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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Trauma Bonds

We have a visit with baby sis coming up in 2 weeks.  It's the first one since kiddos sweet 16 party. After the party, baby sis went off the deep end and trashed both tv's in the group home she was in.

When siblings get together and they’re reminded of the past and everything bad that’s happened, they may transfer their fears and anger onto their sibling.  It makes sense, given the person that did the abusing isn’t there for them to lash out at.  It can be worse than the anger they have at the grown ups in their lives. They are there with each other and the one constant. It has to be dealt with and not ignored.

Many times they can’t be together without supervision.  Sometimes it can result in being separated, like our daughter and her baby sis and not live in the same house.  Sadness, fear, frustration and fatigue turn into anger. The separation is working for the girls and they are nice to each other and love each other.  The first visit they had after kiddo had a break in residential went very poorly and was scary for everybody involved. It was at that moment that it was presented for them to be separated.They are learning to be kind to each other. 

Activities between them need to be kept fun, but relatively low key and short.  Burning off energy is also good.  All that keeps the drama at a minimum.  I noticed that after 2014 with the frequent visits that our daughter got much worse temporarily.  2015 there were very few visits and by 2016 our daughter was a completely different person and acting like a regular teenager.  The trauma history was no longer evident in her behaviors.

It will be interesting to see how their relationship ends up as they grow up and become adults.  Kiddo thinks her baby sis will want to move in with her and she said she can’t do that.  We promised to do what we can to help her be close without being in her face.

Baby sis is very rough in her play.  It happens frequently and it’s because of the trauma bond.  Trauma bonds are frequently considered as the bond between victim and perpetrator, but it can also happen between those that shared these traumas together.  Because of the girls difference in age and understanding, they were at different developmental stages at the time of trauma and their healing processes run differently.

The intensity of what the girls experienced and no suitable outlet? Can you imagine going through that? How would you react? Why are people judgmental?  Why would people call kids and their behaviors bad, when it’s really the only coping skill they knew? They can’t use positive coping skills until they learn positive coping skills. They can’t learn positive coping skills until they trust those that are trying to teach them these skills.  They can’t trust these people until the grown up has earned the trust. That trust will take longer than your average person.  Why? Why not? It’s logical that trust would hard to come by.  They were unable to trust those that were suppose to love them best.  Why would somebody outside the family be trustworthy?

Today marks 4 years since the day that the judge pronounced us family.  It's been 5 years since our daughter was our daughter in our hearts.  It was just last year that our daughter finally said she knows this is forever.  4 years to get to the point of knowing you're home forever.

As adults, when we get together with our siblings, we can find ourselves taking on the role we did as a child in that sibling set.  My hubs, for example, has a trauma bond and after more than 30 minutes of time with his sisters, his accent comes back.  Kids may go back to acting as they did when they were in the chaotic environment they first knew.  If adults regress around siblings, wouldn't it stand to reason that kids would too? 

Just the act of being separated creates sadness and loss. They've lost their parents and most bio family, then they worry they are losing each other.  But sometimes, they need different things. 

What they really need though:
  • Parents that are open minded and willing to keep contact.  Baby sis is scared to death that if she's adopted, they will not allow her to still see her sister
  • Parents that are able to listen to the childs needs, both the verbal listening and the behavior and body language.  Our daughter tells us what she needs now, but before we had to read between the lines.
  • Parents that recognize this is a loss and that a desire to be connected to their birth siblings doesn’t equate to a lack of desire to be connected in their new family.  After acknowledging curiousity and normalcy of this, the searches in kiddos history of her bios quit showing up in her internet history.  She knows we'll get the info we need.
  • Parents that are honest, open and compassionate

Our daughter first saw the separation as a punishment and a loss that was dictated to pay her back for all she’d done.  As time went on she realizes not, it wasn’t about her behavior, but about her needs.

And that brings us to survivors guilt…..

Coming soon

Thursday, November 2, 2017

November: National Adoption Month. 

Please don't ignore posts about Adoption and waiting kids. Sharing may result in a child finding their forever home. The kids deserve a place to call home.
When I think about the time we spent waiting, I'm overwhelmed by emotion that as hard as the wait was, it's nothing compared to the wait from a childs view. We know several cuties still waiting on their homes, far longer than we waited to provide a home. No child deserves to not have a forever home.
One of those cuties is my childs baby sister.  She's 13 now, she was removed from bio home 2 months before her 4th birthday.  They were adopted once, but it disrupted. That child has had nearly 10 years of bouncing around in the system, waiting for that family that will treasure her the way she deserves to be treasured.
Imagine being a child, not knowing where you belong, not knowing if you'll ever experience what every kid in the world should experience--to be cherished; to have somebody that will never give up on them no matter what; to have somebody that understands connection is what it's all about; to have at least one adult that is irrationally crazy about them and will help them become the best they are meant to be.
National Adoption Month is a month of celebration, of hope, of passion. It's also a month of resolution, awareness and advocacy. While much has been done and many waiting kids are home, there is MUCH more to do and far more kids waiting to be home. What is your part in the solution?
I celebrate our baby's adoption finalization in the same month as national adoption month, there is so much to appreciate. I love that child deeply.
But in the midst of celebration, I also am wistful and sad at how many kids haven't seen their happy endings yet.  So much loss and pain around these "celebrations".  

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The BFF Triangle

Several years back, we had some drama with BFF K's family. As a result they grew apart, as we weren't constantly inviting K to go do things. It's hard to spend money on somebody when you feel taken advantage of.

K was growing up anyway.  Slightly older, serious boyfriend, driving, job, etc.  It was only natural they'd be drifting from hanging out 24/7. 

We missed K so much though.  It's been rough to feel like we had a second daughter that all the sudden was no longer here.

Everytime they saw each other though, the bond was so evident and so sweet to see how much they truly love each other.

9th grade came along and BFF A entered the picture.  More age appropriate, they started forming a strong bond and so similar to each other, they could finish each others sentences.  She went to the beach with us this year and they had so much fun. 

The downside, however, was we quickly figured out she's in an abusive relationship with a controlling boyfriend.  Of course, like most victims, she made excuses for his bad behavior.  He texted her constantly.  Shortly after we got home, kiddo found out that A was sexually active and was very upset and angry over it.  Hubs gave her good advice and said "when your best friend makes bad decisions, that's when they need you the most.  It's okay to let them know it was a horrible decision, but be there for her because she's going to need somebody to help her pick up the pieces from it"

Fast forward a month.....former BFF K is pregnant.  OMG!! I'm going to be a grandma.  Well, not literally, but she was my 2nd daughter for years, that makes me a grandma, right?

She's a senior in high school and has worked it out to graduate in December instead of May.  Thank God she was ahead in credits, straight A student, etc and only needs 2 classes to graduate. She's taking those 2 classes this semester and will be able to graduate well before the baby arrives.

I'm devastated that she is making these big girl decisions and not being a kid and not getting to enjoy the traditional Senior fun.  This used to be my worst nightmare about kiddo. Knowing the past, I feared so many times I'd be a grandma before she graduated.  I hope we can use this as a learning tool.

After kiddo got over the initial shock and anger, she reached out and said "I'm going to be the best aunt your baby will ever have" and the girls have once again become inseparable.  Boyfriend is still with K, but he's gotten a stable job and working good hours to try to take care of the baby.  K is working part time on the weekends, so they don't see each other often, but her and kiddo are together in between. 

It's been good to see them laughing together, especially since K has been incredibly depressed since finding out she's pregnant. She said she feels horrible, because she was the girl that always talked about girls that got pregnant in high school and how stupid it was.  K was on birth control, but antibiotics interfere with that and apparently their once a week dates were enough to make things happen.  She always said she'd start having babies right after school. We always told her to enjoy life first and be her before having to be responsible for another human. 

My fear is that kiddo will romanticize it, since she'll get to babysit and be auntie, etc.  I hope that kiddo keeps her head on straight and doesn't go down that path. 

With both BFF's making those big girl decisions, it's a scary place for momma to be.

BFF A is jealous as all get out over BFF K. 

A spends ALL her time with the boyfriend.  K sees the boyfriend/baby daddy once a week.  Kiddo feels A is putting boyfriend above them and boyfriend keeps telling A that she shouldn't spend time with kiddo.

So, naturally kiddo spends time with K. It's easier, it's more relaxed, there is less drama.  A and her fight like cats and dogs sometimes. Kiddo is taking the easy way out, A is mad, A keeps texting because she's upset, but then gets mad when she's told what the issue is. 

Kiddo can NOT hang with A's boyfriend. He triggers her. His abusive demeanor takes her down paths she doesn't deserve to be. I've even explained that and suggested she at least split her time, but A doesn't get it and kiddo is left in the cold.  Apparently A even makes fun of kiddo because her and her boyfriend don't spend all their free time together, they haven't even really kissed yet. 

A and kiddo fighting like cats and dogs (not really) but I do think it's funny and appropriate that they did this at the beach. 

High school is so dramatic.  It makes me tired.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Past life......

When kiddo turned 13, her prior adoptive parents sent a gift and a letter.  We let her have gifts, but always put the letters in a file for when she's older and ready to tackle that.  She does know that we have them, however, and that she can ask when and if she ever gets ready for them.  Sometimes she just asks if there is anything in the letter that she'd want to know.

That was 2014.

The letter was addressed to "kiddo PRIOR last name".  We sent a letter that gifts and letters weren't necessary, but that if they felt the need to send them, to please NOT use their last name.

Over 3 years later before we heard from them again.  Last week we received a letter (sent thru DSS).

The letter was addressed to "Kiddo RANDOM last name".  I thought  I'd die.
Too funny.  Kiddo thought so too.

They were kind enough to send her pics of their dog (hers previously) finally.  They also sent a pic of themselves.  She took the dog pictures and asked if she could cut their picture to pieces.  I'm guessing she's not ready to deal with them.

Her grandfather when she was with them recently passed away.  I always worry about loss and grief effects on the trauma brain, even if it's not somebody she's currently close with.  One of her best friends mom was just diagnosed with cancer and that's scary to watch as well.  Every loss brings back feelings of loss and all that she's been through.

This week we heard from bio aunt.

Kiddos biological mom is in ICU, stroke and blood clot on the brain.

We let her know what was up.

She was very concerned about that happening to her one day.  We had a good talk about genetics and environment and how lives are a mix of both.  Pretty sure at least part of the concern was for the 1st mom, although she'll never admit it.

I know she means it when she says she has no desire to see her, but I also know that she cares about her.

Hopefully all this will not turn her too wonky.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Teenage Contolling Boyfriends

When somebody that had years of abuse tells you you're in an abusive situation, dismissing it is the last thing you should do.  If they share their story, don't dismiss it. Understand the pain that comes from reliving it.

When friends speak up, it may be hard to hear, but look at the common denominator in your challenges. Is it one person that thinks its a bad relationship or more?  If it's more, you know what needs to happen.

Love yourself enough to ask for help.  People do NOT change and nobody should have to try to convince somebody they love to change.  They should automatically be treated with love and respect. If you have to ask for love and kindness, it's not real.

A child can't control abuse within the home but anybody can stop abuse from a partner.  What you ignore becomes more.

Doing nothing says it's okay.

If friends start drifting, it is usually because they've been alienated and because it's so difficult to watch. There is nothing that can replace true friends. Don't give up.

There is nothing harder than knowing somebody you love is in a controlling, bad, abusive relationship and not being able to change it.

It's even worse when it's flaunted how much they "love them" and knowing they've chosen them over true frlends and a good life.  The people with good relationships don't have to post about it 80 times a day. If you do, you're trying to convince yourself and others.

Others know and love enough to want you happy and call you out. Love yourself.  It only gets worse with time.

I'm so proud of my child for speaking up to her bestie and letting her know with love that she is in relationship that isn't healthy. There was a time it would have been my child on receiving end, not believing she was worthy of being treated well.

It hurts to watch her friend make excuses and keep accepting poor treatment.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Sibling Visits

How do you know if a separation between siblings was right? How do you know how often to visit? How do you know what's best for the kids? How do you know if they're ready to get back together again?

Our daughter lived with her younger sister for almost 8 years prior to their separation.  They'd been promised they'd never have to be separated and not to worry, that they'd get adopted together.  A few months after that, it was determined the needs of the girls would make it necessary for them to live apart.

It was heartbreaking.

My child had been ripped out of her last adoptive home, put in psychiatric care, followed by residential treatment. During their 1st overnight visit, things apparently went to WWIII.

It was right after that that they were separated, never to live together again.

Our daughters younger sister was "asked" whether she thought it was a good idea to not live together. Bear in mind the younger sister was in the prior adoptive home at least 60 days after our child was removed.  I'm not sure how much of that was being led to that answer, how much was anger over the situation and how much was the manipulation she went through prior to her removal from the prior adoptive home.

Next month will be 5 years since they were "officially" separated (on paper) but it was 5 years in April since they last lived together.

In that 5 years, we've had numerous sibling visits, ranging from barely over an hour with several supervisors  to all day with no supervision.  We've had no overnight visits.

In 2014, they were doing so well, we considered adopting her younger sister.  As we planned for increased visits before deciding whether to procede, as the first overnight visit was scheduled, both girls went wonky and our child ended up in the hospital for a few hours with an extreme anxiety attack and some cutting.

Needless to say, brakes were put on quick.

Separation was right for them.  They definitely need different things, they definitely are trauma bonded and they definitely are triggered by too much time together.

How do we know how often to visit?  and how much time frame? We kept notes after each visit about before, during and after, as much information as possible.  We were able to determine from that what was working on frequency.

Baby sis came to kiddos sweet 16 party.  Shortly thereafter, she crashed bad and destroyed 2 of the TV's in the group home she's at.  Clearly it was too overwhelming.  She had to share her sister. It was a long drive. It was a ton of junk food.  She arrived late.  So many triggers.

She's not likely to be able to attend future parties until after she's grown up.  I wish so much I could help her sister.  I can continue to help our daughter, but helping her sister is only a part time job for a full time responsibility.

We try so hard to help the girls stay bonded. We try so hard to help the girls heal.  What will happen though when they're older? Will they feel bonded? Will they realize how much we tried to help them stay connected? Will they feel isolated from each other?

I think I know, but how can I be sure?

Time will tell.

If you, however, have part of a sibling set though, I encourage you to make those siblings a part of your family.  If not your kids in your home, at least extended family, with visits. Treat the kids as if they were part of your family, not just your child.  Enjoy the siblings, they will feel your feelings and feed off of them.  Sibling relationships are the longest relationships of your life.  Their visits will help them understand where they came from. Their visits will help them know there is always a connection they can depend on.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Disruptions, Rehoming, Etc

A few pages I've been on lately have been "debating" on whether it's okay to rehome or disrupt an adoption.

I don't see what the debate is.  The answer is a big fat no.  I have a really hard time understanding how anybody could think it was okay.

Can  you imagine growing up with childhood trauma that leaves you with PTSD, anxiety, depression or more and feeling like because you had bad behaviors that you were going to have to leave the home you're in.

How many parents say when they adopt that they love their child as much as a bio child.  I know I do. I'm convinced I love my child probably even more than I would a bio child. She feels like as much a part of me as my heart does.  If they really do, why would they ever relinquesh rights to their child?  I suppose I should be grateful it's legal, since that's the reason I have a child.

Yes, our child was adopted previously.  Yes, they gave up on my amazing child.  Yes, they have serious issues.

Why do  I still disagree with it? Because if things were done properly, the adoption wouldn't have happened to begin with and therefore, she wouldn't have had yet another significant loss in her life.

When I think back to those first months and even years of placement with our daughter,  I look at how far she's come and I'm amazed. Amazed that she has been so receptive to being willing to love and be loved.  For those first few years, she always wondered after every meltdown she had if that was when she was going to be "returned", as if she was a defective purchase.   She tried everything possible to make us give up on her before she got too attached.  We made a commitment to raise her, to be there for her and never turn our backs on her.  She's stuck with us whether she wants to be or not.

There are several that "defend" those that dissolve their adoptions, saying "Well, they had to, it was dangerous to have them with their bios" or "well, if they can't handle the issues they should let them go to somebody who can?"  These are the same people that have adopted and know that there is a waiting period of at LEAST 6 months after they move in before it's even okay to adopt.  How does somebody NOT realize there are problems in that length of time?

When we read kiddos file, it was so evident that they were never a good parental match for her.  The struggles they had and how they handled them, yet, they continued and adopted her anyway?  Pride standing in the way.  If things are tough, ask yourself "What would I do if I had given birth to her?" and follow that.

Many times the child does so much better in the second home, as was the case here.  That's another reason people "defend" dissolutions.  I say that's why she should have gotten here sooner.  We were meant to be her parents. She was meant to be her child.

Yes, I'm passionate about that. Yes, I get angry about that.

I also have read about how the cases somebody were aware of "they were extreme and required residential treatment or forced to relinquish in order to get the child the care they needed and how sad it was for all involved.  Of course it was sad for all involved, but again how did they not know there were problems before adoption? If it's THAT extreme, there is NO way that there were no red flags.

Yes, my child was one of those "extreme" situations that required residential treatment, or that's what her file said.  So not true.

After a month there, it finally came out the real story and that's where "find the need behind the behavior" comes in.

Our child and her past is the reason I'm so passionate about it and why it angers us so much.  She's thriving with us but I get more angry over the last adoptive parents than the biological parents.  The red flags were there. They didn't try attachment parenting. Reports are done and sent to court before adoption to explain why the adoption is a good idea.  How did they in good conscience send that report in.  So much heartache could have been prevented.

She's best here and not there. We provided what she needed when they couldn't, but if they hadn't adopted when it was obvious it wasn't a good match, there would be one less disruption out there and alot more calm years in our girls life.