Family Based Health Services

Today we started in-home family based counseling for our son. Of course he was a perfect angel while each of the girls melted down in their own unique and maddening ways. I don’t know why I wished that he had melted down as well so that the therapist could see what we are working with, but that would have been an extra amount of stress that I surely did not need!

Madeline was going crazy because her schedule was off since the kids had early dismissal and so she was pushed way out of her comfort zone.

Scarlett was on a huge sugar-high from celebrating Halloween at school and my attention was occupied on someone that was not her, so she was craving attention no matter which direction it came from. Or whether it was negative attention!

Anne was by far the worst mess of all. She was being picked up in the middle of the counseling session to go to her own counseling, which she normally has after school. She threw a huge fit that she did not want to go. I could not figure out why she did not want to go to counseling because usually she loves it. I finally realized that she did not want to be left out and all of the other kids got to be at home and play while she went to counseling. I literally had to walk her out to the van so that she would go on her way!

The therapist, we’ll call her June, was middle aged and was just the amount of hippie-dippy that I expected. We got through about half the paperwork she needed to have done because she kept forgetting where she was in the middle of a story and because of the amount of time she was talking to our dog, Chuck. She said that she expects it to take us about three years of rollercoasters of emotions before attachment occurs and we feel like we can parent from a place of security. She said that because of the age of the children when they were pulled into foster care, their emotional regulation is all messed up. Children learn their emotional regulation from their parents. Well, when you live in six different houses before you are six years old and have weekly visits with your addicted and aggressive parents, your emotional regulation is all messed up. She wants Hubby and Huck to get to that buddy place where Huck was with his dad, since that has been Huck’s greatest loss. So she recommended small bonding activities like watching football or running errands together.

We did an exercise where the kids all drew their “family.” Oldest trick in the book, right? Well for some reason I haven’t done it with the kids and it actually turned out pretty convincing. The girls all drew their nice neat families with me, Hubby, themselves and their siblings, and the dogs. Huck drew me and a shadow figure, who he names “Dad.” Then he started drawing words that he turned into footballs. Then June asked him where he was and he said “I’m not on there, I don’t need to be.” And then he said “oh I forgot Madeline” and he drew her over everyone else on the paper, making her a giant figure on top of everyone else. If there’s anything that tells you about this child, it’s that he doesn’t believe he belongs on that paper with his family and that he loves Madeline the most and thinks of her in giant ways! (Also that he gets jealous of her the most, especially relationship-wise and so I am not shocked that he drew her in giant).

Next week we get to meet the male counselor and have two sessions! I hope we get more accomplished and that the male counselor is better with the details… Who knows!

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3 thoughts on “Family Based Health Services

  1. I have wondered about that emotional regulation. I might be reaching here and only guessing, but 3 years seems like it would be a normal amount of time? Non- adopted, never taken from their family kids go through the baby, then the terrible twos, then the more terrible want-to-jump-out-a-window 3’s, and then about 4 I think they seem like they morph into a small human. So, and again just reaching here, but older kids starting at a baseline level might be at a baby level and then move through the same process when in a safe and nurturing environment to emerge as a not so small human. As we have been working through the process of figuring out if we are right for adoption I have been wondering about this but really haven’t been able to find out anything, or I am not looking in the right spot. What do you think? Am I way off here?

    • I definitely did not think that the 3 year window she gave me was abnormal. I didn’t get the chance to pick her brain and see whether that time frame is usual for children with this kind of attachment and regulation issues because she is just so scattered.

      I hate the 3s. I would take two years of the 2s over a year of the 3s any day. At three is also when children really have attachment issues, which we are going through with Madeline right now. I know that the psych eval placed Huck at a maturity level of a 4 year old. I don’t know much about childhood development but it’s hard to say they start as babies with each new home and grow from there, so that it would be three years as if they were maturing from infancy. It almost seems more complicated than that. They are attached and have attached already, but it wasn’t to us as their new parents, it was to their biological family. So instead of just growing from infancy and working on attachment/maturity until the fourth year that seems to be golden in terms of emotional regulation, they are fighting their biology and trauma past with road bumps that they just might never get over.

      For example, Scarlett will attach to any adult that will pay her any attention, and goes through about four heart breaks in a day when she has to leave said adults. But I am concerned that she will never truly attach to anyone, including future partners, because she does not understand/can’t commit to actual attachment and love. She seeks love and attention whether it is positive or negative. Granted she is still young but I do worry about that for her.

      It’s interesting to consider and it’s so complicated. Maybe I’ll have more answers in a year or so!

      Good luck with your journey, it sounds like you would be a great resource for kids!

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