Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Our Day

Lia put her yogurt on the cat. 

First grade learned the letter "H" yesterday. They made these cute "hamburgers" with cookie wafers, peppermint patties and icing.

The icing "lettuce" got rather smeared but they were still good.

Joseph brought another smiley home. He has a hard time holding it together at school. As a motivator and visual reminder, his teacher pins a smiley sticker on his shirt. She removes the sticker if he is not obeying her or disrupting the class. If he does a good job, he is allowed to bring his sticker home. His teacher is considerate of the fact that little boys have lots of energy and sometimes it is almost impossible to keep that enthusiasm under control!




Sunday, October 26, 2014

Processing Loss

Kiana's 7th birthday triggered a landslide of emotions, feelings and questions. She has always been our "stuffer." She stuff's everything inside and over time the pressure builds up and she begins boiling over. Slowly at first and then faster and faster until she is in a full meltdown. Her behavior has been deteriorating, a sure sign that "something is going to blow." During this period, we can talk to her and try to lessen the pressure a little. It helps but the full meltdown is coming. I read somewhere that people like this are a lot like a volcano. They give off warning signs and eventually erupt. I figured her latest troubles had to do with rejection and loss as those things usually show up around her birthday. Last night she erupted when confronted about something she had done earlier in the evening. She cried and denied everything that was said. Neither Dean nor I could get her to talk. I was frantically going through the files in my brain trying to remember techniques for helping a child work through their feelings and something came to mind! I said to Kiana, "If I were a little girl who couldn't stay with her birth mom, I would wonder if there was something wrong with me, if I did something wrong. I would wonder if maybe she didn't love me and it might have been my fault that she couldn't keep me." Kiana began sobbing so I knew I was on the right track. I explained again that her mom had made some choices that made it impossible for her to care for a baby. Dean was rocking Kiana while I was talking and he explained that her mom loved her enough to know that she couldn't give her the home she needed and she was happy that we could care for her. I asked Kiana if her cousin B who is several months old could do anything to make her mom stop loving her. Kiana had a quick retort for that, "She is to little!" I agreed with her but said, "what if she cried and cried or if she wouldn't let her mom do anything but hold her?" Kiana still didn't think that would make a mom stop loving her baby. I told her that when she came to us, she was even smaller than her cousin. She had nothing to do with being in foster care. Kiana's eye's  lit up and she said, "Because I was to little to know better!" Right! We talked awhile longer and then I asked if she feels ready to go to bed. She didn't so I wrapped her in a fuzzy blanket and rocked her for awhile. When she was ready  to go to her bed she wanted me to carry her. We made a joke out of how she was to heavy for me to lift up into her bunk and she went to bed giggling. I said, "Thank you, Jesus!" 
  The therapist said often times children who are in care or adopted feel that it was somehow their fault. Even older children think things like, if I would have done my homework rather than poking around maybe dad wouldn't have gotten angry and we could still live with him. No matter how severe the abuse or neglect children usually feel a loyalty to their parents and rather than face the fact that their parent's left them down, they blame themselves.

Kiana feeling happy and secure once more.

  Joseph gave us a good laugh today. At lunch he said, "Dad, you should start a war." When Dean asked him why, he said, "So you could be the president!" Not sure where he came up with that logic but we had a good laugh after he had left the table. Some of his comments are so far off that we have a hard time not bursting out laughing. He is totally serious however, and gets embarrassed easily so we try to save the chuckles for later.

roasted pumpkin seeds with mexican seasoning. Tristan cut a pumpkin up and got the seed's out so I could try roasting them. The children ate them just for the novelty of it but I don't think we will try them again.

Friday, October 24, 2014

RAD Q&A

I am helping several mom's find their way through the minefield of RAD. I find there are several questions each mom who is new to RAD asks.
1. Can my other children "get" RAD? No, only children who never bond with anyone as an infant will have RAD. However, children may have insecure attachments or disorganized attachments which means while they have bonded with you, that bond is not a strong one and the child will not fully trust you or will allow you to get only so close before acting out. These types of attachment's come from early hospitalization, difficult pregnancy, a distant mom, having needs met only part of the time, trauma or anything that would interfere with a solid attachment.
2. How do I know if my child has RAD/Attachment Disorder (AD)? Does your child make eye contact when talking to you? What happens when they hurt themselves? Do they run for mom or a stranger? Do they allow hugs? Some children are naturally more cuddly than others but children with RAD/AD will make themselves stiff, it is like hugging a board. Is your child destructive, more so than a typical inquisitive child? Does he break his own toys? Does he have any stranger awareness or does he go to anyone without fear?
3. What do I do if I suspect my child has an attachment problem? I would recommend getting a neuro/psych eval done. Our insurance requires us to get a basic psych eval done before they will pay for a neuro/psych. We saw a doctor at Hershey Medical Center who was excellent. We had to fill out around 17-20 pages of information which was mailed to us prior to our evaluation. On the day of the appointment the Dr. took the child to her office for about 1.5 hours and had him do lessons, follow directions, answer questions, sequencing, matching etc. She tested his coordination and motor skills among other things. After she saw our son she spent about an hour with me going over his results. She then typed up a summary of the evaluation, highlighting the things he needed help with and giving suggestions. 
4. I don't think my child is sick enough to do some of the horrible things you read about in books about RAD. A wise mom told me to always honor the threat. Which means, if your child, even in passing says something that strikes fear into your heart, do not brush it off and ignore it. Sometimes children use threats as a cry for help. They may not have the ability to ask for help so making a threat may be their only means. 
5. What can I do to help my child feel secure? Rock them, sing, cuddle, bottle feed or feed them sweets if they are older, read to them, spend time doing things they enjoy and let them know that while you may not be able to say, "I know exactly what you are going through," you do care. Give them a special snack sack that they can fill with food to eat in case they get hungry. 
6. Is there something wrong with me, as mom? No. Your child came to you with a damaged heart. He truly believes he is unlovable and when you try to show him he is lovable it goes against his core beliefs about himself, so he sets out to prove you wrong.
7. Will my child get better? If RAD is the "only" thing going on, you have a good therapist and you understand therapeutic parenting, then yes, he has a good chance of healing. However, oftentimes a child who has RAD has multiple other things going on and that can complicate things greatly. You may have to lower your expectations for your child. John H. a therapist we visited said, "You may have to be ok seeing your child only once a year with occasional emails in between. He may never be able to trust you as parents." Are you ok with that? 
8. How can I help other's understand my child? That of course varies with people but we have found sharing articles and books about the subject help. We had Braden's therapist do a basic training on RAD at our school. We invited family and friends and that went a long way towards understanding. We still get questioned about our different methods of parenting. We try to know the reason behind the particular parenting methods we use. It is better to have a professional opinion backing you up. For some reason their opinion is easier to believe than the parent who knows the child.
9. Which professional do I follow? Karen Purvis, Heather Forbs, Brian Post, Nancy Thomas? a mixture of them all is what usually works best. Since attending the attachment seminar by Karen Purvis several months ago, we have found TBRI works best for our most traumatized child.
10. Why does my child act like a toddler one moment and his chronological age the next? Due the the trauma, the timing of the trauma and a host of other things, your childs brain is at various stages of development. If you place a snack on the table and you 8 year old piles it all at his spot, like a toddler would, treat him like one. Do not scold, just kindly say, "Let's put some back so the other children may have a snack to." If he acts like an 8 year old going on 21 and believe me, children with trauma can be wise beyond their years in some things, talk with him on an older level. The tough part is when the child switches ages every few minutes. It can be frustrating talking o him like you would another adult and a few minutes later, caring for him like a toddler. Your child needs you to meet him on his level to promote healing.
    Those were the basic questions. If you have more, email me. I don't have all the answers but through the years I have developed a greater understanding of attachment disorders and am only to glad to be of help to someone. It is a small way I can repay those who sat on the phone for hours helping me sort out behaviors and emotions.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Grief and Choosing Trust

You know the question I posted the other day, the one about not remembering how to truly laugh? I was finally enlightened by a friend, she said we are grieving. At first I thought, grieving what? But the more I thought on it, the more sense it made. The scattered thoughts, inability to make decisions without constantly second guessing myself, extreme forgetfulness, fatigue, emotions all over the radar, a feeling of intense loss and feeling so needy, like we haven't anything to give. I forget others birthdays, anniversaries of joy and loss and even forget to give an encouraging word when someone is going through a tough time. In short, I am totally self centered and I despise it. Anyway when this lady pointed out the obvious, I didn't fall for it right away but looking over the past years, we have experienced loss but I didn't give myself the grace to grieve it. Does that make sense? 
   We are grieving the loss of dreams for Braden. God may well choose to heal him and He can certainly produce miracles from the years the locusts have eaten but in spite of that, there is still a huge sense of loss. Braden cannot love us as mom n dad. We don't have those memories of carefree happy times together. Not that we didn't try, we did but the damage was to great. It almost feels like a death but then I talk with Miss Sharon and get updates which tear us up inside again. The scar never heals. We have a son whom we cannot nurture and love in our home. Where have we failed??? Isn't our faith strong enough? Surely, love can conquer all ills..... if only we could have somehow, someway broken through the wall that Braden desperately needed to keep in place. It isn't fair that he has to suffer the wrongs from those who were supposed to keep him safe and it isn't fair that our children have to learn such ugly things at such tender ages. I am terrified that we will lose our other children to the horrors they were subject to before we were there to comfort them.  I am so thankful we have Jesus who understands our struggles. He can help our children understand things when words fail us. Sometimes when one of the children are fighting a battle to big for their small shoulders and we as parents are unable to help them understand, a whispered prayer brings words to mind and we can ease their troubled minds. Then there are times like tonight when a child cannot or will not tell us what is wrong and no amount of talking, tears or promises of love and safety will get them to talk. So we assure them of our love, tuck them in and give them to our Heavenly Father who understands all things. And that is another loss we have to grieve. Our children do not fully trust us to keep them safe because as one child asked me, "Why didn't you come and take care of me when I lived with_____". 
   There is also the loss of trust. Before our ordeal with CYS we trusted people generally have others best interest in mind. Obviously we were very wrong. In fact, the psychologist who did our parenting eval chided me for being so naive! Ever since that experience I simply do not trust people to keep their word and not to twist my words to their benefit. With the loss of trust however came a deeper dependency upon God which is a good thing. And like one mom said, "You are the only mom I know who has proof that she is sane and stable!" That comment was in regards to the parenting eval that stated we are competent parents.
   We don't know why God allowed these things to come into our lives but He has a plan and a purpose which is far greater than my human mind can comprehend and I can either trust or fret. I choose trust because God is always true, faithful, loving and forgiving. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Happy 7th Birthday Kiana


KIANA IS 7!!!













Yesterday my little girl turned one year older. She was sleepily crawling out of bed when I said, "Happy Birthday!" She hopped up and said, "Is it really my birthday?" When I said it was, she cried, "Yippee, skippee, todays my birthday!" Then she stopped again and said, "Am I really 7 now?" She could hardly believe her birthday had actually arrived. She wanted us to sing Happy Birthday but when we did, she had to hide her face. Kiana, you have brought so much joy into our home. You make us laugh with your spontaneous input to conversations that you are to young to understand, we cry with you when you wonder why your parents couldn't care for you. Your good night hugs and kisses make all the struggles of the day worth it. May God bless you this coming year!


We celebrate your birthday, as you turn seven today,
but we have got the gift, just the perfect gift,
that on this very special day, God gave away,
a gift of love from up above, so unique and so rare

God has specially made you to the very tip of your nose,
as precious as a flower, as tender as a rose.
Fulfilled and blessed our lives we have and all because of you,
as sweet as honey, so innocent and pure

The twinkle of your eyes is brighter than any star,
the smiles you leave behind keep our days bright,
though our laps you have outgrown,
you will never outgrow our hearts

We watch and pray as you grow,
in love and in faith, in beauty and in grace,
you bring us joy and pure delight,
just to gaze upon your lovely face

Our hearts you keep warm and are with you wherever you may go,
and as you go on life's journey, only happiness may you find,
you are the joyful moments through our sorrow,
you are our hope and promise of our tomorrow

'cause you are our pride, our unconditional love we pledge,
'cause you are our joy, our undivided bond we cherish,
'cause you are our sunshine, our embrace is your shield through the rain,
'cause you are our little girl, our hugs and kissed will take away your pain

We asked God for a flower and He gave us a bouquet
we asked God for a minute and He gave us a day
we prayed to God for true love and He gave us that too
we prayed to God for an angel and He gave us you

May God bless you dear angel
especially on this day, that marks your birth,
for all the special ways you bring
a bit of heaven into our world

May God bless you, Today, Tomorrow and Always
in Peace in Health in Happiness and in Love

We love you, Kiana!
   Mom n Dad









Saturday, October 18, 2014

Busy Week

We had a busy week around here:
It was my week to drive the school van, which always makes things extra busy.
I finally got my license renewed ... a few days short of the 60 day dead line.
Met a friend for coffee and talk
Three adoptive mom's took me out for supper to celebrate my birthday and made me laugh. :)
We had Preparatory Services Wednesday evening. Took Joseph along and gave him melatonin in hopes that he would sleep through the service as he usually goes to bed at 7:00. I wouldn't recommend trying it....he didn't sleep a stitch and was irritable from trying to stay awake.
Tristan had a friend over for a few days.
Last night we enjoyed a hayride with several church families.
I started my fall housecleaning.
And of course did all the usual work that goes with living: made food, washed, folded and put away laundry, baked, bought groceries, read stories, wiped noses, calmed fears, helped my little people battle big feelings and settled squabbles.

This is what happens when you refuse to take a nap...you fall asleep standing up


Lia cleans her house while I work at cleaning mine.

I have been mulling over a problem of mine while I scrub cupboards, doors and windows. The past two years have been rough for our family. First we needed to find a place that would provide 24/7 therapy for Braden, then CYS couldn't understand why we felt he needed such intense therapy and wanted to move Lia. Neither Dean nor I laughed much during that time. Life was just to hard to be lighthearted. We tried so hard to find help for Braden and then to be criticized and harshly judged for getting him that help, crushed our ability to truly laugh and be light hearted. That isn't necessarily a bad thing but now I still haven't regained my ability enjoy a wholesome laugh with friends and family. I go home feeling tired, stressed and strained and wonder what is wrong with me. I believe it is just another symptom of PTSD and hopefully will resolve itself with time. 












Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Joseph and Kiana

Josephs teacher is awesome! I praise God that we have godly teachers who are willing to learn about trauma and how it affects children. The first grade teacher not only learns about about it she implements it, even if some of the techniques we try are a bit unconventional at times. I started a notebook that Joseph carries in his school folder. Mornings I write in it and send it to school with him. His teacher comments on his day and sends it along home in the afternoon. It is a good way for us to keep in touch. I wasn't sure if he would be ok with the idea but he was only to happy to give his teacher something. Anyway, today I was shopping and my phone rang. I saw the call was from school and my heart did a quick flip flop which I am sure some of you can relate to. It was Miss Wilma calling to ask if I was aware that Joseph forgot his lunch. Uh oh! She said he was fine though. She keeps a stash for just such times and Joseph picked something out for snack and also got to choose what he wants for lunch. The teacher wanted to tell me he is fine and I needn't bring his lunch. That was a huge step! Joseph has "food issues" just like most little people who came from hard places and the fact that he was able to hold it together when he discovered his lunch was missing, plus say I needn't bring his lunch was huge! 
   Kiana could easily win the Drama Queen of the Year award. When she was a toddler we would laugh at her ability to produce tears on demand. What is funny at two isn't so comical at 6! She thinks she has such a hard life. Everyone has a birthday before she does, her turn to be class leader won't be for such a long time and Lia gets so many adoptions gifts..... and on and on it goes. Dean sat down with her tonight and tried to explain that her birthday isn't last. Everyone has a birthday once a year and her birthday comes around as often as anyone else's. She kept insisting her birthday was last and Dean kept trying to explain how it works. We ended up using a clock and using the numbers and hands to show her how the years go around. She wasn't convinced and went to bed as sure as ever that she needs to wait longer than anyone else.
Kiana is blessed with a very patient Daddy who willingly explains things over and over





Monday, October 13, 2014

From My Heart

               Profile Of A Family With A RAD Child

THE CHILD:
Appears happy, very charming, enjoyable, kind toward those outside the family but is often uncontrollable inside the home

THE FATHER:
Appears perplexed or concerned because he isn't sure if it was his wife or the child who is causing all the conflict.

THE MOTHER:
Feels, frustrated, tired, depressed and angry.

If you see this in a family, that is a BIG RED FLAG! Why would a typically happy person turn angry and depressed? In domestic abuse situations we see a similar dynamic. The abuser is generally a charming individual while the one who is suffering the abuse will attempt to save face. Eventually however the facade will begin to crumble and you will see anger, defeat, bitterness or even a resignation to such a life. Why is it so difficult to imagine such a situation involving a mother and child? I think in part, it is due to the belief we have that a child wouldn't have any reason to hurt his mother and if he did hurt her, then he had good reason....she must be "picking on him." What we fail to take into consideration is that, the child may be angry, scared and confused about life in general. Why was I adopted? Why didn't my mom love or take care of me? What is wrong with me? Is it my fault? And the big one....if I was taken from my birth mom, what is keeping me from being removed from this mom? A child cannot understand that things will be different now so he does what he can to protect himself from the pain of needing to be removed from his foster/adoptive mom (or dad if he is the primary caregiver). A child with RAD will do all in his power to make himself unloveable because he knows if he allows mom to love him, he will fall in love with her and it is going to be that much more painful when, not IF, he needs to move on. You would think if you told the child you love him and he is safe often enough he would eventually believe you. Think of it this way, If someone tried to persuade you it is safe to jump off a cliff, would you believe them? If they told you this, demonstrated it, showed you others who jumped off and landed safely, would it make a difference? Probably not because you learned as a baby that to fall from heights is dangerous. When you were a little tyke learning to climb you climbed on a chair and fell off, you climbed on the sofa and fell off, you stood on the table and fell off....the "height/fall: template in your brain was created and every time you fell from a height it reinforced that template. The only way to change it is to begin jumping from high places and landing safely....but that is to scary, what if you hurt yourself or worse die from it? Perhaps you now have a parachute to prevent injury, even so, you will still be afraid to jump. That is exactly how a child with RAD feels....he will die if he allows himself to love and others to love him. A child who is not nurtured cannot empathize. I was reading more of the book: The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog and it said children with RAD cannot imagine themselves in a situation thus they are unable to feel anothers pain. When you empathize with someone it is because you are feeling their pain, imagining yourself in their situation. Without that ability you could do anything no matter how cruel and feel no remorse or regret.
  Another interesting thing I learned from the book is that when a baby is still in the womb he hears mom's heart beat which is app 80 beats per minute. After birth when baby is stressed i.e. hungry, wet, cold or in pain mom takes him in her arms and rocks him. Instinctivly you rock at about 80 "rocks per minute". Faster and the baby is overstimulated and cries, slower and he isn't soothed and continues to cry. It is through this rocking that the baby learns to self regulate. His brain learns what level his heart rate should be when calm and when mom repeatedly calms baby his brain learns how to calm the child. Without that, he cannot self regulate which all parents with children from hard places, not just children with RAD, know all about. Children who are stressed will have a rapid heart beat, enlarged pupils, shallow, rapid breathing and generally hold themselves stiffly. Learn to know when your child is stressed/triggered and remove your child from whatever it is that is causing him to escalate. Have him take deep, slow breaths, massage his back or shoulders, if he allows it, hold him close and let him hear your heart beat. Last night Joseph was stressed and couldn't sleep so I rocked him, putting his ear to my chest and letting him listen to my heart beating. I explained why I am doing it and how I used to rock him like that when he was a baby and how children feel safe when they can hear mom's heat beating. He calmed right down!!! This from the child who will scream and thrash about when distressed! I told Dean the whole thing reminded me of the verse in Psalms: " I will praise thee for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are thy ways and that my soul knoweth right well."
  Not all children who suffer neglect or abuse will develop RAD. Only those who do not bond with anyone at birth or shortly there after. A child who bonds with someone, then is moved about to various homes may develop attachment disorder but the brain has already formed the attachment template. Whereas a child who never bonds doesn't have that template. The brain is much like a muscle in that what you use strengthens and what you don't use atrophies. A child can learn to bond but it will never be like that of a child who has bonded as an infant. 
   So how can you help a family who has a similar profile to the one I shared at the beginning of the post? First, believe them when they share their struggles. It may be impossible to imagine the child doing the things the parent is describing but please give the parent the benefit of the doubt. The child WILL know how you feel about the situation, he will act on it and in the end you are causing the child incredible damage as well as making it harder for the hurting caregiver to show the love and empathy the child needs to heal. Read up on the subject. There are books and information out there. They will confirm what you are being told, then let the parent know that while you may not understand, you will be praying. In the child's presence comment about what a great mom they have. Be honest, these children will know if you are being fake! Ask the mom out of the child's hearing what you can do to help the family. I had a friend who told me she prays for us whenever she is up at night with her baby. That meant so much. Even if you are sure the parent is making a big issue out of nothing, pray for the family. Praying cannot hurt, pray that the truth would prevail and the family will find healing. Don't give the child food if his mom is with him. Feeding your child encourages bonding. Mom's, be firm about being the only one to feed your child until he heals. I would fill Bradens plate and hand it to him, so he associated having his hunger assuaged with mom. Ask the parents before giving gifts. Children with RAD feel they do not deserve gifts and will either destroy them to prove their point or use the gift as a wedge. For instance, you buy your child some match box cars and he breaks them all, on purpose. You tell him you will not buy him new ones. When someone hands him a gift....of match box cars, guess what the child will do? Go to mom and say, "Look what I got? I am so happy!" Then run and give the giver a huge hug and smile with a smirk for you....all in the name of keeping up the barrier. If you invite the family over and mom declines, don't feel offended. Most likely mom would love to come but knows that her child cannot handle all the extra stimulation or maybe she knows her child will have to many opportunities to manipulate thus undoing progress.
RAD is hard but if you have understanding friends and family who do not judge you, chances are you will be able to find blessings even in the midst of pain. We have experienced judgement and later understanding by those close to us. In turn we experienced some of our most discouraging times but when they began to "see what we saw" and showed their love and concern our hearts began to heal.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Questions

I have a question for mom's who have children from hard places; how do you help your child over come the fear of mom and dad not taking care of them, not having food to eat etc. Joseph has been having a rough time at school, to put it mildly. Extreme behavior problems. Someone mentioned over stimulation and another said perhaps he isn't emotionally "old enough" to go to school. None of those answers seemed right. Last night we figured out he is scared, poor boy. Remember anger trumps all? Well his fear was coming out as defiance, anger and disobedience. Joseph really doesn't trust us to meet his needs. It is heart breaking to know he has such pain inside and we don't know how to help him! I don't think it is so much a bonding issue as a brain template issue. He experienced hunger and lack of safety in his early months and that is how he assumes we will be as well. The 6 years he has lived with us have not been enough to counteract the way his brain views parents. We need advice..... There are other brain issues going on which prevent him from being able to process information accurately, but I just long for him to feel secure enough to be a carefree little boy.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Fascinating Brain Facts

I love to read but tend to plow through books so quickly I miss half of the story. The good side of doing that is I can read the same book several times and continue to learn new things. I am currently rereading the book: The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog. I read it several years ago and it was all Greek to me. I obviously learned a few things over the years because I found it very fascinating....so much so I stayed up until 11:00 last night reading. Following are a few things I learned....to those of you who understand the brain this is probably old news but for those of us who are still learning it is amazing!
-Our brain filters out the ordinary, common facts. This is why you can drive to work every day and not remember it because your brain relies on previous memories of driving such as which turns you need to brake for, the distance between you and other vehicles etc. If our brains wouldn't filter out the common experiences we would most likely be so distracted we would crash. Your brain is constantly checking for previous memories and only storing those that are new. If there was a large tree lying across the road your brain would process that because it is out of the ordinary. 
At birth your childs brain doesn't have stored memories so every interaction gets recorded. If your child is loved and cared for he will view people as safe. If he is neglected and experiences hunger or fear, his brain will form a template that says no one will help me, I must take care of myself. The more times the child experiences love n care/neglect or abuse the more entrenched that memory will be in his brain. The child will act upon what his brain tells him is the appropriate action for every situation.
- we become either sensitized or tolerant of traumatic experiences. When the brain becomes sensitized a pattern of stimulus leads to increased sensitivity to future similar stimulus. When the brain becomes sensitized even small stressors can provoke large responses. When the brain becomes tolerant it mutes ones response to experience over time. Both factors are important for the functioning  of memory; if we didn't get tolerant to similar experiences, they would always appear new and potentially overwhelming. The brain would probably run out of storage capacity, like an old computer. Similarly, if we didn't become increasingly sensitized to certain scary situations, we would not be able to improve how to respond to them.
-fear quite literally makes us dumber, a property that allows faster reactions in short periods of time and helps immediate survival. But fear can become maladaptive if it is sustained; the threat system becomes sensitized to keep us in the state constantly. We call this hyper-arousal. When a child is hyper aroused his pupils dilate, breathing increases and he will know exactly what is happening around him. Our brains/bodies were not created to sustain this state of mind for extended periods of time. Unfortunately many children live in just such a state and the damage to their developing brains is extensive. Our brain has ways of protecting itself when the body is in a state of hyper-arousal for extended periods of time, it is called dissociation. For young children and infants who are unable to escape or fight, dissociation is often their response. We saw this in most of our children at one time or another, although Braden was by far the worst. Sometimes you could walk up to him and his eyes would be blank, he didn't even know anyone was around. Those vacant eyes were scary. 
- when faced with a frightening situation our brains shut down our highest cortical regions first. We lose the capacity to plan, or feel hunger, because neither are necessary for our immediate survival. Often we lose the ability to think or speak in such a situation. We just react. With prolonged fear there can be chronic and near permanent damage to the brain.

That is only a brief run down of the first couple chapters and I hope I portrayed the information correctly as I had to reword some of it because it just wasn't practical to copy the whole book.

Lia made a snack mix for our foster/adopt playgroup tomorrow. I set out all the ingredients and told her to put a handful of each thing in the dish and keep going that way until I say she has enough. 



Look what I made!

She was only to happy to dump the drink out of the bottles. I bought a flat of drinks yesterday at our local discount store.... my children wouldn't drink it so rather than "cry over spilled milk" We dumped it out, fed it to the dogs and refilled the containers 3/4 full of juice and put them in the freezer for lunches. 







Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My Name Is Faith

                  MY NAME IS FAITH

                           
I placed an order for this DVD today. You can get yours at:                                  http://www.mynameisfaith.com/

the DVD is a documentary about a traumatized little girl who finds healing. Buy one for yourself and one or more to pass onto friends and those who would benefit from understanding trauma. :)





Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Akron Park

I promise to stop changing my blog template. I was trying to add some features to my blog and the previous template wouldn't allow me to make any changes.


The first grade class spent yesterday afternoon at Akron Park. Their mothers and younger siblings were also invited. It was a beautiful day to spend outside.

Lively bunch of first graders

Gathered around for snack

Time for a drink at the water fountain






Monday, October 6, 2014

Fall

Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes, cards and gifts. I feel blessed to have so many people willing to rally around and bless my day. I celebrated my birthday by packing for the cabin and cleaning my house. We spent a relaxing week end with Deans family at a local cabin. This morning it is back to the normal routine of appointments, caring for my family and meeting with mom's of troubled children. I am glad I can be of assistance to other hurting mom's, it is a small way I can repay the debt I owe to those who prayed, encouraged and comforted us when we were in the trenches, so to speak.
                   I have this Fall Blend simmering on my stove. 

Fall Blend Potpourri
peel from one orange
1 chopped apple
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon almond extract
1 tablespoon cloves
1.5 cups water
simmer on your stove adding water as needed. This will last for 3 days...store in the refrigerator over night.

I made cinnamon rolls to take to the cabin. Lia said they are "thumbs up."
Joseph told her, thumbs up = good
sideways thumb = sorta good
thumb down = yuck

This is why we didn't get much from our garden this summer. Next year we will be putting up a fence



Thursday, October 2, 2014

Are You Ready?

             SO YOU WANT TO ADOPT THROUGH THE FOSTER CARE SYSTEM



ARE YOU READY?
are you ready to be lied to....to be stolen from.... to be so exhausted you can barely speak in complete sentences?
Are you ready to hear words that you thought would never be spoken in your home....
Are you ready to be humbled at every turn?
Are you ready to give up most of your worldly possessions?
Are you ready to be hated for a season because of all the wrong things that were imposed upon your child from others that came before you?
Are you ready to face the stares of others? Or to face the parents of those your child caused harm to?
Are you ready to walk away instead of engaging in a battle that you certainly won't win? And are you ready to stay right beside your child even when every part of your being just wants to walk away? Maybe even run away?
Are you ready to face the fear that maybe you can't handle this and know that you can't ...only the God of the universe can?
Are you ready to face feeling like a failure at this whole parenting thing?
Are you ready to know with certainty that you did not take the comfortable route in this life?
Are you ready to live a life that has not been wasted and experience immense joy in the smallest of accomplishments?
Are you ready to give up the privacy you once had? There are therapists, PCA's and law enforcement that will know more about you than you may have been willing to share? And they will all have their opinions about the way you are parenting.
Are you ready to show love to a child that you don't feel much love for?
And are your ready to get up the next morning and choose to show that love all over again?
Are you ready to accept that your child's future may not be anything like you envisioned when you started on this journey? Are you willing to give a huge part of your life so that your child may have just a chance at fully living theirs? And if they fall, are you ready to know that it was worth it even if they do not come to know the Lord in the way you dreamed for them?
Are you ready to trust that the Lord knew your every step before you took them... He knew that you would endure...He knew what your other children would endure...and He says, "I am enough."
Are you ready to deal with the realities that love is not enough but Jesus is...
If you are being called by God to walk down this path...
Are you ready? If you are not, but you are confident that you are being called to this-- hang on for dear life and you will find a life waiting for you that is so worth living. You will experience the depth of God's provision and grace in ways you did not know existed. You will be amazed at all that God has in store for you...if you are ready to trust Him with all your heart...then you are ready whether you like it or not. You will not walk this journey alone. God will always be there....always. And there are lots of us walking this journey alongside of you...we will be there too.

When I copied this poem I never dreamed how much I would be able to relate to the writer. Is adoption hard? YES! Is it a blessing? YES, a thousand times YES! Even if our path of adoption has not led us where we thought it would... we have encountered things that we never could have envisioned. Who would have thought one could get into so much trouble for seeking help for your hurting child? We didn't know that love is not enough, we were naive enough to think love cures all ills. We thought we were good parents, we knew how to nurture and care for children but we had never encountered children who cannot accept that love. Children who are so hurt they react in pain and fear when you try to give them a hug. Children who do not trust you to keep them safe even after years of safety in your home. Little ones who's eye's light up when you come home from a trip because they thought you weren't coming back...even though you have reassured them time and again that you will always be there for them. Neither did we know the intense joy of having a hurting child throw their arms around your neck and exclaim, "I love you!" The pride you feel when your child accomplishes a milestone that he struggled long and hard to attain and above all, the incredible peace of knowing you are following the Father's leading.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tips From The Mobile Therapsit

I want to share a few things we learned from Braden's MT (mobile therapist - someone who provides therapy in your home). The MT had him pick a color for "mad," "sad," "scared" and "worried." She kept track of the feeling/color combination in her planner where he couldn't see the information. When she came for a new session she would lay out the four colors he had chosen and tell him to draw a picture. He always picked the color that went with how he was feeling at the moment! If he was feeling angry the picture was drawn with a blue crayon, when he was happy he chose the yellow crayon. So even though he couldn't always tell us how he was feeling beyond "mad" we could discern his emotions by the color crayon he chose. At the Empowered To Connect Seminar they told us mad trumps all other feelings. If they are worried, scared, sad etc. their actions will always come out as anger. Miss Sharon taught Braden that he can have several feelings at once something I never thought to teach him as I assumed he would know that. For instance you can be excited about going to school but you may also feel a little scared and worried about how the day will go.
   For a long time we didn't know what was wrong with Braden and tried pretty much anything that we felt would benefit him. He could be awful for me during the day and when Dean came home he would pull his "sad little boy" act. Dean tried to be extra loving and patient with Braden when he was home in an attempt to get close to him. Braden took this to mean that dad was on his team, not mom's.  One day Braden's therapist had him draw a picture of our family. He drew Dean and himself really big, his siblings smaller and mom laying on the floor. The therapist interpreted the drawing for me. Braden felt he was equal with Dean but mom was someone to kick around and walk over. After talking it over, Dean pulled Braden aside and said, "From now on mom and I are a team, when you give mom a hard time, I will take care of the problem when I come home from work." Almost overnight Braden began giving Dean the "RAD" treatment, defiance, willful disobedience, antagonizing him, nonsense chatter. The therapist also told me it is not wise to have a child who has RAD sit between his parents, something we often did especially when we were away to keep interference from non family members and triangulation to a minimum. The next time Braden attempted to wedge himself between Dean and I, Dean calmly told Braden to sit on the other side of him. You could see the wheels turning in his mind, mom and dad are onto that tactic time to try something else. That something else was asking lots of questions, anything to keep the parents from talking together, he needed to have the focus be on him.
   I use Braden as an example in various scenario's to give people a picture of what it is like to live with a child who suffers from RAD. Most of the examples are negative but that doesn't mean we never had good times with him. Granted, they were few and far between but we love him because he is our son and we believe God placed him in our family for a reason. One happy memory we have is from a short vacation we took to Chincoteague one summer. Braden loved the ocean. He would squeal with glee when the waves rolled over him. Dean and I stood on the sand and just watched him. Dean said, "I think for once Braden is truly happy!" Braden wasn't able to enjoy presents because he felt he didn't deserve them and if he accepts something from mom and dad that might make the bond begin to grow. The ocean was one gift we could "give" him and he could accept it without reserve.

Children on the beach 2012.