ReMoved

If you haven’t seen this, it’s worth the time to watch….

Badassamys: Tales of the World's Most Badass Family

I woke up this morning to this lovely short film in my inbox. A sweet friend, who has devoted her professional life to therapeutic foster care issues, sent it along with the words, “Shelley: for those days you wonder ‘why’.”

I’m unsure of how the makers of this film so completely understand the path of a foster child, but I suspect at least one of them has shared the path of this little girl. This film is especially poignant for me, because my children came to me one at a time, which will resonate once you’ve seen the film. Please view and share. My heart is full of tears and love for these artists.

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The Meeting With The Former Therapist

As I mentioned here, we had scheduled an appointment with one of Daffy’s former therapists, specifically the one who gave her the Reactive Attachment Disorder diagnosis a couple of months after she moved in to the group home. We had learned of his involvement with Daffy in a very brief exert in her Adoptive History where he had been quoted as saying “Daffy is more concerning because of her Reactive Attachment Disorder and her inability to care about relationships.

We were very eager to ask him questions about how he came to that diagnosis and whether or not he believed that Daffy could have been “cured” by coming into our care and seeing a new therapist, as suggested  by said new therapist.

When Mickey & I arrived, we learned he had double booked the session. I almost cried thinking we would have to wait any longer for answers. Thankfully he was able to reschedule with his other patient and took us in. One of the workers from our current team was also able to meet us for the meeting. I hadn’t thought I wanted any of them at the meeting, but was actually happy to have a witness as to what this man said. I am certain that if I had come back and reported about our meeting, the team would have thought my opinion was skewed. (By the way, the post-adoption worker from Donald’s case called at the last minute because of flooding in her home so I never did have to deal with that conflict of interest.)

So anyway, the former therapist had pulled up Daffy’s files. He had told me on the phone that he thought he had seen her only twenty times or so. It turned out when he reviewed the records before meeting with us that he had actually had Daffy as a patient for more than a year and a half (10/2009- 6/2011) and had seen her generally every 2 weeks during that time. He began first by sharing that Daffy was one of the girls who had made him reconsider providing therapy to the girls from the group home. He said there was a lot of “transference” that he witnessed from these girls onto the staff at the group home (for example, in their minds and because of their deep trauma, the kitchen worker could be the grandfather that abused them, or the housekeeper could be the mom who beat them). He ultimately decided that the girls from the group home were better off seeing a female provider who might seem less intimidating rather than a 50 year old man and he made the referral for Daffy to switch in the summer of 2011. As a side note, it appears Daffy never went to the recommended therapist as the state decided that Daffy and Donald should see a therapist together to work on sibling issues. (That lasted only a few sessions before we came into the picture and the state decided to end that counseling to pursue something closer to our home.)

The former therapist said that from the very first session, Daffy “had to be in control.” He said she seemed “pleasant” but that it was like she wasn’t really there. During that first session, Daffy talked about her birth mom extensively and even drew a picture. He indicated the conversation was  “one mile wide but only one inch deep”. He said that Daffy gave just enough to seem forthcoming but that, in fact, she would prove to be highly resistant to any emotional work over the next year and a half.

I asked if Daffy had come to him with the RAD diagnosis or if he had been the one to give her the diagnosis. He said that he had given her the diagnosis and he did not hesitate even a second when he said that she is CLASSIC RAD, no question about it. He said that every word she chose was guarded and that she tried to control the sessions by controlling him.

I asked if he thought that she had been sexually or physically abused and he emphatically said yes, given her behaviors, fear of adults and need to control every adult. He said that any adult who allows themselves to be controlled by her is doing her a disservice.

He said that at the end of his time with her, she flat out refused to go to counseling some days and he had also indicated in his notes “she is highly resistant”, “persistant refusal” and  “irritability”.  At that point in our meeting, I laughed and said “Yep, you know the Daffy I know!”

I asked him if he felt that Daffy could be dangerous and he said that although she had not done anything specific while in his care, he feels she has the potential because of how “through her defenses are and how unpsychologically sound she is.” Marvelous! He went on to say that he also feels that she is the type of child who could make false accusations of sexual abuse. Sigh. Not what I needed to hear with a husband and 2 teenaged boys at home.

I asked what he thought our family needed in terms of support. He said that it is very important for us to understand RAD. He said we have to be in it for the long haul. He suggested finding trainings and support groups and said we should definitely use respite. I asked if he thought there was any hope for Daffy and he seemed much more reserved, almost gloomy, in his reply. He said there could be hope if she works with a female therapist who gets her to do the emotion based work she has avoided all these years. He said Daffy MUST deal with her losses and get at the hurt to have any real hope. He talked about the walls Daffy has built up over the years and didn’t seem optimistic that she would ever take them down.

Oddly, I left on cloud nine! I didn’t even have to share my experience to have someone BELIEVE ME! I wanted to scream from the rooftops “I WAS RIGHT! I WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG!!” Now ordinarily I’m not the type to be so “I told you so,” but without the proper diagnosis, Daffy will NEVER get the help she needs and this meeting is a start on the road to finding out the truth and coming up with a solid plan to save Daffy and our entire family. At least I hope that’s the road we are on… you never know in this case….

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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.

30 Wishes. 30 Cities. 30 Days.

One Simple WishAs I posted a few days ago, May is National Foster Care Month! I use this blog primarily to share our journey, but I couldnt let another day go by without sharing the good work of the people at One Simple Wish! They are on a quest to grant 30 wishes in 30 cities in 30 days to foster kids across the USA! For as little as $5, you can help them on their journey to raise awareness on the issues of foster care and lend your voice to victims of abuse and neglect! Click here to learn about all the ways you can help on the 303030 mission or click here to grant the wish of another waiting child! Getting involved feels good!