Minnie Answers Your Questions

questionsAs I mentioned the other day, I’ve been planning to publicly answer some of the questions that have been asked in the comments on my blog. Daffy went to a friend’s house for the day, so no time like the present to get started! 🙂

Reader Danielle asked, Have you thought about an out of home placement for Daffy? Is she safe to live with?

So, I’ve been staring at this question for ten minutes now and I really don’t know how to answer. Do I think she is safe to live with? Well, no, not really. But has she done anything truly dangerous or taken a life at this point? No… and no one seems to care about safety issues until AFTER something major happens. Ultimately, we are playing the waiting game…. praying that she doesn’t truly hurt anyone, but at the same time, knowing that is a very real possibility. In many ways, we are just biding our time. Tink told one of our post-adoption social workers in November that if Daffy is the “reason for the death of anyone in my family, I will end up killing her.” Rather than see this statement as describing the level of Tink’s intense fear for our family, the worker forwarded it to the state post-adoption worker who, in turn, told us that Daffy is risking her son by making such threatening statements, in affect, silencing Tink. How can it be considered threatening when Tink is only reacting to the verbal and non-verbal threats from Daffy in the first place?? If you’ve been reading my blog lately, I’m sure you’ve seen this is an ongoing issue… the more I try to get the workers to see the reality of what is going on, what Daffy is capable of, and how we feel, the more her current therapist tells them that absolutely nothing is wrong with Daffy. Since she is the “professional”, our opinions are quickly dismissed (even when we have produced drawings and documented threats along the way). I am continuing to fight for an accurate diagnosis. I understand that the diagnosis won’t change Daffy, but it may, however, change the opinions of the workers thus allowing us (and Daffy) to finally get the supports we need.

Reader Kate asked, “Has Daffy ever been evaluated for FASD?

Not to my knowledge, but we are in the process of scheduling a full neuro psych evaluation. I’m hopefully that the doctor  will be familiar with many of the common disorders of adopted and foster children (especially those with extended time in group care) and will be on the lookout. According to Daffy’s Adoptive History, her birth mother did not report drinking during pregnancy, but of course there is really no way to know if that is true.

Reader Jackie asked, “Could you bypass the social worker and take her to a private therapist of your choosing who will take this situation seriously?

Yes, I could, and probably will in the not-so-distant future. I’m trying to give a fair shot to the program implemented by the state’s post-adoption unit. They signed us up for a 90 day in-home service plan and just approved continuing the case for another 90 days. Given that the post-adoption unit is paying for this service, I feel like I should definitely try to gain anything from it that I can. However, I don’t have very high expectations after how things have gone in the first 90 days. In addition, I am completely fed up with Daffy’s current therapist and her refusal to look at the reality of the situation and will definitely be making a change to another therapist in the future. I haven’t made any changes yet because I want to wait for the results of the neuro psych exam and see if the current social workers follow through on her suggestion that Daffy participate in TFCBT. I’ve learned that making too many changes at once means it’s not clear what is working (if things improve) or what isn’t working (if things go down hill.) I hate taking things so slowly, but I also want to be thorough.

Reader Cyn asked, “Have you considered calling your local police dept and ask what services they would make available to a family if she were old enough to be charged?

I have not contacted my local police about Daffy yet, mostly because of our experience with the police when Donald lived here. The police were absolutely useless and Donald was more actively violent and volatile at that time than Daffy is now. Donald had far crazier outbursts than Daffy, but at least you knew how he felt (angry) and what to expect (violence). Daffy is far smarter and much more deceptive, manipulative and vengeful (just as we were told by the group home staff before she transitioned here.) She is less likely to directly attack, but far more likely to plot something or hide it. For example, Donald attacked the dog right in front of us, whereas was caught Daffy punching the cat in the head only because of the video monitor we were using at the time (she has since broken it, of course). Living with Donald was terrifying because of how often he attacked, but living with Daffy has it’s own set of challenges because we never know what (or when) to expect something. Does that make sense? Anyway, if someone is seriously injured here, I will definitely push for her to be charged. I think that would be one of very few ways for us to be protected from her in the future and for her to finally get help. We’re already a living example that warning signs are ignored by professionals. It’s no wonder we see such violent crimes being committed by teenagers… no one wants to help until it’s too late. 😦

I’ll be answering more questions soon! If you have a burning question for me, please leave it in the comments and I’ll try to get to it in a future post. :)

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Treatment Team Meeting

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

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

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

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

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

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Tired of Excuses

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

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

Hi all,

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

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

My question regarding this information is two fold:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Defiance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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New Year’s Resolution Time

family resolutionsIt’s that time of year… New Year’s Resolution Time!

Last year, we created some Family Resolutions. I am sad to report that the only one we achieved was running 3 races together as a family. We only had one specific game night that I can recall and that was in January. We did inquire about working with a local food pantry, but they didn’t seem interested in any new volunteers so we didn’t get far with that either. I plan to ask the kids if they want to set new family goals, but something tells me they won’t be all that interested, so I am planning my own resolutions.

  1. Run twelve races in 2014. I ran 10 races in 2013 so this isn’t a huge stretch, but I’m adding it to my list to keep myself accountable and consistent.
  2. Take a class. I’ve been stagnant in 2013. I crave expanding my mind. I haven’t decided what kind of class I will take just yet, but I will definitely take at least 1 class in 2014.
  3. Cross something off my bucket list. Whether it be traveling to somewhere new or playing paint ball, I am determined to cross something off my official bucket list this year.
  4. Create something. Whether I create a scrapbook or sew something, I MUST create something in 2014. I really miss the sense of pride and accomplishment I received through scrapbooking.
  5. Read more books. For pleasure, for education, simply doesn’t matter…. I enjoy it and I don’t do it enough so I’m adding this one to my list so I can do it guilt free!
  6. Get control of our finances. Not really sure what this will look like, whether it means creating a budget or finally pay down some debt, but one way or another, I need to make some forward progress.

[List subject to edits over the course of the next week]

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Post Holiday Check In

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

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

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

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

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This Feels Wonderful

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What Happens When They Won’t Help?

our catI was just doing a little research trying to figure out an appropriate consequence for when Daffy breaks the rule about touching the cat. The social worker didn’t really have any good suggestions when we met on Monday. I read this article and I’m all the more frustrated!

However, locking a pet inside a closed space, violently lashing out at a pet after getting in trouble with a parent, or taking pleasure in watching an animal in pain are all “red flags” that signal the need for professional intervention.  This is particularly true when the child has the cognitive maturity to understand that what s/he is doing is wrong – and repeatedly does it anyway.

When I think back over the two years I have known her, several things come to mind off the top of my head (in regard to pets):

  1. Catching her try to sit on the cat before she even moved in
  2. Seeing her through the baby monitor hitting the cat in her bed
  3. Swinging her hamster around in an umbrella
  4. Trapping her hamster in a Barbie van for the school day
  5. Goofy finding the new cat trapped in a zipped bag in her closet
  6. Countless scratches on her hands and face over the past 2 years, something that has rarely happened to anyone else in this house the entire time we’ve had cats
  7. The sinister laugh she does while doing anything to annoy animals

I feel like the above list warrants the “Seek professional assistanceadvice given in the article. I sought assistance. They don’t seem to care. What do you do when people just won’t listen? Is my only option to wait until Daffy goes too far?  It’s no wonder that Tink feels such hatred for Daffy, given that she considers the cat hers. It’s not a very big leap to see why Tink has so many fears for her baby as well (coupled with comments that Daffy has made.)

I want things to change, but I feel like they aren’t going to without professional assistance that will finally see Daffy for who she really is.

PS. Would now be a good time to mention that we told the licensing social worker were NOT willing to accept children with a history of abusing animals???

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Communication Games In Family Therapy

communication gamesThe second worker from the agency texted me yesterday and asked if I still wanted her to come since I had just met the day before with the post adoption worker from the state for 2 and a half hours. I wanted to say “No, don’t come! I’m tired of talking!” but instead I found myself doing the right thing. Next week seems a lifetime away…. much too long to wait to check in. Tink and I had been the only ones home to visit with the state worker on Wednesday, so I thought it best that maybe a few more of us get the chance to check in before the weekend.

It tuned out to be only Mickey, me, Daffy and the worker. Tink is exhausted at this late stage in her pregnancy and was napping, Goofy was at work and Pluto? Well, he avoids all of this at all costs, so he was off with his friends.

The worker started by asking what in the hell had happened Tuesday night (not in those words, of course, lol). Daffy tried to explain but was really emotional about it. (She had overheard some things I said to Mickey that were very hurtful about her birth family. It’s something that will have to be acknowledged and dealt with in time, but yesterday was not the day with all our emotions still running so high.) We then went on to discuss Daffy’s report card. I had to walk away at one point when the worker asked her about her homework and she said she had trouble getting it done at home because a girl at school likes to tell her stories. I was relieved that the worker could see through her excuses and admired the more gentle way she brought the conversation back around every time Daffy tried to get out of answering something.

The worker helped us to strategize some ways for Daffy to improve her ability to get her homework done. Daffy also learned that my disappointment from her report card was less about the actual grades and more about the fact she had been lying for weeks about doing her homework. In my opinion, lying is the ultimate disrespect of a relationship. Daffy seemed shocked to learn that is why I was so upset and not because of the grades themselves. Clearly, we lack communication.

At that point, the worker suggested that maybe we work on communication as the most important element in family therapy and asked if we agreed. I whole heartedly agreed because without it, we certainly can’t accomplish anything else, at least nothing that could be long lasting. One of the things she had us do was to pair up round robin style and sit back to back. She gave each of the same set of Mega Blocks. One person would build a stack and then have to describe to the other person how to build it themselves (without that person seeing the other person’s blocks). I don’t think Daffy & Mickey got nearly as much out of it as I did. There were soooo many times throughout the activity where I literally said “AHA!” as I could see how this applied to real life. For Daffy & I, it was a really nice ice breaker, though. We often go for days without speaking at all and then get stuck in knowing how to start communicating (or heck, even TALKING) again, so having this “forced” activity allowed us to break the ice. I was surprised at how well the rest of the night went once the worker left. It actually felt nice.

Of course, any “good day” is always ruined by SOMETHING. That’s par for the course in this post-adoption family. Daffy was getting ready to head to bed and I had just come upstairs to work. Suddenly I heard Tink SCREAMING. Apparently Daffy had picked up the cat. To most of you this probably seems like a harmless event, but given Daffy’s history of being abusive with animals she is allowed ZERO contact with the cat. She knows this. (In fact, Tink and I had been talking recently about how well Daffy had been doing with it. Sometimes Tink will watch Daffy when she is outside shooting hoops and even when the cat comes over to her, she had been simply walking away. Really impressive stuff, actually.) And then there was last night. Out of nowhere, she decides to pick up the cat. WHY? Why would she do this? My gut tells me that things were going too well. I think when Daffy feels happy here she feels disloyal to her birth mom. Maybe I’m way off, but I feel like that’s where her actions came from last night. Mickey was standing maybe 15 feet away during the whole thing and SAID NOTHING. I was FURIOUS! I think I was more mad at Mickey than Daffy at that point! Our family is already so divided because of Mickey’s lack of understanding of what really happens and to have him right there and then do and say nothing? I thought I would lose it. Mickey did begrudgingly give me some time to calm down and then we were able to talk about it later last night. He seems to KNOW he needs to address things as they happen and follow through with consequences, but just doesn’t know how to do it. It’s just not him. He hates anything that even LOOKS like confrontation. He doesn’t want the kids to be mad at him. This worked “ok” for our bio kids, but this does not work for the adopted one. We have heard a million times over how adopted kids NEED consistency. The worker will be back on Monday and we will be working on a concrete rule and consequences list. I’m hoping this will be beneficial to all of us. Mickey won’t have to try to figure out an appropriate consequence to any given infraction of the rules and the kids will know what to expect each and every time. I hope that this will also lessen Daffy’s hostility towards me in that I won’t always have to be the “bad guy.” The rules and consequences will be things we ALL agreed on, thus not just about me being the parent.

So, despite the bad ending to the night, I still feel more hopeful today than I did Tuesday. Several of my friends asked if I wanted them to take Daffy for the weekend and I declined. While I do need a break now and then, I want those breaks to be scheduled rather than used in crisis. (Daffy is going away next weekend because I will be traveling.) I worry that Daffy will feel punished and I don’t think that’s helpful. And yes, it startled me just as much as you that I was that concerned about Daffy’s feelings. I thought I had stopped caring at all when survival became the focus, but maybe there is still something there and, maybe with time, those feelings can grow again.

Incidentally, tomorrow marks TWO YEARS since the day we first met Daffy! I want that feeling back.

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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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