Saturday, August 18, 2012

The New Normal

I wish I could say that life after bringing Sweetie home has been great and everything I dreamed it would be. It is not what I dreamed, but it is mostly what I expected. My child lives in a world of constant hurt and fear. She mask this fear and hurt with rage.The years of abuse and neglect have taken such a toll on her little soul. Her body is stuck in the constant state of hypervigelence, where she is always waiting for the next attack. She doesn't yet know that the attack isn't going to come. She lives in a world where EVERY adult has hurt her or left her...until now. So why would she expect us to be any different?  Sweetie has been here a little over a month and we have had some pretty intense times. The longer she is with me, the more I see the Reactive Attachment Disorder (R.A.D.) and the more I realize that she has some pretty major sensory processing issues, that have never been addressed. So many of Sweetie's needs have not been met. She has been diagnosed with needing 2 root canals on adult teeth and needing several fillings. There is absolutely no excuse for this!!! Her dental care has been 100% covered for her. We now need to pay for an anesthesiologist to come into the pediatric dentist to do IV sedation because she will be unable to handle having the dental work done. A huge THANK YOU goes out to Kim for taking Sweetie to the dentist for her cleaning. I know it was not easy!!! All of Sweetie's visits to doctors/dentist have been awful.Like it is when you take a toddler to get shots, only my toddler is 12. Her control issues create a world in which she is confrontational & defensive constantly. There is so little joy in her. But there are moments. I try to create as many moments as I can. This past week, I drove home wearing a faux mustache beeping the horn and waving at people. She was laughing so hard she almost pee'd. These moments are so far and few. But they are awesome when they do happen.
When I started this journey to become a mom it was all about filling my needs. Now my needs are non-existent. I truly see this as a life or death situation for Sweetie. If she was not matched with us I truly believe she would fall into a life that would surely end her life at a young age. I know that there are going to be many bad days until we can help Sweetie heal.
Today was one of those really really bad days....
We had attachment therapy scheduled, like we do every week. I prepared her like I always do. This morning I tried to make it extra special by having her help me make sugared donuts. She seemed to enjoy this activity, but then refused to eat. Like I do for every time we need to leave the house I give her the 30 minute, 15 minute and 5 minute announcement. At the 5 minute mark she announces that she is not coming. So, I take a breath and pull out some "Love and Logic" parenting and state you have 2 choices, you can either get dressed and walk to the car or I can carry you. I waited 5 minutes and she did not move and repeated that she was not going. I then grabbed a blanket and proceeded to attempt to pick her up. I am glad to say in the last month Sweetie went from weighing 69 pounds to 78. But sadly that 9 pounds had made her more difficult to pick up. When I attempted to pick her up it started a rage that kicked through her bedroom door , put a hole in the wall and broke her phone. The thing I came to realize during today's rage is that when she is in one she is reliving the past traumas of her life as if they are happening right now. An example of this is while she is on the ground thrashing around she is screaming bloody murder for me to stop kicking her, even though I was several feet away from her. Eventually we were able to get her into the car where she continued to verbally lash out, calling me every name in the book, telling me that I am never meant to be a mother and that is why I could not have children, she called me a child abuser and that I was going to hell for what I am doing to her. It took her several hours to get completely regulated after this. I was glad in therapy that our therapist agreed that I did the right thing by attempting to pick her up. 
I know that the closer she gets to feeling loved the more her defenses go into overdrive. This is the stuff they do not prepare you for in MAPP classes. They don't show you the real pain behind the children's cute faces. 
But after it all there is still HOPE! God, is really showing me that in my journey with Sweetie. It is in the small things but HOPE is still there. It is when tonight she sat on the bed with Cris & I and with tears in her eyes said that she wishes we could see how sad she feels for what she has done today. That she knows that saying sorry does not fix things. But she wants to fix it. This is my HOPE!!! Many children with RAD have no remorse at all. They do not care if they broke something or hurt someone. Sweetie does!!! For that I am grateful. I am also grateful that she learned her lesson from this that I do follow through on what I say. While we were sitting on the bed, I asked so next time I give you a choice to walk or be carried what do you think you will do. She responded that she was absolutely going to walk. 
Sweetie will be working hard to earn the money to repair the door and the wall. She feels the need to fix the damage. Before we even had a chance to discuss with her our plan to pay for the door, she brought it to us that she knows she needs to repair the damage and was asking about what we thought it would cost. 
The day was exhausting as most are now a days, but in the end we had growth. That is what matters right?

Here is a video for Kelly Clarkson's newest Dark Side. Music is a big part of how I get through to Sweetie. I have very intentionally picked music playing most of the time. I love when I hear her singing part of the songs. I know the messages are sinking in. 

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Week 3

You know what is amazing? That I can not remember my life before Sweetie right now. All of those moments that I was freaking out over something that wasn't going how I expected during the approval process seem almost as if they may have been a dream. I can't even remember what specific things had me upset. Every moment of everyday is now about meeting her needs. This hole of needs that will most likely never be filled. But I will keep trying. This week was a trying one at times, but fun at others. Adjusting to being the mom of a special needs teen is most definitely a difficult one. But this warrior mom is in for the long haul and we will get through this. We are taking it minute by minute around here.They do not tell you of these things in your adoption training classes. But than again if they did, how many of those people would have still done this?
The good news is no violent tantrums this past week. So we are better than the week before!
Her needs are becoming more and more evident every day. And every day my heart breaks a little more.
My daughter is so wounded that she is in a constant place of mad and sad. I have probably only seen her really laugh 3 times in 3 weeks.
As I have mentioned in previous post my daughter has been diagnosed with RAD. From our initial contact, I thought it was a misdiagnosis. But the longer she is hear, the more I see she is textbook. Unfortunately for RAD kids (sometimes called RADishes) have the need to have control of everything around them or they feel as if they will perish. It is such a primal response and extremely unconscious to them. If they are in control, they feel they can't be hurt. We had a lot going on this week with her constant battle for control against anybody or thing. To be honest it is exhausting. But with God's grace we make it to the end of each day.
I sat in church this am listening to the music as I rubbed Sweetie's back and it just hit me, how much hurt she feels constantly. It was a bit overwhelming to even just think about. I can not imagine how she can even function, with the constant feeling of not being safe, always feeling like I am going to hurt her or send her back. I can try to reassure her all I want, but it doesn't change the fact that many times people have said exactly what I say and they sent her away. During therapy yesterday this came up. How everyone sent her on to the next family because she was a bad kid. It is so sad that she really believes that she is bad and she perceives everything as being an attack against her. This makes parenting a challenge. I have to be so deliberate in every word I say and every action because it is being watched and she is just looking for me to fail her, just like everyone else has.
We head to NY Friday to visit family. I am excited and scared all at the same time. I worry about the airport being overwhelming, I worry that she may not be able to handle meeting a bunch of new family, I am am afraid she will be jealous of other people and have a huge tantrum at my parents 25th Anniversary party this weekend. But I can not live in fear. I have to face it and overcome any challenges that arise.
I hope this does not come across as a rant. I knew what I was getting into and I am still here. And I wll remain here.
As always I am grateful for my wonderful support system. I am especially grateful to friends who have been helping with child care and for the wonderful meals that Warehouse ladies have been bringing us!
Great song that they performed in service today.