All right friends, anyone still reading? If you guys haven’t left I’ll start posting updates on the gang, including the new baby!! 💓
Huck had a reasonably good weekend last weekend. He got to play, watch tv, and join in family festivities. We keep speaking with him about choices, and being an active participant in the family. This means not treating people badly or yelling, and then expecting everyone to be at your beck and call.
He’s had a few issues with peers at school, mainly what I consider a negative attitude being confronted by peers. When he has issues in school, he has issues at home. He has fits, screaming bits, and general rudeness.
This week I sent him to school in his pajamas again, after being screamed at (at only 7:00 am) because none of his favorite pants were clean. Granted, I’ve had a few things going on (finals for school, multiple dr visits, getting ready for the holidays, etc) and I did not realize he needed laundry to be done. Reminding me at 7:00 in the morning in an angry way does nothing to help the situation. So I asked him to take a few deep breaths and pick a different outfit, considering he has many beautiful clothes to choose from. He fell to the floor and had a fit. So I gave him another chance to choose another outfit. He declined. So off he went in his pajamas. I wizened up this time and emailed his teacher, in addition to calling the guidance counselor to inform her what was going on. We had just held a meeting with the guidance counselor, Huck, Huck’s teacher, Huck’s counselor and myself about his problems with his peers, so they were prepared. I feel a lot of support for Huck, but I am sad that he does not feel the same way.
Wednesday evening this week was good, he made eye contact and answered questions about his day. He didn’t whine or pout about having to take a shower and do his homework. That was the only day though!
I thought of a couple catchy titles but it all seemed so corny and trite. We have big news in our household, very surprising and shocking to all of us… I’m pregnant!
Back in October I had a follow-up appointment with my ob/gyn for long term birth control options and heavy period management. I had met with her in August to discuss the options for my husband and I, since we were CLEARLY done having kids and all, and also what I could do to regulate my cycles a bit since I am on anti-coagulants since my stroke and heart surgery. Hubby graciously (read: painfully) accepted a vasectomy since tubal ligation is difficult (especially for women with clotting issues!). So my doctor and I decided to try a procedure called NovaSure, which is basically an ablation procedure. This would relive my periods and maybe even clear them up for a while until I go through menopause. So I was at the ob/gyn office for an ultrasound and a tissue sample before scheduling my ablation procedure. They did a precautionary urine test before the tissue sample. I was waiting for the doctor for a while but I figured something came up. Well, my doctor came back in the room and said they could not perform the tissue sample that day because I had a faint line on my urine dip! I was blown away. I hadn’t even missed my period yet, it was that early. My doctor had my blood drawn to test my HCG levels, and they were at 35 or so. She ordered a repeat of the test for the following week, but told me not to freak out because it was so early. Well I went the following week to have my blood drawn and sure enough, the HCG levels had risen to 565! At that point the doctor took me off a few medications (like Lipitor) which can be harmful to the fetus, and said that I would see a high risk specialist after they found a “viable fetus” on the 8 week ultrasound.
I am trying to tread softly here, because I know that the adoption space is full of women with infertility issues and I really don’t want to seem ungrateful or petty. But we were done having kids, and on the path to make it permanent. So you can imagine our utter shock at being pregnant 5 years after our youngest kid! I’ve been in graduate school and looking to head back to work next fall when all of my kids are in school full-time. A newborn definitely was not in the plan! We’ve also been very nervous, considering that we did take precautions to NOT get pregnant, so we’ve been concerned about the health of the baby.
At every appointment we’ve been glad to have reports of a healthy baby. We also saw the high risk specialist this week and I get to stay on my current medications until week 34, when I will switch over to twice daily injections of Heparin. Heparin is reversible, so when I go into labor or I am induced (after 39 weeks), they do not have to worry about bleeding or an epidural. Hubby and I have slowly been accepting this as our new reality. I withdrew from graduate school for the spring. I got all As this semester so it was really bittersweet to stop, but it’s a $30,000+ program, and considering it will be a while before I go back to work, I don’t think the return on investment is very good. We’ve been trying to collect baby things, since we donated all of Madeline’s things a long time ago! We’re slowly considering names. It is becoming more of our reality, but it has been a long 12 week road!
The kids are BEYOND excited. Anne wants to be there when I deliver. Huck actually cried happy tears at the thought of having a little brother (potentially). Madeline is coming to terms with being a big sister. She keeps saying she doesn’t like babies but she finds baby toys any time we go to the store and is excited for that part.
My family has been very cautious with their excitement as they are worried about my health. While I was never told that I could not have children after my stroke and heart surgery, I was always adamant that I was not going to try and that it would be high risk. At this point they do no consider me at any higher of a risk for a blood clot than any other pregnant woman, but they are monitoring it closely. So I am thankful for being monitored and my doctors have all been excellent.
My due date is July 1st, and the doctors won’t let me go to 40 weeks, so it looks like we’ll have a new addition in June 2016!
Hubby was nice enough to stop and pick up our certified letter from the post office on his way into work today since I’m at home again with all 4 kids… PA lets rural kids off on the first day of hunting season so my 4 have been off almost a week! I did not want to parallel park and take all 4 in to get the letter but I was most curious!
Apparently there are forms for each kid to fill out in order to continue receiving their adoption stipends. Which I’m pretty sure we signed that they’ll have it until 18 or 21 depending on if they are in school full time or not. So I’m guessing it’s just Children & Family’s way of keeping track of us!
Huck had his appointment last week with the psychiatrist and although I explained his failure to earn 12 “checks” in 30 days and my hope for a more elevated and stable mood, the doctor just upped his current medicine. So Huck will be on Tenex 1 mg at night and .5 mg in the morning. I’m not convinced it will help. While my parents visited at Thanksgiving they worked on “potty training” him, which didn’t even work one day. So he has a lot of demons still to conquer.
Has anyone ever received a certified letter from Human Services? My mailman brought the slip to pick up the letter at the post office but we were home. So now it’s Sunday and I’m left wondering until tomorrow. I’m thinking it’s regarding their adoption stipend, since it’s been a year since adoption maybe the county makes sure of identifying information? I have no clue. Has anyone ever gotten a certified letter?
I wish that I didn’t sound like a broken record. I wish that I had more answers for all of you that may be going through the same situation. But we’re still struggling with Huck.
We gave up on the bathrooming issue and he’s just in diapers full time. He pees in them nearly every day. He’s 8 and 1/2 years old. He’s been checked medically. We’ve tried potty training him with a timer. We’ve tried rewards. We’ve tried consequences. Nothing is working. He prefers to wear the diapers. He will tell us specifically. So our hope that backing off the issue would empower him to make the conscious choice to stop going in his pants has backfired. Now I’m trying to think of a new solution. It’s really hard when you don’t have a willing partner who wants to hold up their end of the bargain!
With his counselors, we gave Huck a reward system. He had one month to earn 12 days of “checks” on good behavior/attitude days, and then he would be able to play basketball in the winter league. He failed. He didn’t make it. His counselors wanted to do 17 days and Hubby convinced them to lower the number because he didn’t want to set Huck up to fail. And yet, he couldn’t even make it 12 days in the last 30. His attitude has been poor, he’s miserable to be around, he pouts and cries 90% of the time. His defiance from the anti-depressants has lessened but he’s begun lying to me a lot. He talks back and whines constantly. He’s a completely different kid than he was a year ago, even 6 months ago. He’s been in the trauma recovery counseling for 6 months now and he’s so much worse. His counselors aren’t even able to get him on board.
He’s still on the Tenex, 1 mg half a pill morning and night. While it has helped his sleep and calmed him down a bit, it hasn’t elevated his mood at all. We go back to the doctor on Tuesday and I will be requesting something else.
After taking Huck off the last anti-depressant, when we went to his psychiatrist the doctor decided to start on a different non-stimulant. Huck was prescribed 1 mg of Tenex, a blood pressure medication sometimes used for children with ADHD. The doctor is hopeful that this medication will give Huck more time to think about his reactions. Huck’s been on it for a week and I think it’s making things worse again. We had some time where Huck was off the other medication and his defiance wasn’t so bad. However, he seems back to his tantrums every day, defiant behavior, and now he is refusing to eat. Friday he would not eat breakfast or dinner at home (I’m pretty sure that he ate his school lunch). He finally ate almost at 2:00 on Saturday. And then today he refused lunch and wouldn’t eat dinner until almost 7:00. I’m not sure what he’s trying to prove, but we have food available at all times, healthy options, as well as juice and milk, so it is up to him to decide.
His counselors have started a new incentive plan with Hubby and my agreement. In the next month before winter league basketball registration, Huck has to have 12 “good” days and then he can play. Granted, he’s had no “good” days thus far (especially considering the refusal to eat). So we’ll see if that works out for him or not. They originally wanted to do 17 days but Hubby was concerned that we were setting him up to fail.
We also decided upon a new strategy for his bathrooming issues. After several weeks of full peeing his pants at school, we’ve decided to stop giving it any attention. They will no longer discuss it in counseling since he’s only been lying to his counselors about it anyways. We will no longer call attention to it at home, as Hubby used to check with him every night to see if he was clean. So Huck, who is now 8 and a half years old, was given the choice to wear underwear and choose to be clean, or wear diapers. He chose diapers. So we have told him that it is under his control and we will be ready with underwear whenever he is. Hubby is very hopeful that it will be soon! I am not so sure. He’s said to us and to his counselors that he just needs to stop at recess and go to the bathroom (I’ve told him to go before recess), but that hasn’t happened yet. So who knows how long he’ll be in diapers.
We live this every day, and it’s so hard to explain to others. The reactions that children have, even if they are now in a loving home, their ability to focus, their need for any kind of attention, their maturity, their ability to take criticism… it was all decided long ago when they were neglected for years. And even in a warm, loving and caring home their brains will not recover from the damage. Kids that have been neglected don’t just “get over it.” The damage I’m talking about is living in 11 different homes in 5 years, all before reaching 4th grade, 2nd grade, or 1st grade. We have to do better for our kids. We have to break the cycle.
Our oldest girl, Anne, will be 11 years old next week. I can hardly believe it! She’s nearly as tall as I am, and her feet and hands are already larger than mine! I had a really hard time figuring out what to get for her birthday. She’s really past toys and already has a bunch of the rubber band bracelet things, so I really wanted to get her interested in a hobby. I considered sewing but I’m not sure she’s there yet, and that would require a lot of oversight which I don’t have right now. So I found a local Y arts center and enrolled her in some art classes, including clay and the wheel! I found some sterilite bins at Walmart on sale after the college crowd was in school. I took the white drawer bins and spray painted them, then added some wall decals to make them fancy! I also bought her a jewelry box, some earrings, and a bunch of art supplies like pastels and clay. I’ll let you know how it goes next week! Here’s what I did with the Sterilite bins:
I prepped the drawer units by pulling out the drawers. I made sure I was in a well-ventilated area (outside!) and put down tarps.
I used this Rustoleum spray paint that I found at Walmart that matched the colors in my wall decals. (This is not a paid post, this is what I picked all on my own!)
I made sure to stand far enough back that the spray paint did not pool on the plastic. An even spray was easy and it didn’t take much to coat the plastic.
Once dry, I put the drawers back in and added the wall decals. These decals are also from Walmart and they were like $1.50 for each the sheet of letters and the butterflies. They adhere well and dress up the units very well!
I hope this helps when you have to find something for your 11 year old!
If you google “Reactive Attachment Disorder,” about a half a million results come up immediately. It’s a well documented concern with adopted children, or children that have gone through immeasurable trauma and neglect. When we first accepted placement of our three adopted kiddos, we were concerned with the youngest, Scarlett, and RAD. We did a lot of reading and perusing online articles. I read “The Connected Child” like all good adoption forums will recommend. Our fears of RAD with Scarlett were quashed very shortly after their placement as she settled in. Scarlett is very much a middle child and gets her feelings very hurt if she feels that someone has gotten more of something than her–time, presents, clothes, etc. But she does not have RAD.
We’ve only had placement of our children for just over a year. This is nothing in terms of fostering an attachment in child development. And yet, it feels like 25 years! Hubby and I have become adept at changing our parenting strategy, with kind of a trial and error, in order to find what works. This week we had to work on some strategy in order to get Huck back in a good place. I made the executive decision to cut off his anti-depressants. I am concerned that the medicine was causing him to become agitated. Sure enough, the lack of medicine seems to be much better. (He was only on 10 mg for about 3 or 4 days before we noticed the agitation. It was not noticeably present after 5 mg). We’ve also been working really hard to lighten up on a few things and stand united where we’ve decided we need to draw the line. We’ve been looking for behavior to praise and doing so above and beyond. He seems to be responding well. This morning he seemed to be a in a good humor, didn’t pick fights with anyone like he had for the last month. We’ve made it clear to him what is punishable (peeing pants, yelling/being disrespectful) and what the consequences are. Now we are just keeping the line and lightening up about other things. The true test will be this weekend when he is home more!