Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Strong Sitting and Other Stuff

In answer to yesterday's questions:
  • Strong sitting is a technique to help children switch which part of the brain they are using. They sit still, with their backs straight, and their arms relaxed. Most people I have heard of strong sit on a mat. The goal is one minute per year of age and three times a day. The child sits quietly and you can suggest what they should think about or just let them get in touch with their feelings. I use chairs because you can carry it over to public places and use it when they need to take it down a notch or when you just need two minutes of uninterrupted time (such as registering kids for school). We practice several times a day, when we don't go out, so that they don't have to think about what to do when I need them to do it.
  • Eye contact is a very important piece of the attachment process. Hope has it with the Dad, but would strongly prefer he was the only parent. The only way I get eye contact is with sweets. The idea is that with enough practice, she will pair the good feelings of the sweets with my eyes. 
  • At this point, I am the only one providing meals and treats. We have not gotten to the point Hope tolerates me. It will be interesting to see how long it takes.
  • Hope fell and skinned both knees yesterday.There was enough blood, it needed a bandage. Not a tear or scream. She laughed! I washed it off, which made her mad and got the response "Don't touch me". I told this was a mommy job, dried it off and put an impressively large band aid on it.
  • MK flipped yesterday. As a result, both girls were off all after noon. More on the other blog.

Monday, August 30, 2010

First Solo

The girls and I have spent our first solo morning together. The Dad was here when Hope woke up, stayed long enough to cuddle her and was gone by 7:20. The girls and I got washed (2 dry pull-ups!), dressed, brushed our teeth, and took our medicine. Hope was not happy that all of that had to be done before we went downstairs for breakfast, but she complied. As it is Monday, they had their choice of frozen waffles or cereal. Hope told me she wanted Daddy's pancakes (Saturday's breakfast) and when I pointed out that Daddy had already left, Hope told me I was mean and ugly. I fed GB and when Hope asked for hers, I brought it for her and told her that the words she used were unkind and that is not how we talk here.  (And since MK has stayed away, she believed me) She said her sorry; not very convincing, but I let it go.

After breakfast, we went to their school to register Hope. Both girls were on best behavior and were thrilled to meet their principal. They had an opportunity to practice strong sitting (we do it in chairs) and both made the two minutes we had to wait.

It went so well, I decided to tackle food shopping. They both needed multiple reminders of the rules, but I never hit "3" (as in  1, 2, 3), so we didn't have to leave. We needed everything since we have been away so much and it took almost an hour, but they made it. When we got home, GB put on Kidz Bop 18 and the girls helped me empty the groceries and put away the low stuff. We had watermelon for a snack, which Hope loved. They then built a fort out of our ghetto blocks, which are just empty boxes sealed with packing tape. We ended our morning with chocolate attachment work. One at a time, we broke a small Hershey's bar in half and looked into each others eyes while we ate it. GB was happy to demonstrate and Hope was happy to have a turn.

Last night, Hope had her first rage and the Dad was the lucky recipient of it. It lasted over 30 minutes, complete with screaming, kicking, biting, scratching, and hitting. I took GB upstairs and had her read to me. That put us at the opposite end of the house and we really didn't hear much. I don't think Hope is comfortable enough with me to let it out and I won't mind if I don't get my own rage for at least a little while.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

New Posts

New posts on other blog.

The First Two Days

  • Hope immediately took to her new Daddy. She wants him constantly and only feels safe when she is within touching distance of him.
  • Hope's instinctive response to a perceived threat is to hit, bite or scratch. It took GB about 48 hours to decide the best defense is an offense. She has now taken to scaring Hope with verbal stories (there is a wolf in the back yard) to keep Hope away from her. Whispering is no longer allowed and now both of them have to be in direct site at all times.
  • I am still the mean, ugly mommy. There have been a couple of times where she has come near me and even let me hug her, but only when she is not angry or afraid.
  • I did my first official attachment activity today- I fed her little pieces of birthday cake while maintaining eye contact. GB's/Hope's Dad has done a lot more with her, but it much easier to work on attachment with a little girl who sweetly calls you Daddy and bats her eyes at you.
  • The Dad and I have spoken about the need for consistent responses to both girls and are working on unified expectations.
  • So far we have managed to not be triangulated. I know it is just a matter of time before we slip.
  • The Dad goes back to work tomorrow. It will just be the three of us and the real work will begin. I have 9 days before school starts and an awful lot on my list.
  • I am really glad I am not a single parent. I don't know how they do it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hope Faith Is Ours!

At three minutes after 8 am this morning, Hope Faith became legally our forever child. We celebrated by going back to the hotel and swimming. Hope had several bouts of "I don't want to be adopted", intermixed with "I want to go home" and one " I hate you! You are an ugly Mommy". She really likes the water and even let me catch a couple of quick cuddles while we were "swimming".  When we came back, Hope put on panties and informed me she was too big for pull-ups.  Seven hours later, she is accident free.  We drove to have lunch with Mom in the Trench and 6 of her children. We found a Mcdonalds with a play ground and the kids had a blast. GB, as usual, tried to run everything and MITT's kids were happy to let her. I will go on the record- MITT is as smart in person as on her blog. I had a really good time.

About the time the girls had about enough of everything, it was time to go anyway. Hope started showing her aggression and anger- and she has a lot of both. She definitely feels safer around men. She was pushing, hitting and poking GB, so GB's Dad took her for a walk. Hope dissolved into a wild mess of fear. She was screaming, flailing on the floor, and throwing things. When I was silly enough to get close, she scratched, kicked and hit me. She tried to bite me, but I saw it coming.  When the Dad came back, Hope melted into his arms. It took an hour for her to truly calm down. GB is even closer to the edge then she was... she doesn't take physical aggression well. We have to figure out a better system for protecting her- especially in the car. Sometimes I will be driving and then there will be no safety officer protecting GB.  Today was a much better day than I had any right to expect.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day 2- We pick up Hope

Today we got in our red rent-a-car and headed towards Austin to pick up Hope. Before we actually got Hope, we stopped to meet Struggling to Stand and Mary the Mom for lunch. Imagine our surprise when we walked towards the restaurant, the door opening, and Hope's adoptive Dad standing there saying "Hi, I'm Blah Blah.  I didn't know what to say and fortunately, he didn't stay around. Lunch was lovely and healthy, except for the carrot cake, and the company was wonderful. GB took a shine to Mary the Mom's pink high heels and was flying high with excitement. She took the picture of them as her contribution to this post. It is so good to have met them IRL.

We went to pick up Hope at her house and noticed several things. First, what attachment Hope has, she has with the father. Second, one of the things this family told her is that she will have a sister that looks like her. Both of the parents pointed out to me how much alike the girls look. If by alike, they mean non-white, I can see it. If not, they are deluding themselves. I am now sure race was part of the problem.

Since picking up Hope, we have had one meltdown and it was from GB. Hope is easily calling us Mom and Dad, but is very wound up. No aggression yet. She informed me that she would use the toilet when she is bigger. I told her she was already big enough and she would use the toilet when she was ready. We are now going out to dinner, and if we are still a functioning unit, we will swim after dinner.
Court is at 7:45 tomorrow morning.
GB ready to go!

GB with our lunch #

Mary the Mom's Beautiful Pink Heels (picture by GB)

Hope- Ready to Go!

Safely in Texas

After 2 1/2 hours in the car, 5 hours in airports,  and 4 1/2 hours  in airplanes, we are in Texas. GB was a real trooper and I kept my patience. It is 12:30 in NY and I am going to bed. Tomorrow we pick up Hope and she is ours.

Monday, August 23, 2010

It Is Official !

The judge signed the order today, officially waiving the waiting period for Hope's adoption. We fly to Texas tomorrow night, pick up Hope Wednesday afternoon, and finalize her Thursday at 7:45 am. We will fly back to New York early Friday AM. I have never seen an adoption happen so quickly. I hope to have a chance to meet some fellow bloggers while in Texas. My oldest daughter is NOT happy about Hope coming. She feels Hope is a threat to her and her baby. I am not sure what to say to her. Anything I say runs the risk of setting her off. Her and Malachi will have an easier time functioning when the whole house is completely geared to small children.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Travel Arrangements Made

We (the Dad, GB, and I) fly into San Antonio Tuesday night. We will fly home early Friday am. I do not know if court is Wednesday or Thursday, which ever day court is, we have the other day in Texas. I have never been to Texas before. I do not know if they are bringing Hope to San Antonio, or we are picking her up outside of Austin.  A good night's sleep settled me down for the moment. This morning, I am making lists of what I want done before we leave on Tuesday.

Friday, August 20, 2010


I can't believe it is real. We are adopting a child we have seen for less than 24 hours, with more labels than I have ever seen and making a lifetime commitment. This morning I am excited, nervous and overwhelmed.Maybe I have totally lost my mind and I just don't know it yet.In less than a month, I will be 53. What am I doing? GB is excited beyond words. Texas is so far away! I can't imagine how she is going to feel. I have no idea how to even attempt to explain it to her. I haven't had any good answers for GB when she wants to know why Hope's mother doesn't want her any more.I can't stop my mind from racing. I had less than 4 hours sleep last night and that is probably not helping. We decided to just take Hope's favorite things with her and leave most of her stuff behind. I plan on getting her and Gb a few matching outfits and PJs. From what I saw when she visited, most of her clothes don't fit well and weren't the style of clothes we would wear anyway. I want Hope to ... I don't know what I want. Time to stop babbling.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It is Semi-Official!

Today the lawyer received the updated home study, we agreed on visitation, and filed the petition in court. The lawyer says we should be able go to Texas the week of the 22nd (this week, next week ?) to finalize the adoption and pick up Hope. All we need is the court date and we may even get that this afternoon. Then again, everything has taken longer than the lawyer said it would, although he (the lawyer) said we are right on schedule.We still have to make travel arrangements. GB's Dad spoke to the social worker in Hope's class today, to verify school arrangements. This is going to be an exciting journey!

Monday, August 16, 2010

More Progress

We have, in theory, a visitation agreement we can live with. Now we need to see it in writing. I am feeling confident enough that today I ordered a new bed for the girls. In the beginning, Hope will have the lower bed in the little room. When it is safe and appropriate, Hope and her bed will share a room with GB, set up as shown in the picture. GB thinks the bedding in the picture is uuuugly. We found nice tie-dyed huggers (comforters made for bunk beds with elastic on the bottom) in  Wallyworld for $30 a piece (as opposed to the $685 they want for the set in the picture). A true bargain :) Notice the top bunk has stairs for Ellie. GB didn't think Ellie could climb a ladder!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Hope has a class!

After two weeks of being polite, deteriorating to being politely threatening, Hope has a class. It is not in our neighborhood school, but it is in the same school GB will be in and runs the same hours, so they will ride a little bus together. The class has a special ed teacher, 2 teacher assistants, a social worker, and a psychiatrist several 1/2 days a week. It is meant for children with emotional problems and it maxes out at 12 students. Right now, Hope will  make eight. An added bonus is that the department of special ed is located in this building. One stop shopping!

We are set to terminate the current parent's rights and finalized Hopes adoption in two weeks, in Texas. We need to make some major physical changes around here, but I am reluctant to start them until Hope is really ours. I still get mixed messages from Hope's current family, and I guess there is a part of me that is afraid they will still back out.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Progress on the Education Front

After being told for two weeks that nothing can be done until we finalize Hope, the school district has had a change of heart. Shortly after I called the principal of the neighborhood school to inquire which kindergarten teacher was going to get stuck with Hope  on the first day of school, the special ed people called back and asked me to send any information I had on Hope to them. Progress.

We have decided to start Hope in the little room, with monitor, alarm, bed and new bedding. We are getting an L-shaped bunk set, with a built in staircase, storage drawers, and a desk for GB's room with the idea the girls may possibly share a room at some unspecified  point in time.  GB is very excited and is stuck on getting to Texas. We have decided to make Hope her first name and give her Faith as a middle name. GB considered taking Faith as her middle name, but ultimately decided her own middle name was much prettier. I still do not know which one of them will be finalized  first. The only appropriate placement for Hope that can finagle an opening, is the special ed preschool GB went to. That is the placement I am going to insist on. I verified today that the school takes a couple of kindergartners  every year in its Pre- K program. There are several children in each of the 4 year old classes who are working on toilet training, so Hope's pull-ups will be a non-issue.

My oldest girl is off and raging again, with the baby expected any day. D takes his final tomorrow.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Frustration 101 or is it fear?

Hope's adoption went from plenty of time for decisions (weeks/ month, waiting for ICPC) to finalizing in Texas in three weeks. Now the decisions and necessary tasks look a little overwhelming. Hope's name is not Hope- It is Marsee Hope. That it will stay unless I figure out something else ( I left the name blank in the papers). The school says one particular person needs to take information about Hope and suggest appropriate placements. Unfortunately, that person hasn't responded to an email or phone call in two weeks. I sent the Director of Special Education a request to replace this non responsive person with herself and avoid the legal fees.

The current plan is to fly (GB, me, and the Dad) to Texas, sometime the week of August 22, depending on when the court date is, finalizing Hope and bringing her home. I figured I could coach the parents on what to say.

I haven't figured out the logistics of incorporating her into the family. A small room of her own, with nothing to hurt herself as she rages... or maybe bunk beds in GB room... or maybe keep her next to me, in my room. Keep here name/ change her name? ...  Start her in the neighborhood kindergarten... and let them convince me she doesn't belong? ... or insist on the special education preschool that GB attended, since by Texas law that's were she should be/ was approved to be... How do you toilet train a 4 1/2 year old who was toilet trained for over a year, including at night, and is no longer. I have no mountains to walk her up.

I have been reading everything on attachment and adopting older children I can get my hands on. There seem to be two different camps- the work on attachment, do not get caught up in the behavior camp and the you can't let the child succeed at manipulation and triangulation camp. Are they diametrically opposed or can they work together?

All of a sudden I feel 9 months pregnant.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Legally Avoiding the Interstate Compact

I spoke to Hope's family's new lawyer. He is in San Antonio and only does adoptions. He said that Texas statues allow the judge to waive the waiting period in adoptions, if they chose to, and that by using a lawyer in Texas and adopting Hope in the same proceeding as the current parents terminate, we could ICPC altogether. I need to verify this (I do not trust lawyers in general), but if it is true, Hope will be home this month. I need MK's baby to be born and GB to be finalized first, but they should both happen before the 21st. It suddenly is happening so fast. I haven't even thought about whether I should have the girls share GB's room or start Hope off in the little room and take it much slower (the disadvantage being the little room is right next to MK's room). I am so grateful to Mom in the Trench and Corey, who have shared their experiences and knowledge,  Struggling to Stand for making sure I thought this thoroughly through and for everybody's support.  I leave MB for home Friday and there will be a lot to do when I get there!

Monday, August 2, 2010


Just got an email from Hope's mother. She has a new attorney, who says if we come to Texas, we can finalize as part of the same proceeding as their termination. If we did this, we would not involve ICPC- the Interstate Adoption People. She is trying to get a time line from the attorney. I almost believe it is going to happen. I am really excited!