Monday, April 23, 2012


When you enter into the world of foster care and adoptions it seems as though people think it gives them an open door to find fault with everything you do.  When parenting children with neglect/abuse issues or even mental illness issues, your parenting style is rigid.  It has to be.  Sadly, if you are not consistent and firm the children will take advantage of it.  They will not see it as kindness, they will see it as a weakness.  They are actually scared of that weakness, how can you take care of them if you are weak? 

That is not to say that you don't show your children kindness, you do, you just keep the expectations and consequences.  They have to know what to expect. We love our children, we hold our children, we cuddle, we support.

When you also have a child with attachment issues then you have the extra challenge of having a child who transforms into a loving child to others.  They never see the tantrums and acting out, they don't realize that they are being manipulated.  Others see this lovely, sweet child who has strict, mean parents.

Lately my biggest problems have been at church. Actually, it has been one main person who has been around my children and now believes that she is an expert.  Sunday she undermined my authority and tried to make my "poor, pitiful" child happy.  My little Emma has taken to "being sad" when she goes to class.  Funny, she is perfectly happy before and after we take her there.  She has found that by acting sad she can get extra attention and treats.  Maybe that doesn't sound so bad, but it is manipulating, especially when she has been banned from treats for the day for behavior issues.  When she walks out of class with a grin because she "got away with something" then we have an issue.

The following is part of my facebook conversation (with last names removed) from Sunday.  I was frustrated and venting.  I don't always vent in facebook, but sometimes it is where I can get support.  The people who responded are for the most part adoptive or foster parents.

For the record, I am a terrible responder through email but do great on messaging!  (Theresa, I am still waiting for you to get connected on facebook.)

Why would I post this?  This issue is not limited to me.  If you are looking to foster, be aware that there are some people out there that assume that you are doing it for the money (hahahaha) or for some other motive.  There are some people that can't believe that you would do this for the child, that you could love a child who is "not your own".  Of course, they may just be the people who allow their kids to run wild in the restaurants.


 Guess what?! My child has been in 7 different homes in less then 3 years. She has an attachment disorder. I am going weekly to Parent Child Interaction Therapy and doing in home therapy daily. When I set rules and boundaries they need to be followed. My child is a great manipulator. She can lie as easily as talk. She is a pro at what she does. Heads up, she will be sitting with us at church from now on so that we can work on attachment.
Like · · 20 hours

Terry   That's so sad so many homes. Are you adopting her?
20 hours ago via Mobile · Like.

Linda  - Felicia in the long run all of this will be worth it , but right now you are probably wondering , will it ! It is so sad that these children have learned so many bad actions at such an early age and it`s so difficult for them to unlearn .I envy you for your patience and I praise you for the willingness to take on the task of helping the child instead of following the other foster parents actions and sending her on ! My thoughts and prayers go out for you and the rest of your family.
20 hours ago · Like · 1.

Felicia -  Yes, we are the second adoptive placement. The first one lasted 3 weeks.
20 hours ago · Like.

Felicia -  Linda, my biggest problem right now is others judging us because we are so strict. We are dealing with kids with ODD, anxiety disorders, bipolar, attachment disorders, epilepsy, ADHD, FAS....and those are the ones we know about. We have to be consistent. We have to be in charge. It is not abuse. It is a calling we have undertaken and those that do not deal with these issues every day have no clue. It is easy to judge....not so easy to offer help.
20 hours ago · Like · 4.

Linda -  I understand exactly where you are coming from !No it isn`t abuse ,its putting some consistency in these children's lives where there was none before . All of our children come to us with problems , some are just worse than others . Its really stressful helping them and it takes a toll on all of our family . Its easy to talk when you don`t know what you`re talking about. Yes , this is what we choose to do , but it sure would be nice to have a kind word or a helping hand instead of criticizing !
20 hours ago · Unlike · 2.

Kathy  -  I understand. I've been there!!!!! People saying we just didn't know how to parent, the child was so sweet for them, it must be us. They never know how badly the child was playing them.
19 hours ago · Unlike · 2.

Misty - I know exactly how you feel! I teach Sunday school in a small church...we have toddlers-through 5th grade (that's how small). My kids are 1/2 the class too. I have a RAD/ADHD/FASD/ODD/and 3 other dx's . She knows what buttons to push and it drives me insane. She is very manipulative and it actually looks "sweet". So I look like the over bearing, overly strict, meanest parent on earth type person. It doesn't help when she actually runs to another adult dodging me and says "awww, awww" when I'm next to her or reach for her to move her over. It drives me insane. We just had that this morning. I was ready to walk out and take her home.
17 hours ago · Unlike · 2.

Dianne -  I know the feeling. We are having a tough time with A. He's such a pretty face that no one sees that they aren't helping by the “he's so sweet with me thing”.
16 hours ago via Mobile · Unlike · 3.

Jenette  - AMEN to all of these comments!! I am stunned at how many heartless people are out there!! I have been getting the whole "Why" question about adopting our kids from one neighbor. Along with comments to the effect of I should send them back! And on the flipside, I have had several people think I am way too strict with my kids! So I know exactly what you're saying. The strict comments are usually from my family. But, I just keep thinking about the fact that us foster parents are TRAINED parents!! Not perfect parent, by any means, but we have been specially trained to deal with the type of problems our children have. If only ALL people were required to take parenting classes!! Maybe there wouldn't be so many unruly kids out there!!
12 hours ago · Like.

Linda -  You are so right Jenette , we have had and continue to have, training in how to better deal with our children . And no , it doesn`t make us perfect parents, but it does prepare us( somewhat ) for some of the problems we will be facing .I`ve been a foster parent for 14 years and I`m still learning how to deal with some of these children . As for sending our children back , that’s plain stupidity , would they send a biological child away ? I love my 2 adopted children as much as I love my 2 biological children and the other adoptive parents I know feel the same. When anyone starts bad mouthing foster and adoptive parents it really gets me all riled up !
12 hours ago · Like.

Jenette  - too!! I love my kids and couldn't imagine life without them!! They FEEL like they are a part of me. Since I don't have birth children, I don't know if it feels any different. But I can't imagine loving a child any more than I love the ones I have. My only regret is having to keep a shield up when you first get them until it is clear that they will be yours. I would love to be free to love a child the moment he/she is in your arms and know they are yours forever. But that was not God's plan. I had snide comments from a relative (well, my cousin's inlaws. not really my relative) because I corrected Nate for throwing a ball in the living room after I specifically told him NOT to TWICE!! It irritated me, but oh well, my kids are mostly pretty well behaved and that makes me proud! I don't care if people think I'm mean. They can ask my kids what they think of me. My kids LOVE me!! So I can't be too bad!! LOL
12 hours ago · Like · 1.

Felicia - I love facebook, I now know that I am not the only person out there dealing with the "mean parent" issue!
12 hours ago · Like · 2.

Jenette  - Nope!! All of the really good parents are viewed as the "mean parents". LOL!! I don't know some of your other friends, but I believe that you, me and Linda have very similar parenting styles!! But guess what! Our kids are all doing great in spite of their problems!! (or is it "despite"? well, you know what I mean!)
11 hours ago · Unlike · 2.


  1. Boy oh boy, did I need to read your post today of all days! I have 2 adopted daughters and am in the process of adopting another sibling group. I'm having SO many difficulties with all of the adults, well specifically the therapist who has called me in for suspected abuse (unfounded). One of the kids I'm adopting manipulates in the exact ways you describe, and while I understand it, it is not easy, especially when those that are supposed to be working with you are judging you too. Grrr!

    I really needed your words today. Thanks :-) Tara

  2. Tara, do you have a support group? I think that all adoptive/foster paretns need to have someone in the same boat that understands, really understands where you are coming from.

    1. No--there is not one in Tally that I know of.

      I read blogs for support, and I do know a few other adoptive parents (adopted from foster care), one of whom is also a guardian ad litem.

      This therapist is NOT my choice, and the new sibling group hasn't moved here yet (DUE TO THE THERAPIST). we have a staffing this Friday, and there had better be some movement!

      I called the Governor's office of adoption adn child protection, and that has helped get thigns moving somewhat.

    2. I sure hope that you get movement so you can get the kids and are able to make decisions for them (like a new therapist). Some of my best support folks are online.

    3. Me too! It's ridiculous how long anything takes. And, I rarely feel it's truly in the best interest of the child. I think it's more about people trying to keep their jobs and cover their butts.

      I look forward to reading more from you. :-) I really enjoy your blog!

  3. Our boys were able to manipulate counselors too. One counselor would ask our son if he'd stolen or lied during the week. If he said "no," she'd give him a treat. She said she was establishing trust that way!! Hahahaha. Rad kids don't establish trust. One day he told her he hadn't stolen all week. That night I thought his bedding looked funny so lifted his mattress to check. There were 54 wrappers under it. Many of them were for food we didn't have in the house. I'd changed bedding just a few days earlier so this was all new stuff. We decided it wasn't worth the money for that counselor!

  4. Thank you for this! It can be a really lonely journey sometimes. I feel like our extended family doesn't fully understand the needs of our children and it can make for hard family dynamics. It has been really hard finding a school that can accommodate our older sons needs. I have found the public school system less the helpful on this issue. They feel like if he has been with us for 3 years this must have to do with the way we parent. No one seems to really understand this was the situation we were dealt. My son shows progress everyday so I feel confident what we are doing is working but I just wish we had more adults in our lives that understood his needs.

  5. I love this post!!! Well said everyone!!! I get so frustrated with the, "she's so good for me," I just want to say sure if I only had her for 2 hours, I'm sure she'd be angel for me too! current parenting classes stress thinking of kids' strengths, as it turns out, it takes a lot of intelligence to be manipulative, so at least that's one thing she's got going for her, she's bright :-)