All Things Adoption

How to Heal a Fractured Family

How to Heal a Fractured Family

How to Heal a Fractured Family

How to Heal a Fractured Family.  The short, simple answer is trust in Jesus.  Yet, sometimes, that is hard for me.  Our family has been fractured for a long time.  There have been cracks here and there, but this year, it is different.  I’m not going to lie, it has been a struggle since about 2014, but even before then due to some extenuating circumstances.  I don’t want to discourage anyone from adoption, but there is so much more I know now than I did almost 14 years ago.

What You Need to Know

When people are in the process of adopting a child or children, it is an exciting thing.  We do all the things that are required.  Background checks, money in the bank, fundraisers, fingerprints (if international), and so on.  We work hard on those dossiers.  Our homes are spotless for our home study.  We eagerly anticipate our referral or a picture.  There are so many support groups where we get on and talk about our discouragement of NOT getting a referral quick enough.

What We DON’T Realize

Is that we are, quite literally, waiting for a family to fail in some way.  If it is foster care, we are waiting for a family to abuse, neglect, or hurt, a child or children so they will be placed in the system. Then we jump through all the hoops for the next 17 out of 23 mths and wait for the termination of parental rights.

Or, if it is a newborn, we are waiting for a sweet birth mom to make the most difficult decision of her life.  For her life to be altered…forever…by choosing the blessing of adoption.  If international, we are waiting for a birth parent who may be dying, or the child is starving, or some other tragedy that places them in an orphanage.

When you are adopting a family member’s child, you are waiting for drugs, alcohol, abuse, neglect, or abandonment to happen.  There are other circumstances, as well, but that was my circumstance for my son.  You start looking at YOUR sister and think…she is my son’s aunt?  Grandmother?  Both?

The Dark Side

We are walking into the blackest chapter of our children’s lives.  Our greatest joy and what we worked so hard for, comes at our children’s greatest loss.  Whether they are an infant or an older child, that loss will forever be embedded in their brain and heart.  They are the only ones who have heard their mother’s heartbeat from the inside out and your heart is just not the same.

My heart literally aches because, in a perfect world, my kids would still be with their birth families.  Succeeding, thriving, living, loving…yet because of certain things, they are not there…they are with me.  I am grateful.  Indebted.  Forever changed because they grew in my heart and not under it!

Yet…they will always wonder what it would have been like to have been raised by their birth parents or in their birth country.  Try explaining all of the things when they are older.  It’s super fun aka traumatic.

Getting It Straight

I do not regret any of my children.  None of them.  They are my joy and I’m so thankful to God that He wove my family together in such a beautiful and intricate way.

But

Trauma is a bitch.  Plain and simple.  It is a straight-up bitch.  Talk to ANY adoptive parents and they will tell you the same thing.  Trauma can come in all shapes and sizes.  It can come with a list of diagnoses…then there is “traumaversary”  That leads to sabotage of all good things, behavior issues, confabulations, deceit, manipulation, and so much more.

My Family is No Different

We have, and continue to have, all of the above things and the “so much more” times a million.  What started as one child exhibiting out of control behaviors due to FASD, PTSD, RAD, blah blah blah trickled down to other children.  Another child exhibiting similar, yet different behaviors. Then, a third child going above and beyond.  Lastly, the fourth child struggles with anxiety and more.

It has wreaked havoc on my person, my husband, other children, even my pets will lose hair when life is escalated in my home.  This usually occurs November-March and then in July-October…which as I look at that typed out, it is from October-July.  That gives us 2 mths trauma-free.

All the Things We Have Tried

We have done the things.  Doctors, specialists, therapists, counselors, pastors, family, medication, routines, no routines, homeschool, private, public…All.  The.  Things.  One child, nothing has worked for that child.  Another child, we hope is in the process of healing.  The third child is amped up right now.  The fourth child, we just deal with it day by day.

I am exhausted.  My husband is exhausted.  Honestly, even the kids are exhausted. Mix all this crap in with a pandemic and being in this house and you have Funville.  My underwear drawer no longer holds underwear.  It is stocked FULL of candy.  I wake up, in the morning, with a bag of snickers under my arm and wrappers everywhere.

There is a newfound love of Limeade Slushes.  My teeth are going to rot out of my head.  I have become a human GPS because I take LONG drives on roads I have never heard of.  My favorite past time is driving to my neighbors and seeing if their pig is in the front yard.  I cry…a lot.

Falling Apart

Sadly, I feel like my family is falling apart.  That Scripture of satan lurking around the corner to devour my family, it is happening!  Honestly, at warp speed.  I have so many words and so much has happened that my fingers will not move as fast as my brain.

Praying that this pandemic ends.  I am praying for healing for my medically fragile children.  Salvation for two of my kids.  Wisdom with all of them.  Healthy delivery for one (gonna be a granny!)  A healthy relationship for two kids.  School to open for one.  One to come home safely.  Another to stop making REALLY poor and dangerous choices.

I want my family to heal.  To be whole.  For God to intervene and DO SOMETHING.  Honestly, I am just ready for Jesus to come riding down on His white horse and take us all home.  Home…where there is no sadness, no darkness, and no pain.  Just glory.

God is Bigger

I just have to trust in that…right?  Right.  Yes, trust.  The hardest thing for me to do is trust Him with my family.  Maybe that, alone, needs to be my prayer.  Lord, let me trust in You that You have plans to prosper and not harm my family.  Help me to realize that You and only You, can heal the fractures.

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Guest Blogger

The Reality of my Nightmare

The Reality of my Nightmare

In The Reality of my Nightmare, my guest blogger writes about her interpretation of the trials I have been walking through.  She writes it as if she were me.  I read it the morning of my friends funeral.  She is pretty spot on in all that she said.

The Reality of my Nightmare

Writing this seems like a nightmare

I am waiting to wake up from this nightmare because of how real it feels. But when I open my eyes, it will all go away. No. This nightmare is real. I can’t believe this is happening to me. Why? Why me? What did I do wrong to cause these people to knock on my door? Who has been watching me and observing my every movement?

I am afraid

Afraid to raise my voice even the slightest bit because someone might be watching. Also, I am afraid to take my child to the other room for fear that someone might think I am going to punish them. Afraid to go out in public with my child for fear that someone will judge me the wrong way and call them again. Why me?

Raising Kids

Raising kids is hard, especially 7 of them. They are all so different in so many ways.  Yet, I would not change a single hair on their head because I love them so. I love my kids with every fiber of my being. I would gladly take any strife or burdens off their shoulders.  Honestly, I would put them on my own if it helps them and their future.

My kids are special

Some have mentally challenging issues.  Then, there are others who have some physical issues that need my constant attention. Being a mom is hard. Tiring even. Yet, I am glad God chose these beautiful children to be mine.

I love fiercely and I will do anything in my power to protect them from the world and its temptations. Sometimes, I help others before I think about myself and my needs. I have run myself ragged going in all different directions to help those in need as God calls me to do. Honestly, I try to open myself up to other moms in different clubs and organizations that my kids participate in. I try to help them and converse with them when they need a friend or a shoulder to cry on.

But You

You took care of my child when he played sports on your team.  He became best friends with your kids.  I thought you loved him like one of your own. He stayed at your house and slept over so many nights.  Every time, he had a blast when he came home beaming from ear to ear.  He would tell me all about how fun it is at your house.

Invitation then Betrayal

I invited you into my home which we manage to keep clean amongst the chaos of having multiple children and animals in the house. And yet, you betrayed my trust by calling them. Why? Why me?

You know my child is well-fed.  We give him clothes and things to play with.  Furthermore, we keep him involved in sports. Importantly, we teach him the love of Jesus in everything we do. We fight for him daily because he is different. And that’s okay because I love him so much.

How Would You Feel

You are a mother with kids of your own. How would you feel if someone called them?  They showed up at your doorstep asking to be invited in.  Then ask you probing questions about your home and relationships with your kids? And what if you found out that it was a supposed “friend” who called them on you.

How would you feel?

Betrayed?

Confused?

I should hope so.

Because that is how I felt.

Terrifying Agony

The terrifying agony that my kids could be ripped away from me with no warning. Sadly, the wailing and uncontrollable sobbing happened in my car when I got the call. My heart can’t take it anymore.  I am so tired of having to justify myself to these people. Justify every action that I do and every word that comes out of my mouth.

How would you feel?

Would you demand an explanation from your “friend” and say some nasty things to them in retaliation? Would you constantly be looking over your shoulder to make sure no one was watching you if you ever had to punish your child in public? Or are you one of those parents that let their children run amuck and let them do whatever they want?

Either way, I want you to know that it is understandable if you did not know the family or if you had never been in their home and seen how the family operates. It would be understandable if you didn’t know me or my son at all.

But you did know us.

I was at every game. I talked to you all the time. And yet, you still called them. I thought I could trust you. You have betrayed my trust. But I choose to let God be in control of my situation. I choose to let God be the judge of your actions when you get to Heaven instead of judging you, which I am not called to do.

Honestly, I choose to love like Jesus with skin on and be the city on a hill for you. I choose to let God listen to my sorrowful prayers and collect my tears in a jar. Furthermore, I choose to let God pick me up and comfort me because he knows I am the mom He called me to be. I am not perfect. But God does not call us to be perfect. He calls us to be his disciples and to love our neighbor in his Word.

My house may be messy sometimes and my kids may drive me crazy most days, but in what reality is a house always tidy and the kids always clean and well-behaved? I would love to meet those people and that family.

Haven’t you ever made a mistake as a parent?

Because if you say no that is a bold-faced lie. We fail daily at things but the key is to learn from those mistakes, move on, and leave the past behind us. Those failures are also successes. I have put several of my kids through a full education (and I have homeschooled them for many many years as well).  Two of them have graduated from college, with honors, which is a huge accomplishment.

Mama Pride

One of my kids is married with a baby on the way.  I could not be happier for my sweet child. My smallest child is excelling at things that doctors told us would be impossible.  Yet, with me by his side, he has survived those odds.

The moments of pride I feel for the children that I raised surpasses the moments of sadness that I feel when things like this happen. I choose to find the beauty in the ashes. I will stand tall and not be shaken by people’s opinions of me and my family.

My Choices

So I will also choose to continue to stand by my children and attend every activity, club, and sporting event that they are in. And if you other moms judge me or whisper tall tales about me that are not even true, I will smile and turn the other cheek as God has called me to do. Even if it is the hardest thing I have ever done.

Cruelty of Others

People can be so cruel nowadays and they always look at the plank in someone else’s eye rather than focusing on the speck of dirt that is in their own eye. Words can definitely slice through a person and bring them down when we should be standing together as moms and supporting one another rather than bringing them down and jumping to conclusions by calling the organization before they have the facts straight.

No, we mom’s are not perfect. But we are doing the best we can with the circumstances we are currently in and with the children that the Lord has blessed us with. I will continue to be the city on a hill and shine my light bright for my kids and for you.

And I know deep down in my heart that God will be pleased with my strength and integrity, and when I get to Heaven He will say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” I can not wait for that day to come.

In the meantime

I will continue to be the most amazing mom to my kids and be a faithful spouse to my husband. Showing them the light of God.  Continuing to shield them from the World will be a lifelong journey, but I would not change one thing about it. Not for you and not for any other mom who says a spiteful word towards me.

I will pray for you even though it is painful. Because in my darkest moments is when I cling to Jesus the most, and when my faith is tested, I come out stronger than ever because my Redeemer is with me. No more hiding. No more fear. I will not be afraid.

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Dear Amygdala

Dear Amygdala

Dear Amygdala

Dear Amygdala,

You are not my friend, my Dear Amygdala.  The emotions that you project are not welcome.

It has come to my attention that satan is using and abusing you.  He is controlling you.  In doing so, he is taking past trauma that is inside of you, from a past life and family.

He is taking all that anger and those memories and making someone project that trauma into the present and onto a person’s new family.

I am onto you and your sneaky ways.  Bite me.

God is BIGGER.

Insincerely Yours,

Brandi

For Inquiring Minds

The Amygdala is the “fear center” of the brain.  It is your primitive brain that begins development when a person is conceived.  The Amygdala holds all your memories from conception to 3 years (the implicit memories).

It is a butthole.

The amygdala is an almond-shaped set of neurons that can be found deep in the brain’s medial temporal lobe. Shown to play a key role in the processing of emotions, the amygdala forms part of the limbic system.

Hard Conversations

There have been some hard conversations this past week.  Truths that have been unspoken and revelations that have been eye-opening.  Such clarity and peace with those revelations.  Yet, uncertainty as to what to do with them.

It’s a long-winding road we are walking.

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Psalm 54 & Proverbs 23

Psalm 54 & Proverbs 23

Psalm 54 & Proverbs 23

Psalm 54 & Proverbs 23 are pretty straightforward.  There are some sections, amongst these verses that I will address.   so I will just let them speak for themselves!  Quite often, in Proverbs, you will see verses related to disciplining children.

I would like to note that not all kids are the same.  First, there are kids who are biological and come from a “normal” home.  Then, there are kids from homes where divorce has occurred.  Next, you have kids that are, sadly, in foster care or orphanages.  Lastly, there are kids that are adopted.  I’m sure there are more groups.  Well, now that I think of it, there are many other groups.  Like a lot of other groups because my mind is now swirling and twirling.

Let’s just put it this way, take each kid and each situation on a case by case basis.  Do not “blanket” parent or discipline your children because no two children are the same.  I feel like that made sense in my head but rereading this, I’m confusing myself.

Psalm 54

Come with great power, O God, and rescue me!
    Defend me with your might.
Listen to my prayer, O God.
    Pay attention to my plea.
For strangers are attacking me;
    violent people are trying to kill me.
    They care nothing for God. 

But God is my helper.
    The Lord keeps me alive!
May the evil plans of my enemies be turned against them.
    Do as you promised and put an end to them.

I will sacrifice a voluntary offering to you;
    I will praise your name, O Lord,
    for it is good.
For you have rescued me from my troubles
    and helped me to triumph over my enemies.

Thoughts

God is my Protector, Defender, and Rock on which I stand.  Honestly, whom shall I fear?

Proverbs 23

1While dining with a ruler,
    pay attention to what is put before you.
If you are a big eater,
    put a knife to your throat;
don’t desire all the delicacies,
    for he might be trying to trick you.

Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich.
    Be wise enough to know when to quit.
In the blink of an eye wealth disappears,
    for it will sprout wings
    and fly away like an eagle.

Thoughts

Verse 5 needs to be embedded in my heart.  I don’t want an abundance of money.  That isn’t something that I desire.  However, I do want to be able to not worry.  For instance, I know that we have enough to pay our bills.  Then, we save what we can to get out of debt.  However, there are things that I feel we *need.*  Then, I realize that we don’t necessarily *need* it, it is more of a want.  In the end, God provides for all those needs.  When it aligns with His will, maybe just maybe, He will give us the desires of our hearts.

Section 2

Don’t eat with people who are stingy;
    don’t desire their delicacies.
They are always thinking about how much it costs.
    “Eat and drink,” they say, but they don’t mean it.
You will throw up what little you’ve eaten,
    and your compliments will be wasted.

Don’t waste your breath on fools,
    for they will despise the wisest advice.

10 Don’t cheat your neighbor by moving the ancient boundary markers;
    don’t take the land of defenseless orphans.

Section 3

11 For their Redeemer is strong;
    he himself will bring their charges against you.

12 Commit yourself to instruction;
    listen carefully to words of knowledge.

13 Don’t fail to discipline your children.
    The rod of punishment won’t kill them.
14 Physical discipline
    may well save them from death.

15 My child, if your heart is wise,
    my own heart will rejoice!
16 Everything in me will celebrate
    when you speak what is right.

Thoughts

Don’t fail to discipline your children.  This phrase is also used, quite often, in the book of Proverbs.  Bart and I have never shied away from disciplining our children.  Yet, each child has required something a little bit differently.  We thought we were so smart in doing things equally amongst our children.  Then, we were blessed with kids from hard places.  Wow, that changes everything.

Section 4

17 Don’t envy sinners,
    but always continue to fear the Lord.
18 You will be rewarded for this;
    your hope will not be disappointed.

19 My child, listen and be wise:
    Keep your heart on the right course.

20 Do not carouse with drunkards
    or feast with gluttons,
21 for they are on their way to poverty,
    and too much sleep clothes them in rags.

22 Listen to your father, who gave you life,
    and don’t despise your mother when she is old.
23 Get the truth and never sell it;
    also get wisdom, discipline, and good judgment.
24 The father of godly children has cause for joy.
    What a pleasure to have children who are wise.
25 So give your father and mother joy!
    May she who gave you birth be happy.

26 O my son, give me your heart.
    May your eyes take delight in following my ways.

Section 5

27 A prostitute is a dangerous trap;
    a promiscuous woman is as dangerous as falling into a narrow well.
28 She hides and waits like a robber,
    eager to make more men unfaithful.

29 Who has anguish? {Who} has sorrow?
    Who is always fighting? {Who} is always complaining?
    Who has unnecessary bruises? {Who} has bloodshot eyes?
30 It is the one who spends long hours in the taverns,
    trying out new drinks.
31 Don’t gaze at the wine, seeing how red it is,
    how it sparkles in the cup, how smoothly it goes down.
32 For in the end it bites like a poisonous snake;
    it stings like a viper.
33 You will see hallucinations,
    and you will say crazy things.
34 You will stagger like a sailor tossed at sea,
    clinging to a swaying mast.
35 And you will say, “They hit me, but I didn’t feel it.
    I didn’t even know it when they beat me up.
When will I wake up
    so I can look for another drink?”

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Psalm 36 & Proverbs 5

Psalm 36 & Proverbs 5

Psalm 36 & Proverbs 5

Here is my take on Psalm 36 & Proverbs 5.  I hope you are enjoying this as much as I am!

Psalm 36

Sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts.
    They have no fear of God at all.
In their blind conceit,
    they cannot see how wicked they really are.
Everything they say is crooked and deceitful.
    They refuse to act wisely or do good.
They lie awake at night, hatching sinful plots.
    Their actions are never good.
    They make no attempt to turn from evil.

Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens;
    your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.

Thoughts

There is a person, very close to me, that I see when I read verses 1-4.  I shudder at this thought.  This person has said “I feel the darkness coming up from my feet.  It moves up and I feel powerful.  I can’t stop it and I don’t want to stop it.”  Cue:  Buh bye now!

I see it happen. This person’s eyes go from green to black.  The transformation is physical.  I know that we are getting ready to rumble.  Thankfully, I begin with “Not today, Satan.”  Then, I throw in James 4:7  Submit to God, resist the devil.  He will flee.  

Once the Name of Jesus is spoken, the enemy and his “friends” have to flee.  Yes, I roll with it sometimes.  Those days I feel like I’m in the pits of hell keeping the flames away with a water pistol. Then, there are days when I can pull out what is etched on my heart.

Section 2

Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
    your justice like the ocean depths.
You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.
    How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
All humanity finds shelter
    in the shadow of your wings.
You feed them from the abundance of your own house,
    letting them drink from your river of delights.
For you are the fountain of life,
    the light by which we see.

10 Pour out your unfailing love on those who love you;
    give justice to those with honest hearts.
11 Don’t let the proud trample me
    or the wicked push me around.
12 Look! Those who do evil have fallen!
    They are thrown down, never to rise again.

Thoughts

“All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings.” Can you even?  I think of the Lion King and the one part of the movie where you see the dark land.  Let’s switch that up and put a Jesus spin on it.

Can you imagine the “shadow” of His wings and how far they spread?  All we have to do is a step in that shadow and we are protected.  We are fed.  There is light.  Unfailing love and protection.

Just.  Step.  In.  The.  Shadow.  Of.  His.  Wings.

Proverbs 5

My son, pay attention to my wisdom;
    listen carefully to my wise counsel.
Then you will show discernment,
    and your lips will express what you’ve learned.
For the lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey,
    and her mouth is smoother than oil.
But in the end she is as bitter as poison,
    as dangerous as a double-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death;
    her steps lead straight to the grave.

Thoughts

Listen to wisdom.  Carefully listen to counsel.  Show discernment.  Talk about what you have learned.  It is so simple, yet it is so hard.  Why is that?

Section 2

For she cares nothing about the path to life.
    She staggers down a crooked trail and doesn’t realize it.

So now, my sons, listen to me.
Never stray from what I am about to say:
Stay away from her!
Don’t go near the door of her house!
If you do, you will lose your honor
and will lose to merciless people all you have achieved.
10 Strangers will consume your wealth,
and someone else will enjoy the fruit of your labor.

11 In the end you will groan in anguish
when disease consumes your body.
12 You will say, “How I hated discipline!
If only I had not ignored all the warnings!
13 Oh, why didn’t I listen to my teachers?
Why didn’t I pay attention to my instructors?
14 I have come to the brink of utter ruin,
and now I must face public disgrace.”

 

Thoughts

Again, listen.  Take heed.  Be wise.  Your body will betray you when it is shrouded in guilt, shame, and ignorance.  Oh, that makes you think.  Stress on a body can do SO much damage.

When we do not stay away from, do not listen, ignore wise counsel…is that a direct relation to our physical health.  Verse 11 is very clear in saying that disease will consume your body.

That is a revelation to me.  In the last 2 weeks, I’ve struggled with some vertigo.  I have Meniere’s Disease.  There was a diagnosis when I was 19 years old.  It settled in after a head injury.  Yet, I have been symptom-free for over a year.  I mean, once I did my holistic treatment in St. Augustine, FL…it left.

Lately, I’ve struggled.  My struggle comes directly on the heels of a great amount of stress within our family.  What wise counsel am I not listening to?  I have not sought the Word to help with any issues.  Giant mistake.  Now, I’m going to remedy that situation!

Section 3

15 Drink water from your own well—
    share your love only with your wife.
16 Why spill the water of your springs in the streets,
    having sex with just anyone?
17 You should reserve it for yourselves.
    Never share it with strangers.

18 Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you.
    Rejoice in the wife of your youth.
19 She is a loving deer, a graceful doe.
    Let her breasts satisfy you always.
    May you always be captivated by her love.
20 Why be captivated, my son, by an immoral woman,
    or fondle the breasts of a promiscuous woman?

21 For the Lord sees clearly what a man does,
    examining every path he takes.
22 An evil man is held captive by his own sins;
    they are ropes that catch and hold him.
23 He will die for lack of self-control;
    he will be lost because of his great foolishness.

Thoughts

Can’t get much clearer than that!  Abstain from sex until you are married!  Anything you choose to do with a man/woman to who you are not married too is adultery.  I say that because the Lord has created our family from before creation.  He has chosen the perfect person.  Some people, he has blessed with singleness.

So, when you hold hands, kiss, hug, have sex with outside of who He created for us is straight-up adultery.  If I allowed myself, I could be swallowed up in shame but God is good, and his grace is forever!

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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 are 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.

Related Posts:

Confabulation

Part 1

Welcome Home

What a Ride

 

Medical Issues

What is Reactive Attachment Disorder?

 What is Reactive Attachment Disorder?

What is Reactive Attachment Disorder?

What is Reactive Attachment Disorder?  RAD is a condition in which individuals have difficulty forming loving lasting
relationships.  Let me just tell you…this is HARD.  Seemingly, on the outside, things look great.  However, at home, it is like living in a nightmare.  Sadly, this is a nightmare that you do not wake up from.  Sometimes, it can be manageable.  For instance, medication for moods and sleep can help, sometimes.  However, their body starts building resistance to medications, so trial and error become the norm.

Some General Traits

Often have a nearly complete lack of ability to be genuinely affectionate with others.

Typically fail to develop a conscience and do not seem to trust.

Do not allow people to be in control of them due to this trust issue.

They can be surface compliant for weeks if there is no loving relationship involved.

However, with strangers, they can be extremely charming and appear loving.

Uneducated adults misinterpret this as the child trusting or caring for them. If they cannot trust and love their own family that loves them, they will not trust and love a casual acquaintance.

They do not think and feel like a normal person.

Some famous people with RAD

Hitler

Saddam Hussein

Edgar Alien Poe

Jeffrey Dahmer

Ted Bundy

Helen Keller

Isolated type, Predominant feeling is Sad

1. no friends
2. no touch
3. verbally compliant actually defiant

Evasive type, Predominant feeling is Fear

1. clingy
2. fake
3. charming
4. chatter
5. chameleon

Defiant type, Predominant feeling is Rage

1. cruel
2. charming
3. self-absorbed
4. destructive

Bizarre type

1. act crazy
2. constant noise

Causes

Any of the following conditions occurring to a child under 36 months of age puts a child at high risk for developing RAD:

~Maternal ambivalence toward pregnancy
~In-utero trauma, drugs, alcohol exposure
~Abuse
~Neglect
~Sudden separation from the primary caregiver
~Undiagnosed or painful illness such as colic or ear infections
~Inconsistent or inadequate daycare
~Chronic maternal depression
~Several moves and/or placements
~Unprepared mothers with poor parenting skills

Attachment Disorder Symptoms in Children

Superficially engaging & charming
Lack of eye contact on parents terms
Indiscriminately affectionate with strangers
Not affectionate on parents’ terms
Destructive to self, others, and material things (accident prone)
Cruelty to animals
Lying about the obvious (crazy lying)
Stealing
No impulse controls
Learning Lags
Lack of cause and effect thinking

More Issues

Lack of conscience
Abnormal eating patterns
Poor peer relationships
Preoccupation with fire
Preoccupation with blood & gore
Persistent nonsense questions & chatter
Inappropriately demanding & clingy
Abnormal speech patterns
Triangulation of adults
False allegations of abuse
Presumptive entitlement issues
Parents appear hostile and angry

Attachment Disorder Symptoms in Infants

~Does not use crying appropriately to get someone to address needs
~Often does not settle when needs are met by Mom
~Overreacts or often startles to touch, sound, and/or light
~Listlessness with no medical reason
~Limited holding onto or reaching for a caregiver
~Lack of appropriate stranger anxiety between 6 and 9 months of age
~Shows minimal interest in interacting with people
~Does not smile back or respond with activity to smites or baby talk
~Often does not follow human movement with their eyes
~Avoids eye contact
~Self abusive behavior
~Is resistant to cuddling

Great Quotes

When your brain works right, so can you. When your brain doesn’t work right, neither can you.” Daniel Amen, M.D.

“Experience changes the brain,” Bruce Perry, M.D,

Attachment is at the heart of all human endeavors.” Bruce Perry, M.D.

“Traditional therapy is useless for severely traumatized people, but especially children because it does not reach the parts of the brain that were most impacted by trauma.”  Bessel van der Kolk. M.D.

Complex (reactionary mind/brain stem) Survival mode

Fight – Defensive, tantrums argues, negative
Flight – Runs away, hypervigilant, stress-filled, anxious
Freeze- Shuts down emotions, shuts down learning, disassociates

Talking:

This is the first area that a child must gain self-control to begin the healing process.

Lies
Dumb questions
Unclear Speech
Jabbering
Swearing
Not answering
Why?
Arguing
I don’t know
Not accepting responsibility
Interrupting
Whining

Consequences vs. Punishment

Punishment turns thoughts to the outside of the child.

Consequences turn their thoughts inside.

Dramatic Displays:

Children need to be kept in close until they no longer need an audience to manipulate.

Flipping the bird
Overdramatic
Pity Parties
Fit Throwing
Aggression
Eye Rolling

Excretions:

It is essential that the child be 100% responsible for the clean-up of their own excretions after the age of five.

Urine
Feces
Flatulence
Vomit
Nasal Discharge
Spitting

Food Issues:

On one hand, you can’t make them eat it. On the other hand, you can’t make them stop eating either.  Sadly, they have to learn to control themselves. Honestly, a parent’s obligation as the nurturer is to provide nutritious meals three times a day.

Hiding food
Eating too much
Not eating
Picky eating
Eating rudely
Eating weird things

Friends and Family:

Relationships must begin between the mother and child.  Second, generalize to the father.  Third, to the family.  Fourth, to the community.  Lastly, to the world.

Peer relationships
Siblings rights
Abusing other kids
Setting up
Tattling
Pets

Prescribing the Problem:

When it’s not harmful to the child, pick your battles.  For instance, one avenue of intervention is prescribing the problem.

Chewing clothes
Chewing hands
Thumb sucking
Biting nails, lips, toes
Cracking knuckles
Picking boogers
Picking scabs
Masturbating
Crying wolf
Refusing medication
Nutrition
Allergies

Bedtime Issues:

Children need to sleep 10 to 12 hours a night with no light on. On the other hand, adults need to sleep 8 hours a night with no light on.

Setting alarm off
Not going to bed
Noise at night
Getting them up in the am and dressed

Restitution /Respite/Responsibility

~Restitution for stolen or intentionally stolen items should be double the replacement value of the item.

~It is the child’s responsibility to fill in the hole they dig with their inappropriate behaviors. The way they fill it in is by paying back with their time, their talent, or their energy.

~Stealing
~Running away
~Knives/weapons
~Destroying property
~Sabotaging fun
~Hygiene

From Others Toward Parents:

~Sometimes we have to say No

~No I won’t put my child in harm’s way by giving them freedoms they can’t handle.

~Parenting too tough, Nazis

~Not strict enough

~Munchhausen, Histrionic, Borderline, etc.

~Bad parent

~Don’t like/love child

~Scape-goating child

~Try harder

~Just love him more

Support Ideas

Realize this is a very painful situation. If you are on the Mom’s side, you are on the child’s side. Sadly, if you take the child’s side against the Mom, they both lose.

Equally important, listen with open ears and hearts. For instance, you should not judge, or be critical. Again, condemning, criticizing, or blaming Does Not Help to Lift the burden, don’t load it down.

Make short, loving phone calls (occasionally) to listen and encourage, not to advise, not to gather information, or “check on them”- Tell her she can chat whenever she needs an ear.

Finally, do Not give unasked-for advice.

Take all information as confidential.

It Is very helpful to educate yourself about Attachment Disorder.

**** Do not say just say ‘Let me know if I can help.’  Do something to help.****

Practical Ideas

1. Take her to lunch or dinner.
2. Rent a funny movie and share it.
3. Send her flowers, chocolate, or cards with love and a smile on it.
4. Bring her some dinner or baked goods,
5. Hugs are always heading. Moms need 12 a day minimum.
6. Pray for them.

More Ideas

Run errands to help lessen the load,
Take the kids somewhere for the afternoon. Be sure she knows it’s because she deserves a break and not because she can’t handle it.
Consider giving her a gift certificate for a massage, manicure, or hair salon.
Give her Mozart’s music or some other calming or uplifting tunes.
Give her a good book.
Buy her bubble bath and watch the kids for an hour or so white she soaks to music.
Remind her of her special traits and talents.
Tell the child often, in front of her, how lucky they are to have a mom like this.
Absolutely, never show up without calling to check for an appropriate time to visit.
Never tell her to “Just love the child more”. If you already have, beg forgiveness for not understanding.

Families by Design

Related Posts:

Reflecting on a Moment I Won’t Soon Forget

The Chair

Reflecting on 3 Month Post Diagnosis Stuff

All Things Adoption, Medical Issues

Wonder From the Eyes of the Typical

Wonder From the Eyes of the Typical

Wonder From the Eyes of the Typical

Wonder From the Eyes of the Typical kid has inched its way into my brain.  I use the words “typical” and “atypical” in very loose terms.  For example, I may say my “typical” child did this, or that meaning my biological child.  Now, I do not want to hear that I’m pitting my biological kids against my adopted children because that is crap.  I love them all the same.

In my world, there are no “typical” kids or people.  We are all a bit screwy from time to time.  That is what makes the world an interesting place to live.  Not being all alike, it gives places flavor and personality.

My Reason

My reason for using that terminology is because of the movie “Wonder” that I watched last night.  You can find a Christian review on this film at Plugged in Online to learn more about the different content of this movie.

They used the word “typical” in the film while referencing their oldest daughter, Via.  Their youngest son, Auggie, was born with a deformity.  He, too, was a biological child.  For the most part, I enjoyed this movie, though it hurt my heart.

My Thoughts

This movie did not depict the strain that raising a medically fragile child can have on a marriage.  The ‘parents’ seemed to get along great and there didn’t seem to be underlying anger/hurt/resentment towards one another.

That, right there, is why this is a movie and not real life.

Raising children with special needs, whether that is mental, physical, life-altering, terminal, etc. has a great deal of strain on any couple.  This is whether they are married, co-parenting, etc.  It is difficult.  I know why people do not stay married.  The all-consuming nature of special needs children is just that, all-consuming.

The Typical Child

What I feel they were pretty spot-on with is the feeling of the older daughter.  The child in the shadows.  The child you just let skate on and upward with because they know not to make waves.  These children have learned to problem solve, maintain, stay calm on the outside when their insides are screaming.

Guilt sets in.

Watching this movie had me thinking about my ‘typical’ kids and what all they have seen/heard throughout the years.  The pain is unbearable at the thought that I have swooshed them under the rug because I was busy putting out fires of my ‘atypical’ kids.

My kids’ needs range from minor to major things.  We have dealt with everything from Dyslexia to Mild Mental Deficit.  Splash in Reactive Attachment Disorder, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Deafness, and Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome. You will have my kids in a nutshell.

Be Careful Little Eyes What You See

My kids have seen SO much over the years.  I’m so blessed that they are so aware of God and follow (mostly) in His forgiving ways.  To think back, it makes me shudder to remember the looks on their faces when the violence would ensue.

I can still hear the still, small voices saying “mama stop” when I had had enough.  The fear that would splash across their faces when one child would rage for hours on end.  This child destroyed anything and anybody in the path of the tornado rage that was bearing down on us.

My kids didn’t have anyone over, it was not safe at times.  They saw me cry more times than I can count.  I have learned, over the years, to be mindful of catching my emotions before they run amuck.

Did I lose track of them, in those years?  Was there too long of a delay before I had had my belly full?  Did my other children go unnoticed because of the acts/behaviors of one or two kids?

Be Careful Little Ears What You Hear

The things my kids have heard are horrible.  The threats, the evil that has been spewed out, the anger that flows like lava…they have heard it all.  One day, in the midst of a storm (figurative not literal), I noticed my son.  God love him, he was corraling the other children to the back of the house.

What I realized, that day, was that he was moving them to safety.  He wanted to protect their little eyes and their little ears from all that was going down.  It was at that moment that I took control back.

No more was I going to let Satan rule my house.  I was done, oh so done.  Everything that I was “taught” to do by the so-called foster care rules, my church, my family, friends, other caregivers, therapists, and doctors…nothing worked.

It was time that I saw the other little faces and I put a stop to the insanity that had ruled my home, mind, and heart for too long.  I began to stop seeking approval from those that did not have my family’s best interest in mind.  There were no more doctors, medications, therapists…I was done.

James 4:7

Submit to God.  Resist the devil.  He will flee.”  James 4:7  This was the verse that I would chant while the world raged around me.  We made tough decisions in regards to one of our children.  A decision that I tried to back out of, but my family and my physician said it was for the best.  Tough decisions are the hardest ones to make, but also are necessary for survival, sometimes.

Reflecting on our past 12 years is not all a bad thing.  I have to be mindful to capture the thoughts that are not of God and put them in the place they should be in.  He knew, from the beginning of time, the children that I would have and He has made perfect provisions for each of them.  I’m so thankful that He has guarded the hearts of our typical and our atypical kids from remembering everything.

Hang tough, fellow mamas in the trenches…God has our backs!

 

Faith Journey, Medical Issues

Come What May Part 5

Come What May Part 5

Hope…..my theme word since May 2015 because of Come What May Part 5.  Hope showed back up on July 8, 2018….B and I were late for church again (let us have a SHOCKER moment), luckily, he left the kids and me off at the door.  That allowed us to find a seat (in front of our favorite humans, Mr. Cliff and Ms. Jan.  While the kids sat down, I scurried Hunter off to his class.  For the purpose of playing with his “brother” and then I could sit in peace for a few minutes.

Well, God is the God of peace, but He also has an agenda.  As sweet Grace was doing worship, she started a song that I had never heard of “Come What May.”  Gracious.

Come What May:

In death and life, I follow You
In every season, this be true
‘Cause I chose this path and I made this vow
And I will never turn around

Nothing can hold me back from Your love
I’m following You, Jesus
Whatever may come my way

To live is Christ, to die is gain
I give it all for love’s true name
It brands my heart, and now I will rise
To bear the name of Jesus Christ

Nothing can hold me back from Your love
I’m following You, Jesus
Whatever may come my way

Come what may, I will obey
‘Cause I find my joy in bringing You praise

I will obey You, God, whatever man may say 
I stand on promises I know my God has made 
With no regrets in me, my lips will praise Your name 
And though the earth gives way, I will not be afraid 

‘Cause You are the Lord of Lords, You open every door 
You stand in victory, and now my heart is Yours 
I will trust in You, God, and I will not be moved 
When persecution comes, I choose to stand with You

Thoughts

I bolded what stopped me in my tracks.  Again, my head was down, I was singing in my spirit, and then when those, unexpected verses (still, I did not know this song) came on…..my body started to react, and my hands were flying up in the air worshipping Jesus.  I almost, just almost, stood on the chair to get closer to God (kind of like southern women who make their hairs real big….the bigger the hair, the closer to God status).

In A Moment

In a moment, I looked over and saw Richie (our pastor) standing by Bart.  He asked if we would be willing to share our testimony about what has been going on.  We said yes, but my mind (flesh) was screaming…I have nothing to say.  I mean nothing is in my head. What on earth?

Things have been tough around my neck of the woods.  Every single child is struggling with something, as are Bart and I.  Our marriage is strained, our minds are twisted, we are feeling very alone, unloved, and with all that is going on……..we still have the massive needs of Hunter.

When this song was over, Richie said that he felt like the Lord was leading him to ask us to speak because man is telling us so much…yet we are trying so hard to seek His face.  There are days, when I seek His face, with my eyes shut.  You know, when children play hide and seek…if their little eyes are closed, they can’t see you and you can’t see me, but we can turn our heads to a voice….that’s kind of like the life we all had been living.

The Baseball Cap…Let Hope Arise

Part 5 Come What May

Finally, we have answers to our medical questions, in regards to Hunter.  Yet, his doctor is still trying to get us to nail jello to a wall.  First, he has strep, then he has Cerebellitis, then there is the diagnosis of OMS (Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome), next is possibly SCA (Spinocerebellar Ataxia). In the end, he does have 1 copy of the MRE11A mutation on chromosome 11q21, which correlates with ATLD1.  Yet that was still an incorrect diagnosis.  We are back to Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome.  Our fifth (and third) final diagnosis. Blah blah blah blah.  I am SO sick of listening to the voice of man dictating every aspect of Hunter’s life.  Sick.  Of.  It.

As we got up there, we made it through the testimony….only to be blindsided by a baseball cap……

Related Posts
Trying Differently Rather Than Harder

 

Life or Something Like It, Medical Issues

Part 3 Welcome Home

Part 3 Welcome Home

 

Part 3 Welcome Home.  My flesh screams and I’m hanging onto the armrests of my airplane seat.  I refuse to move.  This is my anniversary.  This is our planned TRIP.  We are not moving.  I do not want to stay.  Honestly, I would live in France, if I had to, but guess what?  I don’t have to.  We are traveling, that’s it.  No more, no less.  I sit there, stunned. Unable to move or comprehend what all I’m about to see/smell/witness in this country I have never planned to go to.

What I Envision Versus Reality

The door of the plane opens…we grab our luggage that is packed for France….and we get off the plane.  My first thought is the drabness of the airport.  The busyness of it.  I felt like I needed to wash my hands because so many people were touching me.  They were all speaking in different languages.  I found myself watching their mouths move, trying to read lips or get a nugget of information, but I couldn’t.  I couldn’t understand any person or sign.  There was also not a single person who spoke English.  I felt trapped in this foreign country.  There was nowhere, no one to guide me, no vehicle, no home, no food, nothing.

Overstimulated Moment

I picture us grabbing our stuff and trying to find our way out of that blasted, loud, big, busy airport.  There was a moment when I needed air.  Sadly, I was overstimulated by the news and anxious because this was completely out of our control.  Air, I needed to breathe fresh air and take a moment to regroup.  I was thrown into something that was not of my doing.  There were two choices, I could either curl up in a ball and sob or I could find a way through the fear and uncertainty.

Ray of Sunshine

As I processed this news, I felt a ray of sunshine hit my face.  I felt a cool breeze as we walked outside.  In one moment, I opened my eyes and from as far as the east is from the west, there were tulips.  I love tulips.  Honestly, I love the beauty of them, the array of colors, the smells.  Tulips come up every single year without fail.  Far off, in the distance, I saw windmills.  The most gorgeous background, I have ever seen in my life.

Absorbing my Surroundings

As we walk around, absorbing our surroundings, we think about Paris and what we will miss.  The art, the food, the atmosphere……all of our plans, all the cool things we would see….we had to mourn that because we knew, we were “stuck” in Holland.  Don’t get me wrong, Holland is phenomenally gorgeous, it is just where I wanted to be.  I don’t mind a visit, but why must we live there.  We had to mourn not seeing our family, our home, American food, the freedoms we had in America.  There was just a lot to process.

Once our mourning time was done and we settled in to this new life….this new place with all these new sites, new foods, noises, smells.  We began to acclimate to our surroundings and we began to learn about the cultures and the foods.

Holland and Its Beauty

Holland has its own beauty, but it was not what we had originally planned for.  We had to learn to adapt and compensate for the things that we wanted to see in Paris and what we wanted from home.  It wasn’t bad…just different.  It was a change and I’m not one to like change.

I had to learn that I could not “fix” my children…only God could and will do that.  I had to learn to let go of control of what was and begin to love what is.  By mourning, so deeply, the loss of what was going to be a 10-day vacation to Paris, I was losing out on what was surrounding me.

Seeing Things from a Different Perspective

New colors, new foods, new scenery…..I began to love my new home and by loving it, I began to change.  Ironically, I began seeking God more and seeking help for my depression.  Also, I learned that FASD, RAD, Single-Sided Deafness, Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome does not define my children.  Finally, I learned how to love again…I learned how to love my God, my husband, and my children for who they were and not what I “envisioned” them to be.

Be open to change.  Be open to new things.  Stop trying to fix things.  Stop trying to control what you are not meant to control.

Live life and love without abandon.