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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Puzzle Pieces That Fit Together

That's our family.

Kiddo was the missing puzzle piece that completed the puzzle we call our family.

I had a friend say the other day when she sees kiddo she thinks about what a miracle she is and how she was meant to be with us.

It made me start going down memory lane and I was thinking our journey looked like we were chasing our daughter.

In summer of 2001, kiddo was born.

In summer of 2001, we had gotten information about domestic infant adoption.  We put it on the back burner. It didn't feel right, although we wanted a child.  It also felt overwhelming.

In 2008, we started thinking about it again.  We started fertility treatments because we thought it'd be easier.  It didn't work, so we went back to plan A.

Oddly enough, we started the adoption process, paperwork, home study, etc about the time that kiddo was removed from bio family.  We submitted interest for girls between the age of 4-9. Our preference was 7 and under, but up to 9 was acceptable.  Kiddo was 7 at the time. Her sister was 4.

Our homestudy was approved about the time TPR happened.

Neither time did we find out about kiddo.  At that point, we had also decided to up our age.
Little did we know everytime we decided we wanted to increase the age, our kiddo was having a birthday at that point.

In December 2011, we applied to be parents of an amazing cutie pie.  Our worker didn't send the home study as requested. We found out that she hadn't and reached out to the worker and the worker requested our information.

In February 2012, we interviewed for that cutie and met her for the first time.

In March 2012, we had a weekend visit at our home with that child.  During the weekend visit, she said the following weekend, she was going to another family for the weekend.  Weird.  Some issues happened with that little girl and it took a month before the case worker made the decision.

She made the decision to place her with the other family in April 2012.

In April 2012, our child had just been checked into a psych hospital.  (that's a story for another day) She moved to residential treatment center in May 2012.

On kiddos 11th birthday, her and her sisters profile was sent to us.  They'd found out that the problem was the family and not our child, so her sister was removed in late June and they were placed for adoption together.

We applied for them together, despite that we always said we were more interested in an only child. It just felt right to apply.

No word.  Our worker refused to follow up and we didn't know which office had our child, so we couldn't bypass her.  We were not amused at all.

In September 2012, our kiddo and her sister were separated from each other and placed for adoption separately.  Kiddo's profile showed up on adoptuskids.  I was at work and a friend texted me with a note that said "I found your daughter" This is her.

I opened up the link and literally started crying. I just knew.

I asked hubs if he was interested and he said yes, but reach out to the caseworker first before our adoption worker so she couldn't mess it up.

The next day we got the phone call.  We were asked about a few things and then asked if they could come to our home to discuss her file and talk with us on October 15th.

October 15th was my moms birthday.

We met our child on October 25th and the rest is history.

Everything that happened was just another piece of the puzzle that contributed to a finished puzzle that we call family.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Diet and Exercise

I left work early to take kiddo to the doctor.  The doctor raked us both over the coals about kiddos weight.

She asked kiddo "Do you like being fat?"

Kiddo said "Yeah, kinda"

I'm so glad kiddo was honest.  She prefers not being in the spotlight, protects her from sexual abuse in her eyes.

Then the doc said "I think you should lock up the food at night since she does well during the day and not at night"

WTF?  Why the face? (as kiddo would say, but we know the real thing there)

I lost it, totally flipped.

I told her that absolutely under NO circumstances was going to happen. I also said that was the worst thing I could ever do to that child.

We've gone a long way towards developing our bond and trust that we will meet her needs.  Locking up food would trigger her PTSD at a MINIMUM.  Worst case scenario, our attachment and trust would go backwards. Not something I'm willing to risk.

Kiddo and I decided together that we'll work on keeping her active.

I do worry about her weight and food issues. It's obviously deep.  I'm not, however, willing to risk attachment for it.  Mental health is at LEAST as important as anything else.

So, those out there that have had kiddos with eating issues, what did you do?

Her therapist released her, but while she thinks she has an eating disorder, she doesn't seem to think it's trauma related. I totally disagree.  The middle of the night is when fear can set in and she forgets the coping skills.  She's fine in the day.

We provide tons of healthy stuff to munch on anytime she wants it.  The problem is the binging in the middle of the night.

Doctor suggested we never bring anything bad in the house.  How do you do that though? I get the no bringing chips and cookies in.  However, she has been known to get into raw dough, boxes of noodles, etc.

I'm also not willing to shame her.

First home she lacked due to lack of resources combined with selfishness of the bio mom and boyfriend.

First adoptive placement, they locked the food up. I have ZERO doubt in my mind that that had even a worse effect on her food issues than the initial problems.

Wishing I knew how to best help.  Mulling this over.

Saturday, March 12, 2016


More on the need behind the behavior.....

Most of the behaviors kiddo had, we understood what the need was and it was pretty easy to address.  There are a few things that have annoyed me for the whole time she's been here though that haven't made much progress at all.

  1. a messy room, not just messy, but insanely messy
  2. not taking care of things at times or losing them
  3. the tantrums over homework and not turning in assignments at school
I read something this week though that triggered me to realize I haven't really explored this enough or fully understood it.

Messy room--my initial thought was she was protecting herself so she could hear if somebody tried to enter her room

Not taking care of things or losing them--I thought she was overwhelmed because she has everything she needs and most of what she wants now and at one time didn't even have all she needed

homework--for some reason, I assumed it was a trigger and something had happened regarding bad grades or something and she wasn't sharing

Some of these may very well be the case, but as I was reading this week, I realized it really may go much deeper than that.

My husband came from a similar background and made a comment recently about how he always assumed he'd never live to graduate high school because he'd end up killed by abuse before then.  Even THEN it didn't click. It should have though.

Her messy room is a visual sign of the chaos that is still in her. She lived in chaos and became comfortable with it. When she didn't have the chaotic stuff going on here and she's cherished, it became comfortable to turn her room into a chaotic mess to get away to.

Our first family vacation, kiddo had the biggest meltdown and asked us to send her back to residential.  After proding and digging into what was really going on, she broke down in tears and said it was overwhelming for us to have that much fun and spoil her so much, that she didn't deserve it. She's gotten tons better and we've had lots of good memories, but she's not taking care of her things to the best of her abilities partially because she still feels undeserving of what she has.

School--well, she still needs to realize that she has a future. She needs to realize there is life later, that she will grow up and she can succeed. She can be a success story and break the cycle. Both birth parents didn't graaduate high school. One is drawing disability, the other is working in fast food.

With a little work, we can help her realize she can and WILL break the cycle, that her future isn't defined by her past.  

As she continues to grow, heal and mature, I hope she chooses her future and realizes she has the power to choose actions and impact that future.

I have full confidence she will.  She's our smart girl and has come so far.  We need to realize we still have to help her and work on those needs behind her behaviors, but that she can and will grow up to be the happy and healthy young lady we dream of her being.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Throwback Thursday

I love the "see your memories" function of Facebook.

Todays flashback went to a status update from 3 years ago today.

Kiddo said Bonkers told her if she had a dollar, she'd give it to me for being the best mommy ever.  She's a sweetie.

I told kiddo that today and she laughed.  What?!

I asked if she'd still do that.  She asked if I was sure it wasn't Bonkers who said that and then said oh, wait, she's not sweet enough to say that.

Essentially that means yes, but she's not willing to admit it. I'll take it.

Beneath the Surface

Continued from yesterday....

Reminded of the iceberg analogy, what we see is on top, but there is so much beneath the surface that we don't see.  We have to look at the message behind the words, the message behind the behavior to chip away at that iceberg.  It may melt just a little at a time and seem so formidable, but one day, that iceberg is going to be just a chunk of ice or a memory.

If your child claims to hate you, it's fear based.  More often than not, it may come from a fear that we may not embrace them and be committed. It's a rejection of us before we can reject them.

If your child claims you're the worst mom/dad ever, it's a cry for help. It is also fear based.  Something is making them not feel safe.

Does your child claim they wish they'd never been adopted? It's not a rejection of you. Of course they wish they hadn't been adopted from time to time. It's not the adoption that they want to get rid of, it's the pain that caused the adoption to need to occur.  No adoption comes without some form of loss.

Have you ever heard "I wish you were dead"? As painful as this is, it actually may be sign that they are attaching. Fear based and a history of abandonment, if they can reject us and make us "disappear" before they get too attached, it's not going to hurt as much later.  Usually this is the exact opposite of what is meant, it's more like "I'm terrified you'll leave me"

We have the power to address, but not the power to control.

We can't control what is said, but we can control what is heard.

Check out Bryan Post.  He makes so much sense looking for the need behind the behavior. It's in our interest as parents to remember all emotions come from a place of fear or love.  Fear generates the behaviors that are so difficult to parent.

We can control how we respond to the behaviors though. I know, easier said than done.....the more we practice connection and looking for the why, the more we can help healing continue.  As healing continues, the negative behaviors subside.

This may be the very reason that every big jump in healing usually comes after a huge setback.  It's how we handle the emotional outbursts that matter.

(Choose Love ~Bryan Post)

Also quoted from Bryan Post "Our job as parents is to help the healing process, not to try to control it"

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Need Behind the Behavior

 I was reading some bad parenting meme's on an adoption board today and people arguing about whether they had validity or not.  I got to thinking about some of them and some of the behaviors we have seen from our child and some that were in her file that we've never seen.

I'm paraphrasing because I don't agree with the meme's the way they were worded, but reading between the lines, this is essentially the meaning of them.

If your child habitually lies, you may have overreacted to mistakes in the past.

This is a biggie, very common in the foster/adopt world.  Considering the abuse most have suffered, most have probably been subjected to authority figures overreacting.  Lying may also mean the child doesn't feel safe sharing with you.

Lying is something that has been an obstacle for us to overcome with our child, and her sisters foster parents have all said that as well.  We've seen much improvement by making it safe to tell the truth no matter what.  

If your child has poor self-esteem, it may be because you advise more than encourage.

This is so easy to do.  We need to build up our babies, encourage them to be the best they can without constantly trying to tell them what to do.  Telling our babies what to do vs leading them to good choices can make them feel as if we don't trust them to develop and make their own choices when appropriate.

If your child is jealous, it may be because she/he is compared to others consistently.

This is something we were told was the case with our child. She's an only with us and not jealous at all anymore. We never compare her to others.  Before, she felt inferior to her baby sister and others and did feel this pain.  I can see this.  Of course, this isn't the only reason jealously occurs, but it certainly can be a contributing factor.

If your child doesn't respect other peoples feelings, you may be always ordering them around and not giving importance to their feelings.

Their feelings are important too. Their lives matter.  Our child came from an environment where her voice was never heard, her feelings were diminished.  This has been a biggie to try to overcome, but I can definitely see where this plays a part.  I've seen healing along the way, but 11 1/2 years of not having her feelings matter and her voice being heard has definitely contributed to how she reacts to others.  

A child with multiple placements quickly begins to belive their feelings do not matter, therefore, they lash out at anybody and everybody.  

If your child is rude, this was probably learned from parents or others living with them.

This is pretty much obvious. Lead by example. The more good behaviors your child sees, the more they demonstrate.

If your child is secretive, it may be because you've blown things out of proportion frequently.

It's not the only reason.  I was secretive as a child too, because I learned that from my family.  They weren't very open about some things.  We kept my dad's alcoholism a secret.  My friends only spent the night during the summer during the week for the most part, because that's when he was definitely sober.  

My child is secretive and yes, her past has a history of things blown out of proportion, her defending her baby sister and being sent to a psychiatric hospital, with them being told she was violent. The whole picture wasn't told.  Things were blown out of proportion majorly.  

If your child intentionally disturbs you and interrupts you constantly, you may not being affectionate enough.

Obviously, if you don't pay attention to your child, they will do things to get attention.

If your child is scared of everything, they may not have been given opportunities to problem solve and learn that they are capable of doing things.

This is just a few of them, but the point is remember, everything we do has a reason. Everything our child does has a reason.

Why do we think it's okay for us to go bonkers when we have a bad day and get grouchy and snap, but think it's not okay for our child to? They learn from us. Be the difference. 

Every child is one involved aadult away from becoming a success story.  

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Growing Up.....

Kiddo is growing up way too quick.

She came home to us at 11 1/2, so that's 11 1/2 years that we didn't get to enjoy our precious little girl.  So much progress in the time she's been here. There isn't a day that I don't think of how much I love this child and how proud I am of her progress.

Sometimes it's 1 step backwards, 2 forward, but that's still an overall forward trend.  We'll take it.

This weekend, the renovations on my mommy's house that we use as rental property for extra income were completed.  Kiddo has always called that "her" house.  It's right next door to us and provides that safety of being next to mom and dad, while still allowing independence.  Granted, she said it'll probably be when she's about 30, because she'll eat our food until then, but she already has said she wants to live next door to us.

I'm so glad that she'll be next door and hope she keeps that goal.  Sometimes it feels like time goes so fast, that there is no way I'll ever get enough of this kid.  She's filled our hearts so completely.

But, as of Monday, this little beauty will be up for rent again and if we're lucky, our renter will last long enough that we don't have to market it again.  Next time we'll leave it empty until kiddo is ready for it.

Kiddo said "It's beautiful, but you should have painted the walls blue".  We told her she can paint the walls blue when she moves in, but for now, these neutral colors were a better idea.

Right next door and hopefully one day this is where kiddo and my grandkids will be and I can spoil them rotten from day 1 and enjoy every little step along the way.

Self Care for Birthday Gift

After feeling so good after going to the paint and pinot session with my BFF, for my birthday I asked to be enrolled in a 1 day painting class.  I took a day off work to take the class.

One of my friends said "I'm shocked! You NEVER do things without your family. You're such a family girl that I can't believe you're going to take a day off and not spend it with your kiddo and hubs"

Yeah, 6 hours was a bit much for me, but overall it was fun.  I'd do it again, but I prefer the 3 hour classes.

Here's the finished product....

I'd love to find a class that me and kiddo could do together.  I think 6 hours is way too long for her, given that it was a little too long for me, but it's relaxing and would be great momma/daughter time.

We shall see.

Kiddo was impressed and said I did a good job.  I was the baby of the class, so everybody elses looked far better.  I was the newbie and most of the class goes every month.

I felt very welcomed though and felt good when I left.

Wish I would win the lottery, be a stay at home mom and be able to do this more often. I don't want to give up my vacation days for days to myself very often. I prefer to hold those for family time.

That said, it's definitely good to do something just for yourself occasionally, to decompress and just be you.

New Friends

So proud of kiddo.......I know she's been super stressed over the stuff with BFF and it's been evident for awhile, but she's trying to move forward.

Yesterday, she went bowling with a friend from school.  (not the same one that we took with us to the concert and the Nutcracker)

She had a good time and I suspect they may hang out more often going forward.

One of my clients had an event at the bowling alley last night, so about 2 hours later, we went and joined kiddo, her bff and her bff's parents over there.  We all had dinner together and bowled and the girls played games and hung out.  I got to know the mom some so that's good.

Hurray for progress!!

So proud of kiddo for working on developing some new relationships instead of wallowing about in her anger and sadness over missing the one that's been her BFF for the bulk of the time she's lived here.  BFF had "other plans" the last few times she tried to get together and she's tired of asking and being rejected and BFF never asks her over.

Rejection is super hard on kiddo.  After feeling like you're rejected most of your life, to let somebody in so fully and then lose that is definitely a tough pill to swallow.  Friendship drama is hard at this age anyway, add trauma and it makes the coping part a little more of a struggle.

She was a little stressed after getting home, but I suspect that was because of the crowd. She binge ate last night.  It MAY be partially anxiety from not having bff there, but when we arrived, she was definitely enjoying herself.

Here's to new friends, new memories and good times!