Wednesday, May 27, 2015

towards trust

Of the 997,000 issues that have come out of this here "adoption journey", a big one has been the pathetic lack of helpful information. With Genea's history, the diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder was tossed on the pile early. But what to do about it? (I eventually wrote my own book *shameless plug* Parenting Pandora ).

Books, research, multiple doctors, therapists, etc helped, but didn't actually make a difference with the day to day. So many vague concepts,  my head popped off more than once. Build a relationship! Develop trust! Be loving! Okay, maaaaaaaaybe I could figure out what to do with that advice had my newly adopted daughter come equipped with mental stability, but she did not. How do you do any of those things when the tiny little slip of a girl rips the book away from you and knocks you over the head with it, instead of having a loving moment reading. When everything you suggest, say for example a million dollars with a scoop of ice cream, is met with NO! and leads to a shrieking meltdown.  When you hug her she recoils. Kiss her cheek, she wipes it off. Pat her gently on the back and it's like you set her on fire. Um, ?

And so I was reactive. Ahem. That's my code word for flipping my own shit, screaming back, yelling, freaking out and so forth. Stay calm? Is that supposed to be a joke?  Did Chris Rock say it? I felt like she needed to know what result her actions had, that everyone has a limit and you cannot keep dragging them there. She wasn't getting it, I had to try harder. Her "theory of mind" was non existent and she had to learn nobody is going to put up with this shit!

I misunderstood, that it was not about her testing limits and boundaries. It was about her testing my trustworthiness and I did not pass. There are tons of groups on facebook for RAD parents or people with RAD. It was on one of them that I read from a young woman who said that her constant pushing was to try to make her parents blow up. Her perspective was that if she could make you angry, then she was actually the person with control in the family. Since the parent was unable to maintain control, they could not be trusted and she had to stay in charge.

I'd known this, but for some reason the lightbulb exploded over my head and I really understood it. If the adults cannot be trusted to control their own selves, SHE was sure not going to trust them. No adult could help her who could not stay in charge through her tests. In my case, the tests were  relentless. I could hold it together through 3 or 4 episodes, but by number five (usually an hour after waking up, seriously) I'd blow from the cumulation and together, Genea and I became an avalanche.

Okay then, that covers what not to do, still leaving my persistent question- "what TO do?".  These days, I try to mix it up I guess. Tell a joke, change the subject, move away, send her on a task, get her doing something with me. None of that is really teaching her how to manage, but defuses the situation and it helps. If she will not be distracted, I send her to blow off her steam in another room (incidentally, a reason for never putting away laundry, we use the laundry room here and there as a 'calm down place' and the  piles of clothes make for a great acoustic shield! I know, lots of people  don't approve of the separation, but I cannot let the tantrums of one person hold the rest of the family hostage. Cue end to the longest parenthetical ever).

Let there be no mistake- I have no pedestal to lug around with me. I am a yeller who comes from a long line of yellers. It's in my epigenetics. Many times (a day *ahem*) I have to almost cauterize my vocal cords to keep from yelling and I OFTEN fail. But I'm trying. Yelling doesn't help and usually makes the situation worse.  This information about trusting only the person who can remain in control gives me a little more ammunition to try harder.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Just... fail

In conclusion, it is apparent that I am a ginormous fail in all things domestic, up to and including the very ground this house sits upon.




Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Dear Carolina

I was sent a new book to read, y'all!

"Dear Carolina" is a story by Kristy Woodson Harvey about two women, Khaki and Jodi, whose lives become permanently spun together following the birth of baby Carolina.

It's not easy to describe the pregnancy of a young alcoholic and keep the reader liking the character. Likewise, when the possibility of adoption came up, it felt like I was rooting for both women equally. An author has to have considerable skill to pull that off with topics so easily judged.

There are unexpected pops of humor, and the book is loaded with "southern-isms", which is a word I just made up. Just when you think the story has settled down, another twist flies in to keep things interesting.

Its the sort of book that is easy to read and moves quickly. Yet I kept finding bits and pieces jumping around in my brain later and realized, A is connected to B, but also to J, Q and possibly E. So while its a great summer beach read, there are depths and complexities that surface when you're done.

I'm not going to say anymore because I'd have to give away story details to do it!

So! I recommend it!
Here's the link!


 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Now featuring theft!

And so, as we whittle our way through the list of symptoms that make for a diagnosis of RAD, we have moved into stealing. Woo hoo?

For most of her life with us, Genea has only shown the stealing habits of a typical kid but with her DSM- NOS spin. You know, swiping cookies, taking her sisters toy, that sort of thing, but with the exponential that RAD seems to add to everything. Once she took a full orange juice carton into the bathroom, slammed every last drop and left the carton weeping on the floor. We dealt with it firmly, so of course that led to a host of wonky/wtf thefts. Crackers under the bed! Binged through a box of cookies! 2 inch high crumb trail leading to her room!

This past summer though, with the Middle School of Doom approaching, she went off the rails in about 90 directions and one of those directions involved Things That Belong To Mom. So normally, we have been lucky that our RAD does not single out "MOM" for her RAD fun but has always divided it equally between The Husband and I. Sure, most people think of winning the lottery as lucky, my perspective is skewed.

While I can maintain a poker face for just about any offense Genea can think up (which took hella practice and could rescind itself at any time) , I made a rookie error late last summer and absolutely flipped my shit on her.

She had stolen my candy bar.

Not just any candy bar, but one of those uber fancy chi-chi foo-foo handmade by a glitter fairy candy bars. The kind of thing you buy yourself once a year to make just one day suck less. Dark chocolate with the perfect amount of caramel and sea salt, I pinched off tiny little crumbs to indulge in, meaning to make it last. This candy bar, I tell you, it was an orgasm for the mouth. Then it vanished.

I tried, really I did, to maintain composure as I cornered the two potential criminals and noted one no longer had beautiful brown eyes because her pupils had been replaced by 2 black cantaloupes. My poker face devolved into Freddy Krueger face and my voice may or may not have elevated to where only dogs could hear it. I. Was. So. PISSED! And so, I sabotaged myself.

Most of the Pre- Middle School of Doom behavior has faded, but stealing has evolved and progressed. No candy is safe. Box of candy for my birthday? Swiped. I left a few dollars laying on my desk. Swiped. Now expanded to lifting cash out of my purse in increments of 20. Jewelry? Gone.

Maybe it's me being stubborn, but I REFUSE to lock up stuff. It's my goddam house (though seriously if the issue were knives or antiques or something, it would be different). I can prevent her from stealing things I lock up sure, but it is guaranteed she will find something else. I wouldn't be surprised to see her hauling my couch down the street. In therapy, she blames me for the thefts. She doesn't steal from daddy because he doesn't leave stuff out. HE thinks I should lock my stuff up too.

Here's the thing- it's not impulse control. It not lack of cause and effect. Its not because she's hungry or needs something we are not providing. It's to "get" me. She actually told her therapist, "I know Mama is the one who loves me the most, so that's why I do it". Don't bother re-reading that looking for the logic, it's not there. It's RAD logic, push-pull on steroids sucking a crack pipe.

We quickly and uselessly moved through the usual. Natural consequences. Manufactured consequences. Room time. Restitution. LOTS of restitution. Banking money ahead of time. Moral discussions. Lectures. How-would- you- like- it conversations.

What is sorta- kinda working now is a combination of things. Manufactured Natural Consequences, like, "I'm sorry you can't go to your voice lesson today. You stole the money I was going to pay for it with". Hitting it heavy in therapy. Paying me back with chores. And traps. Cookie traps and money traps. I tell her I set out money for her to take and she resists stealing it, proving to us both that she can stop herself. High, super high structure with any free time being used for calming meditation. Since she has to be supervised, she has to go to bed early because no one can watch her. In my bizarro opposite world all this is actually easier than the usual day to day, and harder for her.

aghhhhhh gaatheusop BUUUPSTAPPPPPPHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
(that's me not reacting in the moment)

Oops! Almost forgot- If anyone has advice, suggestions, tips etc., for the love of Xanax,  puh-leaaaaase share!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Messy Musings

I'm getting older than I used to be. I realized I'm not just looking exhausted and stressed, but that what I see is my actual face now. Ugh.  (If anyone saw my new  FB cover pic, rest assured about the only thing still me in that pic is my head).

One of Genea's teachers is pregnant and going on leave. I'm planning a field trip for all the teachers in our area. We are going to march on down to the Walgreens and visit the family planning section. Maybe show a video. I'm not about to do a show and tell but if need be, I'll find someone. Probably a teenager. I love me some happily attached babies, but people need to be having them over the summer.

Thanks to Seraphinalina for alerting me that the full video of shopping cart has been released. Woot! Here it is in all its glory  Killer Karts  . While I hold bitter, resentful thoughts toward any stores that use quiet plastic carts instead of metal, I have to admit those plastic ones maneuver nicely. Smashing them is nowhere near the fun though.

This happened:






Her name is Bella





Poor Teena. She has wanted a calico kitten for ages. The Mama cat was in the same cage and when we took the baby out, she cried and reached her paws through the wire trying to grab her baby. Teena sobbed and begged to take them both home. We take Mother- Baby separation seriously around here. However, we did not take the Mama home.  Note that The Husband was NO HELP being practical and logical on the issue. This is my pathetic and unsuccessful effort to cheer her up.

 

Boo Boo does not like the kitten. He does not like anything. While the picture is adorable, when he eventually awoke and realized this invasion was happening he hopped up, hissed at her, and left. He then turned and gave me a look clearly meant to communicate abject betrayal.

Bindi, now Bindi loves the baby.

I  think everyone should have a kitten. There is nothing cuter! She loves to pull the drain plugs out of the sinks. Which is vile. But she's still cute. OMG SO MUCH CUTE!!!

 

Bindi continues to be kind of a bruiser. She loves Genea most and sneaks off into her bed all the time. She also loves gloves. Not sure what that's about, but she digs them out and carries them around the house while yelling. Unless a person comes along, then she's invisible. We call them her glove babies.

(took this picture in the fall!) No one knows how that glove got there. In fact, I'm not sure I even see a glove.


I had 5 inches of hair removed from my head. Has one single ingrate that I live with noticed? No. I posted a pic of Genea and I on facebook and four people, including two I've never met, commented on my hair. I just know if I put their clean goddam socks on my head, they'd notice.

AAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand, I got a paying  job. Substitute paraprofessional at not-our schools. There can be any range of duties, its mostly 1:1 to 1:5 "aide" work with kids who need extra help. I'm finding a few issues with myself immediately that I need to work on. First, I have to stop paying attention to the teacher! I catch myself listening attentively as if I were the one being taught, LOL! The other is my inclination to therapize with the *ahem* challenging kids. I'm all like, "Are you feeling nervous because your regular para isn't here?". And, "lets do a firm  pressure massage on your arms to see if that helps you calm down". As much as I like to think I'm being intuitive and helpful, the job is to make sure the kids get their work done. Nobody cares what the kid is feeling, and it's someone elses job to figure it out. I'm there to make sure assignments get finished.

I have this idea for like a group post. I can't be the only one with dozens of half finished, or un-edited, or forgotten posts started. So my idea is we start posting them in all their half assed glory and link them up. Edit them, clarify them, leave them as is, whatever. I'm still thinking of a name for it, maybe Ghost Posts? Or Dead Post Society? LOL, leave a comment if you're interested. Or just leave a comment about other stuff.

WILL WORK FOR COMMENTS!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Her Story

In the dust of Genea's recent question, "why didn't they want me", I received an email about an upcoming webinar class by Heather Forbes, of Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control, called "Giving Your Children Their Story".

I am so totally doing it!

I'm guessing most adoptive parents struggle with giving information to their children. I know I certainly have! To gloss over Genea's story on clouds made of fairy wings would be wrong, but to bluntly tell the whole truth would be cruel. It's hard to use phrasing that never ever hints of anything being her fault, and to avoid projecting interpretation onto a birth mother whose story is unknown. There is so much to consider, and I'm sure many other people have the issue of multiple layers. We don't just have one abandonment, we have two, along with some bizarre situations.

Other issues lurk around too. It's her information and I don't necessarily feel like I have the right to hold any of it back. Yet, she's eleven and I would not expect her to understand trigonometry. I've read from adoptee's who say their story belongs to them alone, and many don't want their adoptive parents involved at all.

I cannot even describe how perfect this is for us right now. I just wrote the post "Black Holes and Revelations" last month (title take from an album by Muse btw) where I realized Genea has gaps in her memory. Not just of the actual events but of what we have told her so many times.

I've lifted these quotes directly from the Beyond Consequences website:

"Trauma is stored in fragments within the memory system".
YES IT SEEMS TO BE! When I was telling Genea a part of her life with the first adoptive parents, she got all excited, saying she had dreams about the event that scared her, but she didn't know why.

"Pieces of memory here and pieces of memory there can create confusion and conflict".
OH YEAH WE HAVE THAT! She often still confuses the story of her birth mother with the story of her first adoption.

"Help your child in the process of sorting through the reality and magical thinking".
YUP, THAT TOO! In the beginning, Genea put her previous adoptive parents on an airplane for a solid year, and whenever one flew overhead she jumped up and down hollering "there they are!".

So anyway! The webinar is on March 11th. I was surprised at how inexpensive the class is in the first place but there is currently a discount running that puts it at just $15.00 ( Seriously?). It's live, and interactive so people such as myself (ahem!) can ask questions. AND! Heather will remain online after the class to answer general parenting questions as well! Several years ago I hauled myself across the country twice to attend seminars with her and I can say both were highly valuable and helped me change a lot.

Class fees were waived in exchange for this post.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Black Holes and Revelations

On our way to therapy last week, Genea started telling me a lengthy story about Daddy's shirt. It's from Denver, and he got it a long time ago. And when she asked him about it, and he told her, she remembered another question she'd been meaning to ask.

"Why didn't that other family want me"?

Um.

"Do you remember what we've told you?"

No.

Whenever this has come up in the past, maybe a handful of times, we've always told her it was because the parents who adopted her first were getting a divorce. This is not exactly the truth, though that marriage had clearly been over for a while, and they did wind up divorcing a year later. Genea has been young enough, or oblivious enough, that the answer was enough. She accepted it with the idea that all three of them separated from each other. 

The truth as I know it is, she was too much for them. Her shrieking, that primal infant scream that they could not stop with any usual methods. They resorted to some unusual methods and the shrieking stopped, but there was nothing there then. They had no relationship, and felt like she hated them. She may have. She had stopped growing after a few months with them and developed a cortisol disorder similar to Addisons Syndrome. She also developed the bizarre ability to stop herself from making any sound while crying. Imagine a 3 year old who can do that. If I'd not seen it I would never had believed it.

In the therapists office, Genea pushed me for more information. "I don't know" was not going to cut it this time. I said "I can tell you what they told me, which was they thought they were bad parents and they didn't know how to help you. You were so sad all the time and they tried but they had some really bad ideas of what to try, and that made it worse". I asked her if that made sense, and she said sort of.

I explained some more, the things about her screaming and how they thought she was miserable. I made a point to tell her none of it was her fault. There is nothing a 4 year old can do to make parents do anything. The entire responsibility is on them. It was a hard conversation for many reasons, one being to describe her as she was then, without using any language to suggest anything was her fault.

When I asked her again if it was making sense, she again said "sort of". I realized she was waiting to hear a good reason. Something she could hang on to, to tell herself, oh so that's why. A reasonable explanation as to why the people who adopted her first didn't want her. Just throw a cement mixing truck at my head, I'll eventually catch on.

"If you're waiting to hear something logical, there isn't anything. If you're trying to understand what the good reason they had was, there isn't one. It was the wrong thing to do and they shouldn't have done it. What they did was bad for you, it hurt you".

And so she understood, in her 11 year old Genea way, that it was not going to made sense.  I'm certain it will all come up again and again, and I'm not sure why she doesn't remember. My suspicion is that she struggles so much daily just to hold the usual stuff together, that hard stuff gets pushed to the side and eventually forgotten.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

What the what?

They say there is no such thing as a stupid question. I don't know who "they" is, but "they" are wrong. There are plenty of stupid questions. So. Many. Stupid. Questions!
 
We recently had a relative from not-my-side come out to visit. She had friends here who wanted to meet my family (really?). So off we went, through the blizzarding snow, to meet these friends of the Relative From Out Of Town. For the sake of expediency, we'll call her Root.
(you have to know how badly I wanted to make the acronym ROT, but it just seemed like too much).
 
Roots friends have a 2nd home here in Green Bay. One might think of that as an oddity worthy of its own show on TLC. After all, if I were to have a second home you can be guaranteed it would be more than a thousand miles from Wisconsin. Key West, or Hilton Head Island, New Orleans, NYC to name a few. But its actually something people do (freaky- deaky people, ahem). Buy a second home in Green Bay so you can use it for the 10 times the Packers play football at Lambeau Field. I'm serious. It's a thing!
 
Anyway, we went in and made introductions blah blah blah etc.  These people were loud. They responded to normal speech so I don't think it was a hearing issue. They were just super, eardrum- vibrating loud. So much that Teena kept her hands over her ears the whole time. But they were fun, sociable and pleasant. Until one of them made a comment, and it snowballed.

“Teena you look so much like your mom. I mean, I'm sitting here and I just met you, and gosh, you just look so much alike! Genea, how come you don’t look like them?"
Genea- “I’m adopted”
Loud people- “BWAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHA”
I explain, no, she really is adopted.
Root chimes in with, "she’s from ThuhyooCRANE!"
LP- “OH, are you a gymnast?”
 
(huh? what? a what???)
 
At this point I should explain that my brain was frantically firing neurons to come up with a logical explanation as to where this was going and why. Distressed little axons whipped about seeking clarity that would not come. So it was busy. (ps, I'm not sure what that means but I thought it sounded good).
 
Root- “NO, but all my friends think she looks JUST LIKE Nadia Comaneci”!!!!
 
Nadia


 
 
 
The Husband says- “Nadia is Romanian
 
 
 
 
 
 
 









This here is Genea. From ThuhyoooCRANE.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 





 
Later I thought, perhaps they were thinking of Oksana Baiul who is Ukrainian. And a figure skater.
 
 
 
 
 
At any rate, I am so completely bewildered I have lost the ability to speak

I shit you not. The conversation then extends to all the people everyone ever knew who was adopted.
One of the LP's asked Genea, "do you know other orphans from ThuhyooCRANE? My neighbor has a daughter from Korea and she knows another little girl from Korea too!".

Someone asks about travelling to ThuhyooCRANE in the future.
Root answers. Why would ROOT answer? Just the fact gave my sad little misfiring neurons a toilet swirly. Let alone the words that followed.
 
 “WE are going to take her there when she is 18. WE want her to be old enough to appreciate it. We are definitely going, and it will be a big trip for us. We just want her to be old enough to understand what's happening. But WE will take her there when she's 18.” 

The stink eye I sent her the first time progressed to the evil eye, then to a full on WTF face.
My head exploded. WE are not going ANYWHERE!!!!! When and if Genea's parents decide it is a stable time in her emotional and cognitive development, and if she wants to, her PARENTS will take her. In fact, her father and I have discussed 15 or 16. There will be MONTHS of counseling involved before and after.  At 18 she can take herself if she wants! However, I managed to let the comments gooooo, let it gooooo, let it GOOOOOO. Why? I have an unfortunate history with Root wherein she says stupid shit, and I call it out and make her take it back. Apparently in some circles this is not as appreciated as it should be. So I try.
 
But there’s more.

LP “Genea, you are SO LUCKY to be adopted!”
Me- ACK! ACK! ACK!
That's the point where I almost let loose with a little crazy of my own. Possibly they sensed it, because it was quickly expanded to "you're so lucky you have them for parents- Teena too!"

Seriously, I didn't realize before how fortunate we are that we’ve never been around people like that before.  I’ve always heard stories of stuff like this happening, but this was my first experience with hard core dumbasses. Obviously, us all being Caucasians means we rarely get a second glance and that's probably a big part of it. At least nobody asked her WHY her real mother didn’t want her (although I’d bet a tray of cheese curds they were all trying to think of a way to bring it up).
 
 
The stupid. It hurts.
 

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