Wednesday, October 28, 2015

RAD And Unconditional Love

     Can anything good come from RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder)? The immediate response that comes after such a question is, "No, absolutely not!" RAD has torn strong family's apart, destroyed relationships, had parents charged with false allegations, ruined millions of dollars in property and the emotional toll on caregivers is incalculable BUT......

   For the christian who desire's to become more like Christ, RAD does give one thing, the opportunity to practice unconditional love. Think about it, in most situations you have the opportunity to either remove yourself from an abusive situation or your home or job can be your refuge. You are comforted and given space to work through your emotions, not so with RAD.

      When you parent a child with RAD, you get the brunt of the abuse but since this is a child and you are the parent, well obviously the problem lies with you.

     You need to keep a constant eye on your child so babysitters are generally not an option. There is always professional respite care but these folks are mandated reporters and your child will lie and falsely accuse you so unless you trust someone explicitly, that might not be an option either.

   You need to take your child's abuse with a smile on your face, calmness of heart and without a word of anger or frustration... if you want your child to heal, which you do with all your heart.

     Seldom do you have someone in your home who shamelessly and relentlessly tries to tear your marriage apart. A little pint sized or adult sized individual who seeks out opportunities to get between you and your spouse.

     But on the bright side parenting a child with RAD will teach you more about human relationships than you ever wanted to know. You will learn to "read" people as well, which by the way is not always a good thing. You will have moment by moment opportunities to choose to love someone you have a difficult time liking.  

    You will learn that love comes in many shapes and sizes, in packages that you would once have considered anything but loving. 

    You will learn to lay aside your own broken heart and help the one who has broken it. 

     You will have many opportunities to consistently practice the golden rule: "Do unto others as ye would have them do unto you. "You will learn to put a smile on your face and have that smile reach your eye's even though your stomach is threatening to consume itself because of the lying and out right hate your child is dishing out. 

    Parenting a child with RAD will either draw you closer to Jesus or push you away. In our experience, for which we are thankful, RAD brought us closer to Jesus. We had to rely on God when we needed answers and there weren't any to be found. Is that such a bad thing? Not at all. 

*disclaimer: this post is written from a RAD parents perspective and is in no way intended to take away from your personal experience. The very same lessons we learned can be learned via many situations and circumstances. God Bless!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Kiana Turned 8!

      Just dropping in to say hi. This week has been wild, even by our standards! We have laughed and cried and felt numb all at once, we have celebrated joyful events and wept over the sad ones. Sometime, hopefully in the near future, I will bring you all up to date, but until then my lack of posts should say it all.

    Kiana celebrated her 8th birthday this week. 8 has been the long anticipated birthday because she can say good bye to her booster seat! No more dragging it along whenever she rides in another vehicle. I think her mom and dad are as happy as she is!
          Brownies with purple icing and candles, this year her birthday cake was very simple.

Everyone likes gifts but this girl LOVES them

New books to read and clothing for her doll. We keep birthdays simple and low key around here because our children do not handle them very well. To much attention and to many memories are a bad mix. That combination calls for meltdowns, tantrums and deep grief. Someday I hope the children will be able to fully enjoy their birthdays but for now we celebrate only as much as they are comfortable with. Even so, Kiana came to me before she went to bed and said, "Mom, birthdays are awful days!" Poor girl!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

It's Been A Long Journey But I've Been Blessed

     Recently we have been encouraging the children to "think about good things" rather than dwell on the negative as they are prone to do. They get "stuck" in trauma mode where they reanalyze their pain and react accordingly. One day I struck upon the bright idea of giving them a good memory in exchange for their bad memories. When one of them is upset about XYZ, I remind them of something good that happened while they were with that person. When they fall back into the rut of anger, self pity or sadness I simply ask, are your remembering the good things or the bad things? They get a sheepish look and I try to take the time to hear them out, discuss their feelings and remind them why it is better to dwell on the good memories.

   This week the children dug out an old CD I have of the Mullet family. They fell in love with the childrens songs on it and God used the same songs to speak to me. The song that goes: "Your walk talks louder than your talk talks." Was a good reminder for me to practice what I preach. This week had it's stressful moments and I had many opportunities to dwell on my blessings instead of my troubles. Another song goes like this: "It's Been A Long Journey, But I've Been Blessed." I cannot help but agree, the last years have been long and tough at times but I AM BLESSED!

...with friends who care. We have been blessed with a meal, two bouquets of flowers and some delicious chocolate and peanut butter popcorn that Dean and I enjoyed in the midst of a stressful day. It was the perfect comfort food!

... a doctor who refilled a prescription for Joseph without asking to see him, thus saving me another appointment.

... Beautiful fall leaves and beautiful autumn days perfect for walking with a friend.

... Dedicated teachers who go out of their way to accommodate each child's individual needs

Pumpkin whoopie pies w/brown butter icing

Lia and I went to a fabric store after dropping the children off at school only to find it didn't open for another half hour, so we got breakfast sandwiches and hash browns.

My lovely daughter Kiana

flowers from a friend

flowers from another friend

Cinnamon rolls. I tried a new recipe. You freeze the unbaked rolls, remove them from the oven 30 minutes before placing them in the oven at 350 degrees for app. 20 minutes. I frosted them with the brown butter icing I had left over from making whoopie pies. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Have You Counted The Cost Of Adoption?

I recently read a post on, Counting The Cost In Adoption and Foster Care. Did you count the cost? I know we didn't. We didn't know there was a cost involved. We thought there would be mutual happiness on both sides of the equation, our side and the child's side. Naive, yes but in a way I am glad we were. Sometimes I like the naive me that I used to be better than the cynical me I am tempted to be sometimes.

   We paid a huge price, loss of trust, our eye's were opened to how untrustworthy "the system" is. We learned that one child can easily ruin a family, we learned how painful it is to nurture and love a child then hold that same child while he or she weeps for their birth parents. Seeing them missing the people who hurt them and refusing our nurturing was and is tough. 

BUT what about the cost your child paid to be a member of your family?

  That thought was hard for us to wrap our minds around. Think about it with me, they lost their birth parents and that is huge. It creates a wound a vacuum that soaks up an adoptive parents energy and empathy like a dry sponge. That wound can heal but the scar will remain for life.

What about the price of "knowing/thinking" you were not wanted by your birth parents. Imagine how hard it would be to love a new set of parents with that thought in mind? Is it any wonder that many of the children who come into our home's have what we call behavior issue's?

Can the price of knowing you are different than your peers be counted? I know that children who are adopted are no different than any other child but the fact remains, they have a past most of us cannot fathom, and that past will affect them. We as parents can build good memories over the bad memories, we can help them work through their emotional pain until it is no longer something that plagues them but it is still there. The scar remains.

  So who pays the highest price? The child who lost everything or the adoptive family who lost everything because they were unprepared for the depth of loss and pain their new child experienced?

  Maybe counting the cost isn't even something that should be discussed since both sides pay a high cost, both sides receive blessings, both sides experience pain but surely something can be done to help pre-adoptive parents prepare for the child who will be coming into their home.

  I know we were totally unprepared. We discussed RAD very briefly in our foster care training but not enough for us to be able to recognize it when it was staring us in the face. Poor Braden suffered more than he would have had to, if only we would have known how to help him. There were so many therapeutic interventions that we could have used if we had known about them. I remember asking his caseworker for advice and she brushed me off saying he was a typical toddler. Our instinct told us differently.

  My heart cries out that there has to be a better way to go into foster care or adoption. Not all but many, parents and children are set up to fail because they do not know enough about the world they are entering to know how to count the cost. They are like we once were, naive and out to "save the world." 
   Adoption is portrayed as a wonderful, joyful thing and it is, but people need to be aware that it is also painful. So they have training to fall back on when the going gets tough. Training that will help them understand that it is perfectly normal to experience bumps and hard times as you adjust as a new family but also to know that when your instinct tells you something is wrong, you need to act. Don't wait until the child is another year older or until you know for sure what is wrong. You owe it to your child, yourself and your family to get the help you need. 

Mom's find a good therapist for yourself. There will be times when you will question everything about yourself and your parenting, especially if your child suffers from an attachment disorder. You need an outside source, someone who isn't intimately involved with your family to give you advice and guidance.

   Research, read and inform yourself about the challenges of raising children with a history of trauma. Even if your child comes to you as a newborn, they have experienced the trauma of being separated from their birth mom. Besides you do not know what your beautiful new baby experienced while in the womb. Violence, maternal stress, fear, depression and substance abuse are all possibilities. Don't wait until you know what your child faced as you may likely never know. Instead care for them like you would if you knew your child endured pre birth trauma. Swaddle him, hold him skin to skin, keep him with you All. The. Time. In fact, wearing your baby in a sling is one of the best things you can do to encourage attachment and build a strong foundation.

  Having said all that, is adoption a blessing? Absolutely!! Our children have taught us lesson's we wouldn't have learned any other way. They filled our empty arms and call us mom and dad, they give me handfuls of weed's picked, "Just for you mom, cause your the bestest mom in the world!" Who can put a price tag on such an experience? All the money in the world wouldn't be enough to buy the honor and joy I feel when I hear those words, especially since I now know the cost that comes with this gift.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

It Will Be Okay -Trusting God Through Fear And Change


A friend gave me this book to read to my children, it is about trusting God through fear and change and while it is written on a child's level, it spoke to me as well.
     How many times in life do we think, "If only I knew how this situation would turn out," but God has not given mere humans the ability to see into the future, instead he calls us to trust. Trust, even when we do not know what the outcome will be.

   This book is about Little Seed, who lived in the farmers comfy wood shed and his friend Little Fox. One day the Farmer came and took Little Seed from his safe comfortable home and planted him in a deep, dark, messy place. Little Seed was terrified, he wanted to trust but couldn't see how being in such an awful place could ever be a good thing. Sound familiar? It does to me. God took me out of my comfortable safe and routine life and planted me in the messy world of infertility, foster care and mental illness. I wasn't happy, nor was I comfortable.

Little Fox mourned the loss of his friend and hunted for him until one day he heard a voice from beneath the ground saying, "Here I am!" Little Fox wanted to comfort his friend and tell him everything would be okay but he didn't know if Little Seed really would be okay. Sometimes there isn't anything we can say when a friend is going through a hard time. Sometimes their pain is so great, words seem trivial at those times a hug and a whispered, "I am praying for you," will go further than you can imagine.

   After the Farmer planted Little Seed, the book reads: But the Farmer was good and the Farmer was kind and the Farmer was always watching over them even when they didn't know it. How like our Heavenly Father who watches over us, even when we can't feel him.

  One day the Little Seed sprouted and was reunited with his friend Little Fox. He eventually grew into a large tree and provided shade for his friend. Little Seed learned he was never meant to be just a Little Seed in a dusty shed, the Farmer had bigger plans for his life.

  God obviously never meant for me to spend my time on earth enjoying my comfortable routine, he had more plans for my life. He has more plans for you as well, when life looks hard, dark and messy remember that there is a Father watching over you. A Father who is good and kind, a Father who is always watching over you even when you don't feel his presence.

  We know that God uses the trials we face, to strengthen our faith and draw us closer to him. Knowing that, doesn't make it easier when we are in the midst of dark, messy times in life, times when we cannot understand how God could bring glory to himself from our pain. 

   You can buy a copy of the book here.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Hot Chocolate and Candle Day

It is amazing how much the weather can change! Just a few days ago, it was so warm and humid, we were wishing we still had the A.C. unit in our bedroom. Today I have all the windows closed and my nose still feels cold. 
   I am finding it very hard to get motivated this morning. I gave the kitchen and family room an over the top cleaning, just enough to make it look better and cleaned out a few cupboards. As I was sorting through the contents Lia said, "You made a big mess, now you will have to clean it all up!" Wonder where she heard that? I also put a load of towels in the washer, since I don't have a clothes line right now I wash when I have enough laundry for a load. 
   Later I got out the crayons and set out to color with Lia but she decided that simple coloring is too boring so she chose the crayons and told me what to color with them. Then I helped her write her name. It was a spur of the moment idea and she was all for it. She did amazingly well for her first attempts.
   We split an orange. Lia ate her's with kebob sticks, then we read some stories.... and now it is finally 12:00 and my day has taken a turn for the better! The sewing machine repair shop called and said my machine is ready to pick up! I have 5 dresses for the girls that I cut out and put in plastic freezer bags so I don't lose the pieces. Amazing how much I feel like sewing when I don't have my machine!
     It is a candle and hot chocolate sort of day.

Lia gives her hot chocolate a thumbs up!