Faith, Kids, Life or Something Like It

I am NOT a Failure

I am NOT a Failure

I am NOT a Failure

Repeat after me:  I am NOT a Failure.  Those words still resonate in me after a late-night chat with one of my closest friends.  After a particularly hard evening, I texted my friend and said: “can you talk?”  She has as many kids as I do and her life is not easy.  My friend is raising these kids from hard places and trying to maintain a farm.  Inspiration.  She is my inspiration.

What’s Going On?

That was all she said. Not even a “hello” just a statement.  In fact, I don’t think we ever say “hello” when we call each other.  It is rare when we get a few minutes, within a month or so, to dedicate to chatting.  Yet, when it comes to me needing her or her needing me…we make time in the chaos.

Last night, she made time.  I am forever grateful to my friend.  She means the world to me.

Tears Flowed

I couldn’t even get words out…all I could do was sob.  There was a sentence I mustered about a life-altering decision that we have to make in regards to one of our children.  Instead of instantly telling me all the things I already know, she sat, silently, and let me cry.  Throwing in phrases, between the sobs, of “I love you.  You love your children.  He is not a failure because of his mental illness that I did not create.  I am not a failure because I did above and beyond what needed to be done in order for him to live a successful, safe life.

You are not a Failure

She said that over and over.  I repeated it and then I let it sink in.  He is not a failure.  I repeated that and it is sinking in.  We are not failures.  He just needs more help then maybe I can give him.  That doesn’t mean I’ve failed him.  It means I have loved him enough to get the help that he needs.  In having to do what we may have to do does not dictate my love for this child.  If I didn’t love him, I wouldn’t fight so hard for him to succeed in life.

Yet…who does what I’m doing?  Who does what he is doing on a constant basis?  Why can’t love just fix everything?  What about God…where are You in the chaos?  I know He is there.  Yet, I can’t hear Him through the storm.

My Support System

Is very small.  I mean, I have my husband.  The love of my children (whom I try to shield from all that swirls in my mind).  I know my mom loves me and supports me.  There is my sister who never waivers, never judges, never gives advice without me asking, faithfully prays for me…what would I do without her?  I simply don’t know.  Also, I have a couple of faithful friends that I can bear my soul with and never be betrayed or judged.

Struggling

There is some serious trust issues that I have always had but have peaked the last few months.  I’m battling with anger (which is fear and/or sadness).  I can easily identify the fear that no one believes me, that I have no self-worth, no confidence, that love comes and goes like the ebbs and flows of the ocean.  Feeling like a failure because my dreams of raising kids is not what reality is.  Honestly, feeling like all the things wrong is my fault and that I can’t fix it.  Sadness because of the loss of what I thought I knew…I’m not sure it is even there.  Maybe it is there but buried deep inside and doesn’t want to appear because of fear.  Such sadness at the choices of a child.  Sadness for an uncertain future.

Emotionally Stagnant

That is what my counselor said that I was.  When we got off the phone, I told my husband and he AGREED.  Then, I called my sister and told her…guess what…she AGREED as well.  I have a hard time expressing my needs, feeling safe, accepting help, and just being vulnerable.

I am not emotionally stagnant.  The emotions are there, I just pick and choose who sees me have a moment.  Emotions, to me, instill weakness and if one is weak, one doesn’t think clearly and can be overtaken.

That’s how I perceived my father growing up.  He is not the emotional kind of guy (forever police officer).  I rarely remember him yielding to emotion. He did, I guess, just not where us kids could see him.

My mom, however, is free with her emotions, for the most part.  I just took more after Pop.

What People Don’t See

Is when I’m alone, in my room, crying my eyes out.  People don’t see me taking long drives down roads I don’t know…crying my eyes out.  Screaming.  The poison gets so intense, inside me, that I just scream.  So, I’m emotional, in a controlled environment.  If I were to say to the people who have hurt me, how badly I feel wounded…they will not respond well.  Many things can be said.  Also, those things that were said cannot be unsaid.  If I did say them, they would no longer love me.

Fear of not being loved or belonging…that’s a big one.

Oceans

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now
So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made…

My Thoughts

In the everyday chaos and uncertainty, He calls me to walk out on the waters, where it is completely unknown and my feet will fail in the deep ocean.  Yet, He says I will stand on my faith.  When I call upon His Name, He is faithful to keep my eyes above the waves.  He is calling me out on the waves to confront, in love, the people that I need to confront.  One of those people is me!!
I need to know that I don’t depend on anyone’s love but His.  My battles are not for me to fight according to Exodus 14:14.  “The Lord will fight my battle.  I just have to be silent.”
I won’t look around at all the things going on around me and the struggles that I am facing.  My job is to step out on the waves, in the deep ocean, where His grace abounds.  I am always loved, always believed, always worthy, in His eyes.

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Medical Issues

Harsh Reality of Raising Kids with FASD

Harsh Reality of Raising Kids with FASD

Harsh Reality of Raising Kids with FASD

This is a tough post to write but so many thoughts on the Harsh Reality of Raising Kids with FASD is twirling through my head.  Also, both of these kids have Reactive Attachment Disorder.  Again, in FASD and RAD, they are on opposite ends of the spectrum.  It has been almost 13 years since 2 of our adoptions.  We met these children in the spur of the moment.

In the Beginning

One was bouncy, wild-eyed, busy, and inquisitive.  The other was withdrawn, quiet, and shy.  One could not keep their hands to themselves and was very affectionate to everyone.  The other was content standing behind the social worker’s leg.  One wanted to touch all the things, eat all the things, and do all the things.  The other wanted to lay in my bed and watch a movie…without speaking or being touched.

Their Early Lives

2 children, from the same mom, living in the same environment, removed for the same reason.  Trauma.  PTSD.  Abuse.  Neglect.  Alcohol.  Drugs.  All the bad things that you can imagine done to 2 unassuming children who didn’t ask to be born.  Yet, here we are.

What a birth mom, 2 birth dads, and a set of grandparents placed upon these children, our family is dealing with.  There are days when it is too much.  Lately, it has been too much.  I’m so tired.  My other kids are tired.  Big Daddy is tired.

All the Things

Now, I know what you are thinking.  Is she in therapy?  What about under a doctor’s care?  Have you tried medication?  Food?  Yes.  This child has been in therapy for many years.  Yes.  I have made sure this child is under a doctor and psychiatrists care.  Yes.  This child has taken a multitude of medications, been off them, back on them, supplements, etc.  Yes.  We have worked on food.  Had this child in church.  Counseled.  Loved.  Supported.  Advocated.  All the things.

My Feelings

I simply do not know what to do.  One thing I do know is that I feel defeated, broken-hearted, angry, confused, and a lot of other emotions.  My other kids are on edge all the time.  We have lost friendships, churches, and sacrificed many things for this child.  What more can we do?  What am I missing?

Beginning till Now

One child started out on target, advanced is even a word I would use.  As time has gone on, this child never has moved past that of a 5-10-year-old.  It’s like the mind has stopped yet flows between those ages.

The other child started out developmentally delayed.  Learning disabilities, even school was a struggle.  Everything was just hard and slow.  Very immature for this child’s age.  Now, as this child gets older, this child seems to slowly be catching up.  I see progress in some areas, maintaining in some areas, and then the area of memory is still a struggle.  Still, there is progress in one and worsening in the other.

Help

All suggestions need to be kind.  As well as, prayer.  Prayer is REALLY something that we all welcome.  I will not tolerate anything negative said about my parenting style of my children.

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*Please be aware that links listed might be affiliate links. This means that by clicking on the link and purchasing through them, you are helping me and my family.  I can earn money that will go directly towards the care and needs of my son.*

Medical Issues

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) are a group of conditions that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy.

These effects can include physical problems and problems with behavior and learning.
Often, people with FASDs have a mix of these problems.

What are FASDs?

FASDs refer to a range of effects that can happen to a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These conditions can affect each person in different ways and can range from mild to severe.

They can affect the mind or the body, or both. Because FASDs make up a group of disorders, people with FASDs can exhibit a wide range and mix of symptoms.
Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is one condition among the full range of FASDs. A
baby born with FAS has a small head, weighs less than other babies, and has
distinctive facial features.

Some of the behavioral and intellectual disabilities of people with FASDs include:

Difficulty with learning or memory
Higher than normal level of activity (hyperactivity)
Difficulty with attention
Speech and language delays
Low IQ
Poor reasoning and judgment skills
People born with FASDs can also have problems with their organs, including the heart and kidneys.

What causes FASDs?

FASDs are caused by a woman’s drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Alcohol in the mother’s blood passes to the baby through the umbilical cord. When a woman drinks alcohol so does her baby. There is no known amount of alcohol that is safe to drink during pregnancy or when trying to get pregnant. All drinks that contain alcohol, including wine and beer, can harm an unborn baby. There is no safe time to drink alcohol during pregnancy.

Alcohol can harm a baby at any time during pregnancy. So, to prevent FASDs, a woman should not drink alcohol while she is pregnant, or even when she might get pregnant. This is because a woman could get pregnant and not know it for up to 4 to 6 weeks. In the United States, nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned.

How many people have FASDs?

We do not know exactly how many people have an FASD. Few estimates are available. Based on community studies using physical examinations, experts estimate that the full range of FASDs among 6-7-year-old children in the United States and some Western European countries might be as high as 2 to 5 out of 100 school children (or 2% to 5% of
the population).

Are there treatments for FASDs?

FASDs last a lifetime. There is no cure for FASDs, but research shows that early intervention treatment services can improve a child’s development.
There are many types of treatment options, including medication to help with some symptoms, behavior and education therapy, parent training, and other approaches. No one treatment is right for every child.

Good treatment plans will include close monitoring, follow-ups, and changes as needed along the way.
There are a number of factors that can help reduce the effects of FASDs and help people with these conditions reach their full potential.

These factors include:

Diagnosis before 6 years of age
A loving, nurturing, and stable home environment during the school years
Absence of violence
Involvement in special education and social services

What can I do if I think my child has an FASD?

~Ask for a Referral.
If you or your health care provider thinks your child could have an FASD, ask your provider for a referral to a specialist (someone who knows about FASDs), such as a developmental pediatrician, child psychologist, or clinical geneticist. In some cities, there are clinics whose staff have special training in diagnosing and treating children with
FASDs.

For providers and clinics in your area, visit the National and State Resource Directory from the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS)  or call 800–66–NOFAS (66327).
~Get an Evaluation
Call your state’s public early childhood system to request a free evaluation to find out if your child qualifies for intervention services. You do not need to wait for a health care provider’s referral or a medical diagnosis to make this call.

Steps for a free evaluation from the state depends on your child’s age:

For children younger than 3 years old, contact your local early intervention system. To learn more, call (973) 642-8100.
For children 3 years old or older, contact your local public school system.  Even if your child is not old enough for kindergarten or enrolled in a public school, call your local elementary school or board of education and ask to speak with someone who can help you have your child evaluated.

To help your child reach his or her full potential, it is very important to get help for FASDs as early as possible!

For More Information

To learn more about FASDs, visit
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or call 800–CDC–INFO
American Academy of Pediatrics FASD Toolkit 
Center for Parent Information and Resources call (973) 642-8100
National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS)  or call 800–66–NOFAS (66327)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s FASD Center for Excellence

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Adoption, Medical Issues

Living in Reality Vs. Fantasy

Living in Reality Vs. Fantasy

Living in Reality Vs. Fantasy is a hard thing to do with most people.  The other night, when I was cooking supper, G came in the kitchen with 2 pages worth of notes that she wanted to discuss.  When she does this….it is exhausting because it is difficult to explain things to her.  She does not process things the way a “normal legged” person would process them.  If you wonder what that statement means, you can go HERE and I have posted on our conversation.

With her FASD, she either A) does not understand what I’m saying B) doesn’t think it applies to her C) doesn’t realize the processes that have to occur C) gets her feelings REALLY hurt.  I don’t, personally, like any of those options.  We have been talking a lot about her future past high school.  She is almost 17 and she is *just* heading into 10th grade, so she is extremely behind.  She caught up, some, while at MILITARY SCHOOL, but still not enough to go into the 10th grade.  Now, this past semester, she has rocked it and I think in January we can advance.

Her Natural Talents and Abilities

G has some natural talents.  She is very personable and can talk to anyone.  Lately, she has been honing her craft in hair, nails, and makeup.  Also, she is good with kids (for the most part) and is tenacious.  She had, at one point, decided to go to cosmetology school.  That would eliminate the need for taking the ACT and she could be successful, have a career, and be able to live on her own (with some guidance).  The last little bit, though, she has declared her intention of pursuing criminal justice.  The things she is interested in (Judge, Federal Marshall, Forensics, etc) is just not in her wheelhouse.

Living in Reality Vs. Fantasy

I did not and do not want to discourage her in any way, but I also do not want her to live in this fantasy world of hers.  She bases all her “knowledge” off of movies, tv shows, and books….not real life and certainly not what is required to accomplish these things.  So, as she named off her choices, I told her that she could go to any college, in KY, for free until she gets her bachelor’s degree….that that would not be a problem BUT in order to get into a 4 yr school (or above), she would have to take the ACT.  That did not register.  Now, for our local trade school or 2 yr school, she can take a compass test.  This type of test just lets the administrator’s know if she needs to be in more remedial classes or regular classes.  We know we have the option to have an aide (which she DOES NOT want) and the tutoring is free.  I explained to her all the things she could do or would be good at…none of those things mattered because she is so tunnel visioned that all she can see is a field in Forensics.

Explanation of Reality

In an effort to help her understand, I pulled up an ACT prep site.  I read off the simple grammar questions (what is a colon, what is an apostrophe, what is a pronoun) and she did not know any of the answers.  She was so sad after I went through a few questions and she did not have the answers.  I explained what the ACT test was versus the Compass test and that one had to have a certain score and one was just a placement test.  This did not go over well….so she retreated to her room.  What I did not realize was was that she was in her room, crying.

The Dams Burst Open

I called her back in the dining room to see what the problem was.  She burst open with sadness and anger at her birth mom for drinking while she was pregnant.   Now, G was “reaping” the consequences of it.  I let her go on and I let her cry.  Finally, I answered her questions and then I took the opportunity to talk about crutches.  I told her that I would let her cry for about 5 minutes and grieve the choices her mom made.  In the end, though, she needed to go and wash her face.

Dealing with the Choices of a Birth mom

I explained that she was not going to use her biological mom’s poor choices to dictate her life.  That God gave her things that are easy for her (hair and good with kids).  She is genuinely talented at and could be really good at if she allowed herself.  Also, I gave her options in the medical field that she could absolutely do and be great at it.

She was not going to use her FASD as a “poor pitiful me” person, but she was going to count it as a strength.  Just because she can’t do something like being a Federal Marshall, doesn’t mean she can’t have a fulfilling and successful life.  I told her about some of my friends who owned their own business and how much they love their job and are so good at it.

Things that Can Help

I told her that there was no shame in having an aide or extra tutoring because that was going to help her go even further without the stresses that college can sometimes bring.  That by looking at her, you can’t even tell that anything is wrong with her, that she can be a success but she has to throw away the crutches, forgive her biological mom and then move on…..there is no reason to run the race of life looking backward.  We only get one shot at life….there are no dress rehearsals.  I asked her if she wanted me to set the timer for her 5-minute pity party and she said that she didn’t need it.  She asked for some help in researching and that is something that we can and will do.

For now, she is at peace.  The enemy will not dictate her life…God has her.  He has a mighty plan for her.  I just get the privilege to sit back and watch from the sidelines.

What is your crutch?

 

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Adoption, Medical Issues

One Leg Shorter Than the Other Leg

One Leg Shorter Than the Other Leg is an analogy that I used with as I was cooking supper.  G was asking me if I knew of a tattoo cream that could fade unwanted tattoos.  I said yes, but I doubted if they worked.  Most people get them lasered off and that is WAY more painful (so I’ve heard) then actually getting the tattoo.  Then she proceeded to tell me ALL the tattoos she was planning.  I sat, listened, and cooked.  She talked some more.

Tattoos

I am not against tattoos…I have 3 and I’m planning a 4th.  My first tattoo is my life verse.  Isaiah 61:3.  My second is a daisy that my kids each drew a petal and they colored it in with their favorite color.  Bart’s initial is on the bottom.  My third tattoo is Ruth 1:16 in Hebrew because that was the verse that came to me during one of the most difficult times in my marriage.

I always say, by looking at this, it remembers me to stay married LOL.  My fourth will be the symbol for faith, hope, and love with a semicolon.  I put A LOT of time, though, and design into anything I’m going to put on my body.  Flippant is something I am not.  I was over 40 when I got my first one…..so I’m not against them.

Lack of Wisdom in Choices

What I am against is just randomly choosing odd things that have no meaning, no purpose, not even a good design or misspelled words….G wants barbed wire around her wrist.  Barbed Wire.  There are some other insanely ridiculous things she wants.  I have no doubt she will, one day, rather spend her money on a tattoo then food or shelter.  That is just how her brain works.  She also does not feel pain, at all….not even when she cut her toe off.  She does not feel it.

Good and Bad Choices

I took the opportunity to try to talk to her about choices and her decision-making skills.  This was a hard conversation because I did not want to cause her to have bad memories, which yields bad behaviors.  I did not want her to think I have given up on her because I have not.  It is just tough.

FASD

I found this website The Lifelong Effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Good Parenting Is Not Enough that was written by Deborah Hage.  I scanned through this document, all the while nodding my head.  Then, I asked G to get some paper and pencil.  She read the article and wrote down what her thoughts were.  Next, she listed what were similar characteristics that she had.  She did what I asked, though 1/2 through, she said she really did not understand what she was reading.  That did not surprise me, so I sat down with her and I broke it down for her.

Normal Legs versus Abnormal Legs

I drew her a stick figure of a person with normal legs…then I drew a stick picture of a person with one normal leg and one that was about 3 inches shorter than the other leg.  I explained to her that I had 2 legs and she had 2 legs.  We could both walk…one walks evenly and one walks sort of wonky.  This is where I drew her brain.  I showed her pictures of brains that were affected with FASD.  They are both brains. They both function.  One brain is regular size and one brain is smaller.  That is due to things that happened that were out of her control.

How am I Walking?

This is where the stick figures come into play.  When she starts thinking about something (walking wonky), ie a boy that shows interest in her (just an example)….all she sees is he loves me he loves me he loves me he loves me.  What I see (walking with 2 normal legs) is that he SAYS in loves her, but he is daily beating her, doing drugs, cheating, drinking, etc.  She doesn’t see the bad, she hyper focuses on “he loves me he loves me he loves me.”  That made sense to her.

We talked about her love of tattoos.  She hyper-focuses on the fact that she wants to be seen, be noticeable….so she wants all this art all over her person.  What she doesn’t see is the fact that something is misspelled or the tattoo artist is using dirty needles and she ends up getting sick.  This is how the brain of an FASD person works.

Chronological Age Versus Mental Age

We talked about the things on that list, I linked to above…..how she is physically 16, but she does not think like a 16 yr old and she doesn’t “feel” 16.  She realizes she is immature for her age.  Sadly, she does not have a phone or access to electronics (for a reason).  Also, she does not have her license (per her request).  There are days when she feels more like 13 in some areas.  When she is emotional, that age drops down to about 8.  Then, when she is escalated we are in the 3-4 yr old range in her reactions.  This is typical.

Kids from hard places are normally chronologically an age (16), but mentally they are 1/2 that (8), and when things are bad they are 1/2 the 1/2 (4) that age.  I drew that out and we talked about real experiences she had that supported that.  She wants to be “normal”.  She has at desire doing and reacting like a normal 16 yr old you.  Again, back to the stick figures.

Yes, she will ALWAYS have “one leg shorter than the other” and that will never change BUT she can adapt.  She can make concessions….she can put a “lift” in her shoe.  She can ask questions, privately if it is too embarrassing, and have me explain things in a way that she can understand and she can get have a normal response because, together, we come up with that normal response.

Brain Tracks

I believe a brain can be retracked.  I believe that the train in her brain goes in one direction, right now, but with the proper “lifts” in her shoes and her asking questions, that train track can be slightly alternated.  There will be things that we have to do a bit differently.  She needs to be monitored more when she does have a phone (and she will) and when she does have access to the internet (as all my electronic devices have parental controls).  There will be some school subjects where she will be required to read the material, research out what she finds interest in, but have no tests.  She will not get above pre-algebra in math.

She will never take the ACT, but she will get a trade.  The subjects she excels in (reading, writing, history) she will go above and beyond and then some.  She has no desire to get her license but she can get her permit, if she so chooses.  She can’t hold a “real” job but she can work for us.  We can leave her alone here for a couple of hours and pay her to watch her little brothers.  This is not something I have ever done for my older kids but this is something that I will do for her because she needs to learn the value of money.  That she needs to work hard, have a bank account, be responsible and make money decisions wisely.

Raising Special Needs Kids

FASD is no joke.  I have 2 kids with it.  One kid, it affects one way and the other kid it affects completely differently.  I do parent them differently because I have too but I will not say “well, you can’t do this because you have brain damage.”  Heck no.  I encourage all my children to try.  If they try 1000 and fail then to never try at all.  Once my kids were officially diagnosed with this, my brain track shifted.  I eased up on myself and I altered my expectations.  We have had very open conversations.

Before military school and diagnosis, she would have a response.  It was bad, she would escalate HUGELY.  I would escalate and it got ugly.  More times than not, I am able to control my responses.  In my head I am thinking “brain damage, she is not 16, she is 8 or 4.  How would I respond to Hunter (he is 3)?”  I simply look at her and say (sometimes through clenched teeth and REALLY close to her face) “Do you need a lift in your shoe?”

She immediately looks at me…usually stops in her tracks…and she listens.  Then, she will go to her room and do her exercises which always cools her jets off.  Finally, she will step outside, I will send her and an older child for a walk.  I will go and wash my face or go to my room.  Within about 15-20, she comes back, apologizes and we talk things out or she is at a place where she will listen to me.

I can’t say this will always be the case, but for now, that is all I have to say.

God is good…..even in the short-legged moments.

 

s

Adoption, Medical Issues

Let Me Get This Straight

Let Me Get This Straight.  This is a convo that I had, the other day, with my 13-year-old son.

Me:  D, did you take the dogs out?

D:  No.

Me:  Did you feed and water the dogs and cats?

D:  No.

**it was after lunch at this point….chores are usually done by 9 am**

Me:  Can you name me each of the major wars from as far back as you can remember, in order?

D:  Rattles them off PERFECTLY beginning in the year 1754 with the French and Indian War.

Me:  Can you tell me who was involved in each of these wars?

D:  Rattles the names off PERFECTLY.

Me:  How is it you can remember these details, but you cannot remember the same chores you have had for 7 years?

D:  I like wars.  I do not like chores.

Touche’ little fella.  Touche’.

The beauty of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder.

Let Me Get This Straight