Wednesday, December 30, 2015

God Loves Broken People!

This quote came up on my FB page this morning and it went so well with the things I have been pondering lately. Things like life, love, morality, our purpose on earth.... that kind of thing.
     Some of our experiences and the way we worked through them have made others question our integrity. Being placed under that kind of scrutiny makes you question your own motives, especially when you honestly want to do what is right. It is good to stand back and take a good look at your life from time to time and these experiences made us do just that. It also made us aware how much our decisions affect those around us. It is easy to think our choices don't make a difference in the world around us, we are just one small person after all. 
   I have been wondering what is my purpose? Am I fulfilling that purpose? In our human weakness we think, "If God would have prevented xyz from happening, wouldn't I be able to do greater things? If I wouldn't have such and such a happening in my past my witness would be so much more effective."
   Sadly that is where my thoughts have been wanting to go lately. God brought me up short when he reminded me that God uses broken people to do his work. The first step is being broken before God, repenting of our sins, then rising up and following him. 
    When we accept Christ, we will continue to face trials, but the redeeming factor is that God can use the very things that break us to glorify his name and further sanctify us. 
   We have all encountered those people who went through great trials, their witness is so much sweeter because they have allowed God to use their brokenness for his purposes. 
   So can being broken can be a good thing for the christian? We all cringe from pain be it physical or emotional. Could it be that pain is a blessing in disguise? 
   For some of us being broken is God's way of moving us out of our comfort zone and into a position that we never would have considered had we been left to go on with our comfortable routine.
   For others, God may need to break us before we can fully realize the joy and peace he has in store for us.
   Still others may feel like Abraham of old, offering up their Isaac to show their love for God. Their Isaac was their most treasured possessions, one God had blessed. Maybe their Isaac was only achieved after they lay down their own hearts desires. When they aligned their will to God's, joy flooded their hearts, but now God is asking for that very thing they sacrificed so much to gain.
  The "breaking process" is so hard, one we cringe from but God uses our very brokenness to meet the needs of a broken world. God loves broken people!

Monday, December 28, 2015

December Photo's And A Thank You

December In Picture's...

                           School Program

                     Dean shot a deer and made jerky

Kiana made a card for Joseph and he wrote this in return!

 Joseph doing "dish duty"

Christmas at my parents. Tristan got a 2lb gummi bear

Time for the quarterly med check...Kiana reading stories to Lia 

The poor falling apart gingerbread house the children decorated

Signing Christmas cards for their classmates

A very blurry pic of Tristan ready to go to his first Christmas Party...as an employee!

Lia trying to stay awake while we sang Christmas Carols

Joseph and his beloved marble roller

Lia got a "Doctor Coat" for Christmas....we are all a little weary of playing doctor.

Lego Friends!

Remote Control Tractor

Thank you for all the prayers, cards, meals and gifts you have given to us over the past year(s). We cannot thank you enough. Those kindnesses shed a ray of sunlight on some very dark days, brightening them in ways that only caring people can. 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Our First Christmas After An Adoption Dissolution

      Christmas is all about love and forgiveness, two things that we as Christians are called to practice. Two things that can bring a lot of pain and guilt when you have recently disrupted the adoption of a child whom you fully intended to call your son as long as God grants you life.
   Last night after the children had gone to bed Dean and I talked about B and tried to make sense of our emotions.

So what is the first Christmas after disruption like?  To answer that question, here is a glimpse into our lives the past weeks.....

 When we sat down to open presents and a child counted everyone and said, "We are all here." My heart ached.

When a mom took her life a few weeks before Christmas because it was just "too much." I shivered because I know her desperation all to well.

When someone gave us a special gift, to let us know they care, we felt blessed.

When we took family pictures and ours has four children instead of five, I cried.

When I read a joyful adoption announcement, I felt torn inside. I want to be happy for them but instead I feel fear.

When I was folding socks and saw Josephs threadbare socks I was reminded that he used to get the hand me downs from two big brothers, not anymore.

Other years we had three children the same age for the last week of December and the first two weeks of January, but not anymore.

When I face another day of sitting on the sofa doing nothing because it hurts to move and I am so tired, I battle bitterness.

When Lia told a new friend, "I have two brothers and one sister," I want to tell the woman that we used to have three boys.

When someone told me, "You need to do what is right for your family," when talking about Christmas plans, my heart was warmed.

When I took Joseph for an evaluation, I was reminded of the many, many such appointments I attended for B. All those new doctors I took him too, all the times I asked the doctor questions to see how much they really understood about RAD. I feel as if all the time and headaches were for naught.

 When Joseph has, "a moment," and I am thrown back in time to another little boy who looked just like him, I panic and tell Dean I need some space. Dean calmly takes over and I have a good cry.

When I sweep my family room floor and remember B helping Dean put it in place, my heart hurts.

When I cleaned my kitchen chairs and saw the teeth marks on the back of a chair, I remember the rage that produced those marks and thank God that we have moved beyond that time in our life.

Whenever B's name comes up, I cry. Somewhere I read this quote: You know you have healed from your pain when talking about it no longer brings tears. Sometimes I think I cry more for B now than I ever did while he was at home.

When all the children are playing peacefully, I thank God because it wasn't always this way. B couldn't tolerate peacefulness so he intentionally caused chaos.

....and that is how we felt this Christmas season.... 

Blessed - because of God's Gift of Jesus

Sad - because we are a family of 6 instead of 7

Guilty - because this was never how it was supposed to be.

Relieved - because the responsibility of parenting B is no longer our's

Weary - because of all the emotional pain of the past years.

Thankful - because God found a family that is able to meet B's needs when we no longer could.

Monday, December 21, 2015

I Hate It Here! How To Help Your Child When He Is Melting Down

    The saying, "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence," can be true for everyone but I honestly think those afflicted with FASD get a double dose of the disorder. I know it is partly due to their inability to understand cause and effect and partly because they struggle to understand their world but even knowing that doesn't make parenting these children easy.
   Mr. Joseph cannot understand rules, thus he hates them with a passion. Unfortunately, rules are a part of everyone's life, especially for the group of people classed as children!
   The other day, he melted down when I told him it was nap time. "I hate naps! I wish there wasn't anything like them, I don't know why you always say I need them cause I am not even tired!!!!!" This is the slightly sanitized version of words that came spewing from his mouth.
   I did the connected parenting thing and acknowledged his dislike of naps, offered him a drink, a snack and offered to tuck him in, but he wasn't buying any of it. I ended up putting him in his bed and letting him scream it out. When he calmed down enough to talk I sat on his bed and tried to help him understand why he needs a nap. When will I learn to save my breath? 
    "I hate it here I am going to find a place that doesn't have rules!" He declared. 
   "I will miss my Joseph but if you want, I will help you pack your clothing," I offered. "Do you want me to pack some food for you?" We have found that calling Joseph's bluff while assuring him that we will miss him usually puts out the blaze. I don't recommend doing this unless your child has a decent attachment and you know he will accept it in the right way.
   Joseph huffed n sighed for a bit then said, "I don't have anywhere to go cause I can't walk far." 
   "Not a problem," I assured him, "I will drive you but I must tell you that wherever you go, there will be rules just like at home. Rules about taking naps, speaking kindly and not running in the house. In fact, if you move, you might have even more rules."
   Joseph didn't like the sound of that at all. "Well I could go live in the woods, there wouldn't be any rules there."
   "True," I agreed, "But what about food, where will you get more when you run out?"
   He thought for awhile and said, "I would live in the woods if Lia would go with me but she won't so I can't!" I had to smile but didn't let him know it, he was backing down and saving his ego at the same time.
   "I have a better idea," I said, "How about you live here and be my Joseph cause I would miss you so much if you lived in the woods."
   He had to agree that I had a good idea but he made sure I understood that he still wasn't going to sleep. "That's okay," I assured him, "As long as you lay quietly and rest." He didn't sleep but he was quiet so I guess we both won! Best of all, he gave me a hug when nap time was over and we were "friends" again, until the next time he didn't understand something then we began the whole thing all over again.

   If you are like me, you get a little or a lot, weary of these and similar issues. For the child with RAD, he honestly wishes for a new family so he wouldn't have to exert all his time and mental energy in to keeping up the wall around his heart.
   If your child has trouble understanding the world around him like Joseph does, the desire to move away probably has more to do with his feeling overwhelmed and misunderstood. Give your child a voice, empathize with them, tell them you are sorry they feel this way but they must do as they are told. 
   Cold water will sometimes turn Joseph around. Be it a cold drink, tossing a few drops of water at him or letting him swim in the pool, water has the ability to pull him out of whatever funk he is stuck in. For that reason alone we wish we had an indoor pool, where he could swim to his hearts content. 
   Sometimes, the child needs the release tears and screaming can bring. I know I tend to feel better after a good cry.
    Exercise is also a good way to help your child feel better, although they have to be willing to participate, something that is usually impossible once they have reached the meltdown stage. If your child is able, have them jump on a trampoline, do jumping jacks or run laps.
   Joseph's therapist has him "push a wall over" to get the deep sensory input he craves. The only trouble was, Joseph watched Dean push over a block wall a few days previously and he was to scared to try for fear the whole building would come down on him! I explained that the wall daddy pushed over was loose blocks, nothing like the strong wall his therapist wanted him to "push over." 
    Sometimes his weighted blanket or chewy beads help calm him, other times he wants nothing to do with them. Wrapping my arms tightly around him is another way for him to experience deep muscle input.
   Every child is different and this time of year will have you pulling out all of your tricks but remember: This is not about you, it is about trauma, brain damage and fear, deep set fear.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Holiday Drama

The Christmas Drama has begun, la la la la! The tears are bigger, the wails louder, the shrieks reach a higher pitch and anything, nothing and everything will trigger them.

Sometimes Dean and I smile, shake our heads and plow head first into the next drama, other times we tag team. He takes one, I take the next one and so on.

I know trauma is the root of the drama but I just get tired of it, you know? I wish for their sake as well as for ours that they could bury the pain and loss for once and for all. 

    This is a glimpse into what we have been doing the past week or two. God has blessed me with some good days this week, what a blessing.
Lia made me a necklace

Blurry Picture of the cowgirl that came to visit

Joseph the shepherd boy

We went to Journey To Bethlehem with friends

Making White Chocolate Chex Mix for the neighbors

Tristan and Lia

Friday, December 18, 2015

Please Don't Correct Me Correcting My Kids...A Post From A Fellow Blogger

I am sharing the following post with permission from the author. 

You can find her blog here.

Please Don't Correct me Correcting my Kids

I am normally very open to criticism.  As I flounder through this world of parenting I need all the help I can get.  I am constantly seeking the advice of those who have done this thing right, as well as those who haven't but wish they had.  If I'm seriously doing something to mess up my kids, I'd like to be the first to know about it so I can change it before it's too late.

However, when it comes to my Haitian children, unless you have walked in my shoes or have professional experience I more than likely will withhold asking your opinion on how to handle them.  This is in no way intended to be rude, but you simply don't understand and you will make the wrong call almost every time because you will want to parent them as you would a child who hasn't endured the trauma and issues with attachment they have.   Despite how long you have been a parent, I more than likely know more about what is best in any given situation regarding them than you do. Soo....

Unless you have put hours and hours into studying the affects of trauma on the infant and childhood brain, I don't want to hear it.

Unless you have endured daily meltdowns from my children and sweated, talked, hugged and worked through it with them for hours, I don't want to hear it.

Unless you have already tried the traditional parenting strategies over and over to see them fail and worsen the issues, I don't want to hear it.

4 simple things you DON'T understand about my children:

1.  His need to manipulate and control is insatiable.  And you will not see him doing it...I do.
      So when you see me correcting how slow he is in getting into the car, or putting his shoes on, please don't ask me to be patient with him.  Everything must be on his time so as to show HE is in control, not others.  Allow me to correct him in a way that shows I love him, I am in control and he  is truly better off that way.

2.  He wants YOU to be his mother.
      When my child wants a play date at your house, I will more than likely decline.  My son wants desperately to be a part of your family (whoever you are...) so as not to have to do the hard work of trusting his own family to love and care for him.  This sounds crazy to you, but it is so very true...please trust me.  There are some people who are a threat to our bonding as a family and some who aren't.  Time spent with certain people will throw him into a tizzy that takes a great deal of time, love, and patience to work through to bring him back to a place where he wants me to be his mom again.  Please trust me to decide what is best regarding with who and how he spends his time..

3.  He doesn't trust adults.  Any of them.  Ever.  Not you, not me.
        My children truly think they know more than you or I do about everything.  So when his soccer coach tells him how to play his position, he won't do it.  He truly believes he knows more than the coach and what is best so he is in CONTROL.  As a young child, adults around him rarely had his best interest at heart.  He has learned to rely on himself as they proved unreliable at almost every turn.  He is slowly learning what he never learned as a young child;  God intended for adults to protect, love and nurture him.  He now lives in a world where adults being in control is what is best for him because they are reliable and he can depend on them.

4.  Issues with food are real, difficult, and irrational.
     When you see me correcting what you may perceive as the nit pickiest little thing about how and what they eat, it's because I have a wealth of information you are not privy to.  You haven't seen the true fear in their eyes when they find out a meal might be delayed or when others are helping themselves to pizza and quantities are diminishing. You haven't seen the obsession with food that, without intervention, would quickly take over their lives in a truly dysfunctional way.  My children have suffered true hunger in a way your children never have.  Food will incite their survival instinct faster than anything else.  I am using food to teach them to trust.

Lest you think I write this post in vain, let me share one of many experiences with you.  People, strangers even, feel the need to correct my parenting of these two on a regular basis and feel the need to intervene in ways they never would have regarding my biological children.  For example, After my 10 year old son deliberately and harshly splashed a toddler in the face at a public pool, I gave him a stern talking to and had him sit out of the pool in the shade for awhile.  He later pointed out a lady who came to him while he was sitting down and asked him if I was his mother, if he was alright, and if he needed help.  This lady has no idea that she played right into his manipulative, controlling, little hand.  His hand of wanting to manipulate any given situation where he is in control, appearing as a victim of undue parental aggression in his life, and bonding with strangers instead of his family.  She had NO idea the damage she incurred that I spent the next however long undoing.

I've stopped trying to explain to people.  I'm tired of being brushed off as an over-thinking, over-analytical, over-protective, irrational mother who is blowing things out of proportion. When I say I need to be the one to fix his plate at potluck, I do.  When I say he can't ride in your car with you to the store, he can't.  When I say he needs to sit by me instead of you or your child, he does.  I'm not being over-anything, I am simply trying to help our family survive and teach my children how to love and be loved.  I'm simply trying to avoid a meltdown that you won't be there to deal with the next day.

 I could explain to you the reasoning behind all of this dysfunction and I welcome the invitation to educate however I can.  There are thousands of families dealing with adopted children, children from foster care, or children who have endured a great deal of trauma in their little lives who would love for you to understand and support them better.  However, that is another blog.  I simply want to put this out there so those who don't deal with kids like mine on a regular basis can understand better how to support and help families who do.

We have progressed immensely together over the last 3 years, our family.  All of us have grown in our capacity for compassion, understanding, and unconditional love.  I'm so proud of all of my children and my husband who have worked so hard to understand, tolerate, and learn to love each other.  I am grateful to those around us who do understand, who have been a pillar when I have needed it.  I am grateful for those who don't understand but have taken the time to listen, put their hurt feelings aside and trust that I know what's best.  And I'm thankful for the lady at the pool, who gave me an opportunity to educate a little bit about this crazed world that we who have taken on this adventure live in every day. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Joseph's Appointment At Kennedy Kreiger Institute

Yesterday was Joseph's long awaited appointment at Kennedy Kreiger Institute. We waited 6 months plus for them to call to schedule an appointment as they only schedule three months ahead. In September they called and scheduled an appointment for December 15. At the time, December seemed like a long way into the future but as always, time moved on and now it is history.
  We were hoping for a diagnosis of FASD but are struggling to get it because Joseph does not have the facial abnormalities that typically go with the fetal alcohol. Someone asked why we are seeking a diagnosis, simply put, we want a paper trail as well as a name that can clarify Joseph's actions if the time comes when we need it.

This isn't a very good picture but it will give you an idea what the children's waiting area looks like. Joseph loved it.

   A year ago I took Joseph to CHOP (Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia) and they said he has a mood disorder. That didn't feel right to us so when I heard favorable reports about Kennedy Kreiger Institute, I made an appointment.
   It was very interesting to sit in on the evaluation and watch Joseph at work. His balance and muscle strength have greatly improved thanks to weekly OT. 
   Like most children who were exposed to alcohol in utero, Joseph detests rules. He feels they were designed to make his life miserable and perhaps if he fights against them long enough, they will go away. That mentality earned him a diagnosis of ODD, which we do not agree with. Joseph's inability to understand cause and effect make it impossible for him to understand rules. 
  He was also diagnosed with encephalopathy which, I have been told, may be better than the FASD diagnosis we went for as the medical world is more likely to recognize it.  
   He also has anxiety, which is very understandable considering the way his brain works. The doctor highly recommended anti anxiety medication as well as something for his ADHD. I need to find a knowledgeable, trustworthy psychiatrist who will help us know if medication is truly in Joseph's best interest. 

Waiting for the doctor to come in. Joseph thought I could lay down and sleep awhile. Leaving at 6:30 am made for a long day!

We stopped at Burger King for lunch and Joseph felt that was enough to make the long drive worthwhile!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Quilt Of Holes

Sometimes parenting children with special needs feels well, hopeless. Day after day finds you trying to meet their needs while you are empty and needy yourself. I think especially of those who have children with RAD. They face a hidden darkness and pain that threatens to pull them under. I pray this poem would encourage us all to continue with the mundane tasks of life.

                         Quilt Of Holes

As I faced my Maker at the Last Judgement, I knelt before the Lord with all the other souls.

Before each of us laid our lives like the squares of a quilt in many piles; an angel sat before each of us sewing our quilt patches together into a tapestry that is our life.

But as my angel took each piece of cloth off the pile, I noticed how ragged and empty each of my squares was. They were filled with giant hoes. Each square was labeled with a part of my life that had been difficult, the challenges and temptations I was faced with in every day life. I saw hardships which I had endured, which were the largest holes of all.

I glanced around me. No one else had such squares....other than a tiny hole here and there, the other tapestries were filled with rich color and the bright hues of worldly fortune. I gazed upon my own life and was disheartened.

My angel was sewing the ragged pieces of cloth together, threadbare and empty, like binding air.

Finally the time came when each life was to be displayed, held up to the light, the scrutiny of truth. The others rose; each in turn, holding up their tapestries, so full their lives had been...My angel looked upon me and nodded for me to rise.

My gaze dropped to the ground in shame. I hadn't had all the earthly fortunes. I had love in my life, and laughter. But there had also been trials of illness and wealth and false accusations that took me from my world as I knew it. I had to start over many times. I often struggled with temptation to quit, only to somehow muster the strength to pick up and begin again. I spent many nights on my knees in prayer asking for help and guidance in my life. I had often been held up to ridicule, which I endured painfully, each time lifting it up to the Father in hopes that I would not melt within my skin beneath the judgmental gaze of those who unfairly judged me.

And now, I had to face the truth. My life was what it was, and I had to accept it for what it was. 

I rose and slowly lifted the the combined squares of my life and lifted it to the light. An awe filled gasp filled the air. I gazed around at the others who stared at me with wide open eyes.

Then, I looked upon the tapestry before me. Light flooded the many holes, creating an image, the face of Christ. Then our Lord stood before me, with warmth and love in his eyes. He said, "Every time you gave over your life to Me, it became My life, My hardships and My struggles.

Each point of light in your life is when you stepped aside and let Me shine through, until there was more of Me than there was of you."

May all our quilts be threadbare and worn, allowing Christ to shine through!

Friday, December 11, 2015

New Treatment For Eczema

     One of the most frustrating parts of parenting a child with special needs is the paperwork. Scheduling appointments, making sure you have the right papers for the right doctor as well as a host of previous test results can give me a head ache. Someone wisely told me to buy a ring binder and keep all pertinent papers in plastic sleeves inside the binder. I am so glad I did. I have my phone numbers, immunization records, birth records, any and all evaluations, everything goes into that binder and I grab it whenever I take Joseph to an appointment. It will also provide a paper trail if the time were to come that we need one.
   The most frustrating part of all is dealing with insurance companies. I despise "arguing" with them over my child's treatment and whether or not we need a referral and if so, from who and when. Anyone want a job?
   On a brighter note, I had Joseph at the dermatologist in preparation for an upcoming evaluation. His eczema is being very stubborn and refusing to clear up and I wanted proof that we are under a doctors care. Am I paranoid? Perhaps, but anyway, the doctor told me that there is a new theory/treatment that dermatologists are recommending for eczema...bleach baths. They have discovered that children with eczema, who swim in pools over the summer often have healthier skin (or lack of eczema). He said this treatment works for about 75% of patients, so guess what we are going to be doing? I will let you know how it pans out.
   When the doctor left the room Joseph turned to me and said, "That man told us to try things before and nothing ever works, this probably won't either!" Poor boy.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Emotional Impact Of Trauma Work In Parents Of Children From Hard Places

Compassion Fatigue: fatigue, emotional distress or apathy resulting from the constant demands of caring for others or from constant appeals from charities.

I found the following from an article on fatigue in the medical field: Most nurses enter the field of nursing with the intent to help others, and provide empathetic care for patients.... I think foster and adoptive parents begin taking in children with the same goal in mind, but like the nurses, if we aren't careful we too become victims of Compassion Fatigue.

Why? What are we doing wrong? Where does the break occur? What can be done to prevent this from happening? Social Services, adoption agencies and mental health groups are beginning to ask these questions, some more adamantly than others.

I am convinced better training would go a long way. Foster and adoptive parents need to understand connected parenting before bringing troubled children into their home. Even if the child is a newborn, parents need to understand attachment, how to build it and why it is so crucial, as well as what can happen if attachment does not occur. I know everyone wants to avoid labeling children who are in foster care as different but you must realize that these children have experienced trauma which is why they need to be parented differently. Parents need to understand that, sadly we didn't.

Don't take more than one child in to your home at a time for long term/adoptive placements. Siblings who have experienced trauma together can have what therapists call a Trauma Bond. The children bond through the pain they went through together. They keep recreating, triggering that pain in each other to keep that bond alive. Children who come into our homes through foster care can be exceptionally needy. For some children it is best to be an only child, when you get a sibling group, you have to spread yourself really thin and you may find it difficult to reach around.

To help a child work through their trauma, you must walk beside them mentally and emotionally as they process what has happened. When you have multiple children with PTSD and trauma, you will soon find yourself burning out. Put your child in respite, give yourself a break. Respite should be mandatory but take note that I am saying this in hindsight, I wouldn't have agreed with myself 5 years ago!

Social workers and caseworkers need to understand how mental health and trauma affect children and the families who are now parenting them. Parents need to be taken seriously when they have a need. I know the mental health system is clogged with traumatized and mentally ill children and it isn't always possible to find a bed for a child who needs help, but neither should foster/adoptive parents be left hanging in limbo with a child who is unstable.

Joining a support group for parents of children with similar needs is also beneficial. Just knowing you are not alone in the craziness can do a lot to eliminate caregiver fatigue. Emotional support is an absolute necessary.

Know your limits. When we went into foster care we saw hurting children and wanted to do everything we could to help them, never thinking of the toll it would take on our health. I know I say it time and again but, "Know your limit, you can do more harm than good by ignoring it."

Image result for trauma burnout.

*I am throwing out advice, but I must admit we didn't follow these guidelines. In hindsight, I know I wouldn't be so burned out if we would have done things differently but we didn't know better.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Relating To Our Children From Hard Places At Christmas

Christmas that wonderful time of year when stores are filled with toys, music and lights, there are family gatherings, class parties, gifts and food, plus blinking lights are glowing from houses as we drive by.

   Christmas, the time of year when meltdowns and tantrums intensify, when already hyper alert children are even more overstimulated than usual and sugar and special treats are handed out freely. The time of year when the typical child can easily become overwhelmed and children who find daily life a challenge are left reeling.

I know it sometimes looks like we are depriving our children when we say no to a treat you want to give them or when we remove the toy with lights and sounds and give them a book to read instead. If I may, I want to give you a little insight into why we parent our children differently than the typical child as well as explaining why we stick rigidly to our "rules."

Children with FASD and/or attachment disorders need 24/7 supervision. That level of supervision is not learned in one day, one week or even a year. We have been parenting children that need this level of supervision for a number of years and quite frankly, we have a long way to go. So, even though you may think you will keep an eye on my child, and I don't doubt you will do your best... we know how quickly he can get into trouble when your back is turned.

Our child isn't trying to be "naughty" he simply has no sense of cause and effect. Which may not sound like a big deal but our child doesn't understand that he will get burned if he touches the flame on a candle or that throwing heavy toys down the stairs could hurt someone. Our son is 8 but he needs to be watched and cared for like a 3 or 4 year old, something that is easy to forget.

Sugar. Our son and one daughter don't tolerate sugar very well, however another daughter calms down when when she has sugar and caffeine (in moderation). So if you want to give our child a treat ask first. Our children won't be embarrassed nor will they feel like they are being deprived when we say no to your request. Oh they might grumble and fuss but they know why we say have to say no sometimes. If you give my child a treat that I know will affect his mood, attitude or behavior and I have to take it, he will feel worse than if he never had it at all. Our son may ask you for food but please ask us before you give him anything because he does not know when he has had enough. Nor is he above asking you for more food when we have told him he has enough. 

Toys that make noise easily overstimulate our son. Please don't be offended if we turn down the toys you give him and choose something quiet instead.

If you want to spend sometime with our son such as reading him a story or playing a game, feel free to ask and please don't be offended if we say no. 

Our son does best when playing one on one. If he is playing with a friend and when your child joins in, we tell our son to play by our side, please don't think it is because of your child. See, our son has a hard time following social cues and trying to keep up with more than one friend makes his brain work overtime and he is soon into trouble or becomes upset.

We may appear overly strict about following rules and bedtimes. We would love to slack off over the holidays but our children do best when we keep them on a schedule. I am not talking about having a grumpy child the next day because he got to bed late the night before, but about the child who will struggle mentally and emotionally for a week or more.

Our children know we keep a close eye on them because we love them and want what is best for them. Nevertheless, because of their early childhood experiences, they know that there are parents do not always take care of their children, so they are quick to doubt our love. When the other adults in their lives are willing to abide by our decisions, it goes a long way in building trust. They are able to view adults as a united group who really care about them, instead of people to divide and conquer.

We would like nothing more than to have our children run and play with their little friends but first they need to learn boundaries both for their safety and for your child's safety. We are striving to teach our children that mom and dad meet their needs. While it may look like they no longer struggle in that area, the truth is, while they may not remember what happened when they were babies their bodies remember and the feelings of neglect and fear can be triggered by a seemingly harmless interaction and we need to continue practicing the safety measures we put in place until the child has healed from his trauma.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

At The Cross Roads, When Is It Time To Change The Goal's When Parenting A Child With RAD?

A little over a year ago Dean and I went to TAP (The Attachment Place) to discuss B's future. We as parents take our children's future into our hands every day when we make decisions for their care and schooling, but this was different. 

   We knew the words that were said that day would make a huge difference in B's life, they could shift the scales towards healing or take away his only chance of healing.

   When do you say, enough? Is it morally right to hand over your child to another set of parents? What is our obligation to this child, especially since we promised to love and care for him....or could finding him a new family be considered loving him?

   We analyzed the situation from every angle, prayed over it, talked to doctors, psychiatrists, therapists and "experienced parents." 

   Here is what we came up with, in part:
-B did not trust us, because I took him for visits with his bio parents who had hurt him. In his childish mind, I wasn't protecting him. He was guarding his heart when he came to us and those visits proved what he knew all along, adults are not to be trusted.
-The other children were losing trust in us because we weren't keeping them safe from B.
- 4 years of therapy, 2 of those years were intense therapy hadn't been enough to break through his barriers.
- Children with FASD cannot understand cause and effect so he didn't have the ability to link his behavior with consequences and felt that the world was out to get him.
-Medication didn't help his anxiety. Children with FASD metabolize medication differently than you or I, which makes it very difficult to find something that works.
-Nurture helped as long as it wasn't Dean and I offering the nurture. Remember he didn't trust us.
-He knew he had wronged his siblings and even though they forgave him, they couldn't trust him and he wasn't emotionally healthy enough to work at regaining their trust. 

In the midst of it all was the fear that we had failed him. God knew how hard we tried, how many prayers ascended to the throne on B's behalf and how many gallons of tears we cried. In spite of it all, B hadn't healed, that meant we failed. Such a bitter word, FAILED! 

We knew that for B to heal he would have to be in a place where he was able to take in love and nurture. A place where he could make a fresh start........ But that meant letting go of our hopes and dreams..... it meant a future without us playing a major role in B's life, it meant we had failed.

   RAD is hard, tough, yucky, stressful and among the very worst of childhood mental disorders. We have very few good memories of B but he was ours and even though many days found me in tears and pain, we had hope that things would get better. Maybe a new therapy would be discovered, something that would reach the little boy locked inside...maybe B would open his heart just a bit and we could wiggle inside and help him heal....

That November day found us facing the bare facts, B didn't and most likely would never trust us. We had tried medication, therapy upon therapy, out of home treatment, taken him to more doctors and for more evaluations than I can count and we still couldn't bring him home.

 Now what? We had tried harder for years, was it time to look away and pass on the responsibility?

The weight of the decision we knew we had to make concerning of B's future, felt overwhelming. We felt inadequate to make the call that would forever change our lives as well as B's.

 We prayed that if it was God's plan for B to move on, that he would have someone step forward. We laid out our fleece before him, then stepped back to see what would happen, we stepped back while fear bit and snarled at our heels like a wild animal. What if no one came forward? What if....???

 Several weeks later, the call that changed our lives and B's future came...there was a family who met all of our specifications and more and they wanted to give B a home. This family was as perfect as humanly possible. God had provided. For so long we felt like Abraham, offering our "Issac," wondering how God would provide and when he did, we were awe struck. Like Dean said, "It makes you feel really small, when God comes through and gives you more than you even thought to ask for."

B has been with his new family for several weeks and now we are trying to piece our lives back together. Trying to find a new normal amidst the feelings of relief, guilt and grief. Like every other grieving person, we have days where we praise God for his goodness, days where the sun shines and our hearts rejoice. But then there are days where the sun is hidden behind black clouds of pain and we battle the inevitable emotions that flood over us. There is also all the trauma from the past years to work through. When we were too traumatized to process it, the pain got stuffed into corners and now it is coming out in force. I am continually amazed at the clarity of the memories. I literally feel like I am in the midst of the scene's I remember. My heart races, I break out in a cold sweat and panic sets in. My hope is that as time passes those scene's will fade and we can move on. 

But for now, we still cry and I write jumbled blog posts..... signs that we have a good deal of healing ahead of us! :)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

15" Sensory Bead Sale!!

                               20% off sale                              
Order two or more beads from the color scheme's listed below and receive 20% off your order!

Sale runs from November 26- November 30

15" necklace - $15 plus shipping (sale does not include 10" size)

To order: email me @ sensorybeads@gmail.com

Order now and receive them in time for Christmas!






Sensory beads are designed for the child with oral sensory needs. Does your child chew on his clothing, pencils or fingers, try sensory beads! They are also great for teething babies. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Two Years Ago

   Two years ago I was on my way to TAP to pick up Braden for his first home visit. We had high hopes that he would heal and while we were nervous about this first home visit, we thought he was on the road to healing.
  Today I am holding down the sofa, counting the hours until daddy comes home. 
    Here is the post I wrote about Braden's home visit: Bradens Home Visit

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Fatigue Times Ten

     The fatigue that blindsided me the past weeks, caught me by surprise. There have been many times through the years when a debilitating fatigue has come and settled in for a lengthy visit. The kind of tiredness that makes me set the cruise coming up the drive and looking forward to surgery because I know I can sleep as much as I wish. 
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       This week has me envying the animals that have the privilege of hibernating all winter. Wouldn't it be wonderful to sleep for months on end?

    Mom's who have been through similar circumstances said, "Give yourself time, it will get better... maybe in a year." I wanted to cry, a year?!! 
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    I thought handing Braden's care onto someone else would bring healing and I could relax, I didn't think I be so tired I can hardly function. I guess all the years of being strong, of constantly being on guard for the next problem and trying to make everything okay have taken a larger toll than I thought.
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    The quote about resting after a shower is meant to be humorous but sadly there is a lot of truth in it.

   My friend had an awesome analogy: If there is an accident and someone is trapped beneath a vehicle, rescuers can lift that vehicle off the victim, thanks to the surge of adrenaline they 
experience, but afterward they are exhausted. Parenting a child with RAD is like constantly lifting that car, our bodies are designed to endure bursts of adrenaline to help us in dangerous situations but we were not created for a constant flow of adrenaline. 
   Eventually our adrenal glands deplete themselves, and most times that is when people crash and get the rest and help they need. But when you are a mom and responsible for the care and safety of an emotionally unstable child, you keep going because the alternative is....well, there isn't an alternative. Mom is the one who must care for the child if he is to have a chance at healing. 
   Then when the responsibility of your child's care is transferred to other capable shoulders, you anticipate, at least I did, more energy and the desire to enlarge your relationships, instead you get debilitating fatigue. Yuck!

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"I am so happy I got this debilitating fatigue so I can stay in bed for the rest of my life instead of participating in society," said no tired person ever.

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Blessed By Others

    Braden and the help we sought for him has always been a controversial subject, but one Dean and I, especially me, need to talk about so we can understand and process what we are experiencing.      The subject was met with a variety of responses; skepticism, doubt, pity, sympathy and the list goes on. Not that we blame anyone for their response, we responded the same way to some of the things that happened before our eyes, wondering if what we witnessed was in reality or a dream. 
   Because of our previous experiences, we were hesitant to share that Braden would be moving to a new family, even though we knew we were making the best choice for him. When your heart is hurting it is scary making yourself vulnerable to further pain. Last night I was pondering this and God impressed upon my heart that this fear was the very same fear Braden faced. The fear of rejection, the fear of further pain, only he didn't have a support system ( well, he did, he just didn't view us as such!) like Dean and I do. People we can go to, people who will pray for us, share their concerns and no matter the outcome, will support  and walk alongside us. I can't imagine going through life without that. Add to it the fact that Braden is just a child, one who trusts no one and it is very easy to see why he struggles.
   All that to say, we have been so blessed by the outpouring of love, prayers and support in the past weeks. People have gone out of their way to show they care and it has brought us to our knees in thankfulness time and again. What did we do to deserve such blessings? Thank you to everyone who reached out to us, may you be richly blessed!

Flowers from our church family