Sunday, December 22, 2013

Love Is Christmas

I thought I knew what unconditional love was. But now I know my idea of it was not even close to what it truly is. After having one of successful therapy session we are back to awful. I knew it was coming and tried to prepare for it, but there is no real preparing for getting your heart broken....again.
We intentionally kept our gift giving to a minimum this year, because we knew no matter what we gave her, Sweetie would find a reason to be disappointed. And as expected she was disappointed and this time over shampoo. Weird I know.
First I should tell you I love stockings! Almost more than big gifts. I always thought they were fun and if you ask Sweetie about last Christmas, the first thing she would tell you is she caught me sneaking into her room at 4 am to put her stocking at the foot of her bed. And how she pretended to sleep until I left so she could rummage through it. Which is exactly what I did as a kid. I know this is a good memory for her. I put lots of fun stuff in her stocking. Lip balms, hair bands, nail polish, cute socks and cute gloves. She loves my Pantene conditioner, so this year I put a big bottle of that in there as well, since she doesn't have any at the residential facility. She opened all of her gifts with minimal response at all. She wouldn't even make eye contact today. She just opened her gifts and in a monotone voice made some kind of comment on most of them, mostly negative like "this is too big or it's not from Rue 21". Then she says "Where's the shampoo?' I just said it wouldn't fit in the stocking. She just said " Well I'm done, I'm going to take a nap". I could tell she was getting upset. She has tell tale body signs, like grabbing her ear or moving her chair side to side while staring at the ground and she gets a very sharp tone. We did not want there to be any negative memories for today, so we just let her go. The whole thing took maybe 10 minutes. No smiles, no laughter, just an empty girl, who wasn't pleased with anything we gave her. She has found a new way to reject us. From the outside most wouldn't think anything of this. People often make comments like "she is just a teenager, they are all like that". No, no they are not like her. Her actions are all calculated and manipulative. Each comment is meant to have a direct effect and meant to push us away. But they are also self preserving. In the words of my friend Melissa "Trauma Sucks". There is no other way to put it. It destroys our children's childhood and tries it's best to destroy their future. But I do not accept defeat in this. Yes today, trauma won. But the battle for my Sweetie is far from over. I will be honest, I am not really as strong as I appear. I do rally up my strength, but a good part of the time I am just a mess. I cried for hours today. I battle with wondering why I don't deserve to be happy, why don't I deserve a child who can love me back. I know in my mind that it is not about deserving, but my heart just longs for a family of my own to love and for them to love me. But adopting a child is not about having someone love you back. And in reality, Sweetie may truly love me. I know she does love me the best she can. And I will just have to accept that it is the best she can do. Her defenses will not allow for more. This is when I see what true unconditional love is. I receive nothing in return of my love. I am hurt over and over and I still adore this child. I can only credit God for this. This is not something I was taught or experienced. I am someone that has always tried to be perfect for people to love me. So I have always experienced conditional love. People love that I am funny, kind, a good cook and giving. But how many really love the hurt and dark me?  The one that no one gets to ever see, for fear of being rejected. My dear husband is trying so hard right now. He is the closest to seeing the real me, but I don't even show him the brokenness. He is sweet with his words and he is even humoring me by helping me prepare meals for the homeless. I feel at times like I react to him the way Sweetie is towards me. I know he takes the burden of my sorrow heavily. He wants nothing more than to fix it.

So, now I will get into the part of my weekend where I realize how I must really enjoy being tortured.
Every once in a while I check out the adopt nc kids website. Mostly to check if any of the kids we inquired about while looking for our children have been adopted. I want so much for them all to have loving homes. I wish the system was different and I could adopt several at a time. But it is not. You have to wait a year between adoptions and then the adopted child must be stable for at least 6 months.
Which means each time Sweetie gets hospitalized or spends time in residential our clock gets restarted from her discharge date. Back in September I wrote about the day I picked up Sweetie when she was discharged from her first residential treatment. The staff at the facility made an exception for me to come to chapel that day. Sweetie did not want to be seen with her mom, so I sat in a row towards the back by myself.  Then a group of the younger kids was brought in. And this little girl with big brown eyes sat down right next to me. I can still picture her hair in a ponytail and her banged up, scrapped up legs from playing outside. She was a bundle of energy as they sang their hymns. They showed a video of an interview of the kids at the facility about how they would make the world a better place. Sweetie did not participate in this project, she did not participate in many activities while there. This little girl was in the video and she said she would make the world a better place by using her super hero powers and shot her fist toward the camera. After the video, the pastor was discussing different ways of making others feel good and asked the kids to share a good memory from a birthday that they had. This girl looked at me and said " she never had one". That was the moment I knew I needed to more for these kids. They deserve to have birthdays and holidays. They deserve to be protected and loved. They deserved so much, but were failed, just like my Sweetie. At the time I thought this was finally "My Calling"! I thought I was meant to be a foster parent. Maybe I still am. So, I come back to the website. I was looking at it this weekend and I saw her picture staring back at me. Her bio so much like my Sweetie's. It is very common for kids like her to be available for adoption for years. Sweetie was 9 when she could be adopted and it took 3 years for her to get to us. Could we be this girl's family? Maybe we could show her unconditional love before it is too late for her and she is unable to accept it. I put out an email to Sweetie's therapist from the residential facility and she is going to pass it on to the girl's team. I know this is crazy, I know we (In the words of my mom)" already have a lot on our plate. It may take months or a year for Sweetie to stabilize and for us to add to our family. But I can't lose hope that we will have our large family. I know many will not understand this... why we would want to bring more chaos and potential pain into our lives? But in my heart I cannot find a reason not to. Does God stop loving all of his hurt children? The ones who strike out and try to hurt themselves, others and him. He has not turned his back on any of us. How can I turn my back on those who so desperately need parents. This is what I have found unconditional love to be. Isn't Unconditional love really what Christmas is about? It is not about the presents and the parties. For me, it is about loving one another wholly, unconditionally.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Wherever You Go

I know it has been a few weeks since I last posted. There has been a lot going on. The last 2 weeks have been very busy and also very tough. It started on a high note after Thanksgiving when Sweetie gave me this letter. It is a letter she did in therapy and I saw a big glimpse of Hope for our girl.

And like every other time my girl shows me some major affection, she does something equally awful to sabotage it. She must be really scared right now, because she is pushing us away harder than ever before. She is refusing to see us or talk to us again. But we keep trying. During this weeks family therapy she was something different. She wasn't out of control tantrumming like she normally does. This week she was very calculated, very deliberate and full of disdain.
As we were walking down the hall to the therapy room we could see her walking down another hall and she was laughing and waving to everyone. The minute she saw us, she literally flipped a switch and threw herself back. If you can picture trying to put 2 positive charged magnets, how they repel each other...that is how she responds to us. Her movements are extremely exaggerated. If we step toward her she will run completely around us to the farthest corner while yelling or screaming. is week therapist tried something, by letting Sweetie feel in control of the session. . Giving Sweetie control immediately backfired. She sat in the therapist chair and rhythmically banged the chair right to left hitting the drawers on each side hard enough to have them open and slam shut. She did this on and off the whole therapy session. She verbalizes that we have rejected her and calls us those people. We are no longer mom and dad. She dominated the whole session, cussing and yelling and then singing songs when asked questions. She says that she wants to kill rejection and that we are rejection. Does that mean she wants to kill us? I know that the Reactive Attachment Disorder is in full swing right now. She is getting superficial needs met through peer interactions and have limited contact with us, due to an issues getting through to her on the phone. To be honest she seems to be getting further and further away. She is constantly rejecting us now and in turn she is feeling that we are rejecting her. She has gone back to thinking we are doing things we are not doing or saying things we have not said. Cris and I said very little during the session because she was dysregulated and was saying she was going to blow. But that was last session. Luckily her therapist is open to trying things we know work. And what works is pushing through the uncomfortable and forcing her to deal with me. So this week it will be me and her in an empty room. The therapist will be outside.
I will do what I always do with Sweetie and I am going to be honest and level with her. She is usually receptive to this. I am not afraid of her hitting me, I know I can take her punches. So this time when she fights with words or behaviors I am going to push through with her. I am going to get through to her. She is going to see I am here, I have not gone anywhere, I am not going anywhere. If she wants out, she needs to figure out how to do that legally by getting emancipated, but that will be her choice. We are not giving up. I will tell her she is our family, we want her to be our family. If she wants to be part of the family, she does have to try to work to be part of it. I do not expect perfection. Lord knows I am far from perfect. But we do expect effort. IF she does not want to be part of our family than she does not get the privileges of this family. Which means no gifts, no trips, no fancy hair coloring/cut.
We are a good family, we are good parents and deep down she is a good girl. She is just scared to death of us rejecting her. She is trying to control that rejection. While in therapy and she was making a bunch of noise I asked the therapist several times, so that Sweetie could hear me "I wonder how long a scared girl can push and push until she realizes that these parents aren't going anywhere?"
This was an exhausting and heart breaking visit. It crushed both Cris and I.
I am pretty sure she heard me. Because the next day, she did call us.

She did not apologize but we did have a pretty insightful discussion.
I asked what she wanted from us besides buying her things? She said she didn't know. 
I asked what she was so upset about yesterday, that she was saying some really hurtful things and she said because we weren't buying her anything for Christmas. I asked her if I ever said that and she said no but you will buy me crappy stuff. I asked did I buy you crappy stuff last year? He said no. I asked did we buy you crappy school clothes and she said no. So I asked why would you think that now? She said she didn't know and that made her feel better.
I asked her what she needed us to do to make her feel loved and not rejected? She said she didn't know. I told her that is something to think about, because we have tried to buy her anything she ever wanted, we tried affection, we tried fun experiences. We are trying to just figure out how to show her we are here. But if she doesn't want to accept it, it is all pointless. 
She said she wanted to be with friends more and less therapy. I said when we can act like a normal family we can stop therapy. She said that we are not normal. I said you are right, I am not normal, Papi is not normal and neither are you and that is ok. We are not normal together. She asked me what I thought a normal family was. I said ones that are respectful, caring, forgiving, they don't yell at each other and they don't hit. They do still have disagreements but they talk them out and work on them. Unfortunately that was when her time was up for her call. We only get 10 minutes 3 times a week, and the first 5 minutes are usually her being distracted or asking me for things and me ticking her off by saying no.

It is so hard for me to say no. I love to buy things for people I love, that is my love language. Especially at Christmas. I see so many things I want to buy her. But this year it is 2 outfits, a winter jacket that she needs and a pair of pjs. As I finished up some last minute shopping today I saw so many things I wanted for her. When I envisioned being a mom I pictured all the things we could do, I loved the thought of having a girlie girl that loved hair and clothes and shoes. So did Cris. We would have given Sweetie anything. But sadly, she can not handle receiving good things. She sabotages them. So, this Christmas we are pretty much dealing with a tantrum either way. If she get's what she wants she doesn't feel she deserves it and sabotages. If she doesn't receive what she wants she gets triggered and feels we are rejecting her. We saw this last year, we got most of what she asked for. So much of it was never used and we gave it away. She had awful behavior for a week after the holiday.
This year, I have saved money and we will see how it goes. She is already saying it isn't fair. She is right it isn't fair. It is not fair that all this happened to her and that she has to live with the symptoms of RAD. IT's not fair  that we don't get to do things with our daughter and that she can't accept our love. The whole situation is not fair.
I am not sure what the next few weeks will hold, but I will be grateful when this holiday season is over. We should be in a trigger free zone for a while. Hoping then we can have some real progression with our girl. Sadly because of her behavior towards us she has not earned permission to come home during the holidays. And this makes me sad.
This has been one of my favorite songs for a while. I think of my girl when I am singing it.

There's a train leaving your heart tonight.
There's a silence inside your head and you're running you're running from it.
Down the tracks on a midnight line.
There's a red moon in the sky and you're running you're running from it.

But I'm coming for you, coming for you, wherever you go.
I'm coming for you, I'm coming for you wherever you go.

Wrestling angels till dawn breaks through
There's a blessing in the wound and you're running you're running from it.
When all your demons are at your door
it's a soldier they're looking and you're running you're running from it.

But I'm coming for you, coming for you, wherever you go.
I'm coming for you, I'm coming for you wherever you go.

I'm coming for you, I'm coming for you wherever you go
I'm coming for you, I'm coming for you wherever you go

Across the sea, the space between everything you think you know,
the things you keep and bury deep underneath the melting snow -
I'll follow.

Fathers & mothers don't always come through,
but I'm never gonna stop following you

Prophets and lovers don't always hold true,
but I'm never gonna stop falling for you

So, when your wine's all gone and your well runs dry,
Open your hands and look into my eyes; all that you see here,
you'll soon leave behind, so open your hands and look into my eyes

'cause I'm coming for you, coming for you wherever you go

I'm coming for you, I'm coming for you wherever you go [5x]

Yeah, I'm coming for you, coming for you wherever you go [2x]

I'm coming for you, coming for you wherever you go [2x]

Fathers & mothers don't always come through,
but I'm never gonna stop following you
Prophets and lovers don't always hold true,
but I'm never gonna stop falling for you 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Walls Come Tumbling Down

 But if you close your eyes,
Does it almost feel like
Nothing changed at all?
And if you close your eyes,
Does it almost feel like
You've been here before?
How am I gonna be an optimist about this?
 Pompeii~ Bastille

It is Thanksgiving and honestly I have been in a pretty bad funk. In preparation to adopt an older child, we have prepared ourselves in a lot of ways. I can't even count how many books I have read or cds I have listened to about all kinds of adoption issues. I know more about Reactive Attachment Disorder than most of the mental health workers we encounter. I know the more our daughter loves us the scarier it becomes for her and this causes her to push us away. I have written on this topic many times. Even though my head knows how Sweetie will respond to certain situations, my heart still gets hurt when she does respond in a negative way. Sweetie seems to be wanting to make changes in herself to heal. She has been participating in therapy, she says she believes we are good parents and doing everything we can. She says she needs to take this time to work on herself. I believe her. What is hard is when we try to visit her and she can only deal with being around us for 2 minutes without reacting in a negative way. I am not sure if it a control issue or if it is a shame issue. She can hardly look at us when we see her. I know she feels bad for accusing Cris falsely and for attacking me. She verbalizes this to her therapist and understands it is those actions that are why she is in the program. It is a good thing she is able to verbalize these things. 6 months ago Sweetie could not have done that. So, even though her behavior has been it's absolute worst, she is now beginning to experience some healing. She can recognize that she is doing these things to test us to see if we will really will stay and if we really unconditionally love her. She can admit that she is scared that she will chase us away. But she hasn't chased us away. Honestly it hurts awfully when she does this. It is hard not to take it personally. On days like today, I find myself relating to this song. When I close my eyes it feels like nothing has changed at all. When I close my eyes I feel like I have been here before. And I ask; how I am gonna be an optimist about this? If it wasn't for the faith I have that God has brought Sweetie to us because he could use us to help her heal, I would not be optimistic. Even with the true hope that I have, there are days that I have my doubts. But, I look back on where Sweetie has come from and what she has survived. My sweet girl is strong, she is smart, she is resilient and most of all she is loved. Her walls are beginning to come tumbling down, exposing the hurt child inside. When I was talking to her therapist yesterday she said something that no one has said to me before. She said that Sweetie is one of the few kids she has worked with that if it was not for her trauma, she would not have any mental health issues. That most of the other children she works with have biological mental illness. She believes if Sweetie had not gone through her early childhood trauma, she would have been able to have a life with absolutely no limits.
At first this made me profoundly sad and angry. I am having to really work hard on forgiving her others for hurting her so much that they have broken her spirit. They have shattered her soul. They have left a hole in her soul that nothing can ever fill. I pray that God's love can heal that wound.
I will be grateful for when the holidays are over, so we can get past all of the triggers for a while and Sweetie can get to a place of peace.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Surviving the Monster

 Fire only needs 3 things: An ignition, oxygen and fuel.
For about 10 years I was a volunteer firefighter in upstate New York. Most of the time I managed to get through things pretty unscathed. Then their were times that like when I managed to miss tucking a patch of hair inside my Kevlar hood and burned of a huge chunk of hair. Over that time I was able to learn a lot about fire and what a monster it can become. I came to view fire as a living breathing thing. It was born, it ate, it grew and eventually died. When tended to carefully fire can be a wonderful thing, providing warmth and light. But when abused or neglected it becomes uncontrollable and takes the form of a monster devouring everything in it's path. Children with Reactive Attachment Disorder are in some ways like a forest fire. They can start from careless mistakes of selfish people. Imagine young campers having a good time creating a campfire. For a while they tend to the fire, it is fun, it is a source of entertainment. But eventually time goes by and they get tired, bored, go to sleep and eventually leave. When the fire isn't being provided with fuel, it can spread to surrounding areas to feed. If there is no one there to care for the fire it becomes more and more destructive until it either runs out of fuel or someone steps in and smothers it. For our children with difficult past, no one was there to tend to their needs. The fire from their fear became anger and it grows to become an out of control rage. And like a fire that has smoldered for a long time just barely alive, they can blow when oxygen is reintroduced. In our journey with Sweetie love is oxygen and the things we have bought for Sweetie is the fuel that has fed her fire. For a child who has been deprived for so long of basic needs and love, the flood of love and gifts creates a scenario very similar to a backdraft. Unleashing an uncontrollable monster. This is what happened to my Sweetie. And now we are left with the aftermath. We are a family that is a pile of debris and ashes.
However there is still hope. Soon after the largest of forest fires, new life rises from the ashes.
Our family is already starting to see sprouts of new growth already in Sweetie.
I have already shared how hard it was to place Sweetie back into a PRTF( Psychiatric Residential Therapy Facility).and how this one is way more structured and is just a tougher program. We were to have our first family therapy session today, but were unable to because I caught the flu. Even in this misery, God has made good of it. When we could not go, it allowed Sweetie to do an individual therapy session that was monumental in her journey. After the session her therapist wrote to me the following:
It went fantastic, actually. Really pleased with how she responded. She said that she felt like she had never really had much individual therapy before and that she needs it. I had some discussion with her about RAD and what that means and why it isn't her fault that she's had some difficulties forming attachments. It made sense to her and she was able to recognize that RAD is why she tends to form very quick attachments with peers and becomes emotional when those attachments dissolve quickly. She also recognized that with each foster placement she has had, it has gotten more and more difficult for her to trust caregivers. We also discussed that she has trouble trusting men and worries that they will sexually abuse her. She identified that a big goal of hers is to learn how to trust and to learn what love really is when it's healthy. She believes that she needs more 'help' than you guys do and believes that you are good parents. I think she really can be successful here if we can continue down this line of thinking. 
This is the first time that Sweetie has taken ownership for her behavior or treatment. It has always been someone else's fault or someone else had to do something to fix what was happening.
Even though I can hardly breathe and severe muscle and joint aches, my heart is happy and excited.
This is so huge for her and us. I was able to speak with her and she is sad and low. My heart hurts for her in that sense. This is the first time she is allowing herself to actually feel sad. Until now, she has always converted sad and fear to angry. She is being very insightful and in tuned to what is going on.
Unfortunately,she has stated that she does not want to see us for Thanksgiving because she does not feel safe around us. She said she loves us but just can't handle seeing us right now while she is in a bad place. I told her I was so proud of her for telling us how she felt, that I respected her for being able to voice that. I told her we support her in her decision and we are here when she is ready. She was the saddest I ever heard her and I believe this interaction to be genuine.
I am continuing to pray for radical transformation for my girl. I will continue to show her God's love through me. 
I am hoping to hear back from one of our pastors. He took a picture of this amazingly beautiful thistle and gave a wonderful talk on flourishing, not just surviving. I am so happy to be able to share Kurt's amazing photo. This is what I want for our Sweetie. I want a life for her where she does not merely survive. I believe that God has a beautiful path laid out for Sweetie. I believe in her ability to take a stand against the monster inside of her, find redemption and flourish.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Broken Girl

I will never share Sweetie's full story with anyone for 2 reasons. First I don't know most of it. I have only gotten bits and pieces that come out in rare moments and then they are retracted and denied. But more importantly because this is Sweetie's story to tell. She may never tell anyone everything. Most of the time I believe she can't even bring herself to face most of it. All that I know is the severe abuse and neglect left my child shattered and completely broken. I can not even tell you how many tears I have shed over her lost childhood and innocence. No child should face what she has. IT is not fair that she is the one who is paying now for what others did to her. I can never wrap my brain around the fact that they could not get past themselves to care for their children. But part of me has pity for them. They could not do it because they did not know how. They were never shown. They were broken children themselves.

Bringing Sweetie back to a PRTF (Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility) was not any easier the second time around. Now that she is a teenager the program she is in is a bit more hard core. This has meant no contact so far. We will have our first family therapy this coming Wednesday. We are faced with an empty house again. It is so quiet now and sad. For every stressful time we had with Sweetie we also had moments that were fun. I miss her laughter. I miss her singing and most of all I miss her hugs. Even with all of her attachment issues, Sweetie loves to be hugged and cuddled. Granted it needs to always be on her terms, but she is willing to accept affection. This is one of the things that gives me great hope for Sweetie.

While Sweetie was in the hospital the past couple weeks, she had to work on written processing of her recent behaviors and goal setting. Even though she could not face us to apologize she could write that she felt horrible for how she assaulted me and how she accused Cris falsely. She wrote that she knows she needs help and that she wants to learn to control her anger. This too gives me hope.
It must be hard to face those you have hurt so badly. Especially when you already have such a core of shame and pain. That would be difficult for any adult. I can't imagine how difficult it is for her.

The new program is a lot tougher and more structured as it is a program for teenagers and her behaviors have been so severe. I am happy about the structure. It will push her. And I really believe she needs to be pushed hard while in a controlled environment. She needs to be pushed to deal with her trauma, not run away from it. If she keeps running, it will always follow her and she will continue to have a life of turmoil and drama. If she chooses to embrace the treatment and work through the trauma she can heal and she can lead an amazing life. We have provided her with unconditional love, support and all the tools to accomplish this healing. It is now her choice. She can work hard and eventually come back home or she can not and she can be placed out of the house. Either way she will still be our daughter and either way we will love her. I prefer her to be home but I will not live in a home where I will be abused.

I continue to put faith in God that she is where she needs to be to find healing. This will be a long few months. It will be hard with her not being home for the holidays. She will not be allowed to come home for Thanksgiving. We are choosing not to celebrate Thanksgiving this year. Cris and I are going to go to the beach and stay at a friends house. I know it will be cold, but I love the ocean and need some time to clear my head and start to work on healing myself.

Friday, November 08, 2013

This is Not Your Legacy

"No, this is not your legacy
This is not your destiny
Yesterday does not define you
No, this is not your legacy
This is not your meant to be
I can break the chains that bind you"
I refuse to give up on Sweetie. She can kick, shove and punch to push me away, but I will not leave. And that rocks her to the core. Her brain can not even begin to comprehend why. How can we love her when she was made to feel for so long that no one could? Oh how I wish she could just see that she really is loved and safe. How I pray for her to begin to trust that we will not hurt her. I want more than anything to see that she does not have to be where she came from. It is her choice where she goes. She has us, she has many tools to help her heal and she ultimately has God's love to help her heal.
This past week has been a roller coaster with trying to get her the help she needs. She has been in the behavioral health hospital for 10 days. And as of yesterday afternoon the hospital wanted to discharge her, but the psychiatric residential facility did not have a bed or the proper paperwork to even accept her as a patient. I started this process on October 28th and there were multiple beds available. At 1:00 yesterday afternoon I was informed that she would not be able to get into the PRTF until the last week of November and that she would be getting discharged. We could not locate a therapeutic foster home willing to take her with her violence and false accusations. Just the day before the hospital psychiatrist and psychologist sat down in a meeting and told us she was not safe to be in the community or even have us transport her to the PRTF and then we were faced with a real possibility of having to bring her back home until she could get into the facility in 3 weeks. I spent hours calling, emailing and texting anybody and everybody I could think of. It finally came to a head and I told the hospital& our therapist that I refuse to pick her up. I was informed if I did not that DSS would be called and we could have charges pressed against us and a DSS investigation would be open. My response was that I would rather have charges pressed against me than be dead. And within 3 hours all paperwork was sent to the facility that was needed. I immediately got on the phone again at 8 am. But 10:00 she was accepted into the program. I made a call into her representative with her insurance and he advocated on our behalf. By 2:00 her insurance who had 72 business hours to make the decision approved her. By 4:00the hospital agreed to keep her until Monday and arranged transport to the PRTF on Monday. Everything is in place for Sweetie to be admitted at 1:00 on Monday.
This program is completely different from her last. And I am grateful for this. The last program reinforced some really bad defense mechanisms. They taught her she didn't have to talk about her feelings, that she could just walk away anytime she got upset. Yes, if you are truly going to have a blow up you should walk away. But Sweetie lives stuck in an angry state. She does not know how to feel any other way. Being happy is scary and vulnerable. They are a lot more restrictive and structured. The program is structured for teens with severe trauma and sexual abuse histories. I feel really good about the program. I am praying this is where she can begin to really dig into confronting the demons that haunt her. Facing them is the only way she can move past them. She is really at a pivotal point in her journey. Her healing is in her own hands. I ask God to speak into her heart and let her understand the love that she has in us and him. I ask that she can see what a wonderful soul she has. She can have a life full of acceptance and unconditional love. She need only want that for herself.
This will be a long journey. But I know with all of my being that she can heal. She deserves to know true love. She deserves to have peace and she deserves to be happy.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Sometimes you get hurt when you are parenting a warrior

My daughter wears a suit of armor that has protected her the best it could when she was living a life full of danger. She has worn it so long it has become part of her. Over the last year she has removed small pieces. She has taken her helmet off so we could see her beautiful eyes and hear her beautiful voice. She has at times even taken off her gloves so that she could give you a genuine hug now and again. But then she notices how vulnerable she is becoming and puts her armor back on and when she feels extremely vulnerable she pulls her sword and attacks. This week that is what happened.
It rocked her to the core that I would not leave my husband for her when she had made accusations against him.  She began to question my loyalty to her, which ultimately resulted in her interrupting that as rejection of her. Sweetie's disorder centers around her negative self worth and shame. The perceived rejection became unbearable and triggered her biggest rage to date. Since the accusation Sweetie has become more and more unsafe at home. Threatening to blow the house up by sticking metal in the microwave. She started to randomly hit Cris and I, shove us& kick us. She would slam doors repeatedly and bang things on the walls for hours at a time. Even with therapist here. She would be waiting for Cris outside our bedroom door at 3 in the morning when he left for work.
Wednesday I came home from work late because we had our annual work Christmas card photo shoot. (Keep in mind while reading this next part, I was still wearing my costume). As soon as I walked in the door she started verbally abusing me and was being defiant. She grabbed the salt container and poured it out onto our dining room table. I asked he to stop and as always said "no you can't make me". So, I went over and tried to grab it from her hand. That was when she elbowed me in the face. From there she went to the freezer and started grabbing things and then the pantry. When she refused and cussed at me, I just said "That's ok, I guess you don't have to give you your allowance this week". (Natural consequence, right?) That set of a rage that turned into her destroying her room, including the dresser I just redid for her. She than began hitting herself in the face with a full length mirror. When I tried to take the mirror away from her she kicked through it and then attacked me. Cris tried to get her off me and then she attacked him. While she was beating on him, I called the cops. When she saw me again, she charged at me again and started punching me in the face. Landing several blows directly to my nose and mouth. Cris was able to yank her off and we were able to restrain her on the bed. At one point Cris let go of her legs when she seemed to be calm and she kicked me repeatedly in the stomach. After restraining her for a while, she calmed enough that we let her go. She got up and went over and started jumping on the broken mirror. I bent over to try to get it away from her and she punched me in the face again.
I was able to get away and we tried to block her in her room and then she began to throw things. She threw her tv and dvd player, tore pictures off walls and threw her full piggy bank at my head.
Then the cops arrived and she immediately settled. All she could say to me was I deserved it.
She was transported by police to the local mental health emergency room where they admitted her.
We are currently attempting to get her into a new Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility  that specializes in traumatized children. We are praying that her insurance will approver her for a second stay. That may be a challenge since she already was in for 6 months. Recent behaviors qualify her for admission, but insurance is a whole beast unto itself.

I have spent the last few evenings really digging through her records, trying to find out what happened in late October or Early November that triggers her so much. I could see where she was moved from different foster homes during that time due to behaviors, so I know something happened that is triggering her. We need to find out what that is so she can process it. She understands this. She has put together the same things separately and said the same thing today.

Despite everything we still love her. Despite everything we have more compassion for her. And despite everything WE ARE STILL HERE and STILL HER PARENTS! That will not change. She may not be able to live with us for some time, while we get her treatment, but our goal is to get our daughter back home someday, if she can begin to heal and can be safe.

I have had some say that they feel I air our dirty laundry on this blog. I do not want anyone's pity for our journey. I do not do this for anyone's admiration. My husband and I are flawed individuals too. We are doing the best we can and we are failing. But we are trying. I write mostly for other parents out there, fighting the same battles to know, you are not alone! We are going through this and we are surviving! Our relationship with each other is actually strengthening. My faith in God and his power to heal my daughter has become unwavering. We are better people for adopting our Sweetie.
For that I can be grateful.

My friend Kim put this song on my Facebook page this week before the big blow up. It is a good description of how I imagine her subconscious is feeling. I pray that she can find an outlet to be able to come to terms with the trauma so she does not have to be the warrior anymore and she can allow herself to be loved and love in return.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Falsely Accused

  I don't even know where to begin. This is by far the most difficult thing to write about and it was surely the most difficult events of my life to go though.
I should back up a bit and talk a bit about Cris' sleep apnea. Per a sleep study, Cris stops breathing about 85% of the time each night. The sleep apnea has caused him to snore so loudly that we could not sleep in the same room. He was able to get a CPAP machine which allowed him to stop snoring, which means for the first time in years we can sleep in the same bed last week. I know that probably seems random... but it plays a big part in the events of the past week.
Follow that up with me going away for a weekend for a women's retreat and add our first family photo shoot together. This was the recipe for the prefect storm for my daughter. The Aftermath of the storm has been completely devastated. But I get ahead of myself.
Wednesday, Sweetie had a rough day at school. For some reason she got up in the middle of class and cut one of her classmate's hair. Sweetie has such a negative self image that she can not handle anything negative being addressed with her. It reinforces that she is bad and no worthless. This makes it difficult to help her change the behaviors when addressing them causes a melt down. Cris picked her up from school that day, so he was the one that had to talk to the Dean of Students about the event. When they were driving to our first family photo shoot, Sweetie told Cris if he told me about cutting the boys hair that she would ruin his life. Of course Cris told me and we found out that Sweetie did indeed plan on ruining Cris' life. She started accusing him of sexually abusing her.
She tried her best to convince me and even went to the point of accusing him to his face. But her story kept changing. My husband immediately recommended contacting authorities. I contacted both of our therapist and everyone agreed it would be best if we contacted DSS ourselves. So we did. They did what they would do for any accusation and we were interrogated. Cris was forced to leave the house and was warned if he was with Sweetie alone that he would be arrested. Cris was devastated. The whole time I just knew in my heart and mind that she was lying. She descried in great detail what happened. But while telling me she would refer to herself as a baby. Looking back on it I can see that she was describing things that someone else did to her. The hurt that she has experienced is beyond anything I can imagine. She kept this story up for 2 days and finally broke as we were driving for her to be questioned a second time by the police, with a therapist and social worker. They were also planning to do a physical including an internal exam. As I drove to the meeting I told Sweetie she need only tell the truth. If you she was lying, we would find a way to forgive her. If she wasn't lying and Cris had done such a thing, I would still stay with him, but we would have to get him help. This infuriated her. She was so upset that I would not leave him. Then I told her if she went through with the accusation and the exam and it shows that nothing happened that I would have no choice but to admit her back into the mental hospital. She immediately started to say "I don't want to go to the hospital!". I explained that it was up to her all she had to do was tell the truth. She admitted she lied, she admitted she was jealous of Cris' love for me. That he loved me more than her. These were the same reasons she gave last year when she hurt Darling. It was this time last year that she hurt her. It was this time 2 years ago when she made a false accusation against her previous foster parents. I believe something awful happened this time of year. Sweetie did go in and admit her lie to the police.
Unfortunately once she did that she felt she should be let off the hook, like it is not a big deal,
My husband has truly incredible. Instead of coming back home full of anger and hurt. He came back full of grace and compassion. He came back and asked if he has disappointed either of us. He asked for forgiveness for his shortcomings. Something that should have driven us apart actually drew us closer together.
Here we are a few days after the most traumatic days of my life. One would think that Sweetie would try to reconcile and at least attempt to be on better behavior. Not my daughter. The event has reinforced her belief that she is bad and evil. She has become increasingly agitated, argumentative, verbally and physically abusive to both acris and I. We are at a loss of what to do now. If we send her to therapuetic foster care or a group home will she get even worse. Will she feel completely rejected and follow the path of her sister? If we keep her home, how much more will she escalate her behaviors? We are heartbroken and truly do not know which way to turn. No one would blame us for giving up. We don't want to give up. But we know she needs greater treatment than we can provide on an outpatient basis. Tuesday I meet with both therapist to discuss our options and recommendations. The last 5 days has been hell on earth for Cris and I. We are exhausted. I am praying for some relief and for some clarity on where to go from here. 
Unfortunately, with everything going on we are no longer allowed to be foster parents. This really saddens me. I know for Sweetie right now it is the best thing. But I am so disappointed. This was the first time in my 38 years that. I actually really felt I knew what. God's plan was for me. But, I guess I was wrong. I am struggling as to what to do next with my life. There has to be a purpose for all of this. I may never know what it is, but something good has to come from it all. It just has to. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Grafting our Family Tree

Grafting is the process of fusing a branch from one tree on to a separate host tree, during which it becomes a living and fruitful part of the new tree, and that tree is forever changed.

I can not lie and say I always wanted to be an adoptive parent. I will always have a small part of me that will wonder what my biological child would have been like. Had I been able to have a biological child I would never truly understand real unconditional love. I would have also lost out on knowing so many amazing people through the adoption community. Each child has been grafted into our individual families and then our families have all been grafted together to create a wonderfully complex and beautiful tree. Like the tree above, we are woven together. Individually we were just weak branches, but grafted together we have become  a strong and beautiful creation. At times I am overwhelmed by the beauty that is coming from so many broken branches. I am constantly amazed at the depths of love I have for our Sweetie. I have never in my life imagined being so completely vulnerable or feeling such pain as I have over the last year and a half. But I never imagine how beautiful our family would become or how many amazing real friendships would develop. I am truly blessed with my friendships. They are much family to me as my parents or brother. I love their children as I love my nieces and nephews. For me I see adoption as the closest thing to how God loves us. It does not matter where our kids have come from, what tragedy they have lived through, or how bad their behavior is, we simply love them. We often ask for nothing in return. I guess we are all so used to just loving that it makes it easier for us to love each other, expecting nothing of one another. The friendships I have are genuine and honest. We can look at one another and say "I don't know what I am doing" or "I am messing up". We support each other in good and bad times.
Right now are some pretty good times for some of my beautiful friends. My dear friend is half way around the world, in the Czech Republic with her 3 1/2 year old daughter. Her and her husband are the first US family ever allowed to adopt from that country! What an amazing journey. Today they are legally clear to travel with her. However the US is holding up things. There are always detours in the adoption journey and they are on one, but they have their daughter! Another of my dear friends brought their soon to be adoptive 16 year old daughter to tour her new school today. Things have been challenging, but starting to move along. And the biggest event of the day today was Sweetie's beautiful nephew was officially adopted by his foster parents.  I am so happy for him to have parents who adore him as much as we would have. I had a small moment of regret that we let him go, but that was very short lived. I know in my heart that he is exactly where he belongs. His parents are wonderful people and they are so gracious to have open communication with us and are so thoughtful to think of Sweetie's feelings. My heart is happy knowing that we did not lose him . We just gained a family with him! So our family is growing in leaps and bounds. And then our own home will become fuller soon.
We submitted all of our paperwork to NC Mentor to start the recertification process. We have our Therapeutic Foster Care Class next week and then CPR and medication management the week after.
I have been so pleased with the social worker I am working with. She is quick to get back to us. The process seems to be a lot less complicated now and the agency we are working with definitely has their stuff together. I am not sure where our journey will take us or what challenges we will face as we take on being a family for hurt children. But, I am confident that with all of the skills we have learned and continue to learn from working with our Sweetie, we can handle anything.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Please Be My Strength

Ok so this is a picture of my skeleton after running! Ok, maybe in my dreams. My skeleton is probably larger than that. But it's all good, I own all this! This week I find myself just drained.
They increased one of Sweetie's meds and it is the anniversary of Sweeite's adoption tomorrow. You would think this would be a good day. But not for many of our kids. Many of our older adopted children have big bad feeling surrounding their adoption day. Yes it is great that they were adopted, but think of what they had to go through to need to be adopted. For this reason I try not to say we were meant to be a family. Because if she was meant to be my child, she was meant to be abused and neglected. I don't for a single minute believe that. I like to tell her that God has given all man free will. Unfortunately when people have not been showed God's love and chose to live lives that revolve around sin, bad things usually happen. But God loves us so much, that he makes a beautiful thing out of something broken and messy. He has taken your crappy situation and mine and created a wonderful beautiful family. I am always honest with my daughter. I feel I owe that to her. Most of her life she has been lied to. Now she believes everyone is lying. So when something sucks I say "boy that really sucks". I can tell her when I am disappointed or sad. She may not always accept it at first but she does eventually accept what I am telling her as truth. There is such a fine line with this as well. I do not tell her how angry I am at her parents for not doing the right thing. I always go back to "They did what they had been showed to do". They had not received real unconditional love growing up, they were completely broken and no one cared. I have such pity for her biological family. Her 15 year old sister is now in a detention facility and her 9 month old baby is being adopted next week by his foster parents. My heart is happy! He is safe and loved by an amazing Christian family. I am blessed to know the mom considers us family! That means so much that she is keeping contact with us.
I have digressed. Back to Adoption Day Anniversary. So, I am not sure if Sweetie's constant negativity and defiance is a symptom of that or what. But it is draining. I am trying to keep upbeat, but sometimes I want to just say "Yeah This Sucks" and climb under the covers and hibernate for a month. I know it is not realistic to even consider this but it really is a nice dream. Tomorrow we will celebrate by repeating some of the things from last year, we will get cupcakes from SAS and go to dinner to the same place. I hope it is a good day for her and us. I am in need of some serious relaxation.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Healing Begins

This past week had been a good one. We have been busy and Sweetie has managed to keep it together all week. Over the last few weeks she had been pushing hard and refusing any direction. This makes it very difficult to parent. I think she had an "Aha" moment in therapy Saturday. Her favorite phrase has been "I don't have to, you can't make me" and she is right we can't make her do most things. Ms. Dana put it a way that seems to have made an impact by saying "You are right, you don't have to and no one can make you do anything, but that is just part of being a part of a family". For the first time Sweetie could say without even a bit of pause that we were a good family and she wanted to be part of it. I really believe her. She has been trying so hard to control her anger and to do what is asked. I am celebrating every small victory. When Sweetie gets aggravated she storms off, usually with a bunch of mumbling and grumbling. Last night as she stormed away from the dinner table I calmly said "that's ok you can go to your room to cool off if you need to, but would you mind just clearing your plate first". I don't know why I asked, I just knew she wouldn't do it, but I tried. And to my surprise she stopped mid stomp through the living room, turned around and came back to clear her plate and put it in the sink. Now, she was stomping and grumbling like crazy, but SHE DID IT!!!
I made sure to praise her for doing it and tell her how proud I was that she could control herself to do that. We are having progress. I am getting more and more glimpses of hope for our Sweetie. I see here bonding more with Cris. He has been working with her on kickboxing. This has been a great outlet for some pent up energy and it gives them something that is for "just them". She is really enjoying it. I am happy she is starting to show interest in something other than driving me nuts. That has been her most favorite past time for the last year. I have learned how not to respond to the button pushing and she has found I am like a broken record with my rehearsed responses so she has finally stopped trying to push them so much. It's been quite a while since she has called me anything to awful. She is settling into this new routine with a lot of structure. We have to work so hard to stay out of power struggles with Sweetie. We have figured out that is what she is looking for. If she can get us to engage in an argument, she still has the ability to try to control the situation. One of my favorite sayings now is "It's not worth arguing" or "I am just to tired to fight today, but you can feel free to argue with yourself all you want" as I walk away. She has been going to either church with me or going up to Jr. High Small Group on Sunday mornings. I believe this has a big impact on her healing.
It is so good for her to be surrounded by our church family who loves us (including her)so unconditionally. I am grateful for the beautiful young woman in our Jr. High group who accept and support Sweetie, no questions asked. These sweet souls really embody the spirit of Jesus. This past week one of the boys made a comment to Sweetie that could have been hurtful. I know this boy and I am sure he didn't mean it that way and Sweetie actually wasn't bothered by it. But one of the sweet girls (Shea) could see how that could be hurtful and sent Sweetie one of the nicest text about how
she is beautiful and awesome just the way she is. I was so proud of both Shea and my Sweetie. A year ago, Sweetie would have beaten up someone that picked on her and a year ago Shea might not have been mature enough to deal this the issue. It is amazing to watch our girls grow into beautiful women.
That was last week. 
This week we are back to tantruming Sweetie. She tantrummed for 3 hours tonight, an hour and a half while the therapist was here. She was actually more escalated than usual in order to provide a better show for the therapist. She went from being completely manic and banging repeatedly on windows and kicking doors to sitting on the floor yelling to sobbing and back around again. It was exhausting. It started the minute I walked in the door. As she often does, when Sweetie does something she knows is wrong she rats herself out. This time it was that she friended a 19 year old guy on Facebook.
She knew it was against the rules and knew she would get caught when I checked the computer. As soon as I opened my mouth to say anything she started arguing and blowing up. The therapist asked that we start documenting her moods as she is starting to believe that  Sweetie's issues aren't all RAD and ADHD, but Bipolar. I have often thought that myself. Because she is either really really good or really really bad. There is no in the middle. She is an all or nothing girl. I will talk to her psychiatrist when we see him Thursday. This will be our first meeting since she was released from PRTF.

Last week we hit our first speed bump on our road to becoming therapeutic foster parents. But it was quickly rectified. The group we will be working with to get special authorization to accept us because of Sweetie's recent discharge from PRTF. We meet with our social worker next Tuesday night to officially get started. We do not have to take MAPP training again, which is awesome! My only worry now is that her therapist seeing her tonight may put a damper on things. I pray it does not.

Please continue to pray for Sweetie's continued healing, may she know God's love through me.
Also please pray for our strength and our patience. There are many days were it wears thin, but we are continuing to pour love on her even when she is acting her absolute worst.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

One Thing Remains

We have had a long week. Lots of bumps, but some really good moments of growth for our Sweetie.
It has been a week of many "I'm sorry" moments. That phrase is said so much it has no meaning.
At one point I made a comment that I understand that she is saying it, but if you say and it and repeat the same action over and over again you are not really sorry. The next time she was harassing the dogs, she immediately said "I'm sorry, wait not I'm not". I couldn't help but to laugh.
My child is very insightful and overall very honest with me. I am grateful for that.
And even though she does not really mean she is sorry, I can appreciate that she is practicing saying it. It has been a week where I can really see how truly shameful my girl feels all the time. She doesn't accept the 100 times a day we praise her. But then goes completely off the deep end because we give a small redirection where she becomes defiant and argumentative. Things snowball from there. It always ends the same with her crying making comments about how we don't love her and don't care.
I can't even count how many negative comments she makes about herself and us. She calls herself stupid and states how she messes up everything. I try to comfort her and build her up. At times this is hard to do, especially when I watch her intentionally sabotage things. I am working so hard not to get triggered by her and not to engage in her arguing. She keeps coming back over and over trying to push more. I understand why she does it and I am able to stay calm with her. But I am screaming inside. Everything in me wants to shake her to make her stop. Stop pushing us away, stop being defiant, just stop arguing. Her newest thing is to refuse to do what is asked and say she doesn't have to and I can't make her. She is right, I can't make her do anything. She is 120 pounds of raging hurt child. Last night it was over going to her room at 9:00. She refused to go to her room, she stood in the middle of the living room yelling "you can't make me".  After asking her nicely several times and getting the same response I said "you are right I can't make you, but then again you can't make me drive you to your friend's house next weekend either". It's a logical consequence.
If she can't go to her room when asked, I can't trust her to follow directions while with a friend.
Today was another long day with similar interactions but thanks to the support and prayers of many of my friends I was able to keep my cool really well!  So now I will focus on something good from the week. This past week she was having an issue with a girl at school talking about her. to other girls. Sweetie told me about the girl being mean. I asked her to remember if she could have done anything to make her feel bad. She remembered a couple weeks ago making fun of her scratching  her armpit. I talked to her on the way into school about the power of a real apology. I asked her to empathize how it would feel to be her. I encouraged her to talk to the girl. And you know what? She did it! She apologized! That is huge for our girl! I am so proud of her! I know many adults who could not do that. I celebrate this positive moment. I also chose to celebrate the tender moment we had in church where she had her head on my shoulder and her hand on Cris' shoulder. I love how she held my hand during one of my favorite songs and looked up at me during worship excited that she knew the song. It made my heart smile when I heard singing the words while she was taking her shower and right before she went to sleep this evening. We are getting through! I know it is challenging most of the time, but she is coming to know our love and God's love. There is not much else I can do but that for her.

I have spent a lot of time praying lately. Praying for healing for my sweet girl. Praying for my own healing from the wounds that she can inflect on my heart. But I am also praying for the next chapter of our crazy journey. Back in January I went to the Create for Care Retreat I had signed up for several breakout sessions on older children adoptions, but somehow was put into one on foster care. To be honest I skipped the breakout session and went and took a nap. My friend Kim was picking on me that maybe that was a sign that I should be fostering. I laughed and said absolutely not. Then a few weeks back on Sweetie's last day in residential treatment I sat next to one of the younger kids who has been living there. There was a moment that we had to share our favorite birthday memory. The little girl looked up at me with these huge brown eyes and said in this little voice that she didn't have any. It was in that very moment that I felt in my whole body that fostering is what I need to be doing. Over the last year my daughter has shared bits and pieces of things that happened to her in foster care. I think of the total lack of medical and dental care she received. I think of her being treated like she was less than a person, that she was damaged. And I think mostly about how many times someone gave up on her and threw her aside like the garbage that was in the garbage bags she brought with her when she moved here. It breaks my heart to know there are hundreds of thousands of children living in the United States being treated like this. I know I can not help them all, but I can perhaps make a difference in some children's lives. And perhaps those seeds of love that will be sown will grow beautiful fruit that will then be shared with others. I know it probably sounds crazy to take on more when we are already spread so thin. But isn't that one of the greatest gifts back to God. To give to his children when it is uncomfortable. I am faithful that he will provide for us what we need to be on this journey. So with that being said Cris and I are going to become therapeutic foster parents through NC Mentor. These are the people that we are working with as Sweetie's Intensive In Home Therapy. The children we would have in our home will come from backgrounds like our Sweetie and with behaviors like our Sweetie. There are not many people with the skills to parent kids with these trauma histories. Sweetie has given me such a gift, she has shown me what my purpose is. What I believe to be God's plan for me. My journey with Sweetie has strengthened my trust in the Lord. There is no way I could be staying afloat without him as my life preserver. He has given me strength when I did not feel I could go on. He has given me patience when I had none. And he has continued to pour into me his love so that I could continue to pour into Sweeties heart. God has helped to pave the way in my husbands heart and in Sweetie's. Both have been completely on board with this. This has been and will continue to be an uncomfortable journey. But it too also has many rewards. And in the end it may even help Sweetie & other children to heal. As of Friday the agency was trying to reactivate our foster license. If they can, I will just need the therapeutic training. I am praying that we can do that. But if not that is OK too. There will be a reason that we are in that training class. I know I will be able to share our story with people that are wanting to foster just for the money. Maybe that will change those people's minds. Or maybe it will encourage someone to prepare themselves more. Or maybe there is someone in that class who will need to know that you can do this. That you can love a child even when they are acting unlovable.

So as I sit here typing this I am brought back to I'm sorry. But this time it is me that is asking for forgiveness. Forgiveness for ignoring what God asked of me. I want to show your love to those who do not believe they deserve to be loved. That they will know that your love never gives up. This it always remains.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

The Road Less Traveled

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Taking the road less travelled is windy and bumpy.
So when you get to a clearing you can appreciate the beauty that is in front of you.
Life with our Sweetie has definitely been a road less travelled. There have been great moments of sadness and hurt on this path. But the road has also brought me to such beautiful places with my dear girl. Sweetie's first week home was rough. She is really testing us right now. Trying to figure out the new structure in our home. She is looking for the smallest crack so that she can reinforce the belief that we will fail her. I will be honest and say that it is hard to be rejected most of the time, when you pour everything into one person. But then there are glorious beautiful moments like when I picked Sweetie up from school Friday. I should back up a bit...Thursday evening was really rough. It was one of those nights where she had a blow up that lasted a long time and included cussing us out and throwing things. The last thing she screamed at me was she hated me and that I will burn in hell. She would not come out of her room after that. The next morning she woke up as if nothing happened the night before. But I couldn't pretend it was all ok. I still gave her affection, even though I REALLY didn't want to! That afternoon I picked her up from school and I was just quiet. She asked me if I was mad at her. I told her no but I was sad that  she hated me and thought that I should burn in hell.
She started to whine that it is all because of you and at that moment I  snapped back that it has nothing to do with me. She started crying and said "no, I am crying because I hurt you". This was the first time that I saw genuine empathy towards me in my girl. I told her I forgave her for the harsh words and that I still love her. That I will always love her. In good moments and bad she will always be my daughter. She has been doing well since that happened. It is still difficult having to get through normal house routine with her, but it is a glimpse of hope for my girl. If she can have genuine empathy for me than that can develop into empathy for all mankind. This was a huge moment in our time together. Maybe the most important moment to date. I am proud of her for how far she is pushing herself. I know it is difficult to control the anger inside. Anger is easy and soothing to a soul that has always been surrounded with turmoil. Peace feels unsettling. She so wants to be loving and be happy. It is just so hard to be those things when you feel so awful about yourself and your past.
I know there will be many more blow ups to come, but I know in my heart that Sweetie is beginning to believe that we love her and care for her well being. And I know she is doing the best that she can right now with the tools that she has. Another positive is she has willingly been going to Jr. High small group at church. I know it is mostly because she likes a boy there, but she is excited to go each week. It makes me happy to have her there. I love my Jr. High kids and I am so happy to be able to share that with Sweetie.

We are on week 2  of Intensive In Home therapy. So far they are still working on building a relationship with her before they start pushing her a bit harder. It is difficult to have people in our house so much,3 times this week, 4 times next week... and it will be rotating like that for 6 months. It sure does make me tired.

I have taken the road less travelled for sure and it has made all the difference, for her and for me.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Save You

Almost a year ago Sweetie had her first rage with me, the following 7 months were probably the hardest of my life. I can't believe it has been 6 months since Sweetie went into PRTF.  What a crazy 6 months this has been. In less than 15 hours Sweetie will be returning home. I am excited and frankly, I am scared to death. Sweetie has learned so good skills to help her control her anger, but she has also learned some new behaviors that are difficult, like saying " I don't have to do that, you can't make me". Boy is that a trigger for me... I immediately think "What do you mean, I can't make you??? ". This will probably always be difficult for me to deal with. Both of us have the subconscious need to control things and have the last word. There is so much of my personality in my daughter. No wonder we clash so much. I have no doubt that if we had a biological child she would be just as headstrong, determined and stubborn.
Yes, the last 7 months has be so terribly trying, but I would not trade it for anything. Of course, I have moments when I asked myself "how did I allow myself to get in this mess", but there are many moments when I feel so much pride for how far my girl has come. I have had moments of doubt and regret. I have felt as if I have turned my back on my daughter when I admitted her to residential treatment. I felt like I abandoned her again. I know that it is what she needed, but there is still a huge quilt that I have carried. I pray that she sees we never left her, we were here the whole time. We have not given up on her. I want her to see how truly special she is and for her to know that she deserves to be loved. She deserves our love. I wish I could fix everything for her. I wish I could save her. But I alone can not. I do not know what we have lying ahead of us. I can hope for times of great growth for our girl and for us. I know we will have set backs and we will work through them.
For now life will be full of therapy and structure. 4 days of therapy a week, 3 are in home working with her on behaviors, Saturdays will be our trauma work days with Ms. Dana. I am excited to start working with Ms. Dana again. I have worked with many mental health workers in the last year and she is the only one who really understand Reactive Attachment Disorder. Our time working with her was the only time Sweetie was addressing any of her trauma history, which she so desperately needs to do in order to really begin to heal. I am excited that the Intensive In Home Therapy team is going to follow Dana's recommendations. I couldn't ask for anything better when it comes to treatment for Sweetie. Between the therapeutic team, her amazing school (that saved her spot for her to come back this year.)and Ms. Carmen (Sweetie's after school caretaker) we have our resources lined up. I really believe this is Sweetie's best chance at healing.

As always I am blown away at how blessed I am with amazing friendships during my journey with Sweetie. Friends who have been so supportive and so understanding. Friends who don't judge my Sweetie's behavior. There are not enough words to express my gratitude to everyone who has supported us and have prayed for our family. Without the support of each and every one of you  I could not be the mom I need to be for Sweetie. I have so much love for you all!

Sunday, August 04, 2013

For You

This 6 months has flown by and in 15 days Sweetie will be returning home from PRTF.I am excited and nervous. She was home yesterday and we went school shopping. It was so much easier this year than last. Sweetie is much more in tune with getting dysregulated by loud noises and chaotic environments. She only had about 30 seconds of issue during our 7 hours of shopping. She immediately corrected her behavior and was able to acknowledge that the super loud music in the store was too much and made her feel irritated. She has really gotten into different fabrics and prints, which is completely opposite of the Hollister tee shirts and jeans kick she was on last year. She again did a great job budgeting her school clothing funds and did not go over her budget at all, she also made sure to spend every single penny... literally :) She had a great day.

So with just 15 days left before Sweetie comes home, I am super busy trying to line up resources.
I have found a care taker for her after school who will pick her up at 3 and bring her home, help get her homework done, hang out with her and help make dinner. Ms. C has a bunch of experience with kiddos like my Sweetie. She actually works for the only group home I would have even considered.
She is all about structure, which is honestly something I need to be better about. So we will have her and then 3 days of Intensive In Home therapy 3 times a week. And after we adjust we will go back to our attachment therapist Ms. D. I am going to have to get Sweetie a tutor for math the make up for her missing the last few months of school. We are going to do what ever is needed to give Sweetie the best chance at healing and for her to succeed in whatever it is she decides.

I will be honest that I am nervous and excited about her returning home. She has made such great improvements the last few weeks. I am working on myself to control my own triggers. It is hard to let go of the feeling that she is going to blow up. I need to shake this feeling. If I am feeling it, she will be able to tell and that will cause her to feel rejected and cause the blowup. I have been working on this in therapy myself. It is difficult to handle the rejection and stay therapeutic. I really struggle with this and I will probably always be a work in progress in this area.
I had a great opportunity to practice that this past week. Sweetie was singing a duet with one of her peers for chapel. She refused to perform if I was present. Since it involved another girl, I backed down and waited back in the therapist office for her to come back. Once she finished her performance she comes strolling in , looks me dead it the eyes and asked if I was mad about what she had done. I said  "no", even though my feelings were hurt. She did this during therapy so that we would not be addressing her safety plan, which she did not want to go over. A safety plan is guidelines to help keep her safe and others around her safe. It was hard for her to talk about this, because it is admitting she has issues. That is still too much for her to handle. The path too healing is going to be a long on with my dear child, but it is a journey that we can make! I have real hope that there is complete healing available for my Sweetie to have.  That is really all this mama can hope for.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

525600 minutes

I can not believe I missed our anniversary of Sweetie moving in with us and becoming part of the V Family! It was last week. I have been so busy in life that I didn't even think about it. One of the biggest days of my life and I forgot to acknowledge it! I am feeling pretty rotten about that. I will have to make it up to Sweetie.
Every once in a while I dive in and reread Sweetie's records. Trying to truly understand her. It helps me to keep her actions in perspective. It reminds me of where she came from and why she does not know how to receive or give true unconditional love.

Tonight I find myself so humbled. Like rereading an intense mystery novel, I discover details that I hadn't really noticed previously. Each time I reread, I get a little more insight into what my daughter has survived.
 How strong my beautiful daughter must be to have survived for so long in such awful situations. My heart breaks for her. But I also have so much hope... As I read of past behaviors I think of how she isn't doing many of them anymore... How far my little one has come. When I look back over the last year, I see many low moments and many amazing moments. As an adoptive mom of an older child I get to experience many things biological families never get to experience. Even though times can be rough, I have found an enormous amount of love in my heart and have experienced the most amazing grace by being Sweetie's mom. My favorite moments have been the small quiet ones. Sometimes it was when she would allow me to rock her and read to her, other times it was just getting to be silly.
I mean real silly. Like wearing a mustache and driving through one of the roughest neighborhoods, waving to people and having them wave back. My absolute favorite moments are the nights she will let me tuck her in. Each time, I give her a hug and then snort and pretend I am eating her hair. She always squeals with delight and this makes my heart happy. Those are the moments of pure joy, with no agenda and they are moments when she lets her guard down, even if only for a brief moment.Those evenings are starting to spread out because she is a "teenager". But, boy will I grab that time anytime she will let me!
For the first time while reading her evaluations I did not feel dread. I felt hope When I read about lots of inappropriate behaviors that were happening on a daily basis and then I think about where Sweetie is now, my heart becomes happy! The defiant temper tantrums are so much better now. I am feeling that she is genuinely starting to care for us and beginning to let herself believe that we are the real deal and that we are here for her unconditionally.
So another 525600 minutes has passed in our lives and I find myself in in aww of everything we have survived together. Our little family has been plagued with trails, but we continue to pass through them. We find ourselves stronger on the other side of these battles. But the year was not only about trials. It was full of some amazing moments of friendship and love. God has not only blessed me with this amazing child, but he has provided me with amazing friends and amazing opportunities for her education. There have been mountains moved this past year to help Sweetie become the best Sweetie that she can be. We are loved and supported by so many wonderful people. This is something that blows me away. There are so many amazing souls in the Charlotte area.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


We have been having a good few weeks with Sweetie. She has really been making great improvements. She still has her moments of snippiness. But what teen doesn't. Overall she is really fun to have around. This weekend was a pretty busy one. Friday night we went o a baseball game with our Friends Matt & Megan. Sweetie really enjoyed that! Saturday we spent the day with Shelli and her nieces. We hit the pool, watched a movie and grilled out. Sweetie helped bake a cake and she decorated it. I wasn't really up to par this weekend, I have an awful ear infection and sinus infection. Sweetie seemed to be a bit more empathetic and even  let me sleep in both days. I am so grateful to all of our friends who have supported us and prayed for us during our journey. I believe it is God who is healing Sweetie's heart. There is no other explanation for the sudden switch last month. She has never been able to keep herself together this long. I am so proud of her. She is really trying to be better. My only concern now is her and my husband's relationship. They are so much alike. They are both waiting for the other to be the first to make a move. It gets really tiring being the buffer between them. I am not sure if this is something we will ever get worked out. This is something I have no control over, I can not change either of their feelings or behaviors.
I am feeling more confident about bringing her straight home now that she has stabilized. We are trying to get hooked up with intensive in home therapy for when she comes home. Intensive In Home Therapy is when 3 clinicians come into our home and work with us 3 times a week. They become my support if Sweetie starts to destabilize again. I am praying she doesn't
 destabilize. She is really looking forward to starting school. I can't believe how quickly this year has went. It seems like yesterday that we were school shopping for 6th grade. Where does time go?
Over all things are much calmer, I am happy and I hope it stays this way for a little while.