Monday, April 25, 2016

Lord, Why Did You Make Night?

    I am so thankful it is springtime outdoors because in my heart it feels like the dead of winter. Storms howl through my life and the lives of friends, leaving devastation in their wake and I wonder, "Why so much pain and heartache, Lord?" 

   I have been playing music pretty much nonstop these past few days. Songs have a way of giving words and healing to my soul. The song, "Break Me Lord," has been a favorite of mine."Break Me Lord...even though I cannot understand how broken things become a blessing in your hand..."

    As Christians, we desire to be broken before Jesus, but the actual breaking is so hard. There is joy and peace when we surrender but the surrendering is far from easy. I find myself thinking, "If only surrender was a once and done thing it wouldn't be so hard, but you have to do it over and over again."

 Another song I have played over and over is: 

     WHY THE NIGHT

It's really dark and cold tonight, 
And I'm so tired and all alone,
I see no ray of hope in sight, 
Oh Lord, why did you ever make night?

I made the night so you would trust in me, 
I made the night so you would place your hand in mine,
I made the night so in the early morning,
You could see my sun rise and shine.

Lord the pain is oh so hard to bear,
And the path ahead looks grim, 
Then through the tears I hear you say,
Oh child, I'll hold you through the night.

Now as I place my trust in you,
I can see the first rays of dawn,
And I know that you are with me,
Oh Lord, I'm so glad you made the night.

   On Saturday I spent the day at a Womens Seminar. I seldom if ever, go away for the day and leave the children home with Dean. My absence stirred up some big feelings in Kiana's heart. After I returned home, I was washing the dishes while thinking over the day when I felt a tap on my shoulder, it was Kiana. "I have some big feelings, I need to talk to you," she whispered. I dried my hands and asked her what was wrong. She told me she doesn't like when I go away. That was all she could say without getting choked up so I asked if my being away made her think how it would be if I died and didn't come home. She nodded her head and cried and cried. I cried with her, I didn't know what else to do. After awhile, she dried her tears and gave me a smile, "I feel better now," She said. I love helping my children but their pain and fear has a way of draining the life from my weary heart.

   As I went about my duties today, I was thinking over the past weeks, my friends pain, my daughters pain and Joseph's struggles as well as my own health issues. Of course when my thoughts go down that path, they inevitably turn to B. It all began to feel rather overwhelming. Then the song, "Why The Night," began playing and Jesus whispered, "I made the night so you could rejoice when the sun rises, when new hope springs forth. Without the night, you wouldn't need to rely on me, without the night you might even forget me." When I look at the things that weigh me down in that light, I begin to feel a slight gratitude for them. 


   Like my Facebook page: Tales From Our House Blog to see the adoption related links I share as well as any new blog posts. 


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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Love Trust And An Answer To Prayer

Recently we heard a message on trust and love between the ministry and members in the church. The minister emphasized that, "Without trust, love cannot grow." I knew that trust is the basis of every bond or relationship, but I failed to apply it to my inability to bond with B.

  "You don't tell a couple with marital difficulties to, "love more," because that is impossible unless they first learn to trust and prove themselves trustworthy," the minister continued. That quote could be applied to those of us who have or had as the case may be, a child with RAD. I had a therapist tell me once that  I just need to love more, if I tried harder and asked God to help me, I would acquire the love I desired to feel for B. That comment threw me into a very dark and scary place where I stayed for a long time because it insinuated that I was to blame for the lack of a bond between us.  I still struggled with this fear from time to time. The comment about love and trust, finally sank in and I can now see, why I wasn't able to bond with B.

  Kiana has been having a very hard time with relationships, something was wrong, but what? She wasn't talking and as many of you know, you cannot make a person talk if they don't want to. We had many tear filled evenings, trying to get to the bottom of her rejection of me. We used to have a fairly solid bond and it troubled and terrified me to see it slipping away. I tried everything I knew to do but there was something that she wasn't telling me, scary stuff for a mom. 

   I shared our struggles with a few mom's and asked them to pray that Kiana would open up so we could help her. Thanks to those prayers, last night Kiana talked. It wasn't anything new. We had discussed all the issues at one time or another through the years but Kiana fell for the trap of, "If I talk next my fears will become reality," and things went downhill.

  One of her struggles was the one adoptee's are often plagued with - If I love you, I will be being disloyal to my birth mom/dad. I knew she had this fear but until she was willing to acknowledge it, we couldn't help her. I gave the example of how a mothers love multiplies when more children are added to the family. "The love you have in your heart for your birth mom doesn't get less when you love me, it grows," I explained.

  I have been dealing with some health issues and I knew the children were affected by my "brain fog," most likely it triggered memories from their past. I wasn't sure how to address the issue without adding to their fears, especially since they tend to believe what they think is truth and not what mom or dad tells them. Not knowing how to explain, I took the cowards way out, and didn't say anything. I should have. Kiana was certain I would die, her friends mom got sick and died, so logically (in her mind) I would as well.

   Rather than endure the pain of losing two mom's, she decided to withdraw from me. If she didn't love me, she wouldn't feel as bad when I died. Dean helped her see why that method doesn't work by asking her some questions, "If mom were to die, would it make you feel better or worse when you remember how you treated her?" Kiana didn't have to think long, in a small voice she said, "I would feel bad cause I wasn't nice to mom."

  Dean next question was, "So how do you think you ought to treat mom now?" Kiana brightened, "I should be respectful and nice to her," she replied. Soon her face fell again, "But it is hard to be respectful." Dean and I acknowledged that this was true and Dean said, "You are going to need to learn to trust mom if you want your relationship to grow, do you trust mom?" Kiana said she didn't so I asked her if I ever lied to her or didn't take care of her. She said I always do what I say I will. :) 

   "So why don't you trust mom?" Dean asked her. Of course she didn't know why she struggles to trust me. Dean told her that when she lived with her birth mom, she was sometimes cold and hungry. When she was very small, she learned that mom's can't be trusted and because of that, she still has a hard time trusting.

  We could see the wheels turning in her brain, she was taking in and understanding what we were saying and have been explaining for, well a long, long time. Kiana gave me a hug and good night kiss before cheerfully and respectfully bouncing back to her bed. I was a little apprehensive about this morning as mornings can be hard for her but she was happy, genuinely happy. Her eyes sparkled like they haven't for a long time, my little girl is back. Thank you, Jesus!! 

  I would be burying my head in the sand, if I thought these struggles were now behind Kiana. I know they aren't. We have been dealing with them to a certain extent, for the past 4 years. I do know we conquered the fears for now and every victory will help to win the battle.

Like my Facebook page: Tales From Our House Blog to see the adoption related links I share as well as any new blog posts.


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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Notes On FASD

Joseph and of course his parents, have had a rough week. His eczema flared up, his frustration with life and his tantrums have increased. This happens periodically and the answer is to reevaluate our parenting in relation to his abilities and how he perceives himself against what is typical for a child his age. He hears new words and concepts, stores them in his brain but doesn't increase the logic factor necessary for a child to grow in knowledge. Sometimes it seems that when he learns something new, he has to remove a well known fact so he has brain space for the new concept.
  I was feeling at a loss as to how to help him. That feeling triggers my PTSD as I remember not knowing how to help B and all the pain that went with that time in our lives. I haven't read many books or articles on trauma, FASD, attachment and the like recently, so I dug out the tablet where I jot down notes and tips that I want to remember as I study since I wasn't in the mood to dig through pages of material to find things relate to our struggles. 
   Here is snips and pieces that I found interesting:
- Getting a diagnosis for a child we suspect has been prenatally exposed to alcohol is not optional. I know there is a lot of controversy surrounding that concept but I firmly believe that if a child knows why he has difficulties in life he will be in a better place emotionally. Think of it this way, you are different than your peers.....if you don't know why you will probably feel very frustrated and seek ways to get others attention, unfortunately when a child goes down that road he generally doesn't choose good or healthy ways of getting the attention he needs. If however, you know why you "are the way you are" you can hopefully seek out ways to improve your skills and get help, at the very least, your problems aren't because you are "weird" but because your brain isn't functioning correctly.

- Children with FASD hear others ideas and/or see things on TV that they don't understand. They reach their own conclusions, which can be very problematic especially when they are exposed to things way before they are ready or able to comprehend what they have seen or heard. Our responsibility towards these children, particularly once they reach the age of 12 is to be sure they do not find themselves in unsafe situations. For typical teens, it is natural to allow them to venture out and experience new situations, then draw them back in and discuss what they have experienced, you do not do this with the child with FASD because at 12 (or whatever the age may be) the child is not ready for these things when his peers are. (Yes, there is nothing like giving advice on teens before you have one but I feel safe sharing this because we find this to be true at age 8 and I can imagine it will continue to hold true).

- Ironically, children with FASD have expressive language skills beyond their years. On the surface it sounds like they have it all together and we make the mistake of assuming that the child who makes logical sounding statements must have it all together/this remains among the greatest challenges when relating to a child with FASD. Parents need to be incredibly suspicious of what comes out of their child's mouth... Checking and rechecking for comprehension. "Just because the child says it doesn't mean he understands it."

- One of the skills we need to make it in the world is the capacity to put ourselves in the shoes of another person and respond in a sensitive way. This kind of abstract thinking can be more than the person afflicted with FASD can accomplish.

- A child's thinking is "all about me" those with FASD stay in this place until well in their 40's.

- Addictions rarely come without mental health challenges. When the typical teen tries alcohol and becomes drunk, he may vow never to touch the stuff again because he dislikes the after affects. When someone with FASD tries is, he may well feel "better" than he does from day to day, thus he is more inclined to become addicted.

-People relating to the child with FASD need to know these are symptoms of brain injury not actions intended to drive us nuts.

-these children do not need a behavior plan they need an environment plan. When your child has a bad day ask, "Did their environment offer what they needed to make good choices, were they more tired than usual?"

NEEDS OF FASD CHILD:
assessment of strengths and limitations
Environment plan
Increased and ongoing supervision and structure
Living in a family that understands the disibilities he has
Advocates for home and school
Involvement with a care management team
Medication
Rehabilitation (speech, language, OT)
IEP
Ongoing neuro/psych Evals
Functional skill building
Behavior management with focus on prevention of behavior
Prevention of secondary disabilities (mental health, trouble with law & school, need for confinement etc.)


A Little R & R

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Overcoming Mommy Paranoia Regarding Your Child's Mental Health

       Have you ever been accused of being a paranoid mom, the mom who sees a diagnosis behind every behavior? If you have a child with RAD or FASD or other mental health diagnosis, chances are you have heard something like, "All children do that," followed by a long suffering sigh when you mention a concern you have about your child. I know I have had that experience and when that happens, I am learning to remind myself why I see things differently than someone who has never experienced the trauma and drama involved in parenting a special needs child. Many adoptive/foster parents have only bits and pieces of their child's mental health history, making it difficult to know when to be alarmed and when to give the child time to heal emotionally. Knowing what you are dealing with is half the battle, if you know why your child cannot follow directions, is inclined to violence or is "mommy shopping," you can begin seeking the help he needs. Many of the disorders and health problems that afflict our children from hard places, will only get worse, much worse if they aren't treated.

  The hard part is getting the correct diagnosis. Children's mental health services are flooded and it is not at all uncommon to wait anywhere from 3 months to a year for an appointment. Then chances are, your child will be evaluated and the doctor will recommend getting this or that test done because your child doesn't exactly meet the criteria necessary for a diagnosis in his area of expertise. So you wait some more and quite possibly take your child to a scheduled appointment only to find that somehow your child's appointment was changed, but no one knows how it happened. You reschedule the appointment. Then when you finally meet with the doctor to discuss the test results, he discovers a vital part of the test was left out because...well no one really knows why. So you schedule yet another appointment. You will quickly learn that nothing moves quickly in the mental health arena.

  While you are scheduling and rescheduling the appointments, your child is growing steadily worse while you are becoming more and more frustrated and concerned.

   That is one reason why some of us become paranoid parents.... we want to begin seeking help as soon as possible because it can take so long to get it.

Another reason for our concern is the simple fact that our children have a lot stacked against them. Many of their mothers did not receive adequate prenatal care, nor were they in a good place emotionally during their pregnancy. Maternal stress and fear can wreak havoc with a developing brain and nervous system. Add substance abuse and violence and the poor infant is born with even more strikes against him.

  Then there is all the trauma they experience after birth. They may have had a mother who didn't know how to bond with her baby, maybe she didn't know you have to feed a newborn at least once every 2 hours. Many of these mom's don't have a support system and a visiting nurse can only do so much and so the baby suffers some more. 

 These children aren't placed in our homes because they were cared for in their previous homes. They are scared, often in pain and many of them haven't received adequate medical care. 

  Foster parents see things like:

-gorging or hording food

-violent tantrums, and not the 30 minutes to an hour screaming fits either

-bruises, burns and other signs of abuse and neglect

-children who duck and cower when you come close

-self harm and/or harm to the other children in your home

After parenting children like this for a few years and working with a mental health system that often fails to provide the necessary care our child needs, not to mention the emotional toll this has on our family, is it any wonder we become a little paranoid when we witness similar behaviors in our other children?  

When we watch our children from hard places enduring the affects of the trauma they experienced in their previous home, we want to protect them from anymore pain, which is also why we watch each twitch and tantrum with unease.

 If your child has come through harrowing experiences and appears unscathed, you may find you still can't rest easy because statistically they shouldn't be doing as well as they are. 

  The next time you talk with a mom who seems overly concerned about her child's  mental and emotional well being, smile and assure her of your prayers. Chances are your answer will ease her burden in more ways than you can imagine. 

   I can be a paranoid mom and I am learning to balance what I am seeing with truth and facts rather than feelings. When my son decided it was time to go "Shopping for a new mom," I panicked and thought RAD. PTSD was on the heels of that thought and of course when you reach that stage, you no longer think rationally. Dean helped me by viewing the facts. The first thing wrong with this point of view was, You do not "get RAD" when you are 8 years old. Attachment disorder, maybe but not full blown RAD.  

  When my daughter threw nasty words my way because she didn't want to get her pj's on, I almost cried, surely she won't have attachment problems! I forced myself to think through the situation, big brother had yelled those same words when he was upset earlier in the day. While it doesn't make it right or okay, she is only repeating what she heard. She doesn't hate me or think I am a mean mom. 






Monday, April 11, 2016

The Blessings Of Faith

  Yesterday at church the minister shared Joshua 3. He spoke about the faith the priests needed when Joshua commanded them to cross the flooded Jordan River. We know the whole story and view it as a miraculous account, but the priests didn't know how the story would play out. They only knew what they had to do and by faith they had the courage necessary to follow through.

"It is faith alone, in Christ alone, which moves God, when you are alone."  Rex Rouis

    I remember when Dean and I had to make some tough decisions about B's future. We felt so alone. We sought advice from others, but at the time we didn't know anyone who had disrupted an adoption, so no one could share their personal story with us. We knew God promises to guide us if we pray in faith but the enemy was always there, showering us with doubts and fears. If we were making a decision no one had made before, surely we were wrong, right?

   We knew B couldn't remain at TAP, nor could he come home, so we prayed, asking God for direction and he graciously provided it in the form of an article on my FB page. This story showed up on my page one day and as I read the article, I felt God saying, "Here is your answer." Dean and I talked about it, prayed, I did some research and we continued to feel that this was the path God wanted us to pursue. 

"Faith expects from God what is beyond all expectation." Andrew Murray


  Dean encouraged me to call Cyndi and get some more information on their program. I made the call with fear and trembling, after our bout with CPS, I had a healthy fear of people misinterpreting our desire to help B. I needn't have worried, Cyndi was so kind and by her questions I knew she intimately understood my pain, she didn't condemn me or ask me why we didn't try this, that or the other thing. She didn't ask me how we could ever consider getting rid of our child, as so many others had done. 

  We were certain God was directing us to pursue Cyndi's program but making that phone call took an incredible amount of faith and courage. The quote, "If God brings you to it, he will also bring you through it," came to mind as I dialed Cyndi's number. I was afraid but the peace that passeth understanding was present as well. The same peace we felt when we were working with CPS and had to answer their accusations, was present assuring me this was God's will.

   I don't know if making the decision to disrupt an adoption should even be likened to the priests crossing the Jordan River, but I do know the God who was guiding and directing them so long ago, is still on the throne. When you have a seemingly impossible task ahead, pray in faith and God will answer. The peace and assurance God gives when you are facing some of life's toughest problems is beyond description. To know that God is leading and directing your footsteps brings such peace and joy that trials can begin to feel like blessings.

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Friday, April 8, 2016

Therapists & Dentist Appointments

     Monday morning found Joseph and I in Lancaster for his first therapy appointment...except that his therapist no longer practices there. I hope my mouth didn't drop open when the secretary casually said, "Joseph's appointments were cancelled because R no longer works here," but hastened to add, "We have another therapist that has an opening if you want to bring Joseph tomorrow." Sorry, but no thanks. I wasn't interested because this wasn't the first time I went to this office only to discover my child's appointment was cancelled. So the "Great Therapist Hunt," continues.

   On Tuesday Kiana had her second appointment with her therapist. I forgot how difficult it can be to learn to know a new psychologist. It was hard for Kiana to talk about her "big feelings" with someone she barely knew. I drove home feeling weary, seems I also forgot how tiring attachment therapy is.

    On Wednesday Lia and I ran a bunch of errands. We had a Members Meeting at church in the evening and as things were going well in the morning, I had high hopes that we could all attend the service. The children weren't home from school 20 minutes before I knew that wasn't going to happen. Dean, Lia and Tristan went while I stayed home and put the 8 year old's to bed early. When they came home from church, Dean said, "Never again will I take Lia while you stay home." She couldn't sit because she was so preoccupied with, "I miss mom."

    My sisters and I planned to spend Thursday at mom. Joseph had a bit of a rough day on Wednesday and by Thursday morning both his eczema and emotions were off the charts. I made some phone calls, cancelled Joseph's OT appointment and kept him home from school. My sister took Lia along down to mom so Joseph and I had a quiet, non stimulating day at home, exactly what both of us needed.

  This morning Joseph had a 10:00 dentist appointment to get his teeth cleaned. He hasn't been at the dentist since the time he spent 2 hours in the OR getting work done. Lia was recently at the dentist for her first cleaning and I overheard her telling Joseph how much fun she had. Joseph said, "Next time I go to the dentist I am going to pinch my mouth shut so they can't fix my teeth!" Dean and I exchanged a look, we were both thinking the same thing, "Uh oh, he has a dentist appointment in a few days!" 

    When I handed Joseph his clothing this morning, he asked where we were going. I told him that he has a dentist appointment, he promptly declared, "I am not going, I won't get dressed." After much noise and loud stomping, he decided it would be in his best interest to get dressed, the promise of french fries may or may not have helped him make up his mind. I shouldn't have worried, he did just great, best of all he didn't have any cavities so he won't need more work done.

 Joseph hates when I put cream on his eczema and tonight was no exception he jumped and yelled, telling me exactly what he thought about the process. When I was finished, I helped him into his pj's and gave him a drink. He gave me a kiss good night and trotted happily off to bed. "I love you," I called after him. "I know mom, I won't forget," he replied. Dean just shook his head. How can a child go from screaming at you to adoring you in less than a minute? 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Adopted Into The Family Of God

Our Sunday School Lesson was on 1 Peter 1 and our Sunday School Superintendent compared the similarities of being a part of the family of God, to adoption here on earth.


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  God provided everything necessary for us to become a member of his family. He has done all the "legal paperwork." When Jesus died on the cross He signed the adoption decree, making it accessible "To whosoever believes in him." John 3:16 But he created us with the ability to choose to accept or reject the plan of salvation. 

  When we adopted our children, we signed the necessary papers and the the judge signed the final adoption decree making the children legally ours, even though they belonged to another family up until then. While the children are legally ours, they still have a choice to make, they can fully embrace Dean and I as their parents or they can reject us. We will love them regardless of their choice, just as Jesus loves us regardless whether or not we choose to give him our hearts. 

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  Our hearts break when we are trying to help our children and they yell things like, "You don't love me, I wish I lived with my birth mom!" Sometimes I long for a way to prove to them just how much I do love them. I can give examples but in their pain, they can't hear or process my words.

  Think how God must feel when we are hurting and come to him for help but reject the help he offers because it doesn't come in the form I was hoping or expecting. If we as human parents grieve when our children turn their backs on all we have done for them, how much more must Jesus grieve when we reject him and the plan of salvation he suffered to provide for us?

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Saturday, April 2, 2016

Weeds Of Great Value

Is your glass half empty or half full? I have a tendency to view my glass as half empty and think, "If only my glass was full, things would be better," or, "If only I had some real talents, then I could do something of value for God."

Philippians 4:11 says, "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." Ouch, I have a lot of work ahead for me.

This video was floating around on my FB page. The speaker talks about people who think like I do. They always say things like, "This would be the perfect job if it wasn't for my boss," or, "I could be a much better mom if my children weren't so needy...." Sound familiar? If we aren't content where we are, chances are high that we wouldn't be happy elsewhere either.

This morning Lia handed me a fistful of small purple flowers she found growing in the woods. They were weeds, had only half an inch of spindly stem and were slightly squashed but I loved them because she picked them for me. She saw some flowers and like children do everywhere, she picked them and came to me with her hands behind her back, her eyes were dancing with joy as she handed me her handful of flowers. You know, I love those flowers because she picked them for me, she was showing she loves me, I could have cared less that they were weeds.

I began thinking that perhaps that is how God views our small talents and gifts of praise and prayer we offer to him. As I said before, I view glass as half empty... I don't have anything worth offering, do I? But God is our Father and surely He rejoices over the wilting handful of flowers we offer Him, He won't toss them aside because they aren't a large beautiful bouquet like your friend gave. They are beautiful to Him because they come from you.







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