The stickers only stick if they matter to you….

We were invited to read this book by our (adoptive) children’s current caretakers. They read this book to each foster child as they enter their home. This book includes a wonderful message  for all children, not just those in foster care! My favorite line? “The stickers only stick if they matter to you“… I suggest you take the time to read the full version of the book online here or listen to it here!

What a weekend!

Wow! There were definitely points I didnt think I would survive the first sleepover weekend. I  felt in over my head despite the numerous warnings that foster kids would not behave like my own biological children. I really wasnt at all prepared for how defiant they would be. I had heard repeatedly that the kids would be fighting for control but to see it play out in real life was completely overwhelming.

A few examples:

  • Despite being a great eater in her current placement, Daisy refused to eat the dinner served Saturday night. She ate strawberries instead.
  • Donald insisted on wearing shorts and no shirt all weekend despite freezing temps.
  • Both refused to wear coats to the playground although they did  *get* them to bring them at least)
  • Daisy refused to go for communion (something she has previously been excited about)
  • Mickey told Daisy “no computer” to which she promptly signed in.
  • Both kids were told not to leave their rooms before 7am. Both did.

Honestly, I could go on all night. I am VERY eager to see our social worker tomorrow and get some advice and tools to deal with their behaviors more effectively next weekend. I did find that negotiating and ultimately “bribing them” worked fairly well (shower with shampoo and soap and you can use the computer for 30 minutes) but that just feels WRONG to me. I would never have done such a thing with my biological children. There has GOT to be another way.

On the plus side, Tinkerbell, Pluto & Goofy were AWESOME all weekend! They went out of their way to keep the kids engaged  and get them settled in to their new rooms. I couldnt be more grateful for their support! They truly are a blessing to these kids.

-Minnie xo

[All names have (obviously) been changed to protect the privacy of our family.]

Visits and Treatment Team

Wednesday: Daffy had her holiday concert on Wednesday! She was all dressed up and looked so cute! Donald and I went in support. After her group was done performing, she came off stage and moved into the audience. She called me over so she could sit on my lap. I felt like a GIANT as the only adult sitting in the front row, LOL She told all of her friends that I was her “new mom” … what a GREAT feeling!

Thursday: I had the chance to join both kids in their therapeutic  horseback riding lesson…. even so far as getting on the horse! It was quite amusing as it turns out Goofy is afraid of horses, LOL On the way back, Donald randomly stated “I love you”. My simple response? “I love you too!” It feels very much like both kids are attaching, but I have no background in RAD or PTSD, so I guess I dont really know. I am told things are going in a good direction and that the kids are acting out at an expected level. I guess thats good, right?

Friday: Today we had a Treatment Team meeting. I am always in awe of what an amazing support team the kids have in place. I received some great feedback about my response to what happened between Donald & Daffy this weekend (with the high heel in the eye incident) and we discussed the transition. I have to say I have been very frustrated that they are not registered or school and aren’t yet signed up with their new counselor but I was assured that will happen by the beginning of the week.

This weekend is out first sleepover! Needless to say we are all really excited about it!

-Minnie xo

[All names have (obviously) been changed to protect the privacy of our family.]

Weekend Visits

This weekend marked our first full weekend of  full day visits at home. Overall, they were successful. Initially when we got the December schedule, it seemed like things were moving quickly, but as we get to know them more & more, it seems like they are dragging. It would have been so much easier if we had been able to keep them for the night last night, but alas, that was not the plan.

Yesterday we did Breakfast with Santa…. which was more like Breakfast, since the kids didn’t want to actually see Santa.  lol We took the kids out to see the playground at their new school and they ended up meeting their future music teacher.

We came home and had a friend over. The kids played together all day and we made decorated cookies.

Today we planned to get the Christmas decorations up in the house. The trees (2) did get decorated (with only one broken ornament), but the rest of the decorations are still boxed. Its extremely difficult to keep this kids away from technology… they are very eager to enmesh themselves into our culture of video games, tv and the computer.

There was one event of note today. Donald grabbed Daffy’s leg. She kicked back to get him to release and kicked him in the eye with her heal. He freaked out. Totally freaked. He has been very “accident prone” and complains at the slightest of injuries. While I am sure it hurt like a son of a gun, he really took things to an extreme. Mickey separated them and we gave them some time to cool down. I went and talked to each of them separately. I talked to Daffy first. She was crying quietly and was afraid that Donald would lie about what happened. I assured her I was fair and listening to both sides of the story. I also reassured her that we were all going to be fine and we would get through this and no one was “in trouble” or going to be “punished”. She told her side and seemed relieved to get it out. I asked if she wanted a hug and she said no, so I asked if I could HAVE a hug and she obliged. 🙂 Next I found Donald and asked him to tell me the whole truth. I got the SAME story as Daffy had told. Imagine that! What a rare thing for this former mom of 5 (now 7)…. I got the TRUTH from both kids! VERY impressive! Ironically, Donald decided to apologize to Daffy. He went in to do it on his own. He has been taught well to take care of issues directly. Daffy apologized as well and even gave Donald the last donut hole. Things were uneventful thereafter. As much as the initial situation was scary and probably not the worst thing we will see, it was great to see that in less than a half hour, I could have total control of the situation and get it resolved. They really are great kids with so many great skills learned in foster care.

During our talks, I also told them I love them. I even said to Donald, I bet that feels uncomfortable to hear because its new and different. I reassured him that my love wasnt going to change. He did seem nervous, but very happy to hear it.

Snuggling them on the couch while we watched a movie was probably the very best part of the day for me. They dont always want to let on how they are feeling and risk rejection, but body language tells it all for me. They WANT to be close.

One more visit under our belt!

Its so strange to talk about visits with our kids…. it makes me think of divorced parents getting the kids on the weekends.  The last thing I want to be is a Disneyland Mom ( no PUN intended, LOL)…..

Yesterday went really well. I met Donald for his appointment in the morning.It turns out he had been crying… he was afraid if I got to know him that I would change my mind about adopting him! Its just another reminder that this is going to be a long haul.

Its odd to think their their nerves about this situation rival my own. Every time we are called to a meeting, I expect they will pull the plug. I feel like I am being asked to the principals office. I feel like I am “in trouble”, like they will “see through me” (not that there is anything to see) and  will decide that I am not fit. If only the kids could understand that I have the same feelings that they have.

Of note yesterday, Daffy was angry with Donald because he grabbed my phone and was trying to get attention. She was pouting and explained “He is just trying to act out to make you like him better than me”…. I explained to her that we like them both whether they act up or not. Hopefully, she heard a little of what I said.

Gotta scoot…. Donald’s bed is being delivered now…. what a reality check! 🙂

-Minnie xo

[All names have (obviously) been changed to protect the privacy of our family.]

Things are chugging along!

Time is going by too quickly…. I really WANT to blog every day so I dont forget all the details that make this such a special journey but somehow the days escape me. Our already busy lives now include multiple hours of commuting several times per week to visit with the kids. It’s all worth it, though, even if I do forget a few details.

The first home visit was an absolute success! The kids seemed to feel comfortable with their space and didn’t seem shy with any of our pets. We still need to go over house rules a little more thoroughly. Honestly, this is a challenge… its been a long time since we discussed rules with the bio kids. They just “know” because things are how they have always been. It’s okay, though, we have all the time in the world!

Sunday we had another visit with the kids and attended a holiday party. There was a photo booth which made for some totally awesome pictures! Tinkerbell has photo booth pics all over the mirror in her room so it was perfect that her and Daffy could get photo booth pictures together! Donald & Daffy also ran into some friends from a previous placement which was really nice for them.

Sunday really felt “normal.” I dont know if it is because we were in public, or just feeling more comfortable with each other in general, but things went really smoothly.

Today we attended a training and then had another visit with the kids. At one point during dinner, Donald leaned over and whispered “Everyone thinks you are the right family for us“…. I could have cried…. but I held it together and asked “What do YOU think?” He nodded and replied “I do, too.” I told him I also feel the same way and assured him we are NOT going to leave him. I told him I know he will make mistakes- and so will we- but thats okay. No one is perfect!  I know its just a drop in the bucket of the hundreds of times he will need to be told, but its a start to building the trust he so desperately needs deserves! Later in the night, I mentioned to Daffy what Donald had said and asked her how she felt. She agreed we are the ones. My hearts swells every time I think about it. 🙂

A couple other highlights of the day/night:

  • Daffy introduced us as her “New Mom” and “New Dad”! I know that must have taken courage to speak those words out loud… especially in front of us… risking rejection and disappointment. I am so proud of her and the chances she is taking.
  • We had a chance to speak with the kid’s Godparents. Their Godmother mentioned how differently this is going than their previous placements. Hearing that gave me such a warm feeling…. a feeling that all is right in the world… our world AND theirs. They have made such tremendous progress over the past couple of years. I can’t say enough how proud I am of the work they have done (& are doing) to overcome their trauma. While they certainly deserve all the credit, there are some very special people that work with them daily that have facilitated these incredible changes and for that, I will be forever grateful.
  • On the way to return them, I asked how the meeting went Monday with one of the social workers. Daffy was quick to say it was great and described how the social worker had given them a time line of what would happen. She glowed when she reported that the next step was moving in…. and then the last step is going to “see the judge”! She commented about how it feels like they really know us well.  I do take everything with a grain of salt right now because she has Reactive Attachment Disorder, but there is a little part of me that hopes that we are the family that can finally break through the walls she has built to protect herself.

I am excited to be having an extended visit tomorrow. Donald has a doctor’s appointment for a med check that I have been asked to attend. I am going to get to keep him for the whole day and then visit with Daffy as well once she is out of school. Goofy has an early release day so it will be just the 4 of us. I am happy he will get this extra time with the kids because he is convinced that Daffy hates him! She doesn’t, of course… we are advised that its because Goofy’s size is that of a man and intimidating. I know they will share a close bond in time…. Goofy is an awesome teenager and GREAT with kids!

So, that, in a nutshell, is where we are at!

-Minnie xo

[All names have (obviously) been changed to protect the privacy of our family.]

Our first off site visit!

Life has been a whirlwind lately! Any free time we have is spent with the kids which means we dont have our tree up, the lights arent on the house, heck, we are struggling to keep up with our daily chores! Its all worth it in the end, though, and we are enjoying every minute with Donald & Daffy!

Our meeting this week with the team was EXTREMELY productive! Not only did we get the December schedule but also January….. including a move in date for the kids! We are beside ourselves with excitement! Seeing that date is writing is finally making it REAL! There are still many things left to accomplish and I am so thankful for all the training that is in place to prepare us.

Tonight we enjoyed our first “off site” visit with the kids. We went for pizza (won’t make the mistake if going to THAT place again) and then went to Friendly’s for dessert! The kids were extremely well behaved! I can’t get over the manners they have! We have implemented a challenge where the “winner” of the best manners will be treated to homemade cookies by the losers. I can guarantee it will be me doing the baking. LOL

We learned Wednesday that Donald had a rough time the first part of the week. He had learned of our meeting and assumed the meeting was where we would decide we didn’t want him. 😦 Then today we were told that Daffy had a tough end of he week and actually kicked in a door with her BARE FOOT! That’s some serious anxiety right there! We are told this is a good thing in the big picture, though, as this means they are actually attaching in some senses and that they are accepting the reality of the situation. I did bring up to both kids tonight at dinner that we are here for them and want them to talk to us about their feelings and use their words. There were an intense few seconds while they absorbed what we said and then they promptly went back to eating. lol Baby steps, right? Its going to take a long time before they trust that what we say is true, but we are in this for the long haul.

One f the cutest moments of the day is when Donald & Daffy introduced their siblings to some friends and they proudly announced “They do planking!” Haha, you never know what will stand out in the kid’s minds. Every time they have asked about planking, I have tried to brush it off as “some silly thing” but clearly they are in awe. So in the spirit of family, when we walked out from dinner, I announced it was the perfect time to plank! Their faces lit up and they will so thrilled to be a PART of something the family through this thing called planking! They even did a group plank! I am definitely going to have to make safety a priority and I fully expect to be questioned about this activity, but if it gains their trust and helps them to feel connected, I am all for it!

Tomorrow is our first home visit. We are really excited for them to see the house, their rooms and meet the pets! While I am sure this will help alleviate some anxiety of the unknown, I am sure it will bring up some new behaviors as they realize that this is another step closer to becoming the forever family they so desperately want…. yet so desperately fear.

-Minnie xo

[All names have (obviously) been changed to protect the privacy of our family.]