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Thursday, January 18, 2018

College Acceptance & More

How far we've come

When baby girl first moved in, we were getting 3-4 calls a week from the school regarding both behavior issues and academic issues.  Academic issues were about her not doing the work, erasing her ipad and not turning in the work, etc.

Behavior issues to the point of teachers turning their heads, pretending they didn't see us in public to avoid talking to our child. 

A couple years later, behavior issues were non-existent.  We were getting compliments from teachers on our childs behavior, manners and how respectful she is.  We were told "you should have more kids, if all our students were like yours, a teachers job would be so easy".  She still struggled with the academics, but was a dream as far as behavior at school.

Last year, it was all about balance.  She was achieving straight A's, earning academic awards, behavior a dream, popular with her peers. 

Comparing now to 5 years ago is like comparing how far you can see at 2 am vs 2 pm.

Things are going well at school and while she has some hard classes and not a straight A student, her effort is there, her focus is there and we couldn't ask for more.

She's received her first college acceptance letter.  She will be doing dual enrollment for her Junior and Senior year of high school and should be able to have all her general credits for associates degree by the time she receives her high school diploma.

This week, we received a letter stating she was being invited to apply to enter Governors School for her Junior and Senior years. 

She can choose to do Governors school, college or both at the same time as finishing her high school career.  Governors school is a program that is for gifted students to challenge and teach beyond what is available in a normal high school education.

Governors school is competitive and only about 15% of applicants are accepted.

Dual enrollment, on the other hand, would save us 2 years of college expenses.  Oh it wouldn't, kiddo was adopted after age 8, so 2 years is free anyway.

I think both would be too overwhelming, although it is an option.  I hope she doesn't do that because I want her to enjoy the rest of her high school years, but on the other hand, how amazing that this is an option.  Our Godson did both and we're so proud, so it is possible. 

If I were her, I'd choose college vs dual enrollment, but the choice is hers and I'm not going to weigh in, just support the decision. 

We shall see what happens. 

Sibling Visits

With holidays and a zillion work things, it's been awhile since I've written.

The visit we had planned back in November didn't happen.

Baby sis lost it and ended up in the hospital, followed by going to a residential treatment center.  It was rough not getting to see her for the holidays.

We got thru the holidays fine, despite that, and kiddo started getting more and more stressed about the lack of contact with her sister.

This week though, she has called kiddo every day and her therapist has been on a few of the calls and they have arranged a play date. It's going to be harder because she's even further from us now, but we're all excited to see her.

I think baby sis is anxious to see kiddo.  Today she called (5th day in a row) and said "so when is it you're coming to see me?"

I've been a little uptight over the whole situation, a little angry at the baby sis for disrupting the plans for the holidays, losing her temper and refusing to go back where she was.  Yeah, she asked to be moved and it wasn't pretty.  She tore up all her clothes.  We couldn't send her her Christmas gifts because it's not items on the approved list.  We send some of kiddos hand me down clothes so she'd have something other than Christmas to take care of her clothing needs.

S (baby sis) isn't speaking with her case worker currently, angry over her placement, etc.  I'm hoping this means she'll actually work the plan, realizing she's had it made with some of the group homes and that this rtc stay will result in enough healing to allow her to be able to live in a family setting.

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.