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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Top 10 Posts of 2012

top 10The end of the year is not only a time to set goals and look forward to the future but also a time of reflection. It’s a time to look back on the many changes and events of the past year! Here are my top ten most viewed posts in 2012 (along with my thoughts now) which tell at least part of the story of our journey to adopt:

  1. 7 Practical Ways To Foster Attachment in Adopted Children
    The ideas I shared back in August are things I am still implementing more than 4 months later. Attachment isn’t one simple series of events but rather an ongoing process built over time. As I learned after Daisy and April were placed here in November, attachment with a foster or adopted child is fragile and there can be setbacks if their place is threatened. Our attachment journey with Daffy will be ongoing for years to come as she progresses through the different stages of her life and challenges, defines and finally accepts her role within our family.
  2. Ideas Needed for Party & Gifts
    The numbers of views this post got shows me that I definitely was not the only one in need of party supplies/ideas for adoption themed parties (especially non-baby). Hopefully Hallmark  or American Greetings are reading this, LOL
  3. Respite. Will it be enough?
    This question answered itself. No, respite was not enough. I really believed that our time with him would be something like remembering labor. I believed that we would look back on that time and the anxiety and fear would be dulled. Not so. It’s been more than 11 months since he left and I still get the same sick feeling in my stomach when I think about it.
  4. Connecting Through Humor (Lunch Note Jokes)
    I still believe that laughter is the best medicine and do my best to laugh every day!
  5. My Adoption Story, Part I: My Adoption
    When I started this blog, my intention was only to document our journey with Donald and Daffy, but quickly I discovered that the past is just as much a part of our journey as the now. It’s been wonderful to connect not only with other foster and adoptive parents, but also with fellow adoptees.
  6. My Adoption Story, Part II: The Search
  7. Fulfilling My Childhood Dream
    I love looking back on this post as a reminder of how much I have achieved in my life. I may not be a rich executive with a beach house, but I have much more than I ever could have dreamed of!
  8. Ten Things I Wish I Knew Before We Started The Foster Adoption Process
    This is still solid advice. That said, I would remind you again that THIS IS WORTH IT. Go into it with your eyes open and prepared for challenges, but GO INTO IT. Do not let horror stories scare you away from your happily ever after. A child’s happiness depends on it!
  9. My Adoption Story, Part III: The Reunion
    *sigh* This was hard to write. And Part IV is turning out to be even harder. I know it’s worth it, though. Writing helps me process and sharing helps me know that I am not an island. Thank you to all the fellow adoptees who have offered support and uplifting messages on my blog and on Twitter as i have shared my story. I truly appreciate it.
  10. Where to begin?
    Ahhhhh, one of the most challenging times in our adoption journey. I remember those days like they were yesterday, laying in my bed for hours at a time unable to stop crying. I was SO fearful of the power of the state. I was helpless to do anything to protect Daffy… or my heart. I couldn’t be happier that just a little over 8 months after writing this post we adopted Daffy to forever be our daughter.

Wishing you all the best in 2013!

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7 Practical Ways To Foster Attachment in Adopted Children

I am not an expert and I don’t pretend to be. I have, however, learned a few things about attachment since we started this journey last fall. Here are my top 7 practical ways to foster attachment in older adopted children:

  1. Implement chat time.
    Each night before bed, Daffy and I head to her room for “chat time.” This allows her time to unwind and process her day. Initially we talked about simple things like “What was the best part of your day?” as we got to know each other, but as our relationship has progressed, we have talked about far more serious issues like the abuse she suffered while living with her biological family and her fears of her biological brother. This is a time that she and I both look forward to. She’s been telling me recently that she can’t sleep without having our chat time and I kid with her that I will have to come to her house when she is married so we can still have our nightly chats! (She assures me her husband will do it, LOL)
  2. Read books together.
    The books don’t always need to be about foster care or adoption, but if you are looking for adoption or foster care related books, here are a few I highly recommend. Reading these books has been incredibly helpful to Daffy. I can see her connect through the stories, gaining a sense that she is not alone in her experiences and learning to trust that we will finally be her forever family.
  3. Cook together.
    Give them the chance to succeed. Daffy and the family support specialist baked muffins together during one visit and for the next week that followed, Daffy wanted to bake every single day. She was so proud of her new found ability! Spending time together in the kitchen allows for low intensity conversations. These are the moments that, one at a time, build attachments.
  4. Touch!
    Touch adopted children as often and in as many ways as is appropriate based on their history- hugs, hand holding, foot massages, a pat on the back… just keep touching! Daffy & I have created our very own handshake-style good night kiss involving kisses, hugs, funny faces and handshakes! It’s something that she and I share that connects us exclusively to each other. She beams when other people see us do it, knowing that its unique just to her and me.
  5. Play!
    Get down to their level and interact. This was really uncomfortable for me at first, but I learned some amazing things about how Daffy’s mind was working when I joined her in playing with her Little Pet Shop and other toys. I could see her hopes, dreams, and even fears play out through the way she played.
  6. Enjoy family meals together.
    Our family never sat around the table together for meals before Daffy came to live with us. We were busy people with busy lives. We felt connected and this didn’t seem important to us. Once Daffy moved in, we saw this as a critical time together- a time when we weren’t meeting with a therapist or social worker, a time when there was no battle over homework and a time where the tv was OFF. This was (and is) time that we could spend all together sharing and getting to know each other.
  7. Have realistic expectations.
    Above all, know the battle you are facing. Read books on attachment. Surf the internet for blogs of people that have gone before you in similar situations. Accept that adopted children will have attachment issues (whether it’s full blown Reactive Attachment Disorder or somewhere else on the spectrum). Understand that your adopted child will not attach to you in the same way that you will attach to them. Give them space when they need it, but don’t be afraid to push sometimes, too. It’s hard to see the forest through the trees when it comes to attachment, but know that the work you are doing with your adopted child WILL pay off. You will see miraculous gains if you give it time.

This post is linked to: Blog Link Party with Rebecca Cooper, Mommy Brain Mixer and Thriving on Thursdays.

Daffy Gets Fed Up

We FINALLY connected with Donald last night after 3 night’s of unreturned phone calls. When I asked him why he hadn’t been returning the calls, he stated “I have been very busy playing bay blades!” [begin sarcasm] Clearly, he is attached, right? [end sarcasm] Ugh. Anyway, I asked him if he wanted to talk to Daffy and he said “Sure”… we always chat with him on speaker phone. Daffy loves not holding the phone to her ear and I love knowing first hand what is said between them. She asked Donald about not calling back and again he said he was “too busy.” She asked if he received her letter and he said he had. She asked if he would write back and he said yes (although that is very unlikely). Then Donald told Daffy that he learned that the former foster parent, Jessie, would be coming to visit. He said “First she will visit me then she will visit you”… Daffy paused and then let him know that she had already seen Jessie. Donald was extremely unhappy and growled and muttered. Sensing his anger, Daffy immediately determined she needed to correct the situation so she told him “She said she misses you very much!” Ummmm, no she didn’t. I gave her a crazy look and she smirked knowing full well that she was simply trying to keep her brother from exploding. Sad.

Anyway, this morning I was relaying the conversation to Goofy and Daffy jumped in and said “If he doesn’t start calling back, I am not talking to him anymore! I am tired of this!” She commented about how he had asked us to leave early last weekend, didn’t return phone calls this week and never writes her back. I encouraged her to write a letter to the team (for the next meeting) expressing her feelings about this.

Should I be forcing her to write/call/visit if she doesn’t want to? The team previously said no, but it feels wrong to me. Whether he comes back here in the end or not, she needs to have some kind of relationship with him and that isn’t going to happen if it’s left up to the kids to determine. They are CHILDREN for goodness sake, they need to be prodded and encouraged sometimes.

Hopefully our agency will recommend that evaluation to determine their bond soon. There is supposedly some specialist in the state and I would love to see where he thinks they stand. How can we make a plan to go forward if we dont know where we are?

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.]