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A Three Day Snapshot – Day 3

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

with temper tantrums orToday he pulled the same thing at the CMH appointment.  I knew there would be toys to play with and told him ahead of time that if there were little cars or legos he’d have to play with something else, as he’d been grounded from those for behavior, and that if you are grounded from something at home, you are grounded from it everywhere you go. They had both, but there was a whole cabinet full of other things to play with.  He zero’d right in on the little cars, grabbed the bag they were in and when I said, “No,” and took them, he got ahold of one.  I had to forcibly take it. I told him if he didn’t stop arguing and fighting he had to just sit on the couch in time out, and he began punching and kicking me.  In some ways, as bad as it sounds, I’m kind of glad it happened right in front of the clinician doing the intake.

At dinner time, he was NOT going to eat his dinner (chicken breast stuffed with broccoli and cheese) because he thinks broccoli with cheese is “nasty”.  He loves broccoli. We finally said if he didn’t eat it, it would be wrapped and reheated for every snack and meal until it was gone, and that he’d not be allowed to play outside before and after service tonight at church with the other kids. He must have been using his selective hearing for that part, right along with Manny, who had decided since Matt didn’t like dinner, neither did he, so his got wrapped up too.  After dinner, I was headed upstairs to change for church and saw Matt putting his play shirt on under his church shirt and asked what he was doing.  He told me it was so he could play after church, and I reminded him he was not going out after, only Allen and Ike would, as they had eaten their dinner. When I came back downstairs, both boys were in the kitchen with their dad finishing their dinner. So at least that worked out.  They were fairly good the rest of the night.

Tonight during prayer time, my husband thanked the church for the men who have been helping me with Matt on Sundays when he can’t be there, and asked for prayer for Matt and for our family.  Our pastor added that he would like whatever men are sitting anywhere near us on Sunday to do the same, just get up and take him out when he becomes so difficult and reminded everyone that Matt needs a lot of prayer, and a lot of love, not judgment, that he’d been badly abused and it would take time.  He also said he’s already seeing some progress with him.  I so appreciate this church, it’s the first church we’ve belonged to since moving here that I feel my kids are safe from criticism and where I had no one minute of hesitation about calling the pastor and his wife after the Sam’s incident to ask for prayer, knowing I wasn’t going to be judged as a bad parent. Unfortunately, we have had that happen in other churches, when Allen was younger.



A Three Day Snapshot – Day 2

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Unfortunately, that repentant subdued attitude did not last into Tuesday. Matt was angry that he was still grounded from his legos, sports cards, and little cars. By the time Marc left for work at around noon, he was ready to gear up into a rage, which he’d held off until then. I ended up putting him into time out on the couch and sending all the other boys out to play, which made him madder, but I’m tired of them hearing all of this and mimicking the attitudes and sometimes the language. He escalated to the point that he was attempting to bruise himself so he could say I did it, at which time I ended up holding him restrained. I’m not strong enough to just get him in my lap and restrain him that way like my husband can. The only way I can keep him from hurting himself or me is to get him on the floor in front of me, facing away from me, my feet holding his legs apart so he can’t kick me, with my hands holding his arms up so he can’t hit me or pinch me. Unfortunately, he got hold of my hand with his teeth, and held on until he drew blood. I told him he’d not be outside at all that day, which as you can imagine went over just great.

Finally, I had to get dinner, so I just did quick and easy spaghetti, after warning him he better not leave the couch. He insisted he would not eat supper, because I said he had to sit in his dad’s place at the table by me, not next to any of his brothers, because he’d also both threatened them and tried to hurt them earlier in the day. He also informed me that he would not take his bath, because he knew he had an appointment in the morning and also church the same evening. Matt wanted people to think he didn’t get bathed. By then my husband had called on his lunch break, and said he’d watch for an offer of signing out early, they didn’t end up offering it early enough to help me that night. He said to tell Matt if he refused to get his bath, that his dad would wake him when he got home from work and give it to him and that he (Matt) would NOT like it a bit. He finally agreed he might eat a LITTLE (he ate 2 helpings), and he’d have his bath if he could play after. I told him if his bath was quick he might have 15 minutes before it was time for all toys to be put away for the night (8:30 in our house). He wasn’t happy, but I did point out that he COULD have been playing all day, including outside.

He did get his bath, and sat quietly on his bed while Manny got his, because I wouldn’t let him downstairs with just Allen & Ike; I didn’t trust him not to go off on them again. He got his 15 minutes to play, got his night time medications, then the nightly routine of TV time to relax enough for the meds to work, and in bed by 10:00. They are up that late because their dad works late, an hour away, so he and I rarely get to bed before 2:00 a.m., and we really don’t want them up at 5 a.m.

A Three Day Snapshot – Day 1

I have a long time friend who recently found me on Facebook. We reconnected after about ten or so years. We originally met during our old adoption advocacy days when we lived in Flushing. Our adoption support group was instrumental in bringing her and her first son together by adoption. I will call her Linda. This is day one of three days in the life of her newly adopted son, Matt. She currently has four sons.

 Monday, August 24, 2009

Today I had no choice but to take all the kids to Sam’s. I had to pick up a prescription that could not wait. Matt wanted me to let them wait in the car, which I have allowed if I am just running in somewhere for a minute or two. But today I knew it would be longer, so I said “No,” and that they would have to come in with me. First, Matt ran away in the parking lot and Allen ran and got him for me, which set him off against Allen now, too. We went in, and by the time we got back to the meat coolers he was working himself up deliberately. You can actually see him doing it; he clenches his fists and starts breathing harder and faster to work up a good rage. I ended up having to hold him against the cart with one arm while pushing/steering the cart with the other, because he’d started running up and kicking Allen as hard as he could. So he started kicking me, in between pressing his foot on the wheel so I couldn’t move the cart. I ended up having to hold him against the cooler to stop him trying to hurt me, Allen, or himself.

We made it to the pharmacy counter and had to wait a few minutes for it to open back up from lunch break. A lady, who’d been shopping back by the meat dept. and tried to speak with him when he was doing all this, followed us. I saw her come around the corner and duck back when I saw her but didn’t think anything of it at the time. She apparently followed us out and took down my plate number and called 911. Not 10 minutes after we got home a county sheriff’s deputy was at the door with a worker from FOC. To avoid speaking with them, Matt ran to the back of the house and out the back door, but they got him to stop. I told her what happened, and Matt admitted all. She came down squarely on my side, and told him he has to obey me, that I have the right to discipline him, and that she thought he was very lucky to be where he is (she had already asked about his background).

He told her he knew he was lucky, but that being told, “No,” makes him “want to get mad and hit people.” So, I’ve joined the ranks of parents who will need to document, document, document, I guess. She said this was NOT going to CPS; she saw no reason for it. It looked to her like that lady who called 911 was a nosy woman who had no idea of the actual situation or circumstances, and apologized for having to come here especially when it was very clear I’d done nothing wrong. The whole cops at the door for what he had done scared him though, I think. After that, he apologized to me and then to Allen and couldn’t do enough for either of us for several hours. He and Manny have an appointment tomorrow at CMH to get them services. Here’s hoping for at least respite time, huh?


Do you know a FASD/RAD child?

Click here for a pdf that explains RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) and suggests how to deal with a child that may have attachment issues.

Click here for a pdf with some suggestions on how to handle a teen with FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder).

Note to family & friends: Read these to better understand some aspects of our family!

Gertz’s Pile of Ideas

On another adoptive mom blog, I found an article about a magnetic sleep technology that got a special needs little girl off sleeping pills. Some FAS kids have difficulties with sleep and need medication in order to fall asleep and achieve and sustain REM sleep. This is interesting and worth looking into if your child has this difficulty.

“On January 1, 2009 I made a commitment to find an alternative to sleeping pills for Ellie. She has needed to take a sleeping pill every night for 3 years to get her to sleep. The guilt I felt about this ritual was inconceivable. Ellie is 6, so for half of her life, I have watched her struggle in a drugged haze to get her teeth brushed before she conked out in a drug induced state. That little body would shudder as it passed into a chemically induced state of fake REM and every ounce of natural therapy I would incorporate into our daily routine was lost … to read more click here.

Ambiguous Loss

I ran across this note on a FASD e-newsletter. I thought it did a good job of explaining something I’ve never been able to put into words.

I have come to believe that the real difficulty for me as a parent of children with FASD is found in exactly that, the ambiguity. 
Pauline Boss, PhD is a therapist who is known for her work in the area of “ambiguous loss”.   When loss comes in the form of death the loss is definite and clear and there are rituals and compassion for the grieving.  Ambiguous loss is less clear and may be more difficult on some levels to live with.   Boss explains, “With ambiguous loss, there is no closure; the challenge is to learn to live with the ambiguity.”   
When I was a little girl playing with dolls I imagined that I would be a loving and competent mother someday to my children.  I never imagined that I would question my decisions or my ability to care for them or keep them safe from harm.  I never imagined that other people might question my abilities or blame me for the way my children behaved.  I never imagined that there would be days when I would feel helpless and overwhelmed and afraid.  And I never thought I’d mourn a little on each birthday as I watched them blow out their candles, knowing that the magic age of adulthood would come much too quickly for my children.
But I’m learning to live with the ambiguity.  Connecting with other parents of children with FASD helped tremendously as it was through those connections that I learned that the feelings I had on those difficult days were normal and those concerns I had about my ability to care for my children or keep them safe did not make me a bad mom, they caused me to develop the skills to be the kind of advocate my kids need.    I replied to the mom who had emailed me intending to tell her exactly that, but I wrote only two words.  I understand.   
 ~Kari Fletcher, MOFAS 2009

Meet Lisa

Here is an email I received today from another adoptive parent. I wish I could say to my readers, “Read and enjoy.”

I was home schooling five because of behavior issues at school (long story) and my son just refused to do any work this school year. It wasn’t enough to refuse to do the work though. He had to make sure that no one else was able to concentrate on their studies either. Everyone was miserable so we decided to send most of the them to public school (some for the first time in public school) in Jan., including him. As you can imagine, he had a field day making allegations [against us] and was suspended after the first 7 days of school for being disruptive and disrespectful to teachers – and subsequently suspended 6 more times for various issues, including threatening to stab a teacher with a pencil (he deserved to be many more times than that) by May when he was transferred to an EI class in another school – new school = new audience again.

We’re always looking over our shoulders, expecting CPS [protective services] to be at our door constantly. The last time the CPS worker came over she said something along the lines of “Don’t tell me you didn’t expect this. We have files several inches thick on most of our foster/adoptive parents. This is just par for the course.” I was stunned and humiliated that she was being so condescending, but ultimately she was on our side. She said that in spite of all of the school personnel who had over the years reassured us that our son was “normal, just lazy” that you just knew there was something wrong with him by looking at him and talking to him for a few minutes. Well, duh, can I have that in writing? I panic whenever a car pulls into our driveway that I don’t recognize. We have no friends anymore and only very limited family (my husband is the oldest of 9, I am the oldest of 5 – I have one brother who visits us plus my m-i-l who only visits for an hour for each childs b-day). My kids who are higher functioning cannot have friends over because of the meaness of the few.

I am tired of living like this. Why do I expect so much from people? I mean, just understand that I am NOT lying about my kids behaviors/disabilities. Just understand that I am unable to parent them like I parented my bio kids because they are not like the other kids. They don’t think like them, they don’t learn like them, consequences mean NOTHING. I cannot let them do things that other kids their ages do just because they’re a certain AGE – age is just a number with them. I love them all – I would like to be able to help more children in the future, but when I know that there are no services available? When I know that the threat of CPS taking all of my kids away because of one who is making terrible choices is very real? No, I can’t.

We have left a church that was very, very critical of our children. We had been in the church/parochial school for 11 years and were literally there 6-7 days a week minimum. I was a youth leader for a year. I had 7 kids in the school at one time and my kids kept the Sunday school numbers up as well. I volunteered there a few times a week in several different capacities. Ultimately, as well as everyone should have known me, should have known better, a few very mean-spirited people ruined it for us there with their constant criticism and questioning of our family. Any new people coming into the school/church were turned against us immediately and I just did not have the time or energy to fight such a ridiculous battle.

A friend of mine (another foster/adoptive mom) knows someone locally who has three adopted children. It was just discovered that the oldest was sexually abusing the youngest. CPS wants her to let them find homes for the two youngest and keep the perpetrator in her home because it’s easier for them to find homes for the younger kids than a teenage boy who has been accused of sexual abuse.  She has until next week to find a place for her oldest to live or they plan on taking the other two – what logic is that? I am so amazed at these stories – it seems unending.

I can think of nothing more to add to this. All I can say is this stuff is going on all over Michigan and someone needs to come in and fix this system. Too many good families are being burned for their efforts. Like a friend always tells me, “No good deed goes unpunished.”