Brains

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.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/children/9637682/Whats-the-difference-between-these-two-brains.html

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11 Year Old Birthday Ideas!

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:

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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.

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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!

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I hope this helps when you have to find something for your 11 year old!

Reactive Attachment Disorder

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!

RAD is not so RAD

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!

Bella Bond

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.

http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/19/us/boston-baby-doe-charges/index.html

Huckleberry Finn (Again)

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!

New Social Security Numbers

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!!