Sunday, January 27, 2013

Created for Care Adoptive Mom's Retreat and Transitioning

What a weekend. I just got home from the Created For Care Adoptive Moms Retreat. It was a fabulous weekend. It was busy but good. There were 5 of us moms from the area who met up there. It was so nice to have time for bonding and just being silly. One of the Keynote speakers Carissa Woodwyck was amazing. She is a grown up adoptee. Her intense honesty was so heartfelt that you could not help but be moved by her. As she shared about her feeling of wanting to be heard, not just her words or actions, but her heart. To have her unspoken words be heard. To be there, to be present. I believe that was the biggest thing I was meant to hear this weekend. This weekend was scattered with many moments of encounters that were meant to happen. Some were fun and inspirational like the times I spent bonding with my friends (Kim,Linda, Karen & Cat). And then some were uncomfortable and pushed me to be the better person. One such moment was in a breakout session on adopted older children. The session itself was a bit behind where we are in our journey, but the encounter I feel was meant to happen was right before the class. There were just a handful of us that arrived 30 minutes early (guess we didn't pay too close attention to our agenda). Kim and I are talking to the women present when the woman next to us ask if we had a plan B if it didn't work out. First I was kind of taken aback, thinking you can't give back a bio kid, why would you consider giving back an adopted child? And I shared that we do have a plan B, but it did not involve giving up our child. Our plan B was using an outside facility to help her heal, because we can not do it on our own. As I was speaking I noticed how frazzled she was and it hit me, she is most likely dealing with a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder. I asked if she had been working with an attachment therapist. She had no idea what I was talking about. I was able to pull up an attachment therapist in her area on my Ipad and shared it. I hope it is enough to get her the help she needs and that it may save a family. After that, I spent a lot of time praying about whether sending Sweetie to a PRTF (Psychiatric Residential Therapeutic Facility) is the right thing to do. I still feel that is what we need to do. This past week I went to see the facilities at a local PRTF that specializes is children with Reactive Attachment Disorder. I was encouraged to see how the staff seemed genuine in their caring about the children. They made me feel at peace that there is nothing that Sweetie can do that would surprise them. I felt at peace in their chapel which was draped in prayer chains made from all of the children who have stayed there over the years. Again, I believe God has his hands in getting her the help she needs. Sweetie is right on the cusp of being too old for the program, however they made an exception and accepted her even though she turns 13 in March. They have a discharge on the 31st and should be able to get Sweetie in the following week. I have all her paperwork handed in already. I am hoping to get a date for admission in the next day or so. I want to be able to prepare ourselves for her leaving our house for a while. The sooner we get started with treatment the sooner we can get her to begin healing. It will be sad in our house for a long time. Even though there are many bad times in our home there are also fun times. Times of laughter and silliness. Those are the times I will miss. But those times will hopefully return. Today when I got home she says that she wishes she was going to residential. I wonder whether she says this to try to hurt me or as a defense mechanism? After this weekend away, I was able to look at things more clearly, without the fresh emotion involved. I know now more than ever that this is her best chance at healing. I pray she will see that I am not giving up on her. That I will be there each and every time I am allowed to be there. It may take time for her see that I am still here and I am not going away. But she will see... I am here, I do hear her. I hear her spoken word, I hear the meaning behind the behaviors, I hear her when she is quiet and saying nothing at all. I know what she feels in her heart, I know the pain and I am not scared. I am here. I AM PRESENT. How I am loved I love my daughter...

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Holding On by Letting Go... Why We Choose PRTF for our Daughter.

When I last wrote I was so torn about what was the best way to have Sweetie's needs met. I was feeling a huge amount of guilt over even considering placing Sweetie into a residential program. I prayed about it and placed it in God's hands. That same day that I released myself from having to decide, Sweetie made it easy to see what I needed to do to help her. The amazing amount of pain and fear that she feels constantly has become completely overwhelming for her and she can no longer contain it. This past week Sweetie had her largest and worst rage fit to date. It involved throwing tools at me, smashing our large steam cleaner, throwing glasses at Cris and kicking through her bedroom door. This was the first time she escalated this much with someone other than my husband or myself there. This time she did it in front of one of my best friends, who has been watching her. It scared her to death. It took hours to get Sweetie to settle down from this tantrum. We had started the process of admitting her to a PRTF (Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility) back when she placed Darling over the fence and the neighbors dog mauled Darlings paw. All of the evaluations came back that they recommend residential. The program who evaluated will not accept her into their program because off her needs. The recommended me to one that specializes in Reactive Attachment Disorder. This was not the first time I received this recommendation. The Psychiatric Hospital recommended it in September and our Attachment Therapist has been discussing it since before Sweetie ever came to live with us from her history. We wanted to give her the opportunity to try to work on her issues at home with us. However her awesome defense mechanisms won't allow her to. She is getting sicker and sicker and taking is down with her. If she was a child with Cancer there would be no question of what to do. I would have her in the hospital being treated with chemo and radiation today. Although I know how sick she would be from the treatment, I would do it and I would be at the hospital every day to be with her. Just because we have decided to have Sweetie admitted to a PRTF does not mean that we are washing our hands of her or giving up on her. I will be going to be with her every chance they allow. The programs that I have narrowed down are both Attachment focused programs. This will require us being extremely involved. We will be going through family therapies with her. The programs are designed to help Sweetie attach to us, our participation is crucial. So, my life has become much more complicated. It will consist of getting off work and driving to the other safe of town daily to work with Sweetie on healing.our lives will revolve around her treatment. It will all be worth it if she can find healing. This is the best chance she has at getting to a place that we can begin to work on truly healing her heart.My hopes are that she will be able to see that we are still here to love her and to help her heal. I pray that she can learn to lower her wall in her heart and mind, allowing me to come in and help her face the pain and trauma that she has not been able to access. I hope she can come to a place where she can accept that bad stuff happened and know that it does not define her. That she is still a beautiful soul and she is so very loved. This will be one of the most unselfish things I have ever done. I feel as if I will miss out on so much while she is there. But it will all be worth it if she can find herself under all that anger and fear. I believe this is what we need to do. I have 2 programs I have been looking at. One is here in Charlotte and one is 2 hours away. I am trusting God to help direct us to the right one. It will take a few weeks to get through the admissions process.So for now I am just holding on.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Hearts a Mess

When all you know from the time you are born is adults hurt you, how do you ever trust anyone? Could you live 12 years, 144 months, 4380 days of not having your basic needs met, being abused, being lied to, being tossed around, not being loved? The trauma of Sweetie's past is so hardwired into her brain that it is a part of her. At her core she is stuck in fight or flight mode. I can't blame her. It is because of this that she is alive today. But the same defense mechanisms that she has been using to survive are now destroying her. These mechanisms will not allow her to really attach. She is doing what she is capable right now. But the trauma of her past is so awful that it her mind will not even let her access the memories of many events. She can say my dad abused me. But when asked to talk about it, she simply can not. She becomes agitated and angry. My little girl has a million ways to distract herself and anyone else from seeing the mess that is locked in her heart. Until she can trust and be able to process that pain she will keep everyone locked out and use any means that she needs to in order to protect herself. 2 months ago when we had the Darling incident (where she put my mini schnauzer over a fence to be attacked by an aggressive dog, we started the process of having Sweetie evaluated for additional service. These services could be one of the following: 1. Intensive Home Therapy, where they have a team of 3 come into our home 3-5 times a week to work with Sweetie and us as a family. 2. Day Treatment, where she would go to school at a special school for kids with emotional/behavioral issues. 3. Residential Care, where she would move basically a boarding school for children with emotional/behavioral issues. We would only get to talk to her and visit her when they said we could. We would attend therapy with her weekly. Sweetie's evaluation was this past Friday. It is times like this that I can see how truly sick she is. A mentally healthy child would be on their best behavior during a visit like this. But not my Sweetie. She was acting out more than normal. The evaluation was a 3 hour interview, that could have been done in an hour if we could just answer the questions. But each time I was asked a question and I would start to respond, Sweetie would cut me off, argue and say I was lying. That was over the minor stuff. Like dates of events. According to Sweetie, Darlings incident was over the summer and that is why we sent her the hospital. She does not remember the events that sent her to the hospital. The fact is she was in the hospital in September and Darling was attacked in November. She showed no remorse and said she doesn't understand what the big deal was. At one point she picked up her chair and was lifting it up over her head. The psychologist seemed most interested in Sweetie's response when the psychologist asked me if we planned on adopting any other children. My response was yes, when either Sweetie is old enough to live on her own or healthy enough to handle it. Sweetie blurted out "Well then, I will just stay sick". The psychologist asked if she would stay sick even if that meant hurting us and she said yes. She then asked if Sweetie would stay sick if that meant hurting herself and her future and she again said yes. Soon after that the psychologist wrapped up the testing and gave us her opinion of what she was recommending and that was residential treatment. Her feeling was that Sweetie has been in therapy for so long and has not benefited from it, she felt she needed more intense therapy than what can be offered outpatient. I want her to talk to Ms. Dana our attachment therapist. Up until last week we had been discussing the need for residential but have been doing everything we can to avoid it. Last week she said she didn't feel it would work for Sweetie and that going to see Dr. Gregory Keck in Ohio would be the best thing for her. He is one of the leading authorities on attachment. However we would be looking at $10,000 for 10 days. That doesn't count the money lost from time out of work. So unfortunately this is not an option. My husband is completely checked out of parenting Sweetie. He lets her do what she wants and eat what she wants because it is easier than fighting with her. So that leaves everything on my shoulders. I really do not want to send Sweetie to residential. I worked so hard for so long to have a child and now they expect me to send her away for 9 months-a year. Is it my own issues that are stopping me from sending her? Am I being selfish? I do worry that she could learn worse things there. I worry she could be mistreated. But mostly I feel she will feel we have abandoned her as well. That we are indeed like everyone else, we couldn't handle her and we sent her away. It is not like she has been with us for years. Do I wait for another big incident? But how big of an incident is too big? What can the next thing be? Each big incident seems to get more intense. Even though Ms. Dana is not a fan of Intensive Home Therapy, I want to try that before we consider residential. She does not qualify for the day program, because she holds it together in school. I will wait until I talk to our attachment therapist Ms. Dana on Saturday before I decide on anything .I pray I make the right decision. The wrong decision could jeopardize her metal health for the rest of her life. I wish I knew in my heart and mind what the best thing to do was. What I think is right changes several times a day. I cannot put her there if there is any doubt in my mind and right now there is doubt. I wish I knew how to help fix her heart.