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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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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Treatment Team Meeting

I was really dreading the team meeting today after the email I sent last week. It’s hard to participate in a “team” meeting when you don’t really feel like you’re a part of the team.

So, a few things of note from today’s meeting:

  • The post adoption worker is going to request any evaluations from the state records, particularly from the therapist who indicated the RAD diagnosis and another doctor who was noted as saying the same thing in the adoptive history. My guess is that they will never be able to find any of those reports in the numerous boxes scattered throughout the state offices. Besides, how hard are they really going to look when they worked so hard to hide the truth from us to begin with? Anyway, a good part of today’s meeting was spent talking about how those therapists could have been wrong in the first place…. Daffy’s current therapist said she heard that the former therapist “didn’t really like to work with girls” and the post adoption worker said that maybe it was never a diagnosis but just “something said in passing.” Then the current therapist said if anyone knew Daffy’s true self, it would be the staff at the group home, so I piped up about how the staff constantly told us that Daffy was classic RAD, very manipulative, mean and sneaky (we didn’t want to believe it at the time). At that point, the post adoption worker and therapist changed their tune and decided “forget what group home staff said, it was probably THEM who started the RAD innuendoes and pushed for that diagnosis and what do they know anyway?” UGH. You just can’t win when it comes to people who have an agenda.
  • We received our very first copy of the treatment plan and monthly report today. I find that interesting since this was the 90 day meeting and should have been the day we CLOSED the case. Incidentally, we were granted a 90 day extension which will bring us to April.
  • 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.” (What???????) Thankfully the service provider wasn’t deterred and said that reports from home indicate past trauma coming up and she will be moving forward with the assessment. At least for one brief moment during the meeting, it felt like SOMEONE was on our side.
  • The post adoption worker said that our case was recently discussed at the state level, as they periodically do this to gain insight and make suggestions to each other. Clearly I have no say in this matter, or I would have been consulted prior. That said, the post adoption worker told me that 2 of the workers on Donald’s case were also in on the meeting. WTF??? I am completely NOT okay with that. I’m sure there are some confidentiality guidelines that prevent them from specifically going to birth mom with information, but we’re also talking about human beings. People who make mistakes sometimes (or MANY times in the case of the people overseeing Daffy’s case all these years). And not only that, but they are people that have DONALD’s best interest at heart… NOT Daffy’s. Isn’t that how Daffy got into this situation to begin with??? Because no one would ever put HER needs first? Oh…. and in addition to those two workers, a worker that fought to keep the kids together years ago in the case was also in attendance at this meeting. Can you imagine a bigger group of baboons thinking they are going to find a solution to the problem that they themselves created??

Yup, still pretty frustrated here, but trying to hang on to the few things (search for old records, scheduling a neuro psych exam, TBCBT) that might bring about answers or change.

Since I seem to be on a blogging roll, I’m thinking about going back through the recent comments and answering questions that I never got to answer when they were asked. If you have a burning question for me, please leave it in the comments and I’ll try to get to it in a future post. 🙂

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Defiance

Defiance Oh. my. God. Daffy has taken defiance to a whole new level and it’s making me bat shit crazy. Sure, it could be worse, she could be stabbing us or setting a fire or something. I get that…. but I have to tell you the day in and day out straight up defiance is making me nuts and taking a huge toll on my marriage.

Let me use yesterday as an example… but first, let me give you a few items that have occurred in the past week or so before we get to yesterday:

  • Daffy got grounded from the school dance on Friday night and a visit to her friend’s house due to the fact that we found out on Thursday night that she had been throwing things at Goofy earlier in the week. Coupled with the fact she has steadily maintained a 50 in Health over the past 2 months, I put my foot down and said no to both activities.
  • Daffy was obviously obnoxious Friday morning when she found of from Mickey that she couldn’t go and Friday afternoon when she got home from school.
  • We have a rule for Daffy that requires her to have her door shut when she is in her room due to the fact that she likes to lure in the cat and has a history of abusing him. Of course, when I went to remind her of her chores on Friday, I found the door open and the cat in her room. I promptly grounded her for next weekend, too. (She blamed this on Pluto for not knowing the cat was in there and removing him for her. She NEVER takes ownership of ANY behaviors).
  • Daffy’s attitude continued into Saturday at which time I told her to stay in her room and clean it. I told her I would call her down for meals. She decided that meant she should do whatever she wanted and she came out several times and never did clean her room.

And also, let me give you a couple of other random facts:

  • Daffy and I have once again been writing to each other in a notebook. This allows us to be less confrontational and think our words through more carefully. It has been helping to some degree by keeping the lines of communication open, though it hasn’t been life changing to date.
  • Mickey and I have been spiraling down as a result of the conflict with Daffy. Last week our meeting with one of the social workers involved us each agreeing to ask for clarifying details before jumping to any conclusion when it comes to Daffy. I am quick to assume the worst about Daffy and Mickey is quick to make excuses for her. (For example, when Daffy confessed at our family therapy on Thursday to throwing things at Goofy, I relayed this to Mickey and he promptly replied “Goofy must have instigated it”, though that is NOT what Goofy or Daffy said during the meeting. I can NOT stand that he doesn’t trust me to tell the whole story. I’ll admit that I am not in a good place with Daffy, but I DO NOT LIE!)

Cue yesterday. During the day, I took some time to write back to Daffy in our notebook. I told her I was not ready to discuss “our anger” (her words, not mine) at that time. When she came home, she wrote me a note back and said she was going to eat a snack and begin her homework. I went downstairs about 15 minutes later and Daffy was nowhere to be found. I found her sitting outside on the front step. I opened the door and asked “What part of your homework is on the front step?” and she replied “uhhhhhh….” with a blank look on her face (of course not meeting my eye). I turned around and walked away. It was all I could do not to scream after the defiance all weekend long. She wrote me another note explaining that she left her binder on the school bus and said that her plan was to “catch the bus” as it went by a second time and get the driver to stop and let her look for her binder. Ummmm, clearly, NO, you are NOT going catch a bus barreling by our house. I wrote a note back to that effect and said that since she was unable to do her homework for the evening, she would need to spend time cleaning her room since she hadn’t touched it that weekend.

She wrote back saying she was going upstairs to clean her room and that if I wanted to write her back, I should bring it to her room rather than downstairs. A little while later, I wrote her back and brought it to her room. I arrived to find her door OPEN and her sitting on the floor (pictured above) playing with Littlest Pet Shop toys. I thought my head was going to spin off my body. She had JUST written me a letter 20 minutes prior saying that she was going to follow my directive, practically invited me into her room by letting me know where she would be to return the notebook and then promptly did whatever the hell she wanted to. Given the entire weekend, I shouldn’t have been floored, but I was.

I walked away and texted Mickey filling him in on the fact that she flat out refused to listen to me and was playing instead of cleaning. Mickey’s response? “She was probably just working on a project, tell her to clean it up.” Ummmm, did I SAY she was working on a project instead of cleaning????? No, I said she was PLAYING instead of cleaning. Because she was PLAYING. I also told him about the open door and reminded him that she had JUST been grounded on Friday for having her door open (and the cat in her room) and that he and I had both spoken to her about it over the weekend. He and I agreed that she would write a sentence 200 times indicating that she would keep the door closed while in her room to keep the cat out. (When we do a writing consequence, it’s usually just 100 times, but given the fact she consistently has been breaking this rule, we decided to up it.) I wrote her another letter to her explaining what she needed to write and hand delivered it. That is actually when I took the above picture. Despite my having caught her playing rather than cleaning just a few minutes before, she decided to just keep playing. I just can’t even understand that. I would have never have dreamed of being so disrespectful to my parents. Not in a million years!

About an hour later, she went down to the dining room and left the notebook on the kitchen table. In her note, she indicated that she had cleaned under her dresser and in some random corner of her room. Not a single word about the sentences and whether she had done them or even started them. I decided not to confront her at that time, knowing that it would NOT be a productive conversation. I talked to Mickey about the sentences when he got home from work later that night and he said he would speak to her in the morning about it and find out what was going on.

I’ll bet you can guess how many sentences she wrote. Yup! NONE! Not one single one.

We had a social worker over today (the beginning of what should be our 90 day extension in the the post-adopt program) and I dumped all of this out on her including all the Daffy vs. me stuff plus the Mickey-assuming-I am-not-telling-the-whole-story stuff, too. She means well, but doesn’t seem to have any thoughts on why Daffy’s defiance is targeted at me, because, you know, Daffy is all normal and NOT Reactive Attachment disordered at all [insert rolling eyes].

Can someone please tell me how Daffy could move in 2 years ago this week with a Reactive Attachment Disorder diagnosis in full force but now NOT have RAD? Because really, if you can answer that question, then you will have found the CURE for Reactive Attachment Disorder and probably make yourself a lot of money! [Shaking my head]

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Post Holiday Check In

christmasI’m happy to report that we all survived Christmas… in fact, it wasn’t that bad at all. Daffy really pushed her limits in the few days leading up to Christmas, but she and I used a notebook to write to each other (as suggested by Daffy’s therapist, and something that we used to do on a regular basis) and we were able to communicate and get through it without any major blow ups. Another small victory, thank you very much. 😉

Daffy left last night to visit with Woody and Jessie for several nights. Despite the fact things have been going ok, I am quite relieved to have a few stress-free days to decompress from the holidays. I am hoping to get the tree down this weekend, do some work and spend time with the older kiddos (and my new grandbaby, Andy)! It should be a relaxing weekend!

Yesterday the social worker cancelled our one meeting for week because of a little snow. She rescheduled for today. With Daffy gone and Mickey & Goofy working, my heart really wasn’t in it. Tink scheduled an appointment for Andy to be seen for thrush, so I decided to cancel the meeting. It would only have been Pluto and I anyway, and sometimes I’m just tired of hearing myself whine bitch.

As a side note, the photo above includes the tree we had painted to celebrate Daffy’s adoption. Each of our immediate family members carved their initials into the base of the tree (blurred in photo for privacy, of course). At the adoption party, our friends and family added their fingerprints to the leaves and signed their names. It still brings me joy every time I see it! 🙂

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This Feels Wonderful

momentThere are countless posts that I should have written to catch things up to current… like a post about how we just had our 60 day team meeting and have only met with our lead social worker twice because of all the changes and internal issues at the agency… or a post about Daffy meeting with two of the post adopt workers to discuss what she thinks is appropriate for visits with her birth Mom and Donald.

But for right now, THIS is all that matters. Tink’s son Andy has arrived! He was born Sunday 12/15 after one of the most calm labor and deliveries I have ever seen. Tink blew me away with how she trusted her body to birth her son and she even did it med free! Later that evening Tink was talking about how wonderful it was to have her family all around. Goofy commented that Pluto was not there (we didn’t have time to pick him up after Tink’s water broke at home)… and Tink replied “And Daffy.” Whaaaaaaat? I was FLOORED… almost to the point of being speechless. Tink requested that Daffy come to the hospital the next day. I contacted one of our social workers and asked if we could move our Monday evening meeting from our home to the hospital room and she agreed.

I have to admit, I was pretty nervous the next day. We had never discussed a hospital visit with Daffy, as Tink had said there was no way in hell she would allow her. We had never even asked Daffy if she WANTED to come. I mean, I’d assume she would want to, but with Daffy, you never can be sure. She has been unhappy about this pregnancy from the start. By the time this whole plan came about, I was almost AFRAID to ask, fearing that she might say no. I also didn’t want to make it a huge deal when this is what NORMAL families should look like.

So, anyway, Daffy and I talked a little bit Monday afternoon about what the birth had been like before we headed out to see Tink and Andy in the hospital. I was explaining how they placed the baby right on her chest the second he was born to promote attachment, etc. Daffy commented that it was like ducks… the first person they see is who they attach to as their mom. She also commented about how the cat was going to feel really displaced by the baby (yes, I could easily read through that to know she was talking about herself…. unless, of course, she was just looking for an excuse to be able to touch the cat.)

When we arrived at the hospital, the potential “baby daddy” and his mom were in the room which was quite uncomfortable (but not relevant to this particular story so I won’t go there). The social worker was already there as well (got to be the first time she has ever been on time, LOL). We encouraged Daffy to go have a look at the baby and she did so, somewhat reluctantly…. or maybe hesitantly is a better word, it was hard to tell.

Daffy sat back down and the social worker later commented that Daffy seemed to fill the space with stories of little value about her homework and other such things. (Daffy’s need to constantly chatter drives me crazy, but seeing it from the perspective of anxiety made it easier to understand.) I felt like Tink might be ready for more so I whispered to her that maybe Daffy was ready to hold the baby, espcially in such a controlled environment. She agreed. The moment Tink handed Daffy the baby, my heart swelled. It was history in the making for our family. A truly life changing moment.

I snapped a few pictures (and Snapchatted one to Mickey who was at work). Daffy’s arm quickly tired (or maybe she realized just how boring it is to hold a tiny human who does absolutely nothing?) and she gave the baby back to Tink.

I remained mesmerized long after. Heck, I’m still in awe of that moment. I don’t want to get my hopes up that we have turned a corner… I don’t believe that any of this negates what we experienced over the past year or the risk that Daffy poses to animals and potentially Andy… but for right now, I just want to enjoy this time with my family for what it is. Oxytocin from Tink’s birth? A Christmas miracle? Finally the beginning of positive change? No matter what the reason, the past 5 days have been amazing and it feels WONDERFUL!

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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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