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Friday, April 15, 2016

Easter 2016

Easter Weekend kiddo sprained her ankle again.

We still had an amazing time though.  We spent Saturday evening at the emergency room.  Sunday, she was feeling fine though and willing to still go out. We offered to stay home if she wasn't up to going out with her ankle, but she said she could handle it.

We went to the winery for brunch, after the Easter Bunny visited.

The Easter Bunny goes entirely too crazy around here!

Thanks to facebook, yet, a different way of displaying the goods!


I was so proud of her for not gorging on chocolate before we went this year. I'm doubly proud that 2 days ago, there was still candy left (and I'd tried to make sure the bunny didn't go nuts on sweets)

Holidays were triggering early on, but have gotten so pleasant through the years.  Oh, and she looked beautiful in the dress that was her initial Easter dress.  We gave this to her early for her Spring pics at school (at her request). She likes it better than the new Easter dress (as do we)


Last Easter she was in a cast, this Easter, she was in a wrap.  This part is not a tradition we care to keep, the relaxing family time we had, however, I do like.

Reminiscing

Back in 2012, on kiddos 11th birthday to be exact, we'd just had a conversation with an agency about potentially changing agencies because we weren't making headway where we were and we were near the point of giving up.

That agency called our agency to get a copy of our home study and within 15 minutes, our worker sent us a profile on 2 girls. No photos, but a general description of an 11 year old girl and her 7 year old sister.

We only wanted to adopt one child, but for some reason we said yes, please submit our home study.  We laughed and said how funny it was that we got that profile 15 minutes after the agency we were talking with requested info from them.

A couple days later, the girls case worker asked for additional information on us and provided some more.  We were still in. It was pretty big stuff, but seemed pretty situational and not something we couldn't handle.

6 weeks later, we hadn't heard back yet.  Our worker said the girls had been matched.  (we later found out that wasn't true)

Then toward the end of September 2012, a friend sent me a link to an adoptuskids profile. It was our child. She labeled it "This is your child, call her worker now".  I opened up the profile and I literally gasped and just felt like I was looking at my child. I can't even explain the difference. I immediately called hubs and told him about her and he agreed that we should submit interest and I submitted interest on adoptuskids and asked our worker to send our home study.

I had a feeling, but wasn't 100% certain, that this was the oldest child in that sibling set.  (I later found out I was right)

That night I was sitting in the bank line, literally crying because my parents weren't alive and how much I knew they'd love her.  Why on earth I was thinking of their reaction to a child we'd submitted interest on, when I never had before.  I could see so clearly my dad's face and how thrilled he'd be.  I could always imaging mom a little because she liked kids in general, but dad had a special place in his heart for redhaired girls and used to talk about how he'd spoil my red haired daughter one day. She's not the only redhead we had applied for, so I know it wasn't just the hair.

The very next day, her case worker called mine and requested we set something up for them to come to our house and discuss her further and see if we'd be a good match.  The case worker was so quick because she already had our home study and some questions answered from when we submitted on kiddos birthday.

The reason for the delay was that the girls had been separated since then, due to some issues that had come up.  Short version....trauma bonded bad!  The search for family had been temporarily postponed while they came up with new needs list.

Interview was set up for moms birthday, October 15th. I knew in my heart that was a good sign.

10 days later, we went to the case workers office to review even more info, then to the residential center that kiddo was in to discuss needs with the therapist as well.

We got lost on the way to RTC. Our GPS took us to Car Max on the other side of town instead.  We were terrified that the case worker and therapist would think we bailed. We were even more terrified that kiddo knew we were coming and may have thought yet another family let her down. (thankfully we later found out they hadn't told her yet until we saw rest of her file)

We got there and talked about kiddos needs and told them yes, we were interested in becoming her parents. They asked if we'd like to meet her briefly and gave us our photo book back to share with her and give to her if we wanted to proceed after meeting her.

I remember so clearly that first moment we saw her. She took my breath away.  I was near tears for what all she'd been through and to see that beautiful girl.  Her beautiful, scared, wide but trying eyes, ,the bedhead of messy hair, but oh, so beautiful, The too big blue flowered dress/gown (still haven't figured out which it was) and too big off brand tennis shoes and no shoelaces (we later found out the no shoelaces was due to suicide risk and nobody is allowed jewelry, shoelaces or belts there). She sat at the end of the table, and we were on one side along with her therapist and the case workers were on the other side.

About 5 minutes in (it was a short 15 minute meeting), kiddo moved and sat beside me. We looked at the profile book together and she seemed interested and willing in one day coming home with us.

During that visit, she made it clear that the dog was her #1 reason for being willing to live with us (a home without a dog isn't a home in her book), that she was excited about the cat, her room and pool and had never really had her own cat before, that she wanted a husky one day (we got Lucifer as her adoption present, but it took several months after finalization before we found him) and that she liked country music, along the lines of Taylor Swift. She loved that her and I both had red hair and people wouldn't question if she was adopted.

She was so shy and adorable and looked so small in those way too big clothes. In reality, she wasn't a ton smaller than your typical 11 year old, the clothes and demeanor just made her seem so young, like a child playing dress up in clothes meant to be taken to the thrift shop.

It was almost 2 weeks later when we had our first playdate. We were told that she would not be willing to go off with us alone because of her past on the first playdate and it would be a very long transition period.

When we went to have our playdate, we took some cards to play in their common area.  Therapist said kiddo said she really liked how we talked to her and that she felt safe and would prefer that we take her out instead, unsupervised.  We were thrilled.  It was a great playdate. We took that adorable, tiny underweight 11 year old out for pizza and walked around the wall. Then we got her an ice cream cone on the way back. She said the food was horrible at residential and that she'd lost so much weight because she wouldn't eat.

Our child had clothes that weren't age appropriate (think old lady clothes), way too big for her and no coat at all, so one of our visits was shopping. She loved that we went to Kohls. Apparently she has been used to budget that didn't allow her to pick clothes, so she loved picking. We just got her a couple things to last until she moved in and had her point out things so we could be working on finding things to fill her closet with. We didn't want to spend our visits shopping, except for enough for her to have clothes to wear for those visits that would keep her warm that late in the year.

She called me several times at work in between playdates.  She wasn't quite ready to call daddy, too many men let her down and scared her, but it came with time. She always had a message for him and talked about her excitement of our next visit.

The 2nd overnight visit, they wanted to schedule on a different date from me. I had a different date in mind because of my work schedule. The therapist said not to change my work schedule, to have hubs come pick her up alone and bring her home, that this would be a test of how much she's progressed and if the progress is real, because she'd have to be willing to ride in a car with a man, alone, for over 3 1/2 hours.  She was a champion and they came by the office on the way thru town to see me.

The plan was still a long transition, potentially as long as February, but while it seemed so long to all of us, 7 short weeks (long weeks to us and kiddo) later, she moved into our homes forever.  She'd moved into our hearts so much sooner though.

By our 6th visit, we were all in tears each time we had to take her back and it got worse every time.

We kept begging for everybody to approve her moving in before Christmas, so she could have her family for Christmas and not be in RTC for the holidays.  Her therapist agreed and talked to the case worker and didn't let kiddo know in case it didn't happen.  Kiddo had 3 Santa visits during visits with us and the one she called "the real one" she asked him to make sure she got to move in before Christmas, she wanted her forever family that year for Christmas.

Her therapist called one day because she was in tears and wanted to move home. We hadn't long got the date of move in. It felt so good to tell her that.

On December 13, 2012, our child moved in forever. We spent our first Christmas together that year, the first of many.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

School Update

well, the verdict is in and a plan is in place

It's been decided by all that kiddo is definitely smart, probably smarter than average, truth be told.

The conflict was whether the issue was laziness or trauma.

The school and us had 3 meetings and community resources at the school were involved in one.  It was decided to treat it as trauma, not laziness.

We suspect she is triggered in class and shutting down. She has issues with this from time to time and we do know this part for sure.  What wasn't for sure was whether this is what was preventing her from doing assignments.

There is a person assigned to kiddo to help.  She will be getting with kiddo discreetly between classes from time to time to check assignments and organization.

But the best part, is kiddo has been provided a color coded card. She's to put it on her desk so teachers know when she's likely to be triggered so they can ensure she hears instructions. She also has a card code for "I need to get out for a few minutes and get regulated".

It'll be interesting to see how this goes on.

Also, if this works well, the plan will automatically transition to high school with her. There will be nothing required on our part to get this done.


Kiddos Career Path

For about 3 years, kiddo has said she wants to be a nurse when she grows up.

Everybody that knows her knows she loves animals more than anything and likes very few people.  Of course that's the case--people keep letting her down. Animals never do.

We went to see Chicago in concert and my cousin is the general manager at the venue the concert took place at. She's also an avid animal lover.  They connected the first time they met over love of animals.

So, my cousin asked her how things were and told her she hoped that she'd be a vet when she grows up, because she loves animals so much and she'd be so good at that.

Kiddos rationale....

She can't be a vet because the first time an animal came in seriously injured, seriously ill or died, would be her last day.

I asked her how she thought she could be a nurse, when she doesn't even like people.

She said "Oh, I'm going to be a pediatric nurse, I like kids, but not as much as animals so I will not get so attached that I can't help them"

Well....

can't argue with that logic


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Running Away

yup, those words came back out last weekend. I don't even remember what it was about. Something pretty minor, obviously.

She was headed for the door with her dog and knowing how she is about the dog, I reminded her the dog has my name on his papers, not hers, that he stays.

She said "Momma, I'm only running away until dinner time. You know I'd never run away for good.  I'm too lazy, plus I have it made here"

OMG!! My child is hysterical

Monday, April 11, 2016

More on Learning Issues

Our meeting with the school was today.

They said kiddo definitely doesn't have a learning issue in the sense of capacity. On the contrary, they feel like she's above average in intelligence and very smart. They do think, however, that she's lazy. They are pretty certain she's had an easy time with learning because she's smart and never had to develop good habits and now it's catching up and affecting grades.

I still say alot is the PTSD and some is the ADHD and Anxiety.  They definitely hit the nail on the head on the other part.  This can't be treated as pure laziness though, because that's only a piece of the puzzle.

Her PTSD is horrible and if triggered, she literally will not be present and not hear assignments, nor do any schoolwork.

One of the teachers that was present at the meeting has had her in 2 classes, 2 different years.  She added her perspective from growth.

She said the progress she appears to have made emotionally is amazing, however, she did get what we said about PTSD. She said that made last year make alot more sense. She contributed alot to the meeting and suggested to the other teachers that they make sure she's not the center of attention. The bulk of the first 11 years of her life, center of attention meant she was being abused, so having all eyes on her makes her uncomfortable and triggers her.  She also said it was obvious we'd worked hard with her and made huge progress and we were to be commended for how we've dealt with her, that it's obvious to her that she's attached to us and knows we're in it forever and no longer fearful.

I was so glad that one of the teachers saw the PTSD and got the others buy in to help in that area.

Granted, it's late in the year and we'll have to start all over again next year since she'll be in a different school, but I was impressed with their willingness to take on some responsibility despite her not having an IEP or 504.

They also referred her for an assessment for help from community services to help in the classroom with organization and staying focused. Hubs is all for it. I'm against it.  I think it'll trigger her from the attention. The guidance counselors assured us that students don't even notice the people in there and that the students that have this help aren't singled out in class, but checked in with to see if they have their ducks in a row.  We have a meeting for that Wednesday, so that leaves 2 days to talk hubs out of this.

Problem is guidance counselor asked kiddo if she thought that would help. She said yes.  I know her well enough to know from the look in her eyes that she said yes because he wanted to hear that and he's an authority figure.

I had a good talk with kiddo tonight and told her pretty much the same things outlined here and I think she really appreciated being stood up for and being told she's smarter than average.  Tonight she actually worked on practice exercises in Math WITH me.

She usually pushes us away with homework, but she embraced my being there.



Sunday, April 10, 2016

Learning Issues

Kiddo has struggled off and on in school ever since she got here.

Her trauma brain has her ADHD, PTSD and Anxiety all interfering with being as successful as she can be.  I know she has the ability to learn and is smart, but she shuts down at times that affect her grades.

This year has been worse and I just realized core classes were in afternoon this year and electives in the morning. The last couple years, the electives were in the afternoon. It's possible the ADHD meds are starting to wear off at that point?

We can be doing something totally unrelated to school and her come out with the origin and what she learned in school relating to it, so I know she has the capacity for learning, but needs help with coping and not letting anxiety rule.

We have our 2nd meeting with the school tomorrow and another lined up for Wednesday.

We also need to make an appointment with a doctor.  From all I've read it seems dysplaxia could be a probable cause in addition to the trauma.

Known school triggers

  • ·         Homework  (from being demeaned in her past)
  • ·         Loud/Stern teachers (perceives as anger, which causes her to shut down)
  • ·         Being singled out frequently (even if it’s not bad, doesn’t like classroom attention on her, will self-sabatoge after frequent positive highlights) Life as a foster child meant don't draw attention to yourself. It doesn't result in good things.  Sexual abuse means "rewards" for being "good" and triggering that part of her.

 Kiddo brought home a math paper and asked me why her answer was wrong. Upon reviewing it, it definitely wasn't wrong. It turned out she had written the question down wrong, transposing the numbers.

She has a hard time transitioning from one thing to the next.  After reviewing grades more, the grades she's struggling with are the assignments at the beginning of class.

She gets overwhelmed with alot of material at once. When she can focus on a few questions at a time, she doesn't stress. When it's alot of questions (test time, SOL's), she shuts down.  

Organization--poor child has a chaotic brain.  She forgets to turn in assignments she's done and teacher has refused assignments with pages out of order.

With our investigation into symptoms, it seems likely she has Dyspraxia.

Many kids with dyspraxia also have speech issues (she was formerly on IEP for speech and improved)

Warning signs at her age:
  • lTries to avoid sports or gym class (she used to make up injuries and asks for notes to get her out of pe
  •   Takes a long time to write, due to difficulty gripping pencil and forming letters (very slow with writing, has odd grip and letters are made oddly)
  • Has trouble moving objects from one place to another, such as pieces on a game board (not so much her on this)
  • Struggles with games and activities that require hand-eye coordination (has improved dramatically)
  • Has trouble following instructions and remembering them (I see this at home, we cannot give her 2 things to do, one WILL be neglected)


 Dyscalculia:  basic math skills and has to think things thru even on low level math prior to doing things….ie. math puzzles at Pizza Hut, frequently uses hands to count even now)
·         Dysgraphia:  very messy handwriting, writes letters in odd manner, holds pencil in odd manner and has history in file of not being able to hold pencil properly even with instruction)
·         ADHD: on highest dosage ADHD meds and was diagnosed approximately 8 years ago

Kids with dyspraxia many times have speech issues, including pitch and volume. She previously had issues with pronouncing words, but definitely still has the pitch/volume issues. She can go from mumbling to yelling, even when happy.

They also become overwhelmed in groups and struggle with sports, which creates issues making friends because of anxiety.  Definitely her. She quit both soccer and softball after not being able to get in the group because she wasn't great at sports.

Difficulty with writing technique. The girl is an amazing writer.  I wish she'd create a blog. Her writing always either entertains me or makes me cry, depending on the theme. However technique, is another story. Her letters aren't formed property and she's unable to hold pencil properly.

Other clues include: temper tantrums, easily distressed, eating with fingers, immature drawings, pencil grip, use of scissors, preferring adult company (ie doesn't invite secondary friends over, if bff can't come over, prefers momma to secondary friends or alone time), sensitive to noise, dislikes being touched, slower response time, limited concentration.

So, while it could be trauma based only, there are enough similiarities to where we want her tested. If it's something that can be done to help her succeed, we need to get the ball rolling before high school.  She'll be in the tech program next year and our hope is it will make it easier because of combined classes, but it also has more independent study, which she needs work on.

There is enough going on that it's not 100% clear what the problem is. Our goal is to get to the bottom and get this fixed. She wants to be a nurse when she's older and she will definitely need to boost up the grades to do that without so much struggle. 
·         




Saturday, April 9, 2016

Momma/Daughter Time

Back in late 2015, I went to see a specialist about my back pain. I have had degenerative disc disease since about the year kiddo was born (her and I joke that childbirth did it when I had her) and my primary care doc suggested a specialist to see if injections made sense or if he had ideas she hadn't come up with.

When I got there, he was amazing with his quality and thoroughness. He viewed my MRI and said yes, he saw the DDD my primary care doc saw, but that my muscles looked like that's where my pain was and suggested that while the DDD may hurt, it seemed I had muscle fatigue going on and asked me a ton of questions.

Totally made sense and yes, constant fatigue is an issue and it does feel like it's in my muscles more than the bones.

He suggested getting checked for sleep apnea.

In March I had my 2nd sleep study. The first was at home. The 2nd was at the hospital. I had to stay at the hospital all night.

Anxiety ridden at best is the way I'd describe kiddo anytime I have to go out of town on business and stay overnight, so I was certain staying overnight and it being in a hospital would only add to the anxiety. Fear of abandonment gets in that pretty little head.

I explained what was going on and that I was in zero danger of dying and nothing seriously wrong, that we're trying to get me more energy so I can be the best mom possible and less back pain so we can do more things together.  I then suggested since we'd miss a few hours in the evening of time together, that I take some time off work the next day and pick her up after school and us go get our nails done.

Good quality bonding time and being proactive about the anxiety.

I told her it gives me anxiety to be away from her, so I needed it as much as her.


Maggie Pie Dies and Trauma Rears it's ugly head

Kiddos kitten died the end of March.

We had a couple decent days of looking like she was dealing with it okay, tears, but nothing weird, just normal grief.

Then the grouch came out to visit.

Took a few days, but then we realized, her grouchiness was directed at us in a way that demonstrated she was trying to push us away.

Maggie dying triggered that fear of abandonment and past abandonment all came rushing back.

Kiddo and I had a good talk on the way to school yesterday. The best talks are in the car without eye contact.  When I told her I realized what was going on and that those feelings were normal, it was as if a weight was lifted from her shoulders.

Last night we had a nice family night outside in the gazebo.

Kicking myself for taking a couple days of being mad rather than looking for the need behind the behavior.  If my head wouldn't get so offended personally when I'm pushed away, maybe I could help her deal better.

Progress, not perfection, I suppose.