Our Christmas Visit With Donald

christmas visit

Smudged RTC initials in photos to protect Donald’s privacy

Donald told Daffy & I last night that he was “off level” for attacking two staff members. I emailed the clinician this morning to get more information about what happened and was told “staff has stated he has required seclusion for safety concerns such as attempting to attack staff, but to my knowledge he has not actually attacked anyone. In light of this heightened behavior, I would advise having an on-campus visit.” Honestly, I HATE having visits under these circumstances. Daffy has put up with enough abuse from her brother over the years that I hate to subject her to more. That said, it’s already 3 days after Christmas and more snow is on the way for our area, so I decided that it would be best just to get this visit out of the way. Mickey and Goofy came along, mostly for protection more than a true desire to see Donald.

The visit took place in Donald’s room at the RTC. As we looked around, I noticed some “artwork” hanging on the walls. One by the door was filled with stickers and Donald had written “XXX (name of RTC) is f*ckin b*tch and a$$e$”. Below that on his bookshelf he had written “I hate XXX (name of RTC)” I was surprised to see that the staff would allow such things to remain in his room. Goofy then asked for my cell phone to use my camera to take a picture of a message Donald had written on the back of his door. It read “Mama hit me”. I was stunned. I wanted to ask Donald about it, but didn’t want to incite his recent unsafe behaviors and also didn’t want to unset Daffy. I took a few more photos from a few different angles and promptly emailed them to the team (clinician, cw and GAL among others). Unfortunately the cw and clinician are both out of the office until 1/2/13 for the holiday so nothing will be done until that time. I don’t think Donald has any visits scheduled with his birth mom for this weekend, so I feel fairly certain he is safe.

I keep wondering where that came from. Is he remembering something old? Or did something happen on their Christmas visit? Will this be just one more thing the team excuses away along with his recent  “safety concerns”? How can they do anything BUT connect his behavior since Weds to his Christmas visit? Are they so desperate to get him off their caseload that they will put others, including him, at risk?

I guess time will tell….

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They’re heeeeeeere!

Daffy, Kibee, April, Daisy and LilBug

Daisy & April moved in on Friday as planned. I was a bundle of nerves even as I saw the worker’s car pull up. The girls were cautiously friendly and definitely remembered us, Daisy even commented that I got my hair cut. The worker left the kids pre-adoptive histories with us. (I was glad to get a chance to review them before the disclosure meeting on Tuesday so that I can ask a few questions.)

Goofy had stayed home to help me get the rooms switched around, so he and I took the girls to a local pizza place to grab some lunch before heading to their new school for a tour. The school had not yet determined who their teachers would be (despite my very specific requests) but the girls were able to see the school and their potential classrooms.

We dismissed Daffy while we were at the school and she was ELATED to see the girls! We came to get settled in and @abuggleslife stopped by for an hour so she and her girls could meet my girls. We watched Toy Story 3 and the girls went to bed around 10pm. I fell fast asleep and stayed that way until 4:45am when the girls woke Mickey up with their noise. They hadn’t yet gone to sleep! We quickly moved Daffy into our room and layed down the law about the need for sleep. The girls finally crashed and got a few hours of sleep before Daffy got up at 9am and Daisy & April got up at 11am!

Yesterday we made a pilgrimage to Walmart to pick up a few things we needed. That went amazingly well other than letting Goofy drive the cart of which he used twice to run over ankles! LOL

We watched Shrek The Third last night and had our first “chat time” before bed. I read the book “Maybe Days” and we talked about Thanksgiving memories. Lights were out at 8:30pm and the girls went right to sleep! Ahhhhhh, life is good!

This morning the former foster family drove down the rest of the girl’s stuff…. while they have almost no clothing, they sure have lots of toys and such! Its going to be quite a project to get everything put away!

I am eager to see what the week will bring as we are able implement more routine into the girl’s schedules.

Ten Things I Wish I Knew Before We Started The Foster Adoption Process

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings
Ten Things I Wish I Knew Before We Started The Foster Adoption Process:

  1. Wendy’s Wonderful Kids are some of the toughest and hardest to place kids in the country.
    There is a reason they are chosen among all foster children to receive these additional resources/supports. The trauma and loss these kids have endured are immense and NOT for the faint of heart.
  2. Adoption profiles are deceitful.
    When Donald’s profile said “he has struggled with managing his emotions“, it really meant he would physically assault our family and pets. When the adoption listing said “energetic siblings“, it really meant they both have ADHD. I wish we better understood social work lingo and had viewed their profile with more realistic eyes.
  3. Adoptive Histories from the state are not complete.
    In fact, ours would purposely leave out many important pieces of information including sexual abuse allegations and a history of abuse to animals. I wish we had taken more time to research the case files from the past 10 years. I wish we had asked more questions. Most of all, I wish I had had enough courage to call the state out on their part in why the kids have been in the system so long instead of letting them glaze over that in the adoptive history.
  4. Reactive Attachment Disorder can not be “overcome” with love.
    RAD is not like depression or anxiety. RAD can not be cured. Research, research, research. Read books. Read blogs. Talk to other parents with children diagnosed with RAD. Ask questions. This is a life changing diagnosis, not just for the child, but for the entire family.
  5. Different workers will produce different resultsDo not be scared of change.
    History does not have to repeat itself if the right people are working the case. I wish I had spent less time worrying about the changes that were out of my control and more time working to make a quicker transition.
  6. Concurrent planning is extremely important.
    These plans are not a reflection on parents or their abilities. They do not mean that a placement will fail, but they provide a safety net that will save precious time in a child’s young life should things not go as planned. I wish I had pushed harder for a concurrent plan for Donald.
  7. Terminated Parental Rights do not mean that the kids will not have contact with their birth family.
    Things are always subject to change. Be open to this, always keeping in mind the best interest of the child.
  8. Documentation will be a valuable asset.
    Set up a system ahead of time that works to chart appointments and results, phone calls, daily notes, etc.
  9. Siblings do not always belong together.
    Enough said.
  10. Most of all, I wish I knew that this process would be the single most challenging of my life with the greatest reward at the end!
    Despite the challenges, I have to trust that we got to this very moment because this is where we are meant to be. Our family has been forever changed for the better withDaffy & Donald in our lives and for that, I will always be grateful.

This post is linked to Top Ten {Tuesday}.

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?

Winds of Change

I feel the winds of change coming through. This week Daffy’s therapist told her that she had been doing a good job sharing how she feels about her brother, Donald. I feel like this must be what she needed to hear to really open up, because the past few days we have seen a glimpse of whats inside Pandora’s Box.

A few things Daffy has shared since her appointment this week:

  • Daffy told Mickey  and her foster brothers that it was really scary when she first came to live with us because of all her brothers “tantrums” and that its “much better with him gone.”
  • Last night at dinner, Daffy shared with all of us that she doesn’t think we should allow Donald to do karate because she believes that he will not use it only for self defense and that he would use it to hurt someone.
  • When asked if she wanted to talk to her brother last night, she grumbled and then said “Tell him I am busy but I am thinking about him.”
I feel like Daffy’s therapist has made it safe for Daffy to express her fears about her brother and his abusive behaviors. I feel like this is the first step in Daffy having a voice at all. It gives me hope for her future.

Team Meeting Update

Yesterday was our monthly team meeting and overall, it went well. The team One big boss decided that future meetings will still be held together so confidentiality for both of the kids is out the window. I had bigger fish to fry than arguing about meetings,though. My big concern for the meeting  was what Daffy’s visitation with Donald should look like. I have been hesitant to bring her because Donald has been so unstable. Her therapist agreed with me, but with a team of this size, you simply never know where they will go or what they will decide. Daffy wrote a letter to the team requesting that she see her brother once per month and be allowed to decide when she doesn’t want to go. Thankfully the team (& that one big boss) agreed with her request! I am sure this wont be the last discussion on the topic but at least we have something set up and agreed upon for the time being.

One of my favorite parts of the team meeting was when the GAL gave his report after meeting with Daffy last week. He told the team she was doing well and was “well placed” with us! It always feels good to hear that!

We also had our quarterly check in with the court. This is the first time I got to meet the judge. She asked me some basic questions about how Daffy is doing and thanked me for my commitment to both kids. I think the kids would really like her as she doesn’t have the stereotypical gruff judge appearance.

I also learned that the one-on-one aid that Donald had been with at our local school is on workman’s comp from an injury she sustained from Donald!!!! He hasn’t been at that school in more than TWO MONTHS and no one ever mentioned this! I am really frustrated that the school kept the seriousness of the situation from us when he was in our care. Furthermore, it might have been helpful for the next school to be aware of before they accepted him back! I was stunned to be learning of this only yesterday. I immediately reported it to both my social worker and caseworker. I don;t know if anything will come of it, but it was definitely not something I was going to keep to myself.

Daffy had therapy this morning. She was quite irritated that Mickey was taking her, but did finally go after I threatened to cancel weekend plans. Mickey talked to her therapist about last week’s throwing of the cat incident. When the session ended the therapist mentioned giving Daffy some goals to work on in regards to the cats. Hopefully we can get to the bottom if her pet issues, because its definitely a sore subject for me.

Thats all the scoop for today!

-Minnie xo

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