after years of infertility.  Those woman who would have given anything to give birth to that 11lb baby after 76 hours of labor.  This tells all adoptive/foster mothers that being in labor and giving birth is a requirement for being a mother.  Obviously this is not the case.
 Even though I didn't experience the heart wrenching struggle of infertility or miscarriages, my heart broke in pieces for those in the congregation who certainly have felt that pain and heartache.  I wasn't offended as much as I felt fiercely protective of my tribe of other adoptive moms.  It's not about getting that elusive flower on mother's day for winning the competition, it's about being included and having society consider them just as much of a mother as if they had given birth to their children.  I know I can speak for all adoptive mothers when I say that I couldn't love my children more if I had given birth to them.  They are my world.  They are my greatest gifts from God and I thank Him for them every day.

All mothers should be revered, respected and honored, no matter how we became mothers.  Although we didn't go through hours of painful labor, you better believe we went through MANY more hours of paperwork, interviews, inspections and then waiting.  We wanted to be mothers just as much as anyone else and we worked very hard for it.  So, please, when you find out we are mothers via adoption,  just treat us like you would any other mother.  We are no better or no less than any other, we just want to be seen as equal.

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Lost Years- Secondary Trauma

Mike and I are sitting here watching TV tonight and 20/20 comes on.  They're talking about a case from 2011, the case of missing college student Lauren Spierer.  They stated it was one of the most well known missing person cases of all time.  I consider myself someone who keeps up with current events, sometimes I even get pulled into stories and (admittedly) obsess over them.  But this one, it didn't ring a all.  I asked Mike, "Do you remember this?". He didn't either.  Then we realized the year...2011.

Mike lovingly refers to the years of 2010 and 2011 as our own personal 'Nam, because there are long periods of time, many significant events, that neither one of us remember.  We have blocked them out I suppose, similar (although obviously incomparable) to what a soldier, post war, may experience.  They were indeed the most trying years of our lives so far. 

These were the first years we had the twins home.

Here's a perfect example of our lapse in memory.  In 2012 I said I wanted to go to Columbus for my birthday to go to the science museum and the famous Columbus Zoo.  About halfway through our day at the zoo we came upon the polar bear exhibit.  Something seemed familiar, there was a playground at the entrance of the exhibit that I could have sworn I had pictures of the girls playing on before.  I asked the zoo employee if the Cleveland Zoo had a similar exhibit and he told me no, that the Columbus Zoo was the only one in the state that had polar bears, let alone that very same playground.  I'm sure he thought I had forgotten to take my meds that morning or something!

Here we are in 2012:
We finished our day at the zoo, both of us trying to remember when we would have brought them to Columbus before then.  We were able to rule out that we had taken them the previous summer so that only left the summer of 2010...right after we brought them home.  We wouldn't have been that crazy!!  There's no way!!  We were so broke!!  How would we have even afforded it?  Where would we have stayed??  To this day we can't answer those questions folks, but I do have photo evidence that we were at the Columbus Zoo the summer of 2010.

Here is the infamous polar bear playground photo (apparently my sole memory from this visit)...
Parents of kids from trauma will attest to this, but there is such a thing as secondary trauma, and most of us who are parenting trauma kiddos would fit the bill for this diagnosis.  We get PTSD from our kids' PTSD.  It's a vicious cycle.  You can read more about this here. This article states it best:
 "Because these behaviors serve as a way for their child to communicate and express how their trauma has affected them, parents are, thus, being exposed, on a regular basis, to their child’s trauma.  Parents who are experiencing secondary trauma may: feel anxious, tense, easily overwhelmed, and have sleep difficulties; re-experience their child’s aggressive, suicidal, or self-harming behaviors or details of their child’s trauma; feel as if they have changed and are not themselves anymore; or wish to escape or avoid their child or their child’s behaviors."
Those first two years with the twins were so wrought with trauma that our brains had blocked so much of it out completely!

We spent most of our days doing behavior modification.  Our girls were so filled with rage, coupled with the fact that they didn't speak English so they couldn't communicate their feelings, even if they were capable at 4 years old of putting it into words.  They would scream, kick, hit, spit and bite.  We spent a good amount of their waking hours teaching them the basics of how to behave, using holds that would assist them in calming themselves and their bodies.  We would find out later that they both have what's called Sensory Processing Disorder (very common in children from trauma) so the pressure of the holds would physically help them calm down.  (Now we have weighted blankets).

I am so thankful that I took so many pictures those first two years so that they can fill in the major gaps in my memory and so that the girls have a beautiful pictorial representation of all of the fun we did have those first two years.  They made SO MUCH PROGRESS in those years that it was unbelievable.  I do remember those hopeless days when we thought we'd never get to the point that they could function in a school environment, never go to a friend's house to play and never be calm enough that our cats would come out of hiding around them!  If you are in that place, the abyss of the unknowns about your child, please know there is always hope!  They will improve and so will you.  You will learn to be their best advocate and you will learn how to parent them, even if it was different than you thought you'd parent.  God will give you the strength if you ask for it.  I still have to ask Him for help, strength, patience, grace and love for my kids on a daily basis.  Most importantly YOU ARE NOT ALONE and YOU ARE NOT CRAZY!!

It's pretty amazing what our brains do in order to cope with things.  It makes me wonder if other parents have these experiences.  One of my best friends had a baby that had a very rough first year of life.  He struggled with acid reflux so badly that this child cried CONSTANTLY.  Perhaps she experiences some lapses in time due to that traumatic year.  If you have a story about a period of your life that your brain blocked out, leave it in the comments!  It will help me not feel so crazy!!  Ha!


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