What Happens When They Won’t Help?

our catI was just doing a little research trying to figure out an appropriate consequence for when Daffy breaks the rule about touching the cat. The social worker didn’t really have any good suggestions when we met on Monday. I read this article and I’m all the more frustrated!

However, locking a pet inside a closed space, violently lashing out at a pet after getting in trouble with a parent, or taking pleasure in watching an animal in pain are all “red flags” that signal the need for professional intervention.  This is particularly true when the child has the cognitive maturity to understand that what s/he is doing is wrong – and repeatedly does it anyway.

When I think back over the two years I have known her, several things come to mind off the top of my head (in regard to pets):

  1. Catching her try to sit on the cat before she even moved in
  2. Seeing her through the baby monitor hitting the cat in her bed
  3. Swinging her hamster around in an umbrella
  4. Trapping her hamster in a Barbie van for the school day
  5. Goofy finding the new cat trapped in a zipped bag in her closet
  6. Countless scratches on her hands and face over the past 2 years, something that has rarely happened to anyone else in this house the entire time we’ve had cats
  7. The sinister laugh she does while doing anything to annoy animals

I feel like the above list warrants the “Seek professional assistanceadvice given in the article. I sought assistance. They don’t seem to care. What do you do when people just won’t listen? Is my only option to wait until Daffy goes too far?  It’s no wonder that Tink feels such hatred for Daffy, given that she considers the cat hers. It’s not a very big leap to see why Tink has so many fears for her baby as well (coupled with comments that Daffy has made.)

I want things to change, but I feel like they aren’t going to without professional assistance that will finally see Daffy for who she really is.

PS. Would now be a good time to mention that we told the licensing social worker were NOT willing to accept children with a history of abusing animals???

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Communication Games In Family Therapy

communication gamesThe second worker from the agency texted me yesterday and asked if I still wanted her to come since I had just met the day before with the post adoption worker from the state for 2 and a half hours. I wanted to say “No, don’t come! I’m tired of talking!” but instead I found myself doing the right thing. Next week seems a lifetime away…. much too long to wait to check in. Tink and I had been the only ones home to visit with the state worker on Wednesday, so I thought it best that maybe a few more of us get the chance to check in before the weekend.

It tuned out to be only Mickey, me, Daffy and the worker. Tink is exhausted at this late stage in her pregnancy and was napping, Goofy was at work and Pluto? Well, he avoids all of this at all costs, so he was off with his friends.

The worker started by asking what in the hell had happened Tuesday night (not in those words, of course, lol). Daffy tried to explain but was really emotional about it. (She had overheard some things I said to Mickey that were very hurtful about her birth family. It’s something that will have to be acknowledged and dealt with in time, but yesterday was not the day with all our emotions still running so high.) We then went on to discuss Daffy’s report card. I had to walk away at one point when the worker asked her about her homework and she said she had trouble getting it done at home because a girl at school likes to tell her stories. I was relieved that the worker could see through her excuses and admired the more gentle way she brought the conversation back around every time Daffy tried to get out of answering something.

The worker helped us to strategize some ways for Daffy to improve her ability to get her homework done. Daffy also learned that my disappointment from her report card was less about the actual grades and more about the fact she had been lying for weeks about doing her homework. In my opinion, lying is the ultimate disrespect of a relationship. Daffy seemed shocked to learn that is why I was so upset and not because of the grades themselves. Clearly, we lack communication.

At that point, the worker suggested that maybe we work on communication as the most important element in family therapy and asked if we agreed. I whole heartedly agreed because without it, we certainly can’t accomplish anything else, at least nothing that could be long lasting. One of the things she had us do was to pair up round robin style and sit back to back. She gave each of the same set of Mega Blocks. One person would build a stack and then have to describe to the other person how to build it themselves (without that person seeing the other person’s blocks). I don’t think Daffy & Mickey got nearly as much out of it as I did. There were soooo many times throughout the activity where I literally said “AHA!” as I could see how this applied to real life. For Daffy & I, it was a really nice ice breaker, though. We often go for days without speaking at all and then get stuck in knowing how to start communicating (or heck, even TALKING) again, so having this “forced” activity allowed us to break the ice. I was surprised at how well the rest of the night went once the worker left. It actually felt nice.

Of course, any “good day” is always ruined by SOMETHING. That’s par for the course in this post-adoption family. Daffy was getting ready to head to bed and I had just come upstairs to work. Suddenly I heard Tink SCREAMING. Apparently Daffy had picked up the cat. To most of you this probably seems like a harmless event, but given Daffy’s history of being abusive with animals she is allowed ZERO contact with the cat. She knows this. (In fact, Tink and I had been talking recently about how well Daffy had been doing with it. Sometimes Tink will watch Daffy when she is outside shooting hoops and even when the cat comes over to her, she had been simply walking away. Really impressive stuff, actually.) And then there was last night. Out of nowhere, she decides to pick up the cat. WHY? Why would she do this? My gut tells me that things were going too well. I think when Daffy feels happy here she feels disloyal to her birth mom. Maybe I’m way off, but I feel like that’s where her actions came from last night. Mickey was standing maybe 15 feet away during the whole thing and SAID NOTHING. I was FURIOUS! I think I was more mad at Mickey than Daffy at that point! Our family is already so divided because of Mickey’s lack of understanding of what really happens and to have him right there and then do and say nothing? I thought I would lose it. Mickey did begrudgingly give me some time to calm down and then we were able to talk about it later last night. He seems to KNOW he needs to address things as they happen and follow through with consequences, but just doesn’t know how to do it. It’s just not him. He hates anything that even LOOKS like confrontation. He doesn’t want the kids to be mad at him. This worked “ok” for our bio kids, but this does not work for the adopted one. We have heard a million times over how adopted kids NEED consistency. The worker will be back on Monday and we will be working on a concrete rule and consequences list. I’m hoping this will be beneficial to all of us. Mickey won’t have to try to figure out an appropriate consequence to any given infraction of the rules and the kids will know what to expect each and every time. I hope that this will also lessen Daffy’s hostility towards me in that I won’t always have to be the “bad guy.” The rules and consequences will be things we ALL agreed on, thus not just about me being the parent.

So, despite the bad ending to the night, I still feel more hopeful today than I did Tuesday. Several of my friends asked if I wanted them to take Daffy for the weekend and I declined. While I do need a break now and then, I want those breaks to be scheduled rather than used in crisis. (Daffy is going away next weekend because I will be traveling.) I worry that Daffy will feel punished and I don’t think that’s helpful. And yes, it startled me just as much as you that I was that concerned about Daffy’s feelings. I thought I had stopped caring at all when survival became the focus, but maybe there is still something there and, maybe with time, those feelings can grow again.

Incidentally, tomorrow marks TWO YEARS since the day we first met Daffy! I want that feeling back.

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Family Therapy Cancelled

The new in-home social worker just called and said she had a family emergency and was on her way to the hospital so she needed to cancel our first official-every-one-in-attendance family meeting for today. As nervous as I had been all day, I’m kind of disappointed because I was hoping to see some real honesty happen at today’s meeting. It’s unlikely that we will be able to get everyone together again until next Tuesday. In any case, since I have an opening in my schedule today and really need to get some things off my chest…. well, you are stuck listening to my vent!

I never know where to begin. Too much time passes in between posts because every day is simply too draining to tell the stories. Many of the stories would probably seem like nothing by themselves anyway. It’s the constant ongoing drip-drop… like Chinese water torture… that has taken its toll. I’m at the end of my rope. I think the difference between earlier in the year when this breakdown began and now is the toll it’s taken on the rest of my family. It’s no longer just about me & Daffy. My bio kids BEG me to get things back to the way they used to be before Daffy came here. My marriage is hanging on by a single thread. I think OFTEN about just getting in my car and driving as far as my minimal money for gas will take me. My bio kids are what keep me hanging on. I know it wouldn’t be fair to them to leave them with the mess I (and Mickey) created by adopting Daffy. Tears are shed every single day. We just can’t take it.

So, to give this post some purpose, let me go back to Friday. Daffy came home from school and gave me her report card. I was heading out the door to take Goofy to work so I tucked it in my purse and left. Once I was in the parking lot, I opened it and was STUNNED to see she had 2 D’s on her report card as well as several negative comments from her teachers. Her progress report had been glowing and of course, she has been telling us she has completed all her homework, blah blah blah. I was FURIOUS that this was the first I was hearing about these obvious issues at school (at Daffy, at Daffy’s teachers and guidance counselor and at myself for not keeping a closer eye). I came home and got onto the online grade system and printed out her grades from those two D classes. I wasn’t surprised when I saw that she had not completed many of her homework assignments. I highlighted the missing assignments and attached it to the report card to leave it for Mickey. At this point in our relationship, I know better than to say ANYTHING to Daffy that she could construe as negative because she simply shuts down and makes our lives miserable. Giving it to Mickey means it isn’t likely to be discussed at all, but at least I can feel like I did my part to gather the information for him.

The next day I was out of town with a friend and when I returned, Daffy was whining about how she forgot her book at school. I asked “Why? were you planning to actually DO your homework this weekend”?  She looked down and made her typical “hmmph” noise. I went on to say “Yeah, I know about that. In fact, I printed out your quarter grades and gave them to your Dad so he can know all about your lies too!” (Admittedly not the best choice of words, but FAAAAAAR better than what I really wanted to say.) She was silent. Like she always is. She simply doesn’t answer any questions that she doesn’t like.

She went to bed early that night, without saying good night of course. The next day she lurked around and wouldn’t speak to anyone (mind you, Mickey was at work…. she won’t let him see how she truly is!). I can’t describe how incredibly creepy it is when she lurks around muttering to herself. (In fact, I can hear Tink saying this very same thing to her pregnancy social worker downstairs right now as I type this.) She left several times and wandered  around outside the house. She would stop and stare through the windows and glare at Tink. She wouldn’t even break eye contact when Tink looked back. Tink was really spooked by it. A friend of mine was over at the time for a training (we work in the same industry) and commented about how bizarre the behavior was and could tell that it was affecting Tink and me so she offered to take her for the night. God bless her soul. Everyone needs a friend like her. She can’t understand what we are living, but she also doesn’t judge. She simply supports anyone who needs it.

She returned Daffy home past bedtime last night. I was so grateful that I was doing laundry when Daffy arrived so Mickey put her to bed. I didn’t see her this morning. It’s now been almost 48 hours without a single word of communication. This is our normal. BUT THIS IS NOT NORMAL.

The bottom line is, we can’t stand each other. I don’t know how we got here. I can still remember loving her last year. I thought she was the most beautiful thing in the world. And now, I dread interacting with her. I dread the fights. I dread saying anything at all. Hell, I dread waking up in the morning. Why? What’s the purpose? My life is hell. My family is falling apart. My marriage is crumbling. My bio kids are begging to go back to the way things used to be. And no one seems to understand.

I could buy the theory that this was MY fault and MY perception, hell, even MY own adoption issues playing out…. if not for the fact that my bio kids witness all of this too. They tell their dad. They tell the workers. NO ONE LISTENS. Or no one cares. I just don’t get it. Are we beyond hope? Can we not be helped? And if so, why won’t anyone just admit that to us?

As things stand right now, Mickey is in charge of scheduling the nuero psych exam. I imagine that will likely take several months before we have any answers there. And who knows, maybe that won’t answer any questions anyway…. clearly Daffy has become quite the good manipulator since she left the group home. The therapists and workers at the group home were all very clear about her reactive attachment disorder diagnosis, but no one seems to want to hear that now. WHY? Could she have just suddenly been CURED of RAD???? I don’t think so. Her behavior says no.

We are continuing with 3-4 weekly meetings with the new in-home service. We are still at the beginning stages so I am trying to give it a chance, but it’s hard. Mickey is rarely there for the meetings. My bio kids are grumpy to give up any more time to the misery known as our family. And I am EMOTIONALLY EXHAUSTED that my entire life revolves around a child who hates me. It leaves no time for my marriage, no time for my bio kids and their needs and no time for my friends (ok, ok, I do still spend some time with them, its my ONLY sanity).

Oh, and have I mentioned Tink’s baby is due in 32 FREAKIN days??????  Mickey is currently installing doors on our former living room (the room Tink will share with her baby… now to be “blog named” Andy from Toy Story)! This is the first real safety item we have implemented. She did get one baby monitor at her baby shower, but we are on the hunt for a video monitor for an added level of security. At the suggestion of a couple of the workers, we bought Daffy her own baby doll so she could have practice before Andy comes. She doesn’t play with it. In fact, it would surprise me to find it in a  noose in her room. The more we follow suggestions, the more resistant Daffy becomes.

Things are still in a holding pattern with the birth mom. Birth Mom and Donald mailed letters to Daffy recently. Birth Mom was very forceful in requesting that Daffy just “say what she wants” and that “no one will be hurt”. It was the first time BMom referenced Mickey and I by our first names rather than Mom & Dad, which took me back a little bit. I decided that we should run the letters by Daffy’s therapist before passing them on (something we have not done since the first letter well over a year ago). Therapist said the letters should ABSOLUTELY NOT be given to her and that Birth Mom was out of line to put so much pressure on Daffy. First of all, it’s not Daffy’s decision to determine whether or not visits are appropriate and what the frequency should be. Second, I’m not convinced Daffy even has a real opinion. She mimics what she hears. She says what she thinks she should based on who she is speaking with. You could get ten different answers if she spoke to ten different people in the same day. As for what *I* think…. I still just don’t know. I like Daffy’s birth Mom for the most part. If it weren’t for Donald living with her, the decision would be easier (still hard, but def less complicated). Daffy saw her 5 times in 8 months. Things were bad. She has seen her zero times in 4 months. Things are still bad. So, what is the right answer? Should she see her birth mom? Is that in her best interest? Or is it harmful to her at this point because of Donald’s transition? Does it make things more complicated for OUR family? Does that matter? I ask myself these questions all the time and I just don;t have an honest answer. Sometimes I wish deep down that there was no birth mom option so I wouldn’t have to deal with that alongside all the other issues….. but there is also a part of me that wants the connection to remain because I simply can’t believe that we will survive another 2400+ days until she turns 18. I can see her “running away” in her teens and at least with a birth mom connection, it would be somewhere relatively safe. Ahhhh, who I am kidding? Birth Mom’s home will NEVER be safe for Daffy with Donald living there. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

I’ve been typing for 2 hours now. Goofy and Pluto just came home from school and we were discussing the cancelled appointment and Goofy said, and I quote “We have two options here. Either everybody is going to kill themselves or one of us has to kill her.” Yep, you read that right. THIS IS MY LIFE! I live in fear of Daffy, but I also live in fear FOR Daffy as well.While I know Goofy is just saying this out of frustration, the fear is still very real. If Daffy hurts Andy or anyone else, her life is in jeopardy. We are a family in CRISIS. How did it get this bad? Will it ever get better? WE STILL NEED HELP!

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