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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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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Tired of Excuses

symptoms of radIt feel really good to dump everything out yesterday, as trivial as it might have seemed. Thank you so much for the comments and emails of support. Your support is one of the most validating things as an adoptive mom. I’m sure you know how isolating this can be when all your “non-adoptive friends” want to suggest ways to parent your child by their experience with their “non-adopted children” who do not come with the same baggage.

Anyway, I’m tired of excuses. I stumbled on Daffy’s Adoptive History today which prompted me to write this letter to the post-adoption worker, the social workers currently working with our family and Daffy’s therapist:

Hi all,

I was going through some paperwork when I came across Daffy’s adoptive history and decided to re-read it. If you’re interested in taking a look, I’ve scanned a copy and provided it here for you.

Of particular interest to me is the psychological history as indicated by THERAPIST. This report indicates that he had been doing trauma work (CBT) and working on bonding and attachment issues. Furthermore, it’s noted that of the two children (Donald and Daffy), “Daffy is more concerning because of her Reactive Attachment Disorder and her inability to care about relationships.” Having lived with Donald for 13 days and knowing what he is capable of, this statement truly scares me and at the same time, I also find it very validating. This statement proves, without a doubt, that Tink has had every reason to fear the safety of her baby with Daffy in our home.

My question regarding this information is two fold:

  1. Is there any way for me to get records from or meet with XXXX to determine how he came to this diagnosis?
  2. How is it possible for a child to receive this serious of a diagnosis between 2009-2011 yet be cured of it in 2012?

In addition, I ran across a list of Symptoms of RAD earlier this week on Facebook (see attached screenshot). Other than speech and language problems and brushing off big hurts, EVERY item on this list describes Daffy to a T! I’m not really sure what to do with this information other than confirm to myself that I am not crazy. I’m at the end of my rope with the excuses that are made for Daffy and that she makes for herself. I’m tired of being told that she is “attached” to me. She is NOT. She is manipulative and parrots what she has learned through her placements, extended years at GROUP HOME and extensive therapy over the past 7 years. She has been conditioned to “say the right things,” but it’s clear to me (and my birth children) that she is not genuine.

As an update, Mickey finally heard back this week regarding an appointment for a neuro psych exam for Daffy. He has called back a couple times and left voicemails but hasn’t heard back again. At least we are one step closer than we were before on that count.

I thought I would send this ahead of our team meeting next week so you would all have a chance to give some thought to this. I am just as committed now as I was 90 days ago to making things more livable in my family, but I feel like putting our heads in the sand about the seriousness of Daffy’s psychological problems is not helping her or anyone else.

So, yeah. That’s what I sent. I can’t imagine it will be well received.  Daffy’s therapist is the one who removed her Reactive Attachment Disorder diagnosis, so I can’t image she will be happy to have her opinion called into question. Oh-freakin-well. I’m tired of riding the crazy train and not getting the support our family needs because they don’t want to look at the reality of the situation.

We have a team meeting next week… I can imagine that will be loads of fun! 😉

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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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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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