Our Adoption Day

On Friday, November 7th our county hosted it’s annual Adoption Day celebration. There were activities in the morning for all 39 children that were adopted in 2014 (and their families) and they held lunch. The activities were in the courthouse and the lunch was held in the Children and Youth office. Because it was already a sad and anxiety-producing day, we let our kids choose whether they wanted to attend the morning events. They had all of their visits at the Children and Youth office with their biological parents and they attended many hearings at the courthouse. Hubby and I wanted to limit the exposure to those areas since just driving past those locations usually means tough behavior for the rest of the day. Our adoption was scheduled at 2:00 pm so we had plenty of time in the morning to do something else fun. The kids voted unanimously to skip the activities.

Instead, we took them to the place where we held the adoption party the next day, so they could play in the play place and get lunch. Then we headed over to the courthouse with my parents and grandparents, who were the only family members that attended with us.

We met our case manager from our agency at the courthouse along with one of my friends that is a photographer. Our county case worker handed us a stack of paperwork about 12 inches high– disclosure documents that I believe we should have received prior to the adoption. Mental health records, school records, medical records, etc. Their updated child profiles were also in the stack.

When it was our turn for the adoption we went into the courtroom and gathered chairs so that all the kids could sit with us at the table. I got a little teary-eyed but was focused on settling four children so I didn’t start sobbing yet. The county attorney had given us a list of questions that would be asked so that we could be prepared. The judge was not super friendly and the  kids were actually pretty scared of him. He looked at the documents and turned to our county case worker. He said “If I am looking at this correctly then these children have not resided at this home even four months? I believe the minimum the county requests is six months.” I turned to look at our agency case manager, because she had been saying that from the beginning. I panicked thinking that he wasn’t going to grant the adoption and we would have to wait. I kept worrying about how the kids would react if we weren’t granted the adoption. I was sweating and scared! There was no time for crying. Our county case worker mumbled a few things about how good we are with the kids and how we were a family from the start. The judge kind of shook his head and let the county attorney ask his questions. He asked things that were not on the list that he gave us in advance!

The county attorney asked us things like how long we were married, what we do for fun as a family, how we came to know about the children, whether we work. I was still afraid that, despite our answers, the judge was going to throw a fit about our adoption! I didn’t cry the whole time, I was too terrified!

Finally the judge made a comment to my husband about whether he realized that he would be outnumbered two to one in the house. Hubby stated that we have two male dogs as well and everyone laughed. Then it was over! The  kids were adopted. We took a few pictures in the courtroom and with the judge and then left. It was literally a five minute proceeding where my heart pounded the entire time.

Some of the paralegals came over with bags for the three children we adopted. There were toys, books and giftcards inside. While it was a nice gesture, it was hard with one child who was not being adopted and who didn’t get a bag! I wished we had known in advance so that we were prepared for her meltdown.

Afterwards we took some pictures and then whisked the kids off to Toysrus. We gave them each a $20 bill and let them get whatever they wanted!

It really wasn’t as sad as I thought considering that we were scared that the adoption wasn’t going through. The kids were much better the next day once they realized that nothing had changed from day to day. The anxiety was gone and everything returned to “normal.” So it was much sadder going into the day, as I thought. Luckily the kids are all in counseling and we’ve been able to talk about their feelings in a safe way!

Promises, Promises

I promise I will update on the adoption and work, etc. I guess life in general. But today was super rough and mama just needs some quiet no-brain activity-time. Loved reading this after a long day, she is fantastic and I am halfway through her book which is amazing.

http://momastery.com/blog/2014/11/12/holiday-hands-done-done-it/

Highly recommend (click through):

Carry On, Warrior

In Home Counseling

I liked Huck’s in-home therapist better this week. She was a lot less new-age and really talked to him about the bathrooming issues. She also came up with a bunch of things for us to do in the future. She said after meeting me last week she had to step up her game because I am cross between Mary Poppins and Mother Theresa. I can hear my husband laughing 30 minutes away over that one still…

Skipping Adoption Day Activities

Yesterday Hubby and I signed our subsidy agreement and our petition to adopt. We are all set and will have our finalization hearing Friday afternoon. Our kids have voted unanimously to skip the Adoption Day activities and lunch on Friday prior to our hearing because they are held at the Children and Youth office where the kids had visits with their parents.

This article is so on point right now. As a mom it’s hard to put into words but this adoptee is so eloquent. Our kids are going crazy with anxiety and confusion. There is no excitement in our house for Adoption Day. We are just ready to get past this point so we can heal and move on. It is not easy to celebrate a day that is filled with such sadness or to expect happiness and smiles from children who don’t understand why they can’t live with their parents any longer.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sophie-johnson/gotcha-day-isnt-a-cause-f_b_6094206.html

Comments

Susan wrote on my last post regarding attachment and counseling:

“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?”

This is what I wrote to her in return:

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!”

Anyone have some resources regarding emotional regulation/attachment in children with a trauma past? I’m doing a search tonight so I will share anything good that I find!

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!