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….

signature

Advertisements

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????

signature

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. 🙂

signature

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! 😉

signature

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]

signature

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???

signature

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!

signature

The Missing Social Studies Book & What Happened To The Baby?

The Missing Social Studies Book

The last few months I have posted only general updates. Last night it occurred to me that I am missing a critical factor by not blogging on a more regular basis and with details: DOCUMENTATION. I know how important documentation is. I’ve used the information I’ve documented on my blog numerous times as reference for dates and events. It’s time for me to push through the fact it’s uncomfortable and blog more frequently.

On, that note, the ongoing minor drama of the week is The Missing Social Studies Book! Daffy’s teacher emailed me Monday and said that we need to pay $80+ for the book. She said that Daffy had searched the school and couldn’t locate it and asked that we look at home. First of all, Daffy NEVER mentioned any missing book. I have no idea how long it’s been missing. Second, when I asked Daffy about it and said she should spend time looking, she said she had already looked at home but that she needed to check at school. I confronted her with the fact that contradicted what her teacher said and of course she shut down. Per usual. I’ve emailed the teacher about the book and indicated that I DO NOT want a new book issued. I do NOT have the money to be replacing books that Daffy loses. I have yet to hear back from the teacher and Daffy doesn’t seem to be spending any time looking. This doesn’t seem to bother Mickey at all. Maybe he has hidden money that I don’t know about.

I’m sure you are really here, though, to find out what happened to the baby? So last night a friend of mine came over. She comes over on a fairly regular basis and usually brings her littlest one, who is now 18 months. We hang out in the game room and her son usually is in the same area, sometimes going into the dining room which is up 2 steps from the game room. All of us (myself, Mickey, my friend, Tink, Tink’s friend and 9 month old baby and the 18 month old) were in the game room last night, except Daffy. She was in the dining room. The 18 month old wondered over and went into the dining room. Since my friend had already put up the dog bowls, there really wasn’t a lot of concern. Suddenly, there was an ear piercing scream. There was a split second where everyone froze and then my friend raced around the corner into the dining room. She found Daffy standing calmly next to the 18 month old. Daffy matter-of-factly stated “His fingers are jammed in the drawer.” My friend had to pry the drawer back open to get her son’s fingers out (which were already badly bruised) and scooped him up and brought him into the game room.

She walked in to dead silence. I think everyone had realized at the same time the likelihood of what Daffy had just done. Well, everyone except Mickey of course. He maintains that she was “emptying the trash” around another corner and into the kitchen. Since there is a window into the kitchen from the game room, I could clearly see that Daffy was NOT emptying the trash. Then Mickey decided that maybe Daffy WASN’T emptying the trash, but that she had been there but was totally calm because she didn’t know what to do. Ok, Mickey, smoke another one. No matter what Daffy’s behaviors, either she, Mickey or her therapist have an excuse to explain it away. It kind of reminds me when my mother was sick and not yet diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. She would say that the muscle weakness was from one thing and the cough from another and other symptoms from other things. As a nurse, she did not want to admit that all her symptoms together would ultimately diagnose her with a a fatal illness that would kill her in two year’s time. I think that Mickey and the therapist are in that same denial. If they excuse away each behavior (drawings, threats, suicidal and homicidal thoughts, etc) they don’t have to look at the reality of the problem we have on our hands and the fact that our mental health system is not equipped to help her.

WE NEED HELP. 

signature

So Which Is It?

foster care

Waaaay back when we first started this journey, we took the required foster care classes where we were told that foster children should not be parented the same way as biological children. That stuck with me.  Why am I now being asked why I don’t treat my adopted foster child the same as my other children? Make up your freakin’ minds, people. Oh, and trying LIVING this life before you start offering your unsolicited opinions next time, too!

Yeah, I’m bitter. Can you tell?? It’s been a LONG summer. Hell, its been a long YEAR. Looking back, I would say that the nightmare started when Daisy and April moved in last November. Daffy can not handle ANY competition, real or perceived. Though they stayed only about 6 weeks, Daffy’s attitude never really recovered. Tink moved back home in April and Daffy attributes all of her behaviors to that in an effort to get Tink out of the house. Honestly, I fear for Tink’s baby… Daffy has always been abusive to animals and has made comments wishing harm to Tink’s baby. Daffy’s therapist says there is nothing to worry about, but she doesn’t live what we live and it’s not HER grandson in jeopardy.

Anyway, at this point, we are having more bad days than good. Daffy refuses to follow any rules and then blames us me when she receives consequences. I feel like everyone around me has set me up… Mickey won’t give her consequences and just excuses away her behavior.  Her therapist won’t have any meaningful conversations with her for fear of putting a “divide in their relationship”. It’s all put on me. What the hell??? Does OUR relationship not mean anything? Am I just the sacrificial lamb????

As the suggestion of Daffy’s therapist, I met with Donald’s former therapist a couple of times recently. (Daffy’s therapist wouldn’t meet with me or do family therapy because it would undermine HER relationship with Daffy.) It was a somewhat validating experience in that she said I am not the first adoptive parent in this situation and feeling the way I do. She also revisited the idea of Daffy’s original reactive attachment disorder diagnosis being accurate. She is concerned about Daffy seeing her birth Mom because of the impact it’s having on my relationship with Daffy, but is not willing to go on record because she hasn’t “met” Daffy (she is very familiar with this case having been involved since the time of placement). Daffy’s therapist feels the same, but you know damned well any decision will fall squarely on MY shoulders. It will be relationship damning. I asked Donald’s former therapist “How can I make the decision that MY relationship with Daffy is more important than the relationship she has with her birth mother?” She replied that Daffy is attached to her birth mother. She is not attached to me.

I still have not made any official decision, though Daffy has not had a visit with her birth Mom since the one overnight they did at the beginning of July. I just don’t know what to do. I hate life. I hate waking up every day knowing that at least one (if not both) of us will shed tears. I’m tired of being hated. If I had known that adoption from foster care was this physically exhausting, I can’t say I would have done it. I’m in over my head. I’m drowning. And I’m alone.

signature

End of the Road

This is the letter I sent to Donald’s team on Monday:

Dear Team,

With the team meeting coming up Wednesday, I wanted to get some of my thoughts out to you all ahead of time. I understand that my opinion carries very little weight but I can’t in good conscience say nothing. I care very much about what happens to Donald. I want permanency for him just like you all do but after reviewing Donald’s most recently monthly report and all the recent critical incident reports (which have clearly increased since the fall), I am extremely concerned with the current plan moving forward.

Last summer when the team discussed the idea of reintroducing BirthMom into the kid’s lives, there were several comments made that BirthMom would need counseling for months if not years before being ready for face to face visits (rather than just letters or phone calls). Its been less than year and no one has been able to secure counseling for BirthMom. You have asked an extraordinary amount of her with nothing but the HOPE that one day Donald will live with her. You have offered her NO training on how to deal with a foster child and the unique needs of a PSTD/RAD child. You have not assisted her to get the counseling she needs to accept responsibility for her actions leading to the kids coming into care to begin with. Yet you have watched as she moved her grandmother into a home that the division believed was unsafe. You have encouraged her to move away from the only support network she has. You have her jumping through all kinds of hoops yet are giving her NO tools to deal with the very real situation of Donald being transitioned into her life and that of her family.

During the team meeting in July, the team agreed that Donald should not live in a home with pets or any children. The team decided that Donald needed two parents in that home. These were not only for the safety of a potential family but also to avoid Donald being triggered. How has that changed? How will BirthMoms pets be safe? How will stepsister be safe? How will BirthMom be safe when new husband is away at training for 2 months this year?? If you look at Donald’s monthly reports, you will see a severe spike in the number of physical assaults over the past few months (up from 3 per week in July to 24 per week in January). What indicators do you have that his physical assaults will decrease after transition? History tells you that Donald will blow through the glass ceiling upon being placed in a family. His behaviors are confirming that right now. BirthMom does not have a padded room. BirthMom does not have a team of staff with which to “change face”. BirthMom has not been trained in safety holds. How could you possibly expect that she will be able to keep her family OR Donald safe without these tools?

Furthermore, can you be sure that Donald will not harm stepsister? That he will not project his feelings for Daffy onto stepsister? I beg you to read through the reports of the harm that Donald has done to Daffy over the years. I implore you to talk to all previous foster families about the level of rage he had towards his sister. From Daffy’s “accidental overdose of medication” in June 2006 where Donald gave her the medication to kill her, to the Oct 2006 ER visit with the foster family indicating Donald choked and punched his sister, to the day that he tried to drown her in the lake (as reported by Daffy) and the attacks he raged against Daffy while living with the former pre-adoptive family in 2009 and here in 2012. Not to mention the potential sexual abuse issues. Donald’s anger runs very deep and he is dangerous. Do you have measures in place to protect stepsister from this abuse?

I truly believe that BirthMom being a part of Donald’s life is an asset to him. Its obvious that she is willing to do whatever it takes to be a part of his (and Daffy’s) life. She clearly loves him. My concern is that she is being set up to fail and that someone will be seriously hurt as the end result. This is a process that can NOT be rushed simply because Donald reports that is what he wants to have happen. I’m obviously not a social worker so I can’t make any recommendations about how to balance Donald’s needs and the safety of BirthMom and her family, but these safety needs can not be ignored.

If I sound frustrated right now, I am. I have made several of the above points numerous times along the way (and have emails to document). The divisions involvement with this family began in 2002. Its been ELEVEN YEARS with almost no progress for Donald. This is unacceptable. Putting your heads in the sand about the seriousness of this situation will not make it go away.

At this point, I feel I have nothing left to offer the team. I have provided my history with Donald. I have expressed my grave concerns for BirthMom and her family. There is nothing more I can do. As for Daffy’s relationship with Donald, I am working under therapist’s guidance for what is best for Daffy, which happens to align with what was recommended during the conference call last summer. I am letting Daffy guide their relationship. (Donald is also making his own choices in the relationship as well.) I am not forcing Daffy to call or write, although I do suggest it weekly. I am no longer forcing her to have visits. Daffy has a right to work through the anger she has about the abuse she endured at the hand of her brother. I can not place his needs above hers any longer. He has you all to worry about his needs. My focus has to be on Daffy.

Minnie Mouse

Only one member of the team responded (and I swear she is on crack). I am considering whether or not to share that here . I feel comfortable sharing letters *I* have written, but a little more nervous to share something someone else has written due to the sensitive nature of the case and privacy issues.

The team meeting is today. I’m not going. It will mark the first meeting I have missed since we began this journey in October 2011. While I do have quite a bit of guilt about pulling back, there truly is nothing else I can do to advocate for Donald. I did what I could and its cost me a lot. It’s time for the professionals to do what they can for him. The blood will not be on my hands.

signature