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!
I’ve been sharing our heartbreaking problems with Huck. He’s in a vicious cycle of bad behavior and consequences with no relenting. He’s lying at home and at counseling. He’s being rude to his siblings and defiant to his parents. He’s throwing tantrums and having meltdowns at home and at counseling. He’s in an intensive program for trauma, but we’re not seeing any advantages right now. His new antidepressant seems to only make him more agitated. Hubby and I are at the end of our rope, trying to figure out what we can do to help him and make it better. We’ve not had this bad of behavior for a long time. It feels like it’s constantly escalating and we don’t know where it’s going to end up. I had a long conversation with him last night before bed. I was hopeful that we came to some sort of agreement on what is acceptable behavior and what he can do to let out negative feelings. Then this morning he went right back to where he was before. So I don’t know what to do!
Huck had his re-evaluation for counseling last week and the doctor added a rule-out of RAD. Right now his diagnosis is PTSD and he’s getting counseling under that diagnosis. But it doesn’t account for the behavior we’ve been seeing for the last couple of months. Huck’s psychiatrist was leaning toward ODD, or Oppositional Defiance Disorder, but the doctor at his trauma counseling was more apt to say RAD. Considering that most behavior is aimed at me, his primary caregiver. He doesn’t have all the symptoms, like lack of eye contact. This diagnosis doesn’t really change his therapy or medication. I’m not sure it’s even true. But it’s difficult to live with, whatever he’s going through!
The mother of little Baby Doe, who police have finally found to be Bella Bond, had several children removed from her custody permanently by CYS. Her mother felt it was only a matter of time before CYS also removed Bella. And now, we all wish that her mother’s fear had become reality before she died a tragic death. This case seems all too familiar. We deal with guilt that there is another child in the custody of our adopted children’s first parents. In the same year–not even four months after TPR occurred, our children’s first mother gave birth to another child. I’m not sure how it’s okay for parents to keep custody of a child in the same year that they lose custody of not one but THREE other children. This seems like a recipe for disaster to me. We’re waiting for the call, the day that CYS remove this child from the home. We know it will come, we just don’t anticipate it for a few years. Our kids were generally off the radar until our oldest, Anne, went to school. There her teachers were disgusted by her hygiene and general health, as well as truancy. This is where we believe the first parents will slip up again. Until then, we can only watch the news and hope this doesn’t happen.
As y’all know, we’ve been dealing with serious defiance from Huck. This morning, he refused to get ready for school. He wouldn’t eat his breakfast, he wouldn’t go upstairs to change, etc. So I took him to school in his pajamas (he had on fleece Iron Man pants and a tshirt from one of our vacations, not really anything embarrassing). He refused to get out of the car when we arrived at school.
He comes home today and complained to his teacher, who then sent him to the nurse to get clothes to wear for the day.
I am beyond irate. Maybe I just need some time to cool off. But here is a kid that is screaming at me on the way to school that “it’s all your fault” (meaning mine) and then he gets “saved” at school by his teacher and the school nurse? I have to “launder and return the used article to the school nurse as soon as possible.” I feel like writing a note back that I’d really prefer if my kids had to suffer the logical consequences of their action and not be saved. Is this too much? I’m trying to teach him a lesson and I don’t have support from school for sure!
Spent 2+ hours this morning at the local Social Security Administration office. I had hoped to have good news of new social security numbers for the kids. Apparently it is a federal law that if a child knows that they’ve been adopted you cannot change their social security number, even if you have concerns about identity theft and fraud. At least that is what grumpy and his grumpier manager told me today. If the child does not know that they were adopted, you can change their number readily (I really don’t understand this, as children that were adopted older from foster care are probably in more of a risk of having fraudulent activity on their ss number than those that were adopted before school age). I know people that have changed their adopted child’s social security number, our county attorney advised us to do so upon their adoption, and the sweet lady that I talked to at this specific Social Security Administration office about a month ago advised me to make sure their numbers were changed and not just their names.
So yes, I cried, pleaded and argued in the SS office trying to advocate for these kids. It is not acceptable for a child who languished in foster care for 5 years, was passed around to 11 different homes, suffered immeasurable trauma and neglect, to have some guy on a power trip at the Social Security office tell them that he can’t do anything to help and they’ll just have to monitor their credit, etc for the rest of their lives. It’s not okay. Hubby came to provide reinforcement and see the mess that these two men were making out of a very easily fixed situation. Boy, was the security guard on high alert with us two! The family genes of patience came out so Hubby had some choice words and of course I was crying because that’s what I do so we gave good entertainment to all the retirees waiting.
I found it highly ironic that I was sitting in the waiting room for 45 minutes patiently waiting my turn while studying for my graduate classes in public administration. It only cemented the fact that there are a lot of problems in this country with how foster children are treated. And believe me, none of the information I’ve been reading has been about the ego of individual government employees, it is about the public interest and the greater good. I should have left them some reading material!!
Huck, oh Huck. How we’ve had such issues as of late.
Huck has had the most difficulty transitioning back to school. Which is definitely not surprising to me. He has trouble if his routine is off one day in a small way. So now turning the tables and completely switching up his entire daily routine is jarring.
He started about a month ago on an anti-depressant. I have been tracking his moods with an app called “eMoods,” which was free. I can put in if he’s irritable, has a depressed mood or an elevated mood. I can also enter any anxiety, psychotic symptoms or verbal therapy. This tracker has helped me indicate to Huck’s psychiatrist how his moods have been cycling. I am very concerned that he is undiagnosed bipolar. His parents have a long list of diagnoses, none of which I am sure are true. Huck’s doctor said that complex ADHD can present itself as bipolar. Also, bipolar is very rarely diagnosed in children. According to the doctor, there are all these things he can check off to see if Huck has ADHD. But with bipolar it’s very different.
So mainly Huck has depressive moods, and so the psychiatrist is starting with Celexa to see how that goes. It’s a non-stimulant. He started with a small dose at night to help with Huck’s sleeping. The first week seemed to go very well, with Huck in a jovial spirit. After that however, things went downhill fast. So I’m not convinced that Huck was’t in his natural cycling at the time when we thought it was the medication helping.
Our third week on the medicine was the worst we’ve had with Huck in a really long time. He peed his pants twice that week at school, lied in counseling, got kicked out of therapy group for being unhelpful, and basically threw temper tantrums every five minutes. Hubby and I didn’t know what to do. He was crying over nothing and everything. I tried to reset the behavior and laid with him for forty-five minutes, just cuddling him in his bed while he cried. That seemed to help, and then I did some errands with him. Our errands went fine so hubby took him out to help him work on the cars. He came in and had snack, then it was his turn to shower for school the next day. He went right back into the hysterics! Over having to take a shower! It was an exhausting Labor Day weekend.
So we just saw the psychiatrist for the third time and he upped Huck’s medicine so he takes a small amount in the morning and a small amount at bedtime. We will see how it works. He threw temper tantrums and meltdowns all weekend and spent a good part of it reading, doing puzzles or helping me with chores rather than getting to play.
I still get quite a few hits each day from search engines from y’all that are looking to help world refugees, including those fleeing Syria. I found another link, this one through The Washington Post, that gives examples of ways that you can help. We put together a box and shipped it off to Greece of many items that were on the list from Ann Voskamp (see previous post). Have you all been sending prayers?
And, if you are wondering what this great migration looks like, here is a great link to the New York Times that has amazing graphics and photos to give you a better understanding.