Top 10 Posts of 2012

top 10The end of the year is not only a time to set goals and look forward to the future but also a time of reflection. It’s a time to look back on the many changes and events of the past year! Here are my top ten most viewed posts in 2012 (along with my thoughts now) which tell at least part of the story of our journey to adopt:

  1. 7 Practical Ways To Foster Attachment in Adopted Children
    The ideas I shared back in August are things I am still implementing more than 4 months later. Attachment isn’t one simple series of events but rather an ongoing process built over time. As I learned after Daisy and April were placed here in November, attachment with a foster or adopted child is fragile and there can be setbacks if their place is threatened. Our attachment journey with Daffy will be ongoing for years to come as she progresses through the different stages of her life and challenges, defines and finally accepts her role within our family.
  2. Ideas Needed for Party & Gifts
    The numbers of views this post got shows me that I definitely was not the only one in need of party supplies/ideas for adoption themed parties (especially non-baby). Hopefully Hallmark  or American Greetings are reading this, LOL
  3. Respite. Will it be enough?
    This question answered itself. No, respite was not enough. I really believed that our time with him would be something like remembering labor. I believed that we would look back on that time and the anxiety and fear would be dulled. Not so. It’s been more than 11 months since he left and I still get the same sick feeling in my stomach when I think about it.
  4. Connecting Through Humor (Lunch Note Jokes)
    I still believe that laughter is the best medicine and do my best to laugh every day!
  5. My Adoption Story, Part I: My Adoption
    When I started this blog, my intention was only to document our journey with Donald and Daffy, but quickly I discovered that the past is just as much a part of our journey as the now. It’s been wonderful to connect not only with other foster and adoptive parents, but also with fellow adoptees.
  6. My Adoption Story, Part II: The Search
  7. Fulfilling My Childhood Dream
    I love looking back on this post as a reminder of how much I have achieved in my life. I may not be a rich executive with a beach house, but I have much more than I ever could have dreamed of!
  8. Ten Things I Wish I Knew Before We Started The Foster Adoption Process
    This is still solid advice. That said, I would remind you again that THIS IS WORTH IT. Go into it with your eyes open and prepared for challenges, but GO INTO IT. Do not let horror stories scare you away from your happily ever after. A child’s happiness depends on it!
  9. My Adoption Story, Part III: The Reunion
    *sigh* This was hard to write. And Part IV is turning out to be even harder. I know it’s worth it, though. Writing helps me process and sharing helps me know that I am not an island. Thank you to all the fellow adoptees who have offered support and uplifting messages on my blog and on Twitter as i have shared my story. I truly appreciate it.
  10. Where to begin?
    Ahhhhh, one of the most challenging times in our adoption journey. I remember those days like they were yesterday, laying in my bed for hours at a time unable to stop crying. I was SO fearful of the power of the state. I was helpless to do anything to protect Daffy… or my heart. I couldn’t be happier that just a little over 8 months after writing this post we adopted Daffy to forever be our daughter.

Wishing you all the best in 2013!

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My Thoughts on the Russian Adoption Ban

Russia's President Vladimir Putin signed a bill banning Americans from adopting Russian children.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin

Yesterday I woke to the headline “Putin signs anti-US adoption bill”. Since that time, I have felt a variety of emotions about the issue and have been asked my opinion, as if I am some sort of “expert”. I am no expert. Having been adopted and even adopting a child from the US foster care system do not make me an expert on adoption, especially foreign adoption. I am just one person, with one story.

That said, the things that stand out most in my mind about today’s events are two-fold. First, my heart is breaking for the families who will be most directly effected by Putin’s decision. It has been reported that 46 children who were about to be adopted in the US will now remain in Russia. My heart breaks for those families… the families who fell in love with those children, who mentally prepared for them to come “home”. My heart breaks for those children who had light at the end of the tunnel and who now have nothing but darkness.

The silver lining to this “top news” is the opportunity to have open discussions about adoption within the mainstream media. Watching the comments play out on my local new outlet’s Facebook page made me realize how much misinformation is out there about adoption in the US, particularly adoption from foster care. I would encourage anyone looking into foster care or adoption to check out the common myths on AdoptUSKids.org:

Contact your local state office or adoption agency to get FACTUAL information. Please do not believe what you see on Facebook or what you hear from the “friend of a friend”. The road to adoption through foster care may be bumpy, but it IS worth it. But remember, I am just one person and this is my truth. You have to find your own truth.

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Our Christmas Visit With Donald

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Smudged RTC initials in photos to protect Donald’s privacy

Donald told Daffy & I last night that he was “off level” for attacking two staff members. I emailed the clinician this morning to get more information about what happened and was told “staff has stated he has required seclusion for safety concerns such as attempting to attack staff, but to my knowledge he has not actually attacked anyone. In light of this heightened behavior, I would advise having an on-campus visit.” Honestly, I HATE having visits under these circumstances. Daffy has put up with enough abuse from her brother over the years that I hate to subject her to more. That said, it’s already 3 days after Christmas and more snow is on the way for our area, so I decided that it would be best just to get this visit out of the way. Mickey and Goofy came along, mostly for protection more than a true desire to see Donald.

The visit took place in Donald’s room at the RTC. As we looked around, I noticed some “artwork” hanging on the walls. One by the door was filled with stickers and Donald had written “XXX (name of RTC) is f*ckin b*tch and a$$e$”. Below that on his bookshelf he had written “I hate XXX (name of RTC)” I was surprised to see that the staff would allow such things to remain in his room. Goofy then asked for my cell phone to use my camera to take a picture of a message Donald had written on the back of his door. It read “Mama hit me”. I was stunned. I wanted to ask Donald about it, but didn’t want to incite his recent unsafe behaviors and also didn’t want to unset Daffy. I took a few more photos from a few different angles and promptly emailed them to the team (clinician, cw and GAL among others). Unfortunately the cw and clinician are both out of the office until 1/2/13 for the holiday so nothing will be done until that time. I don’t think Donald has any visits scheduled with his birth mom for this weekend, so I feel fairly certain he is safe.

I keep wondering where that came from. Is he remembering something old? Or did something happen on their Christmas visit? Will this be just one more thing the team excuses away along with his recent  “safety concerns”? How can they do anything BUT connect his behavior since Weds to his Christmas visit? Are they so desperate to get him off their caseload that they will put others, including him, at risk?

I guess time will tell….

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Donald’s Team Meeting

Recently I attended Donald’s team meeting… the first since Daffy was adopted. I have to admit, I did not look forward to attending…. not because I don’t want to be involved with his case, but because of all I have experienced in the case with the girls and the issues I have with the team’s pursuit of adoption by birth mom for Donald.

Anyway, I scheduled a visit with him prior to the meeting. (Hey, its an hour drive, might as well kill 2 birds with one stone, right?) The GAL was also interested in visting with Donald, so we agreed to meet with him together over lunch. Side note, as we pulled into the restaurant, a state trooper followed me as my husband’s truck is overdue for the inspection. I hadn’t realized he followed me until I went to get out of the car and the officer was standing in my face. I was quite frazzled and was not able to locate the registration or the proof that we had failed inspection, thus giving us time to get the vehicle fixed. The officer gave me a ticket (which I am fighting). Talk about embarrassment ..who else can say they have been pulled over with their former foster son and GAL? Ugh.

So, anyway, lunch went well. Donald was not very engaged as the pizza joint had video games and he was far more obsessed with begging for quarters and even watching strangers play. I was okay with that, though, as it gave me a chance to catch the GAL up  on the happenings of the recent months. He had been participating in team meetings via telephone (since the court had not approved additional funds for expenses) which doesn’t lend itself as well to keeping current. We discussed the residential treatment center’s overly positive reviews of Donald’s behaviors and he basically said that when they say he had a “great day”, what they really mean is that he didn’t kill anyone! He nailed exactly how Mickey and I have been feeling which surprised me. He also has a lot of reservations about Donald going back to live with his birth mom and expressed concern that with her limited capabilities simply getting her licensed to be a foster parent (required as the first step before she can adopt back her biological child) will not be giving her the tools needed to be successful.

The team meeting lasted about 2 hours and I was far more verbal than I had planned to be. The birth mom attended the team meeting (for the first time) since she is now part of the team. While she and I have a pretty good working relationship when it comes to Daffy, I wanted to be extra careful not to step on her toes during the meeting. I went into the meeting feeling like the team saw me of no value since I had not agreed to take Donald back, but instead I left the meeting feeling like they had actually listened to me and believe that I have valuable insight to share since I have transitioned with Donald just one year ago. It was definitely an interesting dynamic.

A few things that stand out to me from the meeting:

  • The team discussed increasing Donalds educations goals at the next team meeting in February. This is of great concern to me. First of all, I believe the only reason he scored so low during the initial intake was because he was coming off the hellishness (is that  a word?) of disrupting from our home, being hospitalized, moving to the group home and being expelled from school, thus landing him at the RTC. While I DO think he is capable of a lot more, I think adding additional challenges to his school work while he  is transitioning back into family life is a set up for failure. This topic was shelved until the next meeting where I will again raise these points.
  • The team discussed visitation plans for the holidays. First, let me say, transitioning during the holidays is a DISASTER in the making. I know that most foster and pre-adoptive families probably think that all kids want is to be “home” for the holidays. Not true. We learned after transitioning over the holidays last year that Donald had a very difficult time with the holidays. It wasn’t because he thought of his birth family, but because he missed the routine of the group home and he felt an overwhelming amount of pressure being in a new family, visiting with people he didn’t know well, etc. I cautioned the team to be VERY careful and watch for Donald’s cues of trouble in December. The plan was that a week later Donald would meet his birth mom’s step daughter (a child that lives in her home) for the first time. He would see her one additional time before Christmas. These visits were to be supervised by the RTC staff or adoption specialist. This would then lead up to Christmas Eve where they scheduled an over night visit at a local hotel. Not a good idea. If birth mom is hesitant about handling the stepdaughter and Donald together on a unsupervised visit (her words, not mine), how could she possibly handle them on Christmas Eve in the small confined space of a hotel room? Ugh. No, really, ugh. (As a side note, the reason they are looking at a hotel is because birth mom lives more than an hour from RTC and believes that she may need staff to physically assist her with issues with Donald. Does this sound like a kid who is ready to transition????)
  • Team has encouraged birth mom to move. First, because the city she lives in is where Donald was abused. Second, because they believe that her current support system is no good. Another set up for failure. Whether her support system is the “best” or not, its HER system and she will need people to rely on and lean on during the stressful times that are surely headed her way. It is completely unrealistic of the state to expect her to find a 4 bedroom rental for under $1000 that allows cats and dogs in the proximity of the RTC.

Obviously, I started this post several weeks ago. An update regarding the holidays will be coming soon. 🙂

Snowflakes for Sandy Hook

snowflakes for sandy hookThe tragedy in Sandy Hook has left us reeling here in the northeast. I have started several blog posts about the events of that day, but have been unable to finish them as the right words never seem to come to express my incredible sorrow for those affected in Newtown.

Last week, I stumbled on a call for Snowflakes from the Connecticut PTSA:

Please help the students of Sandy Hook have a winter wonderland at their new school! Get Creative!!  Make and send snowflakes to Connecticut PTSA, 60 Connolly Parkway, Building 12, Suite 103, Hamden, CT  06514, by January 12, 2013.

This is a very tangible way for kids to be able to feel like they are helping their peers at Sandy Hook while taking some time to process the events of 12/14/12 and empathize with the children and families who lost so much. Our family decided to make 26 snowflakes, one for each victim at the school. Our family would like to challenge you to contribute Snowflakes for Sandy Hook as well!

I would also encourage you to talk to your children about the events of Sandy Hook. Sadly, the world we live in includes violence and evil. How we acknowledge that evil and what we do to make the world better is what will count in the end. Use this opportunity to have frank discussions with your children. I am certainly no expert on children dealing with grief, but as a parent, foster parent and adoptive parent, I have certainly had my share of dealing with grief with my children.  I would recommend reading any of these articles for more specific pointers:

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It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!

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Its finally starting to feel like Christmas around here! My friend, Abuggleslife on Twitter, came over with Kibee and Lilbug yesterday and we spent the afternoon crafting and baking for the holidays! Today, Mickey and my in-laws are making homemade perogies for Christmas Eve!

The past several weeks have been one stressor after another. Between Daffy’s explosive behavior, April’s selective mutism and Daisy’s defiance, I was at my wit’s end on more than one occasion. I have mixed feelings about Daisy and April having moved. There is a part of me that misses them, misses what could have been. On the other hand, though, I am very focused on Daffy’s well being and eager to see her get back to a place of confidence within our family. I’m sad that Daffy’s first adopted holiday turned out to be such a stressful time for her.

April’s last night here culminated with Daffy packing her bag and trying to run away. I chased her down the stairs and slammed the door shut just as she opened it (thank God her fingers weren’t in the door!) Definitely not a fun night. 😦

Not only has Daffy had the stress of the 2 foster girls, but also 2 visits with her birth mom (one alone and one with Donald for his birthday last week). She is clearly trying to process the visits and what role her birth mom will play in her life. I can tell that she feels very conflicted and it’s something I plan to mention to her therapist in hopes that she can help Daffy work through the grief and guilt. It breaks my heart that adoption is the happiest yet saddest thing a person can experience.

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