(I only post this picture because she falsely accuses me of taking lots of pictures while she is eating.)
Happy Birthday teen. Maybe one day I will be able to add a name to this post!
Our teen hasn't had many opportunities for birthdays. She spend many of them in tears. The things that many kids take for granted she never had. But she has many more birthdays and now a family to celebrate them with.
Never in a million years did we think that we would consider adopting a teen. Sometimes life is funny that way. You know the saying, never say never.
Summer classes are finished! My final was yesterday.
My birthday was on Monday and I celebrated by finishing a project and studying for my final.
So...on Sunday my dear husband and teen made me a german chocolate cake.
Then everyone sang me happy birthday so I could eat some of that cake....
and I ate cake while working on another project that was due on Monday.
I needed a break so we took the kids to go see Brave. We went to our local movie theater. It is a very old movie theater but the price is right, $3 for kids and $5 for adults.
The concessions are priced lower as well, everyone can get popcorn and drinks (kiddie packs for the kids) for under $20.
Anyone play one of these lately? Every time we step into that movie theater I feel like I am stepping back in time.
The teen didn't go to the movies with us. While we were out she decorated my desk area for me.
That was a pleasant surprise!
Monday while in class I received a text that the girls were scheduled for psych eval the next day at 1:30 (It was requested on that day and scheduled for the next, a cancellation caused me to get the fasted appointment I had ever gotten). That was in the middle of my final time but I was able to reschedule to final for earlier in the morning so I could take the girls to their appoitment. The girls appointment is in another bigger city but in the opposite direction from our home. We left the doctors office at 6:30. It was along day but I got some valuable information and directions to go. I also got a lecture in genetics because this man is a neurobehaviorist. I always get a lot of information from him every time I visit him. Ha, yesterday he said that he felt that he knew me personally since I spend so much time there.
This one is easier...this is Sarah's team that is going to Italy....
The last I heard from Sarah herself was when she called from the airport to let me know that she made it....and that there were lots of kids there waiting. So I guess midnight isn't that bad of an arrival time.
I received a call from her team leader today asking me how Sarah was going to get home. I told her that we would be picking her up. Sounds like a road trip to Florida is in our future....August. She said that Sarah was very shy in the beginning but she is starting to open up. Also, they are all surprised that she is 18. Yes, she looks a few years younger. It was nice to hear that she is doing well.
To be able to see pictures online is great. From the pictures they are doing lots of interesting activities. I hope that Sarah is doing OK with her dislike of germs!
Please say a prayer for Sarah....and maybe even for her mom who is missing her.
Yesterday was therapy day. The therapist and I talked longer then we usually do because new issues have come up. The child in the shadows is showing more of her true self. She is showing more of her own little attachment issues. Showing more of the effects of multiple moves. Even the therapist has noticed the increase in jealousy and the increase in outward defiance. The funny thing about attachment issues is that it presents itself differently in each child.
We are at the point where this is the longest they have been in a placement. Dimples showed us her true self pretty quickly. Michelle has just showed us cracks of her true self. I knew that there was more to be concerned about then what she presented. By the end of the school year she had lost all of the friends that she had made. At home the kids don't want to play with her. She is having more problems with social interactions then I originally realized.
Quite frequently her jealousy gets the best of her. She will tell lies about kids to get them in trouble and we are seeing a pattern of her doing it when she is jealous of them. She will say hurtful things to her peers to bring them down. She erased Anthony's games on his Nintendo DS and later I realized it was because she couldn't win those games. She was jealous so she erased his. I say that she is so jealous that she only sees the ice cream cone in another child's hand and doesn't notice the one melting in her own.
The root of this jealousy issue is a low self esteem. Feeling rejected by so many homes, one of them promising to adopt, does have an impact. Her mom visiting only once in the last 8 months has an impact. It doesn't matter why she was moved to 7 different homes, as a child she thinks that it is because she is not worthy.
So, she is hyper vigilant. She notices every little slight, even when there isn't one. She assumes that everyone can do everything better then her and will sabotage them. She will lie to get them into trouble. She will try to draw the attention to herself when someone else is getting attention.
This behavior will affect her quality of life. Her ability to make and maintain friends and to have close relationships. It is already affecting her in the home. The teenagers have drawn back from her and the little ones prefer not to play with her.
Now that we see the issue for what it is we can look at how to best help her. Their therapist thinks that they will always require therapy. They will always struggle to some extent with the effects of their early beginnings. To me the sad thing is that all the damage wasn't done by the parents. A lot of damage was done by moving them to 7 different homes in 2 years. The foster system is part of the problem.
The other day the therapist that visited our home asked me why we do this when the girls are so difficult. I wasn't expecting that question but the only answer that came to my mind was that someone had to. Someone has to stop the moves and buckle down and do the hard work. The someone is our family. It is a family effort, these girls impact the entire family.
I have been so busy this week that I haven't made time to come on and blog. A lot of things came together this week and a lot of questions have been asked.
First we finally finished packing Sarah's stuff for her mission trip. Seems like the list of things were long and the packing space was small. I am not even sure if she got everything or not. Not being able to communicate is hard for me.
I thought that I had purchased her a ticket leaving at 10:20 am. However, when I emailed the arrival information I realized that she left at 10:20 pm. She still arrived within the 24 hour time frame in which she is allowed to so she was still good but she worried that she would be the only one arriving that late. The ticket cost $83 so she had no choice!
Tuesday night we got to drive Sarah to Charlotte to let her go....
The ticket agent asked us if we had paid the minor fee. Oooops...she is 18.
The house is so quiet without Sarah here. Ack, I am so not ready for her to leave the nest.
In other child news, Dimples is close to be kicked out of the summer camp program. Yes, the usual things; they say go left and she goes right, hitting, spitting, shoving and such. I think that they have too much free play time for her to do well. She did well in daycare so we had hoped that she would do well at camp. Apparently not! Hopefully she will do better in kindergarten.
The issues with Dimples and summer camp made me reevaluate the therapeutic home issue. I have so many people telling me that we should have her moved. That she would get so many more services in a therapeutic home.
I have been researching the issue. True, they receive more money. They receive more training. They have less children in the home. They have more services available. However, because of my schooling I actually have more training then many therapeutic homes. The less kids, well that isn't happening here. The more money, that would be nice but I don't see it happening. Perhaps there are more services. The problem with that is they need to be available in your area to receive them, we just don't have a lot here and it doesn't matter what type of home you are.
Tuesday afternoon the girls adoption worker and a therapist came to visit. We spent a long time talking about the girls and the case. They are going to see about getting the girls more services. The therapist was also going to contact the state as well about our case.
Today I had a long talk with the girls SW. I told her that we have been told that Dimples would do better in a therapeutic home. She didn't agree. She said that because the home is therapeutic doesn't mean that she would get more then what she gets in our home. She says that we do more then some of the therapeutic homes she deals with. I also talked with the therapist who visited our home. He thinks that it would be very detrimental to the girls to have them moved and that they need to stay.
Also, thanks to the therapist and I both calling the state, the lawyer was given until Friday to submit their TPR paperwork (that should have been done months ago). She did! It was completed at 10 am today. Now we have to wait on a court date. Right now they are scheduling for November! Yes, so this won't be quick. Definitely won't complete the adoption this year. It is so frustrating.
I am currently at the end of my summer school classes. They end on Tuesday and I have a paper, project and final to finish. Then I will get a short break!
Just for your information, we do have normal times in our home!
Many of you have never gotten "the look" from a child care provider. Yesterday I got "the look". Ewww, it wasn't pretty. She was so angry.....at Dimples. After a week of doing well at the playgroup Dimples has decided that she is comfortable enough to show them her true self. If she was told to do something, she did the opposite. Hitting, spitting, swearing.....she did it all.
Her behavior was so bad that she didn't get to go to dinner at Moe's. We went to Moe's because it is Sarah's second favorite place to eat and she won't have any until August. For the first time in a long time I got a babysitter for Dimples because I didn't feel that she was going to behave in public.
When I went to pick the kids up from their playgroup she was sitting on the wall pouting. When I told her it was time to go home she ignored me. When I picked her up she sat back down. When I picked her up again she started to sit down again but I stopped her by picking her up and putting her on my hip. This started the screaming. She screamed all the way to the car and on the drive home. Then she screamed on the couch for quite a while. By time she went to the babysitter she had stopped and asked me if I was coming back for her.
Today she gets to spend the day at home. She will get to spend it being bored. Hopefully tomorrow she will make better choices but somehow I don't have much confidence in her ability to behave once she has started to misbehave.
I hope that they enjoy the break at the playgroup.
Every once in a while peace reigns. Yesterday I told the kids that we were going to do home movie night tonight. The activity was not dependent on good behavior. I picked up a new movie and we made popcorn. All the kids huddled on the couch and on laps and were calm. By the end of the movie the two youngest had fallen asleep.
It was a good evening. It felt good to have just a normal family time without fighting, screaming and hitting. I think that I will start movie night on Fridays and see how it goes. It was strange for me because I don't sit down and watch TV too often.
Now I am off to Walmart for cat food. It is an emergency, we are completely out.
Last weekend was hard for me. I was really struggling with my emotions. We have had a number of folks tell us to have Dimples moved. That she is too difficult. That she should be a therapeutic home. That it is harmful to the other children. That it will be too hard.
When my therapist confirms what I already know.....that she has some pretty severe attachment issues. That maybe even more is going on with her. That it is going to take years to help her heal. That perhaps she might not ever heal.
I could call DSS and asked to have her moved. I could transfer the pain, the work, the unknown onto someone else. After all, many others already have. We are their 7th home. Their last home was an adoptive placement, they gave up after 3 weeks.
However, my husband and I read their report. We knew that she had attachment issues. We knew that they had been in many other homes.
We did not say, "let us try and if it gets too hard we will return them."
We said, "they will be our daughters."
You do not return a child because they are not what you expected. Because the world sees them as flawed. Because they are difficult to deal with.
So, yes, I struggled with my emotions over the weekend. I talked with my husband because it takes both parties to commit. Thankfully by Monday I was feeling recommitted and ready to stop the second guessing.
Time to get something done......
On Monday I called the state to put in a complaint on their case. Their case for TPR should have been filed months ago. It has been 7 months since they went to court to change to TPR. Seven months we have been waiting for the lawyer to submit the paperwork. She is supposed to do it within 60 days.
I left a voicemail and never heard back. I assumed that they were not going to do anything. Today I talked with our teens social worker and she said that the state had contacted them about us. They are looking into the girls case. I find it odd that they didn't contact me for more information but I am not complaining. If this can get the case moving forward then I am all for it.
So, please pray for the girls. Please pray that the lawyer puts in the paperwork so that they can get to court. Pray that they can get some permanency.
Taking two master level classes in the summer is crazy. Four weeks of intense studying. I am working very hard to control my tendency to procrastinate. Actually, one of the classes started a week late so he is giving assignment just about every night. Whew, I am keeping up but just barely.
I sent three teens (Sarah, my teen and our nephew Tylor) to camp with the church this week so no teens to help. Sarah leaves next Tuesday for her mission trip so we are having a garage sale this weekend to raise some funds. Nothing like last minute preparations.
On Monday all four of the little ones started going to a summer program with the local recreation department. The program is from 9-3 on Mon-Thurs. The USDA provides free lunches. The cost? Nothing! It is free, I mean actually free. I called to try and figure out the catch and there isn't one. They offer it at various schools in the area. Lucky for me it is at the school right around the corner from me. A bonus...the kids love it. I may just survive the summer.
I am going to be very busy the rest of the week with school, kids, decluttering, sewing up Sarah's pants for the mission trip, and trying to get stuff out for the garage sale. Wish someone lived close by to come sit with me during the sale! I love a garage sale (of course I prefer going to them, less work).
I am in the process of writing another post so I will post again tomorrow.
6 1/2 years ago we received Larissa as a foster child. Many kids came into care from the same home and siblings were separated. A month after receiving Larissa we were asked to take her brother. He was having behavior issues in the home and the foster parents wanted him removed.
He was 2 1/2 years old at the time. (And he loved the camera back then as much as he does now!)
He didn't really know that Larissa was his sister, she had been kept in a back room.
He came with a head full of hair that I cornrowed for 2 years. He also came with some serious delays and behavior challenges.
He has destroyed furniture, acted out in inappropriate ways for a 2 year old, tantrummed, was delayed in many ways, had no speech (since no one talked to him according to his mom) and tested in the intellectual disability range. His skin was in terrible shape and he had not been taught how to eat with utensils, sleep in a bed, use a potty....basically he was left to fend for himself.
The first few years were very difficult. Several times we almost called to have him moved but we just couldn't do it. It was hard but he did grow. He did stop tantrumming and other behaviors improved.
When he was little he feared a lot of things. He wouldn't go close to the water at the beach. Bugs scared him. Dogs scared him.
Over time he learned to love his sister.
He no longer tested as a child with intellectual disabilities.
He still loves to have his picture taken.
He has learned to play in the ocean now instead of fearing it.
Even though Anthony has learned how to live within a family, those years of neglect still impact him today. His defiance gets him into trouble frequently. Unfortunately, it also impacts his schooling. The last month of school he really struggled. Many days he would come home with his school work to complete and the art work he had done instead attached to his behavior chart. He does have more green days a week then red. But, it is infrequent for him to go a week with out a problem at school. His defiance is what gets him into trouble the most.
I don't know why I don't write about the school issues. I think because it just keeps repeating itself every week and I am sure that folks don't want to hear about my weekly frustrations....over and over!
A few weeks ago we had planned on moving him over to one of the bedrooms where all the other kids are. I started decorating the room in Marvel comics (his choice) then some of his old behaviors resurfaced. We put in a camera upstairs but I didn't feel that I could appropriately monitor it all night so for now we are not moving him. It seems like just when you think that you have a behavior under control it rears it's ugly head again.
Thankfully he is not defiant with me. If he is with me he does great. He also does great with his dad. I just wish that we could transfer that to his school, church and the teens when they babysit. Just recently the church told us that he had gotten so bad with not listening to them that they don't even tell him to do anything anymore. He got to sit with us in church for that. I can't have him with me at all times. I think that defiance is my biggest area of frustration.
John has started taking him to some of his activities. Anthony is in charge of trash duties and gets to go to the dump with his dad. He also got some hearing protection of his own and goes to the shooting range. Today the two men went to the VA and then to a gun show. Anthony came home with a new Army hat. (John doesn't do pictures so I never get pictures of the men's activities!) Anthony loves doing stuff with his dad.
Anthony does get tired of being the only boy in the house. He has asked for a brother. I can understand his position, he is surrounded by dolls and Barbies. However, our hands are just a little full right now with the ones we have.
I do get frustrated with the behaviors that just won't stop. It has been more then 6 years since he came into our home. However, visitations lasted for 3 years and those really hampered him and his behaviors.
When I look back to the beginning I can see how much he has improved. He has come so far and overcome a lot. That little wild child is gone. He no longer destroys things, instead he prefers to build and create things. He does have compassion and empathy. He has the potential to reach his dreams and the love and support of a family to help him get there.