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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sibling Visit

For the first time since the fiasco playdate last May, we finally had another sibling playdate.

Kiddo was excited and on edge at the same time waiting for yesterday to get here.  We were told she was making progress and they asked if we were comfortable with an unsupervised visit or if they needed to supply a chaperone for baby sis.

We decided we could handle the visit unsupervised and had their cell phone in case things got out of hand.

She was actually a little calmer than normal.  There was only one sign of stress during the visit......when she asked for candy right before lunch.  We told her to wait until after lunch and she said okay and stuck that thumb in her mouth.  Sucking the thumb is her coping skill when she's stressed and wants to hold it together.

At least she held it together though.  I was really proud of how well both of the girls did.

Kiddo didn't get stressed during the visit at all.

The visit seemed to fly by, despite being a normal length. I actually hated leaving her.

We went tubing and out to lunch and got lots of great photos.  The girls exchanged some just because gifts and I gave baby sis a DS I got off the yard sale page, since her case worker can't find hers.  I told her I was loaning it to her and if she wanted to keep it forever to draw me a picture.

She painted kiddo a sweet picture and gave her a card, encouraging her to do good deeds and had all 4 of our initials inside of a heart.  Be still MY heart.

All in all, it went very well.

When we returned her to the RTC staff, they seemed surprised.

Looking forward to the next visit!! Hoping for continued healing for both girls.  The trauma bond wasn't even visible in this visit.

I did find it interesting that kiddo took her baby doll with us and put the car seat in the middle for her doll so she'd have a barrier between her and her sister if she felt things were off.  Seeing her, she was immediately fine and moved it over so they could sit super close to each other.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Making Memories and Growing Up

There have been a few moments lately where I'm sad at how quickly our daughter is growing up.

There have been a few other moments where I'm so glad she's still our little girl.

We went to see Disney Live! last weekend.  Before we left, I was a little wistful thinking of how the last AND first time we saw Disney she was 11 and how she's quickly outgrowing this activity.

We told her on the way there that when we have grandbabies we'll need to borrow them for things like that.

Once we got there, the teen girl left our daughters face and she was a little kid.  She seemed to have so much fun and asked for souveniers as if she were 7 again.  (and yes, she got noisemakers, novelty cups of lemonade, cotton candy and a tiara)

I'm so glad we're still making happy memories frequently.  I hope that by the time our little girl grows up and moves out, that we have instilled enough good memories to offset that black time in her life that no child should endure.!

(and as a side bar, how I wish she didn't have crowd anxiety so bad, I'd love to take this 'lil girl to Disney World, I know she'd love it once the anxiety left)

Disney last week, 8th grade dance this week.  Where does the time go?

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Three Little Words

Ashley Rhodes-Courter wrote an amazing book that I just read yesterday.  Three Little Words.

Nope, the three little words aren't what you're thinking.

I couldn't put the book down.  A very fast read, but very inspirational insight into life as a foster child.

It was good on several levels, but I also saw so much of my daughter and her sister in this book.  The author writes about her journey in foster care and adoption, as well as a little about her younger brothers journey.  So many similiarities and I felt so much.

I can't even imagine the pain of a foster child, going through so much of the childhood on broken promises from the bio families, not knowing when/if you'll ever be home, so many that go through so many placements, the blame game and wondering why you're not good enough  (when it's not that at all), the uncertainty, the actual liking of an institution because it's safe, not being sure you'll be fed, not getting to keep your belongings from one place to another, the lost relationships, the fear of new places and learning new rules constantly, the worry over your sibling(s) and wondering if they'll ever be happy and have a forever home, the conflict of wanting to know how the bios are, combined with perhaps never wanting to even see them again, the survivors guilt of having your own family and finally being attached, even if insecurely and the hyper vigilance you develop and not being able to relax.

The writer speaks of finding the need behind the behavior, not her exact words, but it's so evident that if something is going on, you should find out what the cause is, not just lay blame.  I hurt for how much pain my child (and others) have been through. I can't understand why a parent wouldn't get how hard it is to go through this and not understand why/how it could take time to build that healthy attachment.  Our family is attached, but it's not an immediate action, it's something that develops with time.  How can one trust somebody immediately when everybody up to that point has let them down.

Everybody understands when somebody is grieving after a death, but so few understand why somebody grieves with losing somebody over and over again, even though it's not through death.  I don't see how somebody can not understand.

It only takes one to make a difference though. Be the difference!!

Ashley overcame so much and to have made such an impact is inspiring.

I can't wait to read the sequel.

Pet Adoption

Yesterday, we had a full day and in between scheduled plans, we ran into PetSmart to get some dog treats.

Mistake, lol

Kiddo looks at us with those beautiful brown eyes and points out that the cats don't have an adoption fee for the day.

Yeah, we came home with a cat.

She's a beautiful blue grey cat that looks amazingly like my Pixie that we had back in the early 90's.
We filled out the adoption application and explained to kiddo the process of adopting pets vs kids and when the guy was looking at our application, hubs said "Yeah, we're familiar with adoption, we've adopted an American Eskimo dog, a bengal cat and a little red haired girl"

Kiddo said "Did he REALLY just lump me together with the pets?" and started laughing.  I told her I was sure he was pointing out if we're suitable for adopting a child, it's probably safe to put an animal with us.

New rule came from this though: do NOT take the kid into a pet store.

Pics to follow once she relaxes and comes out of hiding in monkey's room.

The gray one is my Pixie. Maggie looks exactly like this.

Maggie's name at the adoption agency is the same as mine, so we had to change her name. That'd get confusing.  We renamed her ManifiCat and her nickname is Maggie.  

It was love at first sight.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Adult Adoption

This makes me happy and sad at the same time.

Happy, because she finally has a forever family, despite many years of waiting.

Oh, how I hope that this makes all involved happy.

It makes me sad though that she was in foster care so long, waited so long, and no family to cherish her during the younger years, during those tough years where a child needs the extra support and could use the unconditional love of a family.

I think of that teenager that we did respite for that wanted so badly for us to adopt her.  We had already applied for kiddo.  I knew deep down we weren't the one for the teenager, although we really did enjoy her and adore her. I'm thankful and happy that at 17 she found her forever family.  She desperately wanted to be adopted and have a forever family.

I think of that cute 8 year old that spent the weekend with us just 2 weeks shy of 4 years ago and how she's been on a tv call to adopt in the news.  12 years old now and still hasn't found her forever family because after another family was chosen instead of us, they gave up on her.

The one that really hurts though, is I think of that amazing 11 year old little girl that looks up to my daughter like she hung the moon.  The one that was adopted at the age of barely 6, the ones who's adoption was disrupted on her 8th birthday, the one that 3 1/2 years later, has been in residential for the 3rd time currently, has been in over 1/2 dozen homes, the one that can't seem to find the family that she can connect and bond with, the way her big sister has. She's had a constant stream of families giving up on her and instances of her pushing others away and/or the social workers deciding she triggered too easily and moved her to eliminate triggers.

Yes, my daughters baby sister.....the one that is constantly in limbo, the one that can't seem to find peace and healing, the one that I FEAR one day will age out of care.

I don't really WANT to adopt her as an adult.  I want her to have a family now.  I want her to remain like our niece, not as a daughter. She deserves that. She deserves so much.

I'd give her a home to come to as an adult if she needs to.  The girls cannot be together.  They trigger each other too much to completely heal in each others presence.  They need connection, not constant life together.

My kiddo said she would adopt her as an adult if need be.  We'd do it before letting our child take on that responsibility, but I implore you to look into yourself.  Stick it out if you're fostering/adopting.  If you're thinking about foster/adopt, please start exploring it. Educate yourself.

If just one family out of every 3 churches (and I use this as an example, it certainly doesn't require you go to church to adopt), but if just one family from every 3rd church would adopt a child, there would be no orphans.  Every waiting child would have a family.

Be the change the world needs to see.

We can't change the world all by ourself, but every change we make is one step further to changing the world.

Self Care

I'm guilty of not doing self-care

1) Honestly, I love my time with kiddo and treasure my moments and have a hard time spending time away from her

2) It seems like I have so little time

3) I always feel guilty for not being there every non working moment

4) I feel guilty for spending money on myself for things that only benefit me

That said, I know I need "me" time to decompress and take care of myself.

I decided to not feel guilty about it anymore and branch out and do something for myself.

What did I do? Paint and Pinot.  Actually, I skipped the pinot, I wanted my painting to turn out well. My BFF and I went together, had sushi and coke zero and painted pictures of our pups.

Mine is the one on the left. BFF's is the one on the right.

I REALLY enjoyed it. We had so much fun.  I had a hard time convincing myself it was okay to spend $50 on myself for no benefit to my household.  $40 for the painting class, $10 for sushi.  It was worth it though.

As soon as I got home, kiddo said she wants the painting to hang in her room.  I told her she can have it after she cleans up her room.

3 weeks later......

yeah, still waiting.

I'm going to do painting again soon though.

Monday, February 15, 2016

My Baby Valentine

Hubs has always had a tradition of getting kiddo flowers for Valentine's Day and we always get her chocolate and something else too.

This year I added to it.

I read an idea on about putting post it's with things that we like about our daughter on her door each day in February.  That doesn't really work for us since her door stays open and she has a jewelry hanger hanging on her door, but I adapted it my way and every day added one more thing I like about our daughter on a piece of paper.

Honestly, I didn't think she was getting into it.

Very minimal feedback and seemed to just lay there and I added to it each day.

Today, however, I caught her with the paper reading it to Arlo and laughing and smiling about the things we like.

I guess that was a win.

Glad I didn't give up on it thinking it was useless.

and yeah, as typical for us, we may have went a tad overboard.  Her love language is gifts and words of affirmations.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Aftermath of Abuse

Even after the bonding occurs and your child knows she's not going to be hurt with you, there is still lingering affects years later.

I always suspected one of the behaviors was a direct result (because I have that too), but she actually came out with it to daddy while I was gong on my business trip.

She was binge eating while I was gone and came clean with daddy that it was about making herself less appealing to the opposite sex.  She also closes doors at night when I'm gone and doesn't when I'm here.  (she does still binge eat when I'm here, but apparently it escalated a little while I was away).

She finally knows I'm coming back and doesn't lash out about that, but that poor child still isn't sure she's going to be treasured the way she deserves always.

I have a hard time helping her with that because I get it, and it's why I gained weight too.  (difference was it wasn't family or family friend).  You just do things to make it less likely it'll happen again, whether it's sensible or not.

I wish I could help.

She has visit with psych next week, so I'll mention this because he has a nutritionist on site that may know about this type of thing and be able to help.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Changes, Changes

Kiddo has come so far.

Hubs got a call out of the blue for a job interview, specifically for a job he didn't even apply for.  It was offered to him this week and he accepted.

Shortly after, I got extreme anxiety about it.

He's been stay at home dad ever since kiddo moved in.

I've always been a believer in a parent staying home if they could afford to, but she's 14 now, it seemed like a good move.

My anxiety was horrible.

Hubs didn't feel at peace either, but his didn't seem triggered by worrying about her.

He's backed out and I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

I have a meeting out of town this week and the idea of kiddo not having daddy home when she got home and my being 6+ hours away had me so stressed.

I felt so guilty for telling him how much it bugged me.

The bad part is at this age, it's a matter of time before finding a job becomes very difficult (especially in an area like ours).  He could use some grown up time and somebody other than me and kiddo to talk to.

But, for now, I'm so relieved my baby will not be alone while I'm out of state.

eta: Kiddos reaction.....rolled her eyes when he told her he turned the job down and he said "Well, you're our #1 priority".  He caught her grinning as she turned her head.

She was claiming she was okay with staying alone for almost 2 hours a day, but she masks well, so we weren't sure.