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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Adoption Match Events?

Thoughts? Have you been to one? Does your area have them?

I read so many people on boards talk about how it sounds like you'd be shopping for a kid, but it's really not like that at all.

We didn't find our child at an adoption event, but we did go to numerous events.

Various agencies in the state will host parties for prospective parents, social workers and foster children to meet up in a stress free, fun setting just to spend time together.

They are occassionally used as meeting places for prospective families first visits together to alieviate the stress for the child.

They key is good communication and organization ahead of time. Ideally, there should be organization to foster natural dialogue between kids and prospective parents and also just relax and have some fun.

We were told on all of ours nobody (except the ones that knew ahead of time they were there to specifically meet their match) were to give individualized attention to any one specific kid, so that none of them felt left out.  We were given instructions prior to the kids arriving, so that it wasn't awkward for anybody involved.

We did a zoo event once, where each parent was assigned a part of the zoo to be at. Each child was to come to each prospective parent and collect a token.  Any kid with all their tokens received got a prize at the end. That encouraged kids to mingle and go to each station and prevented parents from going off with one specific child or sibling group.

We had another event that was bowling and we were in teams.  There was not alot of interaction between teams. Each parent was on teams with various kids, but that didn't work as well because with the exception of pizza time, you only had communication with the kids on your team.

Bowling occurred several times. That was more valuable for social worker networking and passing out our flyers to the social workers for if they saw us as a good fit.

We had laser tag once, way fun, we were on teams with kids and got to play hard with the kids in low pressure atmosphere.

Another event was go karts and arcade.

While we didn't meet our child at one of those events, when her worker and a colleague showed up at our house to interview us, we recognized one of them from the events in her area.

Why am I talking about adoption match parties so far after our adoption?

Well, kiddos baby sis isn't going to get to come to her birthday party this year.  She will be going to an adoption party instead, in hopes of finding her new family.

She was given a choice and requested the adults make the decision.

Picking between seeing her sister and finding a forever family was a bit overwhelming for her.

This is HUGE.  There was a time she'd have never said anything other than going to her sisters birthday party. She now actually wants a family, but not ready to admit it to most people.  She has confessed to her therapist though and her actions with distress over picking which party tells volumes.

So, we have a separate birthday party planned for 1/2 way between their birthdays, where they can celebrate together, enjoy one on one time and not forfeit the adoption party.

Hoping she finds a good fit for her at the party.

This adoption event is treasure hunt themed, I'd love for her and her future family to find their treasure in each other this weekend.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Secrets in the Attic

Who doesn't love a good mystery?

This is another Tybee story, but I didn't want it clouding the important parts of the other post.

When we first got to the cottage, we staked out our rooms and starting putting our things away. When kiddo visited our room, she immediately noticed the entrance to the attic above our bed.

She was insistent that we MUST go in the attic and explore.  Part of me was exhausted, part wanted to message Last Mom immediately and plan our meet up. The child in me won though and before we could even think it through, hubs is yelling "What are you girls up to? There is a lot of noise in there".

We'd moved the bed out of the way and were on our way up the ladder.

Our excitement when we saw the vintage suitcase.

but, oh, the letdown when it was empty.  RRA was on the suitcase and a stray E inside the suitcase matching the font on the outside.

I started strategizing immediately on how to make this fun for the next explorer to enter the cottage.  Kiddo wanted to put the suitcase in the kids room to be found instead of the attic, but she soon realized I was right, that that was no mystery.

At first she said "What parent is going to let their child go exploring in a strange attic?"  After the amusing glare she received from me, she said "I mean most parents aren't as fun as you".

The suitcase stayed down until the last day, when I added a letter with a mystery to be found.

Hubs offered to pay for kiddos honeymoon to the same cottage if she'd promise to go in the attic with her husband to see if the letter had been found yet.

Tybee Island & New Friendships

I've followed Last Mom's blog for years, since we were in the search for our daughter actually.  All the talk about her quality momma/daughter time at Tybee and how much fun they've had had us looking up Tybee and it's suitability as a good vacation spot for us.

It seemed to fit almost everything we look for in a vacation spot so we booked a cute 'lil cottage and made our plans.

The best part of the trip.....we managed to time it to see Last Mom and Princess.  The girls hit it off.  My daughter loved hanging out with hers and our whole family just really enjoyed our time with them.

Vacations are always somewhat triggering for kiddo, but we keep trying to expose her in small doses (a few days at a time) so she can gravitate to normal.

She did great though.

She loved seeing Princess and how well adjusted she is and said "Momma, so she went through some of the stuff I did?" but the best part of the trip for me was after we got back to the cottage one night after having a ton of fun with those fun ladies and she was cuddling, giggling and hanging out with me and said "Momma, Last Mom and Princess relationship reminds me of ours".

That made me smile so much.  It was that moment that I realized she realizes we have something special and that this is real.

We had a few stressors along the way, traffic and a stalker, but so much more fun than stress.

Tybee Island was quieter than most of our vacation locations. Princess managed to get kiddo out in the water farther than normal.  The water was warm and the waves were mild.  The cost was very affordable.

Only downside was that long, long drive!!

Anything over 6 hours is a plane trip in my book, but for every now and then, this was fine.

This was the first vacation in awhile that we didn't take a friend for kiddo with us and I loved it.  She had a friend there anyway, but we had friend time (super fun for all and alone time, super fun too)

We've decided we want the showers in our backyard. I didn't take a shower inside the cottage the whole time. I was in love with the outdoor showers there.

Princess convinced kiddo to eat crab legs and she now officially likes them. She didn't, however, like her shrimp....spoiled child didn't like seeing veins. Apparently she thought shrimp never had veins.

Other highlights include ice cream on the girls noses, listening to them giggle about cute shirtless boys at the beach, climbing trees, feeding alligators, covering each other in sand, good food and laughter.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Birthdays, birthdays!

Birthdays are hard for kids adopted from foster care on a normal year.  Add uncertainty to it and it's going to be even worse.

Why would their own birthday be hard?

Why wouldn't they be?

Birthdays are reminders of family.  Birthdays should be happy occassions celebrated with family and friends.  But for kids in foster care or those that were in foster care, it can trigger memories that they should have been able to celebrate with their first families, they shouldn't have been let down.

Different families celebrate different ways.  Not knowing what to expect is difficult for most people.  Change is difficult for most people. Why would a child with so much trauma be different in that aspect?

My poor child has another layer of trauma surrounding birthdays.  This is the 8th year anniversary of the day she was removed from her biological family.  Just a few short weeks away from her 7th birthday, she was torn from the only family she ever knew to bounce around in foster care for awhile.

This month is also the 4th anniversary of when her first adoption disrupted.  Disrupted adoptions.....that's a story for another day, but short think you found your forever family and then it falls apart and you're back in the same situation as 4 years previously.

So many triggers, so much for a child to have to deal with emotionally.  When you hold yourself together through so many big things, sometimes it's the little things that have you falling apart.

Pool liner had to be replaced this year.  Normal pool guy died and we had to find a new place to service us.  They just showed up this past weekend, already in June, just long enough to make us worry it wouldn't be done in time for the party.

Crisis averted.

Invited bio sister to the party again this year.  She's doing much better this year than last year, so we were hopeful.  We were told probably so and that they'd try to make it happen. She's still in residential currently, but they had plans to find somebody to bring her here and supervise like they did for kiddos 13th birthday.

This week, we found out she's not going to get to make it after all.

Kiddo was not a happy camper about that.

But, something positive out of it.....sis will be missing the party so she can attent an adoption match event and we will be getting together at a waterpark a few hours from here to have a joint party for just the two of them half way between their birthdays.

So, they'll get to celebrate, just not the same way we originally planned.

I think we'll get through all of this without the crazies hitting.  The stress was starting to show prior to solutions, but my child is in her calm brain again for the moment and hopefully for the rest of the time.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Measuring Bonding

There was a thread on facebook about adoption disruptions, why they happen and how people can even consider disrupting.

If you adopt a child, your child should be treated exactly as if they would be if they were born to you. In other words, if you wouldn't have given up if you'd birthed them, then don't give up just because they're not your blood.

I can't imagine loving our child any more whether she were born to us or not. She's the light of our life.

As the thread progressed, the question came up about how you measure bonding.

We got lucky. We adopted our daughter from an adoption that was dissolved and she fits in perfectly like a missing puzzle piece in our home. She's doing well and with work (attachment parenting) and attachment therapy, the bonding has occurred.  It was connection from day one and felt right right away, but even if there hadn't been that connection, I'm stubborn, we'd never give up.

As for answering how to measure bonding, I can't say I really know that exact answer, but I do remember some moments along the way that were good evidence in my eyes that bonding was happening.

We came back from vacation once and kiddo said "it's so good to be back home" and the way she said home was so different than other times. I knew she had become a family girl and was no longer just trying to fit in and feeling like it was temporary.

Early on when we visited her bio sis or social worker out of town, she'd pack stuff "to do" and a zillion baby dolls. The trip was 3 1/2 hours each way, but it wasn't about having things to do, despite what she said.  When we got home, she put her dolls away and told the other dolls and her dog that she didn't know why they were worried about the dolls being put up for adoption, they came home.  Tear jerker moment.  The day she started travelling light, I knew she knew we were forever and bonding had occurred.

We also own the house next door and rent it out. Kiddo said when she gets married, the renters go and she will move there. She said her and I will be talking from our front porches, she'll come eat our food and she'll send her kids to us when they're getting on her nerves.

For her, evidence we were in it forever was after massive meltdowns. She asked us on numerous attempts, tearfully, to send her back. We refused.

When we defended her in situations she wasn't accustomed to having support in, she knew we were going to take care of her.

When she was cutting, she had written a note to a friend that she was worried about us finding out and sending us back to foster care.  We found out, took her to the hospital and I took some time off with her to ensure she knew that we were serious about wanting her to be well, healthy and with us.  There have been no incidents since then.

The major one though, was after her foot surgery.  She was a demon for about 36 hours after the surgery and that was the roughest time we've had as parents (even more so than the cutting incident).  She had 6 weeks of having to depend on us for almost everything.  That, plus not giving up on how she behaved those first 36 hours, gave her the confidence to depend on us and know we were forever.

We still have issues, but nothing serious like that, knock on wood.

The food issues have been so much better over the past 6 weeks or so too 
So proud of her.

Have a few concerns about summer coming up, but also a few joys about it.  She's so much more relaxed in summer being here, not having school, etc.  But it is a challenge to get her out of the house and I want her to go out and enjoy things! She loves home so much that it's hard to get her out of the house when it's not a "required" activity, like school.

On the flip side, this is the first year that she's looked forward to vacation the way she is.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Transgender Bathroom Controversy

What bugs me the most about the transgender bathroom controversy is how much more we worry about that than about the kids in our country that are neglected and/or abused. I rarely see worry over that (except in adoption groups).
I respect passion and it's great to be protective of our kids, I don't want mine in most public restrooms alone regardless of who's allowed in there or not, but it really saddens me that this is so much more important to most people than the overall future of our country.....that's not where we're likely to need our child to be protected from.
Do you think 1500 people are going to be killed by a transgender person each year as a result of this "new" rule that isn't new at all? That's how many kids per year die due to abuse and/or neglect every year. Why isn't THAT important to anybody that hasn't experienced it first or second hand?
Where do you think they're (Transgenders) currently going to the bathroom at?
The only thing likely to be changing is the constant discussion about it. Everybody loves to pretend to want to make a difference, but it's usually talking about something that we can't change. The future of our kids we CAN change though. How about a few join the cause on that. THAT is where the real difference comes in at. Fix that problem, fix the vicious cycle and I can PROMISE that the world will change for the better.
Some respond with that they're looking after the kids, most never mention preventing issues.  Pretty sure it's not about helping the kids, as 99% of them have zero information or rage towards child abuse from areas that it actually happens in.  Most people like to vent about things they can't control vs doing something about what they can control.  pushing 90% of sexual abuse is done by somebody that the child knows, not a random stranger.  
Kids are going hungry every day, kids are being abused daily, 4 kids a day are dying from abuse, kids are being sexually abused by PEOPLE THEY KNOW, not some random transgender person.
When I look at the adoption sites to see if some of the kids we met or knew about before we found kiddo have found homes and more than have haven't, it tells me there aren't enough people actually wanting to make a difference.  If more would step up and help, then authorities may have time to prevent some abuse by protecting kids and getting them out of abusive situations and helping families either get their acts together or find a safe place for kids.
We can rationalize our opinions, but the numbers really don't lie.  
This is intended not to be pro or con transgender bathroom issue, but to provoke thought and suggest maybe people would get out and do something about what matters to them, instead of just whining. Be a solution.  I wish some would put things in perspective, but many are just happier being mad and prefer placing blame over fixing an issue.
Some say "I believe this, but it's because this....", I challenge you to really think about WHY you believe the way you do, regardless of your beliefs.  Look at any friends wall on facebook and you can tell what matters most to them. The most prominent subjects on your wall are the things that are most important to you.  
If the only stance you take against child abuse is that a person may pose as a transgender to get in the bathroom and stalk your child, but you never worry about a child that dies from hunger or from being tormented, you never worry about sexual abuse, it's not the potential for child abuse that truly bothers you.  If child abuse was primary concern, you'd also worry about real dangers to a child.
It really upsets me and I know that's personal and emotional on my level, but it hurts to see how much people care about this issue and yet so few cared enough to get my baby out of a situation before it was as bad as it was.  It hurts to know that I KNOW what some of the kids went thru and it took so long to get that child help.
I live with 2 people that have PTSD from childhood abuse, I do take this personally.  It's real and it's a daily battle.  
Who's willing to go out there and make a difference?

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Holiday Triggers

Off and on we've experienced kiddo struggling during various holidays.

She's done so well over time that it's not always the same one or the same reaction, but there is generally obvious anxiety, even if it doesn't result in meltdowns.

Sometimes it does result in meltdowns, but whether those occur or not, I try to be sensitive to those holiday triggers that are all too common for trauma kids.

Acting out isn't a behavior problem though, it's a way to communicate the fear and turmoil they're feeling. It's difficult to articulate and many times, the child doesn't even realize the holiday is what triggered the problem.

Fathers Day and Mothers Day have been 2 of the harder holidays for kiddo.

It's logical though.

Imagine being a little kid and while you're still little, your father leaves.

Fast forward a year or two and the abuse starts.....your mother isn't able to keep you safe.  Eventually Social Services steps in and removes you from the only mother and father you've ever known.

Hard enough even if you stop there.

Now picture you moving to a different home. You're told you're safe there.  Abuse starts a year or two later.

Now you've lost the next set of parents you had.

Of course by the time you end up with your forever family, you're just waiting for the other shoe to fall.

Not only do you worry about if they'll always be who they say they will and if you'll always be safe, but you're expected to be all nice and stuff for fathers day and mothers day and give them gifts and love.

No! Why would somebody with that background trust it.  Why wouldn't they think with pain to the past and mothers and fathers day trigger those memories of the past, the mothers and fathers that weren't able to be there for them.

One year for Fathers Day, we made the mistake of going to the beach for the weekend.  Oddly, it wasn't intentional to schedule it for Fathers Day, but just landed that way.

It was horrible.  Total trigger city.

Vacations were difficult early on. Kiddo thought she didn't deserve good things happening to her and vacations were a stressor, worrying if she was behaving well enough to deserve all that fun. Add to that, the knowledge of Fathers Day.....already there is distrust of men in general, now you are suppose to pretend that everything is normal, that you haven't lost so much before this point, that you don't remember the good moments with the past pretend you don't remember the bad moments with the past families....both hurt in their own way.

The next Mothers Day, I had to constantly remind myself not to be upset with her.  She didn't wish me a Happy Mothers Day. She didn't make me a card or anything. It was just another day. I wanted that normal day that a mom usually has, but demanding would be useless and meaningless.  Waiting and not having an expectation would help and be healing for her.

Now, time is creeping up and she's mentioned being away of Mothers Day around the corner.

With the healing that's gone on over the past year or two, it'll be interesting to see how she handles that trigger.

I'm not mentioning the day though.  I am preparing myself and telling myself not to have expectations, even though she "says" she's making something for me.

The first Mothers Day here, the adoption wasn't final. We were sorta in our honeymoon stage, meltdowns, but not fully attached yet at that point. Regardless, I'll treasure that card she made that said I'm the best mom ever.

While she said what she thought she should at that point, I'm accepting the challenge for that to be what I am to her.

We're now attached, but she still has insecurities.  It may be a long time before we have a complete year of holidays and no triggers, but that's okay.

I will understand and accept my childs feelings.

I will also realize there is no right or wrong way to celebrate a holiday.  ie. Christmas....we use to love to feed the hungry on Christmas. Kiddo is triggered by crowds and noise, we changed that tradition. We used to visit family on Christmas. We stay home now. It's just for us.  We have zero expectations of a "perfect" day.

Guess what? When we decided it was okay not to be perfect, that's exactly what the day is!! Maybe not perfect in other peoples eyes, but perfect for us.