Sunday, December 07, 2014

Hope in Front of Me ( Meeting Baby's Bio Mom)


I should be ecstatic, I met our baby's birth mom! I will call her Ms. J.  She is such a sweet soul and I instantly wanted to take her in and protect her. She like myself has experienced great losses in her life. She like me, is not bitter about them. We were both so nervous to meet each other. I know I was a wreck for days. She is very petite with a cute southern drawl. We met her, her 5 year old son, her mama and her mama's boyfriend. They were all very nice to us and welcomed us into their home. I can't really put into words exactly how I am feeling. Yes, I am so excited to have our dream of having a baby become a reality! That part of me makes my heart want to leap out of my chest. But I now have a profound sadness in my heart. I was able to spend several hours with Ms. J and her son. She is such a good mama and it is so obvious how much love she has for him. She is just not in a place in life where she can take care of him and a baby. That is what weighs so heavily on my heart. This is just a young, sweet girl who is doing what is best for both of her children. It really is such a selfless act. One that I can not imagine facing. That takes such amazing strength. A different strength than I possess. I have such love for this young lady already. Not only for choosing us to be the parents of her baby, but because she is worthy of being loved. She was so sweet when I tried to buy her some maternity clothing. She did not want to insult me and not pick something, but she also did  not want to take advantage of me either. Most people would have tried to take advantage. But she truly did not.
She goes in for her next check up this Wednesday and hopefully they will do an ultrasound! SO I am hoping in 2 days to know if it is a girl or boy.
I have so much hope for this adoption. I hope for how this baby will make our family whole and I have hope that this will be the first chapter in Ms. J's life that will begin to flourish and thrive. Please continue to pray for us. We are about $2500 off on our fundraising still, but we are getting there. Pray for the health of the baby and for the process to continue to go smoothly. Mostly pray for Ms. J and her sweet son during this time. Let them feel that they are loved.
We meet with our social worker this week and next week and then she can submit our home study. This is so much more organized than our last adoption and I am so grateful for that!. I have so much hope for her and for us.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

No Fear In Love



What an incredible time of uncertainty that we are facing right now. Life as I now know it is on the verge of being flipped upside down again. Where there were many speed bumps on our journey to bringing Sweetie home, there are few on this journey. Our only bump was finding out that the mom is part Cherokee. At first I thought we were done. Due to Indian Children Welfare Act, the tribe gets to determine where the baby goes. Before a child could be adopted by a non Indian family they would have to attempt to find a Cherokee family to adopt the child, if a Cherokee family wasn't availible than any Native American Indian family. finally if a family could not be located than the child could be adopted. Luckily the family checked with the tribe and they do not want to claim this child. So we only need our lawyer to send a letter to the tribe getting that statement in writing and that part will be over.
Fundraising is going well. We have raised over $3000 so far. We had written a letter to the babies birth mom and are waiting to hear back. She is nervous about what to write back. I can't blame her for that. I too am nervous of our communications. What If I don't ask the right questions, what if I am too pushy? What if??? There are a million what ifs! My natural tendency is to be sucked into the spiral of what ifs. But this time I am not going there. In every part of my being I know that this child is to be in our family. I do not know the reasons why or why now. I just know it to be and I am ok with that. There is so much to do. Our biggest challenge us fundraising. Several of my uber talented friends have been donating their time and resources to provide various homemade items to be sold at a holiday Sip n Shop. I have also received amazing items and services to be auctioned off this Thanksgiving weekend! I have been blown away by the generosity of so many! I can not wait to showcase all of these beautiful items made with such love in order to bring our baby home!

I started the blog entry a couple nights ago and didn't finish. Then tonight I received our first call from the babies birth mother. I was so nervous and I think she was too. She was very sweet. We are hoping to meet her in a couple of weeks. I was able to find out that the due date of the baby is March 14th. She is not sure of the sex yet, but will at the next doctors visit. She thinks it is a girl.

Things with Sweetie have really taken a good turn over the last month. We have been completely honest with her about the adoption. She wasn't too excited at first. She worried that we would not love her any more and she was more worried that we would be able to afford to buy her as much clothing as before.  Now she talks about being a good big sister and how she is good as long as we don;t expect her to baby sit!  Ever since we told her about the adoption there has been a major change in her. She is working on healing and I mean really working! She is working on her trauma history with a therapist for the first time ever! I have the therapist all of Sweetie's records to begin working through with her.They began going through the many DSS abuse reports. I know this is painful for her to read, but it really seems to be connecting the dots for her. She has also been making great strides in her relationship building with not only me, but with Cris. We have had weeks of good communication, good therapy visits and good visits. Even when we discuss hard topics she is able to maintain her composure and talk. I am so proud of our girl! We are really looking forward to bringing Sweetie home for a 5 day visit next week.

As the year is starting to draw near to the end I have been reflecting on my word for the year Whole.
My prayer in January was for me to work on my wholeness and for Sweetie to begin to her journey to wholeness. I had no idea what God had planned for our shattered family. But now I see how he mending our girls heart and making our family whole in a way that is so much greater than anything we could have imagined.


Thursday, October 09, 2014

Growing Our Family


Dear Family &  Friends,

            We are so grateful for all of you who have been there for us on our journey with our girl. God has truly blessed us with an amazing support system. It has been on our hearts for some time to adopt again. We finally decided that we were going to trust God and move forward with adopting. Last time it took a year to get our home study approved and another year to bring Savannah home. So we figured we could get money together in that time. I posted on Face Book “ Really feeling my heart being pulled hard into adopting again. Praying for God to show us the path to do this”.  Within minutes I was contacted by a friend that she knew someone that was looking for a family. To make a long story short, the mom said YES choosing us adopt her baby!  The baby is due this spring, which puts us in a huge time crunch for getting money together. But we have faith that if God wants us to have this child, he will provide the means to bring him/her home. We need to raise about $10,000-$15,000 to cover homestudy, legal fees and post adoption placement visits. This is a minimal amount. Our most immediate need is raise $2000 by November 1st and then an additional $5500 by Dec 1st. The remainder will be needed closer to the due date.

            We are asking that everyone joins us in prayer for the Ms. J(birth mom), the baby and for God to provide us with the Financing we need.  We are also asking that you consider financially supporting us bring this child home.
 I have been praying on how to best raise this money. We are going to do 3 things.
1. Many of my massively talented artist friends are donating fantastic items that we will be doing an online during November. (just in time for Christmas! )
2. On November 23rd  I will be selling scarves, homemade heating pads and art by a few of my friends and myself at a Sip and Shop in my neighborhood.
3. 200 Envelopes of Faith
http://www.gofundme.com/makingourfamily


What to do:
1) Pick an envelope (or two if the amount you want is no longer available) and post in the comments here or on the comments of this post in FaceBook, which ever one you chose.
I will update the envelopes that have been selected.
2) Donate. Click on the Go Fund Me link. You can also donate directly to us by check. Just private message me for our address.
3) Share your donation on your FB page or email a link to this page to your friends. Lots of people feel spiritually and personally moved to help others adopt, but they themselves are not in a position to adopt. Let’s spread the word!
4) Want to get a group together to fund an envelope? That is a great way to knock out the bigger numbers.
No matter what, please keep us in your prayers.
Also, if you are going through infertility or adoption, we want you to skip helping us in this way because those are big expenses. We know! Just pray and share. We want to support you too!
Thank you for the love and care and support. We couldn’t do it without you!
With Love and Faith,
Jenny & Cris

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Steady Heart, Steady Faith


It has been a while since I have updated the blog. Part because we have been busy and part because I feel like it I would be writing more of the same things as I have for the last few years.
Sweetie is settling into her residential program. I love the program. They really understand her diagnosis and they approach things much differently than she is accustom to. This is good because she can't manipulate when she doesn't know what to expect. Equine therapy has been very helpful. They let the horses pick the student they will work with. The funny thing is the horse that picked Savannah is the most difficult, stubborn horse they have... I had to laugh at that! Sweetie has been getting a good taste of her own medicine. We went up to Asheville again this past Wednesday. It makes me sad, she continues to pull away from us. She still tries to control everything. But, I can see improvements in her behavior. In the past most therapy sessions involved hours of tantrums. Now she can get through a session and instead of destroying property or slamming doors, she cries. She is now able to get herself regulated in a few minutes and then she can move on. So there is progress! Sessions are still tough because she has such a hard time talking about anything that she thinks may reflect on her in a negative way. It is emotionally hard because it is so obvious how uncomfortable she is in her own skin. Her self confidence is so low she still feels like we don't want her and don't love her. In her core she feels unworthy of love. This breaks my heart for her. She has found an activity that she actually enjoys out  there. Building model train modules! She is really good at it too. I hope it  will help to build her self esteem up. She is beginning to understand her own disorder and starting to learn how to live with it. I will always worry about her, She is my child. I can only pray for God to continue to heal her heart and hope for her path in life to be easier than the beginning.

Over the last few months the longing to have more children has been increasing. I had given up hope that we would be able to add to our family. We can't adopt from foster care again until Savannah is out of the home and we just knew there was no way we could ever afford to adopt domestically or internationally. The loss of Leah going back to her bio mom 3 years ago still very present on my heart.  A couple of weeks ago I was at an adoptive mom's retreat and I listened to story after story of these women and how God provided the money for their adoptions through fundraising. I know many times I have given towards various adoptions, but I had never thought about doing it for myself. My pride stood in the way. The following weekend  Cris and I had a lot of discussion on moving forward with trying to adopt. We agreed we would take a leap of faith and trust God will provide us with a child and provide us with a way to adopt the child. Sunday of last week I posted on FaceBook that we felt we were being called to adopt again. Within 30 seconds I had a private message of a young woman who was in need of a family for her unborn child. We are in the process of getting information to her to see if she would pick us to be this family. If chosen we have about 6 months to raise the money needed to adopt. We have received so much support from friends. My first fundraiser is going to be an online auction. Several of my very gifted friends are donating awesome items. I will have paintings, scarves, a handmade quilt, hand knit cable knit blanket, metal artwork, a 90 minute massage, Oakley Sunglasses, a designer watch. And we are in the beginning stages of collecting. I am going to start the auction in November, so that people can get these items as gifts for Christmas. I have another friend from church who is hosting a Noonday Collections trunk show November 15th to benefit our adoption. We are praying that this baby with be our child. We have longed for a baby for years. I have faith that if this is not our child that God will bring a child to us that is meant to be in our home. I do not know God's plan is or his timing. But, I know with all my being that we are meant to have more children. Please keep us in your prayers and if you are lead to, we ask that you help support us in our journey to adding to our family.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

It's Always Darkest Before the Dawn


The last 2 times Sweetie was discharged from PRTF's I knew in all my being that a group home was NOT right for her. And we found out I was 100% right. They are not equipped to deal with a child who is gifted with the defense mechanism of manipulation. Immediately they were wrapped up with her sweet smile and childish voice. They voiced many times over the month that they didn't understand why she was there and she didn't need to be in a PRTF. The issue must be me.
In that month she managed to talk staff into buying her 6 inch heels, several inappropriate and a bikini. First, my daughter is 14 and should not be wearing any of those things. Second, my daughter already has everything she needs and most of what she wants ( except for the above items).
In the time was she was there she became more disrespectful and convinced herself that she wanted to live in a group home and did not want a family. She became very vocal about this. She could not understand that it is not an option. Sweetie is still of the mentality that we are just a place where she is passing by.
I am glad she only had to stay there a month. Last Sunday we drove her to he new PRTF in Asheville.
I absolutely loved the facility. It is beautiful and peaceful. As we were driving past the horse barn to her cottage Sweetie said I think I will like living here. We spent about 3 hours with the admission team. I left feeling this was the place where she really could begin to truly heal. I loved her Case Worker. She understands Reactive Attachment Disorder. At one point in the process she looks at Sweetie and said " I am really sorry honey, but you have one really difficult diagnosis, you are going to have to work really hard if you want to get better". Their whole program is different than anything we have worked with before. Instead of the cookie cut out levels system, they have 5 Elements (Water, Fire, Earth, Wind & Spirit),that they work on and the students pick which element to work on. With the exception of Spirit; that has to be last. To my surprise Sweetie picked Fire; which represents anger control and is the most difficult element for her to work on. Sweetie is honeymooning there right now. Which is mostly because everything is unlike anything she has ever dealt with. She has called us every chance she could this week and each time she actually talked to me. She was excited to tell me about the model train building class and her horse Red.
She already likes her therapist and I have agreed to give her therapist Sweeties records, which includes all of the DSS reports that detail a lot of the trauma Sweetie endured. She has blocked so much out of her mind in order to survive. Sweetie has been wanting to see them. I am hoping that she can finally process some of this and finally begin to move forward with her life.
I am feeling at peace about this placement. I am looking forward to seeing how Sweetie begins to grow.



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Try Try Try...Try again


As most things that involve Sweetie, we have hit lots of hurdles getting her into PRTF in Asheville, NC. The good thing is I have become an expert hurdle jumper. She was hospitalized 15 days this time. The mental health system is severely flawed. There is a complete shortage of facilities for teenage girls. Even though we started the process of getting Sweetie placed into the PRTF before she was hospitalized, they will not have a spot available in the cottage that is appropriate for her until August 5th. This past Wednesday the hospital called me and said they were discharging Sweetie. They agreed with me that she shouldn't come home because she would not be safe here, but she couldn't stay there. I refused to bring her home and they threatened to contact DSS. I called their bluff and I was able to get Sweetie's stay extended while we looked for an interim placement. This resulted with me ending up in a court hearing Friday am. We had found a group home, but the insurance company could take up to authorize the placement. Unfortunately, the judge was unable to legally find any reason to keep her but what he did do is call the insurance and told them they had to process the approval by the end of the day. Even though he could not court order and approval the call worked and we finally got the approval at 4:50pm on Friday afternoon. Nothing like cutting it close, they closed at 5:00 for the weekend. So at 9:00 pm we were dropping her off at the group home.
I had never seen a group home before. I am not sure what I was thinking, But I was shocked when I pulled up to this beaten little ranch house about an hour away from my house. We brought her inside and we were quickly directed to her room. She gets a room all to herself. I had a good chuckle because the room had large patched parts to the walls. They were not even painted. I just said "Hey baby, look, whoever was in this room had the same issues as you". I was told that she would not be able to contact us for 30 days. But then I received 2 calls within 3 days asking for me to buy her things and also asking if she could sell her stuff. I am so glad she will only be there 2 weeks. They love her there and view her as a stable sweet girl. They do not know the first thing about RAD. They do not know that she is a master manipulator and thrives on situations where she can triangulate.
Sweetie's therapist has been Amazing! She has worked so hard to make everything happen. Many nights working from home during her personal time. She took time off to come to court to speak on our behalf. She is one of the very few people in the mental health field that truly cares! There need to be more people like her. So as of right now. Authorization goes in for the PRTF tomorrow am. We could not send it earlier because it has to be done within 14 days of the admission. If the authorization went through quickly, it would expire before she was admitted. But now we are back to the same potential 14 days to approve. It is such a crazy system.
In the middle of all of this chaos, I received communication from a root canal specialist I interviewed with last year and he offered me a job. The hours are significantly less, which is awesome. I accepted.
There have been so many changes going on lately. It is time to start a new journey. I am hoping that this will be a fresh start for me and also for Sweetie.
We are still working towards getting Sweetie into the special program in Missouri.
I continue to try get her the help she needs.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Hope Will Lead Us On




Sweetie has only been home 4 weeks and she had to be admitted back to the psychiatric behavioral health center on Thursday evening. She sat in the ER observation until late last night when they finally admitted her to the unit. They can keep her there 7-10 days while we try to get her into a new PRTF (psychiatric residential treatment center). The problem is her insurance can take up to 14 days to approve her. I am getting an attorney involved in order to help push things along. 
I should back up a bit... last I wrote it was before her tonsil surgery. She had the surgery and did well for the procedure. As expected it was the recovery period that would be the problem. Sweetie became more violent both verbally and physically after the procedure. She tried to set Cris up for another false accusation by moving the camera in his man cave and then grabbing his hands and putting them on her chest. He immediately pushed her away and she slapped him and punched him in the stomach.
Luckily the camera still caught everything.  She had several temper tantrums that involved screaming and throwing things that week. Even after being told by the doctor no yelling and after I reminded her constantly not to scream or she could dislodge the clot in her throat from the surgery.
Thursday evening she started another of her rages because I asked her to go to bed. This escalated to her throwing a glass of water in my face, kicking at me and raising her fist to punch me. She then punched a window instead. She couldn't get under control so we had to call the police in yet again.
Once we called them she went in the bathroom and started to do her hair and put on makeup.
Our kiddo is so messed up, that looking good to go to the mental hospital is her priority.
Once the police arrived we were able to get her into our car to transport her.
She loved her time in the ER, she was the happiest I have seen her in months. Where most kids would be scared and crying, she is happy and excited. Her brain is hardwired so differently than the average child.
There have been lots of changes with Sweetie's insurance. Some bad, but one major good thing is they now work with a facility I wanted to get Sweetie into 2 years ago when she went into her first PRTF. This program has equine therapy and many other great programs. We should hear either tomorrow or Monday if she is accepted. Then we fight the insurance company for authorization.
We are getting a lawyer involved in this aspect.
After she is there we are going to try to get her into a longer program in Missouri that specializes in RAD.  This will be our biggest challenge yet. But I am faithful that God will provide the path for Sweetie to get in and for the funding. I am clinging onto hope now for her healing. Hope is all I have left.



 


Friday, June 20, 2014

Middle of the Storm




 It has been just 3 weeks since Sweetie came home from PRTF and it  is 100% obvious that she is not ready. I feel as if we have been stuck inside this violent thunderstorm. It is relentless and we are being beaten down with hail and blown over with winds. There is a constant tension on the air, like electricity. I have heard that your hair stands on end before you are struck by lightening. I feel like mine is stuck like that. The constant booming of thunder keeps you vigilant for the next lightening strike.
Sweetie's transition home has been pretty rough. That is putting it nicely. She does not want to be part of our family. We are constantly rejected by her. Sweetie has an awful sense of entitlement. This is common with children from hard places. It is almost as if she wants us to make retribution for the things that other families did. If we are not purchasing her something, she simply has no use for us. We got tired of being her giant walking wallets, so we made a decision that we would not purchase her anything unless behaviors were significantly better. But they have only gotten worse. She cares not for consequences or rewards. Praise doesn't work, redirection doesn't work, prize boxes no longer work and consequences don't work. Giving her what she wants doesn't work. Firm structure causes tantrums but if she gets what she wants she is happy for a moment, but tantrums even bigger later. The only thing that seems to keep the peace is if we completely ignore her and to find outside ways of controlling the environment indirectly. Example: If we say you can watch tv for 1 hour. After the hour she will refuse to shut the tv off and argue. Now if turn the wifi off so the Netflix doesn't work she doesn't think anything of that and she just turns it off. That will only work for so long before she catches on. And this just keeps her from blowing. It does not help her or us. We just walk on eggshells trying not to set off a time bomb. Name calling, property destruction, lying, manipulating and general aggression have picked back up and I am honestly to the point of burn out. I am stuck in a constant state of  being in defense mode. My body can't turn it off. Behaviors have been so rough for so long that even in the moments where negative behaviors are not present, I find myself anticipating when the next ones will occur. It is so hard because you never never know what the trigger will be or how far the tantrum will go. I find myself trying to avoid Sweetie. My husband lives with his headphones on just blocks out everything.
For those on the outside, they see this sweet beautiful girl. But at home and also with her therapist she shows her intense rage and hatred. Rage which once starts quickly blows out of her control. We are working with so many different mental health professionals and they all become less and less optimistic about her future. 
My husband started seeing a local therapist who specializes in Reactive Attachment Disorder. This has been helpful for my husband to be able to talk things out and he seems to actually be understanding what I have been trying to teach him for 2 years. Unfortunately she is also believes Sweetie would be best out of the home. Every mental health care professional we have dealt with in the last year says the same thing that Sweetie may never be able to successfully live in our home. I mourn this. All we ever wanted was to be parents. We never had and still do not have expectations for a child to be perfect. We expected challenges and hard times. But we also expected some times of joy. And we never expected to be physically and verbally abused in our own home. I have been working so hard on forgiveness. It is so difficult when the injuries continue to be inflicted. She finds joy in inflicting pain on us.  Earlier this week I cried for the first time in front of her. Out of pure exhaustion and frustration. Her response was to laugh at me and mock me. And for the first time in 2 years I yelled at her. All I yelled is " I am f***ing crying, cant you for one moment just give me a break!". She laughed more and told me what an awful mother I am. That is nothing new, I am often told that and called many other flowery names. I had to leave the house or I was going to say many things that would have been very damaging. For the first time I felt like I can't do this. I feel like a failure. If I can't do this, who can? I have been doing everything that anyone could do and she seems to only get worse. 
We are strongly considering following recommendations and placing her into a therapeutic foster home or group home. It is against everything I have been working toward, but we also need to be safe. And right now, I do not feel safe. She can handle living in an environment where there is no expectations of emotional involvement. Ultimately she will probably be happier that way. As exhausted as we are, I can only imagine how much worse it must feel inside her body. She is the one living with the demons of her past. We only get glimpses of what slips out. My heart breaks for her and my heart breaks for us. It is a lose lose situation. If she stays we are prisoners in our home. If she goes we lose our daughter. Or at least the idea of a daughter. 
I have often said I can be Sweetie's mom where ever she lives. But, if I am being honest with myself and all of you, that is not true. In  theory yes she will be my daughter, but the longer she is out of our home the further away she will grow from us. 
In addition, while in this place of limbo, we can not adopt any more children. This is another devastating blow. We want lots of children. Now we are facing having none in the home. 
To add another layer to our stress, we have some legal stuff involving Sweetie being contacted inappropriately online by an older man. Luckily I caught it as it was happening, but this has become a case that the police and child protective services are involved. I can not discuss the details because of the investigation. 
Now add on the fact that Sweetie is scheduled for her tonsils to be removed Wednesday. 
All of this together has created a situation that is well beyond my ability to cope effectively. 
All I have left is my belief that God will see us through this. I still hold on to hope for Sweetie to heal. I am grasping at that, but the hope is still there. He is the only one who can open her up to wanting to accept healing. At her age she has to want to heal in order to be healed. It can not be forced. I can not make her want something she does not want for herself. I have nothing else in my bag of tricks to help her heal. I just have me, my love and my prayers.  I pray we are making the right choices. I have nothing else I can do but just Hold On

I am holding on to you.
I am holding onto you.
In the middle of the storm O am holding on to you. 




Monday, May 26, 2014

Where Feet May Fail

 
 
 
 
This Friday Sweetie is being discharged from PRTF and will be coming home. There is part of me that is so happy and there is a bigger part that if I am truly honest with myself, is completely scared. I find myself facing the complete unknown. I have found myself over the last few days having some pretty big anxiety. I lay in bed when I first wake up and my nerves feel as if they are on fire, my heart races and for a moment I feel paralyzed. I take a few breathes and I force myself to face what is ahead of me. I feel awful that I feel like this. I hate that I can't let go of that feeling that she can flip a switch again at anytime. Oh how I love my daughter and how I want her home. She has grown in many ways. This weekend she had someone on Facebook ask her to delete messages and she immediately said she couldn't because I would be mad at her. She is starting to care what I think.
And then there is still so much pushing away going on too. This week she told her therapist (in front of me) that I let her watch porn. I was like really? Porn? Luckily the therapist knew she was lying. The scary part is Sweetie has been subjected to so much bad stuff that she can give enough detail about anything and it could be believed. When she came home this weekend she quickly noticed that we had removed all DVDs from our movie collection that were not rated G. when she asked about it, I nonchalantly said that I didn't want her to mistake a kissing scene in a movie for porn, so we took away anything that might be confusing and we are cancelling even our basic cable.  She immediately admitted that she was lying. I just replied that I know but it really concerned me that she could so easily throw major lies out there. I explained that having a child watch porn is a form of child abuse. Of course she didn't see the issue because she completely lacks cause and effect thinking. I can't help but wonder where the lies will take us. What will they be, who will she tell. Is this going to be her next form or torturing us to push us away?
We are blessed with a community of people who are supporting us. We have had many offers from friends to spend time with her to give us a break. I am so leery of this for two reasons.
First, I have no clue what will come out of her mouth. She told my friend's 14 year old daughter that I was taking her to go on the pill. She tells the same girl that I take her shopping every week. She has told people we abuse her. She lies just to lie. I know why she does it. She feels unworthy of others and she wants to be liked, so she makes up stories to seem cooler or to get sympathy.
Second when ever others give her positive attention we pay, dearly. Sweetie is so pretty and has this cutesy younger kids voice. You can't help but want to love her. But the more attention she gets from others, the more defiant and disrespectful she becomes to us. So, most of the time, it just isn't worth the few hours out. I am hoping to get to a point where I can just let her go to someone's house without me. I want her to be able to have some normal teen experiences. This is a kid who lost her childhood. And now she is losing her teen years. Sadly, she just can't handle these experiences. At 14 I was already working and I could be trusted to go to the mall with friends. My daughter can't even figure out how to plug her Ipod in or how to turn lights off.
So this is where I stand. On the edge of the unknown. I am being forced to trust that we are doing the right things and that she will heal. I have to have faith that she will be ok in life.





Sunday, April 20, 2014

Coming Home



Like I have anticipated Sweetie's authorization is expiring at the 6 month mark. Sweetie is doing remarkably better, but she is not ready. She even says that. She is to a point where she wants to work on things, but doesn't know how to. This is where the problem is in the 6 month limitation on a PRTF stay. Just when she is feeling safe enough to do the work, they push her out. So, we are looking at Discharge possibly being May 12th when the authorization runs out. This would not be a good thing. Sweetie is scheduled on May 14th to get her tonsils out. I worry that she won't be able to take her medications because she can't swallow and that will cause her to completely dysregulate. The plan for surgery had been to have her come home for 2 days and then go back for the worst part of the healing. Which is days 3-5. During that time she will be in the most pain and that is also when the scabs form on the back of her throat. If they come off too soon (like they were picked off), she could develop uncontrollable bleeding that would require another surgery. The PRTF has 24 hour nursing and people who can watch her 24/7. I alone could not do this. In addition, I can not take 2 weeks out of work to stay home with her. So, I have asked if we can hold off until May 30th for discharge. That would give her chance to heal before coming home.
Once she is home, I will be cutting my hours at work so I can be home when ever she is. Our plan for when she does come home is to have her go to a Day Treatment Program through the summer, until school starts in the fall. In addition we will start therapy weekly with the therapist she has been working with since February. She is the first person that Sweetie has began to work on her trauma with. I like Mrs. Nicole, she is firm and also not easily manipulated. And most of all she works with us as a whole. We are fortunate that she has left the PRTF and is actually going to work for the same company that runs the Day Treatment program. In addition to that, we are going to go back to see Mrs. Dana, our family attachment therapist. She has cut down her hours significantly, however she is keeping us on as clients.  I am very encouraged by the team I am piecing together.
I meet with the  Exception Children's Director for Sweetie's school this Wednesday to discuss transitioning her back in the fall. We are going to have to redo her whole IEP, because things have changed greatly.
I will be honest that I am nervous about having her home. The recommendation has been to transition her to a group home or therapeutic foster care. Neither of these are options for us! The group home would introduce her to even more criminal behaviors from the peers there. And she would be able to manipulate and triangulate majorly in a foster home. If we placed her in either she would feel like we had given up on her and have sent her away. This would destroy the last 2 years worth of bonding.
This road has been tough, but she Has bonded to me. She Does know that I love her. That in itself is huge progress. This is a girl who started off feeling that she was not lovable and that she had to take care of herself. Over the last 2 years I have showed her time and time again that I am here. I am sure I will have to show her over and over again, probably for years before she knows with all her being that I will love her completely and unconditionally. That I will love her like God loves us all.
It was perfect to have her home for a long weekend this Easter weekend. Friday evening we went to the Tenebrae service at our church and then we went to Easter service this morning. Both services are always beautiful and moving. But this year it was especially powerful. My girl was with me to experience this. She was there protected in my hug as we listened to music and spoken word that ushered us through Jesus' last moments. She was there this morning to celebrate that he has risen. I was so glad she could be home with us to experience these services. I hope that they bring her great hope. God was able to take despair and turn it into the greatest source of hope imaginable. A hope that will help my daughter to heal completely. I believe that she can be healed and she is finally beginning to believe that herself.







Monday, April 07, 2014

Grace


The last month has flown by. Filled with high highs and low lows. Pretty much like the rest of the last 2 years. It started with a beautiful 2 page letter telling me how Sweetie appreciated how I have stuck with her through all of the hard times and how she really did love me. It was the most touching thing I have ever received. And I believe it was genuine. It was a huge step for us. Then in typical RAD style she flipped the complete opposite way. She started having tantrums again and started with more frequent inappropriate behaviors. We go back to court tomorrow to see if we get her stay at the PRTF extended another 30 days. A month ago, I thought she was able to come home, but now I am more hesitant. The PRTF is strongly recommending a group home or therapeutic foster care again. And again I am very uneasy about either choice. Either way she will decompensate and will feel completely abandoned by us. We have been able to get her enrolled in a Day Treatment Program or when she is discharged. It is a great program and they run year round, they pick her up in the morning and drop her off in the afternoon. It also gives her the opportunity to catch up on her education.
With her recent decompensating behaviors I am really pushing just to keep her in the PRTF until we can transition her home. Sweetie's  therapist agrees. Unfortunately, Sweetie knows how to do exactly what is needed to get through her program. And she does well as long as things are going her way. But the minute they are not, she loses it. She has began threatening to blow if she doesn't get her way.
As hard as that will be we need to not let her get away with that. It is not that we are afraid of her tantrums, we just get to tired to deal with them at times. Being Sweetie's mom is exhausting.
An average Saturday goes like this... Sweetie gets up before 730  and starts slamming doors to make sure we are awake. There is usually some kind of yelling or arguing by 8:00. By 8:30 or 9:00 she is begging for forgiveness. I make breakfast, which she complains about what ever I make. Then the nonstop nonsense chatter starts and goes for hours. When I try to either shower or go to the bathroom she calls out for me repeatedly and with more urgency until I finally respond ( usually without a shower or getting to go to the bathroom). Then she jumps into my bathroom  ( that she is not allowed to use) and starts another argument. As soon as she is done she begins to tell us what we are doing for the day. If we don't go along with her plan we get another tantrum or argument. Arguments are one sided. She makes nasty comments, yells and storms off. We just bit our tongues, trying not to engage.
If we are lucky she takes a nap. But as soon as she wakes up the routine starts again. She refuses to do anything by herself and also refuses to participate in any activity we plan unless it involves spending money. Games, crafts, drawing, video games, going outside, boxing, walking, hanging out with friends. She rejects everything. Dinner time is more complaining and that is usually when she starts being nasty to Cris. If she pushes hard enough she knows he will isolate himself in his man cave and she can have me all to herself. Usually once he is not around us she is pretty happy. Until it is bed time and then she goes back to the calling me over and over again. Like a young child that doesn't want to go to bed. She goes to the bathroom multiple time, gets water, needs 100 different things. I know many young children do the same thing. The hard thing is this is happening at 10:00 at night and continues until about 11:00. And I still have to clean the kitchen, do laundry and what ever else needs to be done. Do this a few days in a row and you get beaten down and you just start to give in to her just to get a few moments of peace. In addition, it really is nice to see her appear to be happy for a few moments. Even though it is a superficial happiness, it still feels good to witness her happy.
She has suffered so much in her life, I just want to make her feel better. But when we do make her feel better we are the ones to pay because she doesn't feel she deserves good things. It is so hard to see how unworthy she feels. To be honest it is something I personally battle with myself. I find that I feel bad when good things do happen for me. My life has always been a challenge and when things are going well I feel I don't deserve it. I look forward to the day that Sweetie can freely accept that she deserves good things. I also want that for myself and that is something I will continue to work on in myself.
So for now, I continue to pray and continue to hope for Sweetie's complete healing. I pray for her to feel safe enough that she can realize that she doesn't have to play these games in order to control everything. I am also praying that I can show more grace to Sweetie and more to myself. I pray that Sweetie will feel God's grace for her.




Sunday, March 09, 2014

Removed


Trauma work is hard work. For kids like my Sweetie, there are years and years of neglect and trauma that has built up huge walls. This video is the story of kids just like Sweetie. The video was incredibly hard for me to watch, but it is a story that needs to be shared. These scenarios are more common than you can imagine.
We have progressed to overnight visits with Sweetie. It is hard for her to transition back home. She is doing well in the program and with me one on one most of the time. However,  she is awful to Cris. Most of the time she ignores him and when she does talk to him, she is hostile. It is really hard on him. She has found in the past if she pushed hard enough that parents will leave. That she would pack up her garbage bags again and move onto the next home. But we are not giving up on her. But there will never be moving with garbage bags again. I believe she is starting to have hope that I am not going anywhere.
I often receive compliments for sticking with Sweetie. I know most people see her actions and just think of her as a damaged girl. But she is strong and she is resilient. She is capable of learning to receive and give love.
This past week in therapy she really started discussing some of her trauma. Things I had never heard before. During the session she did surprisingly well. Almost too well. And then when the session ended and I had to leave she had a breakdown. She was upset for hours. I so wish I could have been there to comfort her. That would have been a good time to bond. That is one of the downfalls of her being in a program. So, as I mentioned earlier, Sweetie is doing well in the program. If she continues to do so she will be getting discharged in early May. I am concerned with finding someone to watch Sweetie this summer and after school again. I was considering asking my employer to go part time or  find a part time job so that I can be available to watch her myself after school. I was trying to line something up, so I could talk to my employer and if they couldn't work with me, I would have a back up plan. One of the places I forwarded my resume to contacted my current employer. My employer than confronted me about it. Now I will have to wait to see if they let me go. Many employers get rid of employees that are "Looking" for other employment. Which is why I was looking for a backup plan. I know asking to do part time leaves me vulnerable to being fired. But now by trying to protect myself, I may be losing my job. It doesn't make sense to work full time, when it cost more an hour for a care giver for Sweetie than I bring home. I have been and will continue to pray for God to show my path. To reveal the path that is best for Sweetie's healing. The next few years are so critical in her healing. The wrong decision on my part could hurt her and I don't want to fail her. I know God has a plan and I am choosing to trust his plan.

The quote below is from the video and how I truly wished my girl could truly feel this way. This is the healing I want for her. This is the healing I am trusting God for.
 "This is my past, my history, my story. It is not my fault. It's not because of me.
 It doesn't have to be what defines my future."

Sunday, February 16, 2014

So Lately, Been Wondering




The last few weeks have been rough with Sweetie. Lots of pushing and lots of blow ups. She has been very hurtful and deliberate in her verbal attacks. I am not going to get into details, because it is basically more of the same pushing that has been going on for the last year and a half. I have spent a lot of time contemplating Sweetie's long term prognosis. Could the psychiatrist and therapist be right? Could she really not be able to make it on her own? I just can't allow myself to believe that. I have so much hope for her future. My dreams for my child are not the same as the average parent. I do not have unrealistic dreams of her being a doctor or a lawyer. My dreams for her are simply for her to be ok with being herself. For her to find people in life that will not abuse her. That she can live on her own and that she will find peace in God. We are going to love her no matter what her path in life brings.
We had been having a lot of issues with her PRTF and a few weeks ago I had a big meeting with the clinical director, the now ex-president and several other department heads. I am happy to report that there are beginning to be positive changes. They have stopped medicating Sweetie. They are restructuring her program for her individual needs. I am VERY happy about this. We actually discussed this today in our therapy session with Sweetie. There is now direct correlation between her behaviors at home and her privileges/consequences there. I am really liking her new therapist and the new Medical Director.
Even the staff at the PRTF is noticing the good changes. At this time I am leaving Sweetie where she is an seeing how things continue to go.
 They have been working in therapy on what love really is. During this she decided that she did not love us and did not know if she ever could. Part of me knows this and I have to be ok with her loving us the best that she can. Ultimately, it is not her job to love me anyways. Would it be nice to know she loves me? Absolutely! At this point I would be happy if she could just accept the love I am giving. As much as she was pushing, I knew I was getting into her heart more. Today I got to see a glimmer of hope. On our way back to residential Sweetie said that she always feels prettier when she is home. I asked her if she knew why. She responded it was because she was happy and that she felt she could do anything in life when she was with us. I wanted to jump up and down, screaming "We are getting through!!!".
 
She also gave me this!
 
 



"Wherever You Will Go"

So lately, been wondering
Who will be there to take my place
When I'm gone, you'll need love
To light the shadows on your face

If a great wave shall fall
It'd fall upon us all
And between the sand and stone
Could you make it on your own?

[Chorus:]
If I could, then I would
I'll go wherever you will go
Way up high or down low
I'll go wherever you will go

And maybe, I'll find out
The way to make it back someday
To watch you, to guide you
Through the darkest of your days

If a great wave shall fall
It'd fall upon us all
Well I hope there's someone out there
Who can bring me back to you

[Chorus]

Run away with my heart
Run away with my hope
Run away with my love

I know now, just quite how
My life and love might still go on
In your heart, in your mind
I'll stay with you for all of time

[Chorus]

If I could turn back time
I'll go wherever you will go
If I could make you mine
I'll go wherever you will go

I'll go wherever you will go

Saturday, January 25, 2014

We Remain


When I started thinking of being an adoptive mom I had no idea that I would become a warrior. When one thinks of a mother they usually think of kind, loving, nurturing. Not tough, exhausted and aggressive. Being a mom in general is hard, but being a mom of a child with any special needs requires you to become a soldier. You learn to endure almost anything. You  develop a crazy amount of patience. You learn to fight and I mean really battle to meet the needs of these kids. It may be researching for months, hunting down medications, fighting the schools for a good IEP or battling the insurance companies to get necessary treatment. All while trying to manage the rest of your life and not look like you have completely lost it. It can be exhausting and too often you feel absolutely alone. But you are not alone. There is a whole army of warrior mommas who are in the trenches with you. Although our battles are different and we each have our area of combat specialty, we are all battling everyday for our kids. I have been so unbelievably blessed to personally know many of these beautifully fierce women. They are mom's of kids with attachment issues, severe mental health issues, sensory processing issues, cancer, cerebral palsy, mitochondrial disease, deaf, autistic, HIV, dyslexia, cleft palates, spina bifida, down syndrome, children who had strokes and children born extremely prematurely. There are so many individual and complex issues that each of these beautiful, strong women battle with their children each day.  Even though each child's needs are unique, many of battles warrior moms face are the same. We often go without meeting our own needs, whether that be missing a meal, skipping a shower because you are simply just to tired when you finally get to sit down at 11:00 at night and most are sleep deprived. We have lost "friends" and given up dreams. We know the pain of being criticized behind our backs and also being told to give up to our faces. At times, we can feel as if I can not go on another moment longer. But then, one of our fellow warrior moms comes along side of us and lifts us up and helps carry the load for a while. Sometimes, it can be a kind word, a hug, a meal or a prayer. Other times it is showing up with a bottle of wine, doing your dishes or offering to babysit so you can get a rare date with your husband. We cry together in our dark times, we laugh at crazy things and we celebrate victories. We understand that even the smallest victory is still a Victory! We hold our fellow warrior momma's close to our heart. We feel their pain, we understand. We understand that each of us has sat down at sometime and thought " what did I do?" or "I just can't do this". We have stared defeat straight in the face on more times than any of us care to admit. But we have also experienced a joy that can not be put into words. We have strength that only overcoming obstacles can bring. This evening I have spent a long time reflecting on each of the amazing warrior moms I have come to know. Many in person and I proud to call friends. Some, I know only through social media. I am grateful for each and every single warrior mom. You are amazing and you inspire me each day. I have so much love in my heart for each and everyone of you. No matter what comes our way We Remain.









Friday, January 10, 2014

One Little Word

 
One little word that will impact a whole year. This year instead of making resolutions I know I won't keep, I have joined some of the women from my women's group in listening for a word for the coming year. The idea is to chose one word that represents what you most hope God will do in you and then you focus on that word the entire year. We had one of our women's group meetings at church last week and some of the ladies shared their words from last year. Prior to the meeting we had been sent a list of questions to reflect on in choosing our word. If interested you can find them here: ENROUTE BLOG
As I reflected on 2013, I could mostly recall it being a year of brokenness and pain. As we spent our first full year as Sweetie's parents I have discovered how broken our girl truly is and also how broken I am. The last few weeks have been especially difficult. She refused to see us for Christmas Eve. That was really difficult on me. It was another holiday without a child. Sweetie's level of rejection has reached an all time high. This means she is feeling her most scared. During most interactions with her, she is raging. Her monologues are laced with profanity and her topics jumps around second to second. Time is all jumbled together. She mixes events up that happened anywhere from yesterday to years ago. She has been working on some of her past trauma's in therapy so she has a lot of these memories floating around on the surface of her subconscious. I am sure this has brought her back around to grieving again. Our therapy this session this week was an hour of one long rage.  It really seems as if she is getting worse and pulling further away from us. I mostly feel this is due to the fact that we are only allowed to talk for a few minutes 3 times a week. And most times they don't put our calls through. So, when you have a bad phone call Thursday you can't talk again until Sunday. That is 3 days for her to stew. We never get a chance to build her back up and her shame is becoming greater and greater. Overall I have not been happy with the facility. I am really disappointed in most all of the staff. With the exception of the therapist. For some reason Sweetie has connected with her and has opened up to her.  And for this reason I have kept her at the facility. Today, I received and email from the therapist that she will be leaving. So I have no reason to keep her there. The loss of this therapist is going to be very difficult on Sweetie and I am sure going to create a huge set back. I am really disappointed, but I understand why the therapist is leaving. Which are very much the same reasons why I am not happy with the facility.
So, now I am doing what I do best and advocating for my Sweetie. I will be looking for a new facility for her and transferring her. That will of course be a very involved process.
This brings me back to my word for 2014. I kept coming back to 2013 being broken. This brought me to think of unbrokenness, except that isn't a real word. In our small group during the women's meeting we were sharing our potential words with our friends to narrow down our word. As we discussed this, my friend Amy suggested whole. I have reflected on this the past few days and I have decided that my word for 2014 will be whole. I want wholeness for myself and more than anything I want wholeness for Sweetie. I want her to be able to accept our love. I want her to feel happiness and peace. I want her to know she is safe and we have unconditional love for her. I want her to know God's love. There is so much that I want for my child. I will spend this year with my one Little Word. I am eager to see where it will lead us.