Certified Letter Part 2

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.

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Update on Huck

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.

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!

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!

Huckleberry Finn

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.

First Week of School

My kiddos completed their first full week of school on Friday. It was a ROUGH week. For everyone. I think that I should have better mentally prepared for it. Instead, I was anticipating a great week with little to no issues. This set me up for failure as I was super wrong!!

Anne had a lot of trouble with math homework, particularly with rounding. Like most of my kids she shuts down when she gets any sort of constructive criticism, and math seems to bring this trait out the most. I was so hopeful that having her repeat 4th grade would help her immensely, but that just isn’t the case. She was also grounded this week due to poor choices made over last weekend, so she was a sorry case. Anne is nearing the end of her trauma recovery program, and as they were going over past trauma this week she made an accusation against one of her former foster brothers. Because she was at counseling and they are mandated reporters for the state of Pennsylvania, they had to write up a report and submit it to CYS. We were pretty shocked, first of all, that she had never mentioned this before. Secondly, Anne is very hypersensitive to anything that she might think is inappropriate or crosses boundaries. The incident that she reported to the counselors may have been misconstrued by her. At the greatest, it was something inappropriate by a high school boy that may or may not have been done on purpose, or even done at all. Scarlett was supposedly there for this situation and she doesn’t recall the event at all. So it’s hard to judge. This brought us to talk to all kids about if something should happen that they feel is inappropriate or crosses their boundaries, they need to tell a trusted adult immediately. It is hard to remedy a situation that took place over a year ago and people’s memory can change as to what happened. So we used it as a learning example, but we are wary that the end of Anne’s program is coming up and we are trying to figure out if she made the most of the situation or we are right back where we started from.

Huck had an equally as rough first week. By Tuesday he was a sobbing mess. He lied to counselors at the trauma recovery program and they called him on it. Which is good, but he does not deal with confrontation very well and the counselor that was in his face is kind of a bull dog so I’m not sure the discussion went as well as it could have. I laid with Huck in bed for a half hour, just holding him while he cried. He is most affected by transition, so while he loves school and is having so much fun with his peers, he definitely misses being at home too.

Scarlett was full of piss and vinegar this week. She is a big napper so being in school and missing her afternoon naps has not been kind to her mood. She has been grumpy and out of sorts. She cried at the drop of a hat this week, over little and inconsequential things. Her teacher seems awesome so I know she’s doing great during the school day, she just falls apart when she gets home. She had a lot of trouble counting coins for homework this week, and she made four attempts before giving up. I consulted with one of my friends who is a teacher and she gave me a couple of good tricks to help Scarlett count. Anne also saw Scarlett at lunch without her glasses, which is a big no-no. She broke her last pair of glasses at school because she wasn’t wearing them when she should. She really has no reason to take them off! So I discussed with Scarlett the importance of wearing her glasses. Her vanity takes over quite often and I know she takes them off to make an impression.

Madeline did very well this week without her siblings. I was worried that she would miss playing with them. We started going to the Y so that I can work out and she plays in the kids area. There are usually one or two other kids there so she enjoys playing with them. Her preschool doesn’t start until after Labor Day so we have a week and a half until then. She did very well at home, except for some whining. I think that’s just part of her personality though! She’s used to being catered to by her siblings and Mama just doesn’t put up with waiting on her hand and foot. She has an interesting personality, being the “first born” by nature and also the “baby” of the family. I feel like those are the perfect storms to be spoiled all your life! She is a natural leader and her siblings often follow her lead. They love to help her when she asks, and she gets angry with them if she doesn’t ask and they try to help her!

On top of our long week my father in law came for his yearly visit, with about 5 days’ notice. So I was trying to clean the house and grocery shop, etc. before his arrival on Friday evening. I do much better planning ahead but wasn’t given much time!

I am glad that we have this week under our belt and I’m hopeful that this week will be better.