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.
Posted by fosteradoptionblog on October 22, 2012
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.
Posted by fosteradoptionblog on August 13, 2012
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.
Posted by fosteradoptionblog on June 13, 2012
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.
Posted by fosteradoptionblog on June 5, 2012
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“!
Posted by fosteradoptionblog on May 17, 2012
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.
Posted by fosteradoptionblog on May 12, 2012