ReMoved

If you haven’t seen this, it’s worth the time to watch….

The Meeting With The Former Therapist

As I mentioned here, we had scheduled an appointment with one of Daffy’s former therapists, specifically the one who gave her the Reactive Attachment Disorder diagnosis a couple of months after she moved in to the group home. We had learned of his involvement with Daffy in a very brief exert in her Adoptive History where he had been quoted as saying “Daffy is more concerning because of her Reactive Attachment Disorder and her inability to care about relationships.

We were very eager to ask him questions about how he came to that diagnosis and whether or not he believed that Daffy could have been “cured” by coming into our care and seeing a new therapist, as suggested  by said new therapist.

When Mickey & I arrived, we learned he had double booked the session. I almost cried thinking we would have to wait any longer for answers. Thankfully he was able to reschedule with his other patient and took us in. One of the workers from our current team was also able to meet us for the meeting. I hadn’t thought I wanted any of them at the meeting, but was actually happy to have a witness as to what this man said. I am certain that if I had come back and reported about our meeting, the team would have thought my opinion was skewed. (By the way, the post-adoption worker from Donald’s case called at the last minute because of flooding in her home so I never did have to deal with that conflict of interest.)

So anyway, the former therapist had pulled up Daffy’s files. He had told me on the phone that he thought he had seen her only twenty times or so. It turned out when he reviewed the records before meeting with us that he had actually had Daffy as a patient for more than a year and a half (10/2009- 6/2011) and had seen her generally every 2 weeks during that time. He began first by sharing that Daffy was one of the girls who had made him reconsider providing therapy to the girls from the group home. He said there was a lot of “transference” that he witnessed from these girls onto the staff at the group home (for example, in their minds and because of their deep trauma, the kitchen worker could be the grandfather that abused them, or the housekeeper could be the mom who beat them). He ultimately decided that the girls from the group home were better off seeing a female provider who might seem less intimidating rather than a 50 year old man and he made the referral for Daffy to switch in the summer of 2011. As a side note, it appears Daffy never went to the recommended therapist as the state decided that Daffy and Donald should see a therapist together to work on sibling issues. (That lasted only a few sessions before we came into the picture and the state decided to end that counseling to pursue something closer to our home.)

The former therapist said that from the very first session, Daffy “had to be in control.” He said she seemed “pleasant” but that it was like she wasn’t really there. During that first session, Daffy talked about her birth mom extensively and even drew a picture. He indicated the conversation was  “one mile wide but only one inch deep”. He said that Daffy gave just enough to seem forthcoming but that, in fact, she would prove to be highly resistant to any emotional work over the next year and a half.

I asked if Daffy had come to him with the RAD diagnosis or if he had been the one to give her the diagnosis. He said that he had given her the diagnosis and he did not hesitate even a second when he said that she is CLASSIC RAD, no question about it. He said that every word she chose was guarded and that she tried to control the sessions by controlling him.

I asked if he thought that she had been sexually or physically abused and he emphatically said yes, given her behaviors, fear of adults and need to control every adult. He said that any adult who allows themselves to be controlled by her is doing her a disservice.

He said that at the end of his time with her, she flat out refused to go to counseling some days and he had also indicated in his notes “she is highly resistant”, “persistant refusal” and  “irritability”.  At that point in our meeting, I laughed and said “Yep, you know the Daffy I know!”

I asked him if he felt that Daffy could be dangerous and he said that although she had not done anything specific while in his care, he feels she has the potential because of how “through her defenses are and how unpsychologically sound she is.” Marvelous! He went on to say that he also feels that she is the type of child who could make false accusations of sexual abuse. Sigh. Not what I needed to hear with a husband and 2 teenaged boys at home.

I asked what he thought our family needed in terms of support. He said that it is very important for us to understand RAD. He said we have to be in it for the long haul. He suggested finding trainings and support groups and said we should definitely use respite. I asked if he thought there was any hope for Daffy and he seemed much more reserved, almost gloomy, in his reply. He said there could be hope if she works with a female therapist who gets her to do the emotion based work she has avoided all these years. He said Daffy MUST deal with her losses and get at the hurt to have any real hope. He talked about the walls Daffy has built up over the years and didn’t seem optimistic that she would ever take them down.

Oddly, I left on cloud nine! I didn’t even have to share my experience to have someone BELIEVE ME! I wanted to scream from the rooftops “I WAS RIGHT! I WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG!!” Now ordinarily I’m not the type to be so “I told you so,” but without the proper diagnosis, Daffy will NEVER get the help she needs and this meeting is a start on the road to finding out the truth and coming up with a solid plan to save Daffy and our entire family. At least I hope that’s the road we are on… you never know in this case….

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The Birth Family Letters

mailAs I think I’ve shared, Daffy has not seen her birth Mom since July and her birth brother, Donald, since December 2012. We have allowed letters to be exchanged during that time, but of course we open them and read them before giving them to Daffy to be sure nothing questionable is being said. We were instructed to do this by Daffy’s most recent therapist and we agreed it was a good idea. This also allows us a heads up that behaviors may occur as a result of being triggered. The most recent letter arrived last weekend. First, the envelope return address stated “XXXX Family” rather than the usual “Mommy XXXX” that is usually used as the name in the return address. When I read it, I immediately felt pangs for Daffy. I know she will view it as just one more reminder that Donald is back with their Birth Mom and she isn’t.

I opened the envelope to find 4 letters enclosed… one from Donald, one from Birth Mom, one from Birth Mom’s new husband and one from Birth Mom’s older biological daughter (who was taken by the state many years before Daffy was born). Apparently she is 18 now and is living back with her Birth Mom.

I don’t even know where to begin to describe the issues in these letters, so let’s just take them one by one:

1. Birth Mom: Birth Mom wrote once again reminding Daffy that she still has her Christmas gifts and will give them to her when she gets to see her. (It was previously discussed by the post adoption unit working with Birth Mom’s family that she would give the gifts to staff to pass on to Daffy, but apparently Birth Mom decided that she would rather have a carrot to dangle in front of Daffy. Sigh. ) She then told Daffy all the things she had received for Valentine’s Day. She went on to say that she bought Donald a 7″ Tablet and a goodie bag for Valentine’s Day and she got coloring books and a goodie bag for her step-daughter. She then pointed out that she got a goodie bag for Daffy and it was with her Christmas things. REALLY???? I do not expect- or even WANT- Birth Mom to buy a tablet for Daffy, but to describe each gift in such detail clearly indicating to Daffy she doesn’t mean as much to her is just plain wrong. At the end, she closed with a PS telling Daffy that her oldest daughter is now living with her and asks if its okay that she wrote a letter. Ummmm, hello? Clearly it’s too late to be asking since you included the letter. She did not provide any further details, but it’s sure looking like a bizarre family reunion over there, one that Daffy is not a part of.

2. Donald: As surprising as it is, Donald’s letter was actually the least offensive of the 4 letters this time. He told her he heard a Hannah Montana song that made him think of her. He called her “sis” a lot (same as last letter when he wrote “I’ve been a bad boy, sis.“) and he drew her a picture of a tree with her name on it.

3. Birth Mom’s New Husband: I’ve never thought of this guy as a bad guy. He has custody of his young elementary school-aged daughter. (Side note: Daffy’s Birth Mom HATES his little girl and has no problem sharing that with anyone who will listen. She resents the fact that she could be allowed to raise this stepchild but not her own biological children, 4 in total, because the court terminated her rights). Anyway, the new husband seems to be fond of Daffy, despite only have met her once or twice in 2008 before Birth Mom’s rights were terminated. So, he wrote a fairly generic letter and then requested Daffy draw him the China Doll they talked about. He them went on to remind Daffy to include the butcher knife in the pictures. WAIT, WHAT? I had to read that part a few times over. Why on God’s green earth would this man ask Daffy to draw a picture of a China Doll with a butcher knife???? I’ve tried to see what I can found out about the Chinas Doll in the Great & Powerful Oz movie but so far not too much luck especially as it relates to a butcher knife. Regardless, I dont think Daffy needs ANY encouragement to draw ANYTHING featuring ANY knives after the incident at school in 2012 and the photos she drew of death last year.

4. Birth Mom’s Older Biological Daughter: Ok, so let me start by saying, when we first learned back in 2011 that Donald and Daffy had 2 older biological sisters that had been removed and ultimately adopted into a neighboring state, we spoke to the kids about them. Neither child had any clue what we were talking about. The workers from the agency we were with were made aware and also spoke to Daffy about the and Daffy still denied having any sisters. On the first visit Daffy had with Birth Mom in 11/2012, Birth Mom brought a photo of these “sisters” and Daffy did not recognize them and said she did not know who they were. Fast forward to receiving these letters. I was shocked to see this letter included. The letter didn’t say a lot other than the fact this 18 year old has now moved back with Birth Mom and is hoping to finish high school. She gave Daffy her phone number and said to call anytime. She said she misses Daffy.

As if the birth family stuff wasn’t already wreaking  havoc in Daffy’s life with the Birth Mom she wants to see, Donald whom she doesn’t want to see, her Birth Mom’s new husband and his daughter of whom she hardly knows, she now has a Birth Sister that she doesn’t remember who wants to be a part of her life. WTF. I really wish Birth Mom would work with me for her to see Daffy without adding this barrage of other people into the mix. Daffy can not handle it right now. She is struggling with daily life. Things like this could easily put her over the edge.

So, my gut said maybe these were letters we should save in a special place until Daffy is older and can deal with everything. Mickey disagreed. He feels like Daffy needs to see the reality (and insanity!) of what is going on at Birth Mom’s house. I relented and he gave her the letters tonight, coincidentally the second night of his two days off.  I’m sure I’ll get to enjoy a spike in behaviors the next few days and into the weekend. Lucky me.

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The Medical Update

medsA few weeks back, Mickey and I took Daffy to the doctor to discuss her weight and her ADHD meds. (As you might recall, we fought to take her off a stimulant and get her onto a non-stimulant because of her weight loss and lack of appetite on the Vyvanse. Her PCP prescribed her 18mg of Strattera at the end of last summer.)  After the endless struggles over the past 4 months regarding homework and other tasks, as well as the teacher comments on her report card, it seemed that maybe an increase of the medication was in order. The PCP agreed and increased her dose to 40mg (the next dose up from 18mg). She has only been taking it about a week and a half, but it doesn’t seem to have any effect, which is really too bad. I know that drugs are not a miracle cure, but I was hoping that if Daffy could become more focused, it would be one less thing to argue about.

While at the PCP’s office, I also voiced my concerns about Daffy’s weight. She weighed 64 pounds when she moved here in January 2012. She weighed 64 pounds at the appointment. How can a child NOT grow in more than 2 years?? She had been in the 21st percentile when she moved in and is now in the 4th percentile. The doctor did not seem concerned at all, saying she will likely just be “small”, but I think there is something more. She has had control issues around food the entire time she has been here and she obsesses over being “skinny”… it wouldn’t take much for her to topple over to an eating disorder. The doctor gave her a lecture about trying new foods and eating healthy and she nodded but couldn’t remember what he said when he asked her to repeat it back. Time will tell if this will be a bigger problem than it already is… but at least I documented my concerns. I’m pretty used to being ignored by the “experts”… guess I’ll fry some other fish, so to speak, while I wait for this one to play out. We have a follow up in April, maybe he will care then?

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Wendy’s $1 Frosty Key Tag Is Back!

Wendy’s $1 Frosty Key TagAs you know, Daffy was a part of the “Wendy’s Wonderful Kids” program. I fully support their mission and wanted to let you know about their latest promotion from Wendy’s! Through mid-April, you can buy a Frosty Key Tag for $1 while supplies last, which will get you a free Jr. Frosty every time you present the tag with your purchase through August.

All proceeds benefit the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, an organization that helps children waiting in foster care find loving homes. Through Wendy’s support of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, more than 4,000 children in foster care have been adopted. Last year, Wendy’s raised $450,000 during the key tag promotion, and hopes to raise $1.3 million this year.

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More Changes

Last I wrote, we were awaiting Daffy’s TFCBT assessment and the treatment plan from Daffy’s therapist. As usual, a lot has happened.

We finally heard back from Daffy’s therapist via email. She decided to terminate her therapy with Daffy. She really didn’t give a reason other than to say now would be a good time since there are other supports in place. My jaw fell open… I asked for copies of the treatment plan and she decides to terminate??? Guess I got my answer. Anyway, she said she wanted 2-3 sessions to “terminate”. Mickey and I discussed it, then talked it over with Daffy and decided that Daffy’s next appointment would be her last. Daffy wrote the therapist a letter to say goodbye and brought it with her on Tuesday, but didn’t give it to her until she was leaving. She told Mickey & I later that it was because she was uncomfortable when the therapist cries. What? Does that woman have ANY therapeutic boundaries??? The therapist’s decision shocked me at the time, but with it behind us now, I am feeling pretty good about it being over. As I had posted previously, we weren’t planning to continue with her anyway, but I would have liked a bit more control on the way things ended. I guess she saw the situation for what it was… a very long two years with virtually no progress. The therapist offered to provide a reference and I declined. I think I’m all set on anyone she might recommend.

In other news, the sw did the TFCBT assessment and said that Daffy did not indicate any PTSD or trauma. What????? I was baffled and frustrated at first, but the sw went on to say that she could still do some of the components of TFCBT with Daffy, she would simply leave out the narrative. In discussing things further with her the following week, I got a bit more insight. For example, one of the questions asked if Daffy had ever seen anyone be physically abused in her family. Daffy had initially replied no, but when the sw pushed her a little more, Daffy clarified that she had never seen any violence in THIS family, but that she had in her birth family. The other really interesting piece that came out of the evaluation was Daffy’s response to the question about her greatest worry/fear/concern. Daffy said that she she feared she would do something really bad and be thrown out of the family. I know, I know…. I can hear you all sighing with content that this must mean she loves us. I have to admit, there was a part of me that got hope from that statement, too. BUT…. as the sw went further in describing their conversation about it, it became less about Daffy wanting to “stay” in our family and more about Daffy worrying that she will do something dangerous or awful at any time that will get her removed. I get that with an abuse history, she has come to believe that being thrown out of a family is a risk… hell, it’s happened to her because of her brother’s behaviors in the past! But in actuality, we all face a series of imminent consequences- including being taken from our families- if we do something horrible.  I mean, I know that if I were to kill someone right now, I would face prison time… the DIFFERENCE is, I don’t walk around every day wondering or worrying when (or even if) I might actually kill someone. I know I won’t. Do you see the difference? Daffy knows her own thoughts & feelings and she is the only one who truly knows what risk she poses to the people around her. It was kind of chilling as I processed through all of this.

The next day Daffy and I exchanged numerous letters in our notebook which confirmed all the more that she still needs help. She referenced:

  • A desire to strangle someone
  • Wanting to run away at some points
  • Feeling suicidal at some points (though did say she had no specific plan when I asked for details)
  • Using defiance so “she will die” (guessing this means she thinks someone will kill her if she is defiant enough?)
  • Living her “worst nightmare”
  • Her biggest fear (someone climbing in her window and killing her)
  • Her “hard life” (which she said was school when I asked for details)
  • Poor self image (complaining about her weird belly button, huge ugly feet and a freckle on her private parts…. and going on to say that the only things she liked about herself were face, skinny body, blonde hair and blue eyes)

I mean, COME ON people, STOP trying to tell me that the only issue my kid has is ADHD. All of this came out of one day’s worth of letters. The actual problem list is MUCH longer. It is not NORMAL for a kid to be suicidal at 11 years old, ya know?? I need someone to help her… to help us! I feel like the post adoption worker is constantly trying to deny Daffy’s issues because she knows full well that the state LIED throughout this whole process and admitting to issues now would prove that. The thing is, the issues exist and I already KNOW they lied, so just help us already! GEESH!

I scanned copies of our letters from that day and emailed them to the two social workers, leaving off the post adoption worker.  (She doesn’t care anyway, so what’s the point? If the workers think she needs the info, they can pass it on.) Both agreed that there is clearly more going on than what Daffy let on during the TFCBT assessment and even considered that the questions that were asked of Daffy may have brought stuff up for her. GOOD! The only way to deal with all this stuff is to get it out there.

I was also able to set up an appointment recently with the former therapist I mentioned in this post. That meeting will be happening next week and I’m eager to get more details on how he came to the Reactive Attachment Disorder diagnosis. I invited the post-adoption worker and current social workers to attend the meeting, as a curtesy. The post adoption worker wrote back saying that she couldn’t make it, but that the post adoption unit felt they “should be represented” so they were sending another worker…. the post-adoption worker is the one on DONALD’S CASE! Whaaaaaaatttttt? Are you SERIOUS???? Daffy hasn’t seen Donald in almost 14 months and her birth mom in 7 months. The meetings with this worker late last year (to decide the appropriateness of visits) were absolutely useless. In fact, she ticked me off with how disrespectful she was of our adoptive relationship (referencing birth mom as “mom” to Daffy without even asking what terminology we use in our home). And now you want her to attend our fact finding mission with a former therapist? Why? Because you want to be able to squash info that you don’t want me to know? Ugh. I haven’t decided how to handle their decision yet. I will probably allow her to go and not “rock the boat”, but I will definitely be terminating the permission for this worker to discuss anything related to this case with Daffy’s birth mom.

Speaking of the birth Mom, during all this, birth mom and Donald also happened to write letters to Daffy. I tweeted about this, but don’t think I ever blogged it, so here it is. Donald told Daffy that he almost went “back to placement” when the police were called on him. He wrote “I’ve been a very bad boy, sis.” It sent chills up my spine. Mickey and I were unsure at first whether or not to give the letter to Daffy, but decided that she had a right to know the truth. Protecting her from the reality of her birth family doesn’t do her any good in the long run. Daffy didn’t really seem phased by the letter, but she also did not write either of them back.

I also need to blog about Daffy’s recent visit to the doctor, but my brain is fried from the past two hours of typing this post, so that will have to be a story for another day.

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Book Review | The Stovepipe

The StovepipeThe Stovepipe, by Bonnie E. Virag

The Stovepipe is a heartrending and heartwarming story of a four-year-old girl, who, along with three sisters and a brother, is taken by force from her family farm and placed in the foster care system. As time passes, they are often separated and later reunited as they are shuffled from one foster home to another. The four girls spend their most formative years on a tobacco farm where they live in abject fear of their foster parents who show them no affection, force them to work as common farm laborers, keep them locked in unheated attic bedrooms, do not let them partake in the family meals, and deny them access to the inside sanitary facilities. They are constantly threatened that they will be separated again if they misbehave. Their strong sisterly bonds and the pranks they play to get even with their foster parents help the girls to keep their will and spirits from breaking and to endure the years of willful neglect and unspeakable abuse.

When I was contacted to review The Stovepipe, I was really excited. It’s been a while since I have done a book review on the blog and it just so happens, I had made a commitment to myself to do more reading in 2014!

From the very first paragraph, I was captivated. My stomach knotted immediately empathizing with the fear that Bonnie felt at becoming a foster child.  Throughout the book, I smiled as her and her sisters made the best of a very bad situation, but also felt intense anger towards the adults (and older children!) who not only did not protect her, but who also purposefully abused her. Sadly, I don’t think her story is isolated to her generation, but rather something that still permeates a very broken system. I finished the booking feeling like Bonnie was an old friend… someone who I am very proud of for not only surviving a childhood of abuse, but who rose above and blessed us all by sharing her story in this book. I highly recommend this book to any one with an interest in the foster care system (past or present) or with a love for children.

About The Author

After immigrating to the United States in 1964, Bonnie Virag enrolled into the prestigious Academy Nvart School of Dressmaking and Designing to pursue her life-long dream of being a fashion designer. After graduating in May 1968, she went on to open her own home-based business. Several years later she entered the field of home decorating to design and fabricate customized window treatments. Failed surgery on an injured hand caused the closing of her business. It was then, while using an old typewriter for physical therapy, she decided to write her memoir. She is retired now and lives happily with her husband in Michigan. Bonnie can be found here on the web.

Have you read this book? Please feel free to leave me a comment with your thoughts!

Would you like to have your foster or adoption related book reviewed on my blog? Please contact me at fosteradoptionblog@gmail.com!

The Perfect Parent, Part 2

You don’t have to be perfect, to be a perfect parent. There are thousands of kids in foster care that will take you just as you are. For more information on how you can adopt, visit http://adoptuskids.org/

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Team Meeting Follow Up

The other day, I shared details about our recent treatment team meeting. Specifically, I shared that the service provider brought up her desire to do a TFCBT assessment on Daffy and was INSTANTLY shot down by Daffy’s current therapist. The therapist folded her arms and stated that Daffy shows “no signs of trauma.”

Yesterday, when the service provider came for our usual Tuesday afternoon meeting, she told me that Daffy’s therapist had contacted the state post-adoption worker and told her that SHE wants to be the one to do the TFCBT assessment on Daffy.

Nope. Not gonna happen.

I was STUNNED that she would go behind my back (and not even copy on the rest of the team) seeing as we had already made a decision at the treatment team meeting that the service provider would be moving forward with the assessment. Our family therapy yesterday was focused on communication styles and I was ITCHING to try out the “assertive” style in an email to the state post-adoption worker regarding this matter. This is what I sent:

Hi POST ADOPTION WORKER,

SW1 and SW2 were over today and SW1 filled me in on THERAPIST’s request to do the assessment for TFCBT. I am much more comfortable with SW1 doing the assessment. First of all, THERAPIST made it clear at the team meeting that she did not feel Daffy needs TFCBT, so I feel that she would be going into the assessment with a bias. Second, Daffy has been seeing THERAPIST for two years. I feel like Daffy reached a plateau in her progress with THERAPIST at the year mark (or a little less). I would rather have someone new and unbiased work with her for the purpose of TFCBT. And finally, my research and experience with TFCBT indicates that it is more productive when utilizing a therapist just for that purpose and not an ongoing therapist. So that said, SW1 is planning to bring the assessment over next week.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

So there you have it, my assertive letter. I didn’t ask for her opinion or allow any room for debate as this is NOT up for negotiation. I then went on to send the following email to the therapist directly (and of course copying on the rest of the team). Hopefully my message to her is very clear.

THERAPIST,

Would it be possible for you to provide a copy of  Daffy’s treatment plan  (past, present or all of the above) prior to the next team meeting? I realized today I’ve never seen one and I’d like to make sure that the work SW1 and SW2 are doing doesn’t overlap with what you are doing. I’m also curious to know which objectives Daffy has met in the past two years.

I’ve asked SW1 to do the TFCBT assessment with Daffy. That will likely be happening next week.

It’s been 24 hours and, of course, I haven’t heard a single word back. If I had to guess, Daffy’s therapist is probably working on those treatment plans that she hasn’t done in more than 2 years.

Her days of working with Daffy are definitely numbered and I said that in no uncertain terms to the workers yesterday. The social worker that works most closely with Daffy said that Daffy has expressed to her that the therapist doesn’t listen to Daffy and that Daffy does not feel therapy with her is productive. What more evidence do I need? It’s been more than 2 years now and rather than moving forward, we’re worse off than when we started. She has been dismissive about any signs of trouble (specifically the drawing of the person with a gun), does not hold Daffy accountable for anything and refused to do any work with with our family for fear of putting a “divide” in her relationship with Daffy. SERIOUSLY??? What is she even DOING if not focusing on school, family or trauma? What the hell else IS there????

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The PERFECT Parent

You don’t have to be perfect, to be a perfect parent. There are thousands of kids in foster care that will take you just as you are. For more information on how you can adopt, visit http://adoptuskids.org/

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