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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Family Therapy Cancelled

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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. 

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The Post About The School Stuff

Ooooooooh boy!  Almost from the first day of school, Daffy struggled to balance her time in the afternoon to allow for homework. She cried, fought us and flat out refused to do her work. She even went so far as to FORGE my name in her planner to indicate she had done the work when she had not. (For those of you wondering, her artistic talents were put to good use… she did quite a nice job on the forgery, LOL)

About a month ago, I received a call from the vice principal indicating that she had gotten into a fight on the bus with 2 boys. She had clocked them over the head with a metal water bottle, thrown food at them and swore. The vice principal was not aware of Daffy’s status as a foster child which only complicated the situation when she asked if anything was “bothering” Daffy and Daffy shared that she was being adopted and wished she could live with her birth mom even though she knew that we were the right family for her. The vice principal was baffled and Daffy ended up feeling like her privacy was violated under the barrage of questions that followed from this administrator. The vice principal and I exchanged a few phone calls and emails after the fact and I thought things were back on track.

Three days later, I received a call from the vice principal again. This time, she asked that I come pick Daffy up from school as she was being suspended. I was mortified as she explained that Daffy had brought 3 knives to school which clearly violates school policy. She also let me know that the police had been contacted. I was pretty freaked out. I called our sw (who was out of town at a seminar) and our cw (who was off for the day) and then headed across town to pick Daffy up. My mind was racing thinking of all the things I have learned about kids with trauma and how I should deal with this situation. I walked into the school and was sent immediately to the vice principal’s office where there was a police officer waiting. Without giving him too many details, I did share some of what Daffy was feeling as the days drew closer to adoption. Daffy was called into the office and sat in shamed silence as the officer told her that she would be arrested and brought to jail if she brought knives to school again. (Honestly, I felt this was a little excessive on his part considering Daffy had no intent to harm anyone.) Anyway, Daffy and I left in silence. I drove about a mile and pulled over by the lake. I got out of the car without saying a single word, Daffy following me, and walked over to a picnic table overlooking the lake. I started with something like “Let’s hear it!”…. Daffy stayed silent and tears began to build in her eyes. I put my arm around her and told her that I would always love her but that her behaviors were unacceptable. Daffy began to sob and managed to say “I thought you wouldn’t love me anymore!“… I held her for a while while she cried, reassuring her that there was nothing she could do that would make me not love her. We talked about how important it is to be safe, to follow rules and how to stand up to peer pressure. It was a tough lesson for Daffy, but I think it turned out to be one of those defining moments where we passed the “test”, getting to prove our devotion to Daffy.

I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen next since there were still 3 weeks left for her to “test” us before the adoption but thankfully this was the the peak of her behaviors. Daffy has now settled in nicely to school and homework is much less of a struggle.

Paper Coterie | School Days Documenting Book

Remember when I shared about the Daily Documenting Books from Paper Coterie? Well, I just learned about their new School Days Documenting Book! I am super excited about this… I had been wanting to find a way to document Daffy’s school days, but all the other books I have found begin with grade 1 and since she obviously wasn’t with us since first grade, I had been sort of stuck! I love this book because it’s themed around just one school year and allows for lots of personalization. I am super excited to use this book as a tool to connect with Daffy about her school experience throughout the year! I definitely see this as something we work on during our infamous “chat time!”

The School Days Documenting Book allows for up to 19 photos to be included. I chose to include only 5 so I will have plenty of room to add photos (with a glue stick) throughout the school year! You can also add your own text… I was thrilled to add Daffy’s adoptive name since she will be adopted this school year! (YIPPEE!)

To receive 40% off the School Days Documenting Book and other Documenting products, enter the code REALNEWYEAR at checkout through 8/26/12. If you are a first time Paper Coterie customer, you can also score a free journal when you enter the code WELCOMEJOURNAL at checkout! Cool, huh?

Disclosure: As a brand new Paper Coterie Affiliate, I received a School Days Book for free to facilitate this post. All opinions expressed here are honest and my own.

Gratitude

In addition to our nightly chats, Daffy & I have recently begun writing back and forth in a journal. Sometimes we write during our chat time and read them out loud to each other. The other day, Daffy’s note included a PS thanking us for coming to her Wax Museum. Our conversation following went something like this:

Me: Daffy, why would you thank me for coming to your Wax Museum?

Daffy: Because I thought you would be too busy to come.

Me: What? No! We are never too busy for our kids! That’s what families do- they support each other!

Daffy: No one ever came for me before when I was at the group home.

Her words broke my heart! As grateful as I am to the group home that cared for her and provided safety for 2.5 years, they were not a family. They could not provide the love and support that a little girl needs, the kind of love that can only come from parents. I am grateful for the opportunity to provide that love to her and pray to God we are able to adopt her and show her that family truly is forever.

Forward Progress

Sometimes life is truly hard to measure. Each day blends neatly into the next and while progress is being made, its hard to compare. This weekend Daffy informed me that this week was the “Wax Museum” at school and she would NOT be attending. [The Wax Museum is a project where the kids research someone famous, then dress the part and pretend they are wax figures while reciting facts in the first person to the parents. It’s NOT optional.] I looked at her in disbelief. I thought she had been working on it at school, but apparently that was not the case. In my mind, I could hear my social worker reminding me to give her options as I stated “You WILL be doing this project. You have two choices. You can get up and do the project on the computer or you can get up and do this project in your room, but you WILL be doing this project!” And you know what happened? She got up the next morning, got on the computer and did the best damned research I have ever seen that kid do. She didnt fuss. She didnt whine. She didnt even ask for help. She just did it. Then she came to me to brainstorm ideas for the poster and I suggested she color some art in the same style as the artist she will be representing. She agreed and began to work on a gorgeous flower. As if this process hadnt been perfect enough, she allowed me to take pictures and she even created a 10 minute video with all the facts… in character!

I am BLOWN away. When I think back to the project she worked on in February, I truly can’t believe this is even the same child. She spent as much time crying in February as she did working on the actual project. It was a battle for an entire week and DEFINITELY not worth the hassle. Just 3 months later, things are so different. She is far less resistant… not just when it comes to homework, but also to eating, showering, cleaning….

Trust me, she isnt perfect. And neither am I. But I think we are at a point where I can truly say “We got this. We’re good!”… and it feels great.

Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing

Having a 4th grade daughter, brings me back to my own 4th grade year. Overall, I do not have fond memories of my youth. Sure, I do have some good memories and those are usually the ones I choose to focus on, but if you ask me to think back to a specific year in my life, my first recalled memories are usually negative.

Things I recall from the 4th grade:

  • Two of my friends and I liked the same boy whose name was “Joey”. My friends had a sleepover together one night and wrote Joey notes telling him my boobs were small and that he should not like me. I was crushed that my so-called friends who do that to me. (Side note: My breasts ended up being so large that later in life I had major breast reduction surgery!)
  • Later in the year I like a boy name Kevin. I decided to tell him on his Valentine card. Once I had written and sealed the tiny card, I changed my mind about confessing my undying love so I scribbled on the envelope hoping it also scribbled out the words on the card. It didnt and it was terribly embarrassing.
  • I did NOT like studying our state history. I refused to do a packet of work. I did not care what the result, I simply refused. The teacher gave me a detention- my very first ever! I was mortified and terrified of what would happen when my parents mother & stepfather found out. I stayed after school and the teacher worked by my side. She would read the question and then read the passage that contained the answer and I would guess wrong answers just to spite her. She stayed patient with me and eventually we got through enough of the packet that I earned a C (probably only my 2nd in my entire 4 year elementary school career). She ended up having to drive me home and spoke casually along the way as if nothing happened. I couldn’t understand how she was able to separate her feelings like that.
Now that Daffy is in our lives and I look back at my worst 4th grade memories, I am embarrassed. How could that possibly compare to the list of things Daffy will remember from her 4th grade year?
Things Daffy will probably recall from the 4th grade:
  • Living in a group home with people that stole her things
  • Meeting yet another “Forever Family” that she was sure would break her heart
  • Transitioning to a new school over an hour’s drive away from everything she knew
  • Being assaulted by her biological brother numerous times including being strangled by him
  • Her brother going to a psychiatric facility
  • Her brother going back to residential care
  • Her brother getting expelled from school and moving to another residential treatment center
Things I hope Daffy will recall from the 4th grade:
  • Meeting the family that will truly be her Forever Family
  • Meeting her new pets and falling in love
  • Making a new best friend
  • Starting with her new therapist and beginning the hard work to deal with her losses
  • Chats with me every night
  • Mickey & I advocating for contact with her former foster families and her biological mother
  • The many “firsts” she will experience in our family (Christmas, Valentines Day, St Patricks Day, Easter, Mothers Day…)
Only time will tell what Daffy will choose to remember of her 4th grade year, but I am hopeful that in the end she will reflect on this as being the beginning of her “happily ever after“!
Thanks for the writing prompt that inspired this post, Mama Kat’s Losin It!

Everyone wants these kids…

Our caseworker put us in touch with a former pre-adoptive family [further to be known as Woody, Jessie & Buzz] that Donald and Daffy were placed with 3 years ago. I called Jessie today and we ended up meeting for lunch. What a surreal experience. The more I learn about this case, the more I am convinced that the majority of the trauma and loss that these kids experienced is a direct result of the actions of the state. This turned out to be the SECOND  foster family that wanted to adopt. They never had any closure. The foster parents and children fully expected to continue visits and did not learn they wouldn’t until after they had seen each other for the last time. This was the STATE’S decision, but no one ever explained that to Donald or Daffy. They were left to believe that another family had abandoned them. This disturbs me deeply, but even more so to learn that this family has not moved on. They have maintained their foster care license over the past 3 years simply for the hope that Donald & Daffy would one day be returned them. It was not until yesterday that they learned the children had been placed with us and  they were finally able to begin their grieving process.

Jessie was understandably emotional as she shared her family’s story today. Their story is so similar to ours, they might as well be the same. They started the process in much the same way, went through a long transition, and then watched as Donald became increasingly dangerous to both Daffy and their son, Buzz. In less than a week, they had the police at their home twice as every member of their family was physically attacked. Donald was admitted to a psychiatric facility (the same he went to when he left our home) and then moved to residential care (the same he moved to when he left the hospital in February). The only stark difference is that we were able to keep Daffy in our care this time around.

Hearing their story reminded me how fragile our relationship with the children is. The state can pull the plug at anytime for any reason or no reason at all. As we continued talking, I silently prayed that our “happily ever after” will not follow their path, a path which clearly led to sadness and despair.

We decided to set up a visit for both of our families next week at their house. I am nervous. Daffy seemed cautiously happy that I scheduled this reunion. I am hopeful that rekindling a relationship that was so special to her will be beneficial and not something that triggers her sense of loss and rejection. I wish I had a crystal ball, some way of knowing if this is the right choice, but since I don’t, I am left to trust my heart. My heart tells me that if I were in Jessie’s shoes, I would want to continue a relationship with these beautiful children and that these children deserve all the love they can get after the raw deal they have been dealt.

In unrelated news, we received the results of Daffy’s special education testing today. I was quite pleased to see that she was average, above average or even superior in some areas! This means she will not qualify for an IEP, but if she gets an ADHD diagnosis from her doctor, she may qualify for 504 accommodations. The team did a great job discussing her learning style and some accommodations that would benefit her. I left feeling very please with the outcome. Next, I need to drop off copies to the the doctor’s office for review and then wait for an appointment.

Wishes, Visits, Attachment & Testing

Sometimes I get so busy tweeting the little ins and outs of our daily lives, I forgot to come and blog.When nothing “major” is happening, it doesnt seem to warrant sitting down to write, but I know the little things are often more important so I am going to try to be better with posts! 🙂

A few things of note over the past few weeks:

  • Daffy asked her “Fairy Godmother” to grant her a wish… a picture of her and her biological Mom! Her Fairy Godmother was able to grant that wish and it was an amazing moment! Daffy opened the package, saw the picture and was completely overwhelmed with emotion. She told me later that night that she never cried from happiness before. She has been thrilled to show the picture to anyone who will look and is often analyzing it for little details and similarities.
  • Daffy saw Donald for the first time since being moved to the new residential treatment center. Daffy was “bored” within 5 minutes of being there and told me as we left later that she thought the place was “creepy.” I really didn’t know what to say because honestly, it IS creepy.
  • Donald’s former CW and I took him to lunch one day after a meeting last week. I was not happy when his new CW and our SW bailed on going because I had made it VERY clear that I did NOT want to go alone with him, but ultimately I ended up driving him both ways by myself. He scares me and he knows it. I try to put on my “game face” with him, but I know he can see right through it. (I have never really had much of a poker face, anyway.)
  • We received a copy of Donald’s Treatment Plan. I am happy that there are some very specific goals set for him over the course of the next year, but at the same time I feel like only Donald’s needs are being viewed. For example, he is currently physically attacking peers and staff an average of 1-2 times per day. The goal is for him to decrease the attacks by 90% before he moves in. Ummmmm, I am not really okay with my FAMILY (or anyone!) being attacked at a rate of even 10% of what he is currently engaging in. How can the state even ASK us to accept that???? If he were an adult, the state would pull my children for allowing them to be exposed to that kind of domestic violence.
  • Daffy has been sharing all sorts of things with me during our chats. She shared about the last visit she had with her mom and what it was like the day she was taken. Her therapist thinks these are signs that she is attaching. All this attachment talk boggles my mind. I mean, I GET what attachment is, I know why its important, I understand what causes issues in attachment, but what I dont understand is how I will know if Daffy is truly attached. I know *I* am attached to her…. the days that we thought she might be moved, I was paralyzed and physically sick over the thought of losing her. The more I search for answers, the more questions I find myself asking.
  • The process to get Daffy tested for ADHD is well underway. The school has sent home several forms for us to fill out and this morning I picked up additional forms from her pediatricians office for us and the school to fill out. We WILL get answers.
  • Tomorrow our SW and I will be meeting with a specialist to discuss Daffy’s sensory issues. While I dont think she has “major” issues, I feel she should be afforded the same close scrutiny that her brother received to best accomodate her needs. I feel she has been ignored for far too long already because her brother had the bigger (& more dangerous) issues. If one good thing can come from their separation right now, its the ability for us to focus on Daffy to allow us and her therapist to help her flourish.
  • Daffy got her new glasses. The eye doctor had told us the prescription was minimal and there was no need to get it filled unless she started getting headaches while reading. The school, however, wanted us to get the glasses indicating they couldnt test properly if she couldnt see,  so we got the glasses. I was SHOCKED when I tried them on to find how strong they are! She wasnt really thrilled to get them, saying they made her look like a “teacher”, but they seem to be growing on her, especially as people comment how “cute” she looks in them!
  • She had her first sleepover away from the house this weekend. The next day I asked if she forgot what I looked like since she didnt call and she said she was wondering if I was crying because I was missing her. I feel like the fact that I was on her mind was a good thing.
  • I have several trainings coming up in May. I love learning and I can’t wait!

-Minnie xo

[All names have (obviously) been changed to protect the privacy of our family.]