Friday, July 27, 2012

The Present and Past Meet

Last night, The Dad and I went to a parent support night for Hope's waiver program. Out of the 45,000 children who live in our county, are between 5 - 17, and therefore eligible for the program, there are 12 children receiving services at any one time. One of those twelve children is Hope. In Hope's class of 6 children, one of the other girls is also in the program Hope is in. So out of the 12 children deemed most in jeopardy of placement in our county, not only are two in the same small school district, the same elementary school, and the same age, but are also in the same class. Poor Ms. Very Young Teacher.

Last night's session was centered around attachment disorders and RAD. I didn't really want to go, frankly because after this week, I was not in the mood to discuss Hope at all. Especially when I heard they had lined up a play therapist to speak. There was a tornado warning, I didn't want to think about Hope, and I wasn't feeling positive about any of it. I went anyway.

I found a corner to sit in. When the speakers walked in, Joe was instantly excited. I forced myself to get off FB and looked to see what he was excited about. The speaker wasn't just any play therapist. It was someone I used to know quite well. During the 3 1/2 years she was seeing GB 3 X a week for play therapy, she was also trying to adopt from Guatemala. Just as GB graduated from Brookside to go off to kindergarten, Jose came home. The night turned into an unexpected, enjoyable reunion.

She had left Brookside the same time as GB to work the more flexible hours of private practice and spend time with her new child. Jose is six now. She was so excited to hear how secure GB's attachment to us was and that GB was doing a great job (mostly) keeping those feeling verbal. Jose is now in school, and she is back working full time, only half the distance away that the last therapist was. I do not know where I am going with this, but possibilities are swirling around my head right now.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

It Has Been a Week...

It has been a week since our AT Intensive. It seems like it has been years. Hope is the worst she has ever been, in the length, frequency, and physicality of her rages.

And yet...

Small glimmers of hope, so small, if you blink you miss them

Her head resting briefly on my shoulder, when no one is looking. Fingers "accidentally" brushing me face as she walk by. Sharing the little corn cobs from her dinner because she knows I like them. Smiling, looking straight at my eyes as she gets on the bus.

Little things that are gone like the mist, leaving Hope trying to claw my eyes out.

I saw it. Something is working inside her. So I wait.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tuesday is Over

Hope never made it to summer school. She raged all day. I have my first black eye and lots of new bruises, but we survived until 6 pm, when I put her to bed. We had snippets of real communication occasionally throughout the day- enough to let me know we are dealing with the stuff the AT stirred up in her head. 

GB was so together yesterday morning, getting herself out to the bus in the middle of Hope's first rage. When she came home in the afternoon, she proudly told me how she had coped. She took a pair of The Dad's dirty shorts to school with her and felt like he was there all day. I am continually amazed at the coping strategies she comes up with!

I am looking for a better day today.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


The Dad is away for three days. Hope and I went through our paces before seven o'clock this morning.  This backlash from AT is hard stuff... especially when I am soloing. Hope missed the bus for summer school. She is  now fighting herself to get the strong sitting done. I am trying to think of something nice I can do for myself if she ever gets it together enough to go to summer school.

Monday, July 23, 2012


We had a great time camping in our lodge. I spent most of my time with GB. Everyone enjoyed themselves.
Where we stayed.
Breakfast with Boo Boo
GB jumping
Hanging out.


Bye Yogi

Our weekend also included tie dying shirts, a lollipop hunt, riding on the firetruck with Yogi and the Saturday night dance. And no rain, Saturday or Sunday!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

Hope came off the bus smiling Friday. Twenty minutes later, she was told to pick up her doll. She refused. I told her to sit until she was  ready. This was the resulting bite. It was accompanied by a lot of bruises. Hope is in respite and the rest of us are "camping" in a Jellystone Lodge. GB and I are off to breakfast with Boo Boo (Yogi's buddy).

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Attachment Intensive Day Eight

Today was the last day of our Attachment Intensive. It was also the first day that Hope did not melt down before we even got to the office. She thought about it, but chose not to. 

First The Dad and I went in to speak with the AT. Everyday started that way. We talked about the bottom line. Good news: A few of the children she sees are solid stone and if that were the case, we would be talking about long term institutional placement. We are not. The AT said there was the smallest spark still left in Hope and our job was to gently fan this spark everyday, while maintaining the compliance boundaries the AT set up. GB is strongly attached, and even with her special needs, she is going to survive being Hope's sister. Bad news:This is going to take years and years of hard, constant work and Hope still may not make it. The AT is going to speak to the waiver worker and the school day treatment worker and make sure they know exactly what needs to be done. Hope is going to need regular, ongoing attachment work. The AT agreed to continue working with her. I will post more on that on the other blog later.

Today's exercise was interesting. The AT took out large piece of white paper and drew a vertical line down the middle. She told Hope to pick two animals; one that represented the Hope that made good choices and one that represented the Hope who made poor choices. Hope decided that the Hope that made good choices was an elephant and the Hope that made poor choices was a ram. The picture on your right is the elephant I drew (no laughing, please) and on your left is the ram Hope drew. We spent a lot of time writing the things Hope the elephant would do and every once in a while, the AT would ask Hope for an example of what Hope the ram might do. In the beginning, Hope would only admit that the ram might do things like whining. We kept filling the elephant side up and gradually the AT addressed the ram behaviors. Hope fought talking about them, but the AT was persistent and they eventually addressed some of it.

The At waited for Hope to make a mistake on the elephant side of the picture. When she did, the AT pointed out the mistake and Hope fell to pieces. The AT quickly took the opportunity to point out that the elephant makes mistakes too. The difference between the elephant and the ram was that the elephant fixed the mistakes. That branched off into a discussion the sad, mad, glad, and scared feelings both the elephant and the ram had and how the difference was in the way they expressed those feelings. She had Hope practice saying "I am mad because _______" It was very difficult. The AT gently persisted until Hope had made two successful I am mad statement about things that had happened today. Another time we will tackle "I am sad because________" statements as sad is harder for Hope than mad.

We ended by reading  a book with Hope, "Even If I Did Something Awful?"Hazen, Barbara Shook. At the AT's suggestion, I ordered that book from Amazon (used) and "Emma's Yucky Brother (I Can Read Book 3)"
Little, Jean;
for GB. The book for GB is about a girl who is excited when her family adopts a brother and dismayed at the brother's nastiness and behavior when he actually arrives.

I have not come close to processing everything that happened during the intensive, but I can say I am happy we invested the time and money in it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Intensive Day Seven: GB

Intensive Day Seven was reserved for sibling work. GB, the Dad, and I spent the morning with the AT. The session focused a lot on the Dad and GB because that is the relationship that has taken the most damage from having Hope in our family. GB practiced sharing her feeling's with me, which she did pretty readily. Then she practiced sharing her feeling with The Dad, which was harder for her, but she hung in there. The four feeling words the AT used were mad, glad, sad, and scared. The AT had GB and The Dad talk about what they used to do before Hope and how they miss those things, The Dad made a commitment to GB that they would do more of those things and share feeling. GB made a commitment to try and share feelings with The Dad, which can be hard for her.

The AT brought out a large piece of paper and some markers, The Dad and I traced her body and head onto the paper. Around the outside of the paper, we dictated GB all the things we like  and admire about her, such as the way she always does her best and how honest she is with her feeling. (She added all the stars on her own). When she had filled up the page with all the things we liked about her, The AT had her draw 2 boxes inside the girl drawing. One was GB's Mommy tank and the other was GB's Daddy tank. In each one, GB put things that filled up each of them. 

The outcome was that the AT found GB delightful and securely attached to both of us. One worry somewhat eased.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Intensive Day Six- Hard Stuff

The payback for yesterday continued to be intense. The first hour of the session consisted of me restraining Hope. An hour. I was a stinky, sweaty mess in the waiting room, while the therapist watched. It seemed to last forever or maybe longer. When it was resolved (sloppy sitting, strong sitting, jumping jacks) it was a relief to sit in the AT's office and just breathe. The AT told me I did everything right- I wasn't escalating, just containing, and  I kept calm, soft, and encouraging. 

Hope and the AT worked on Hope identifying the need for her to have a mother in general and that mother being me. This was by far the hardest session Hope has had and the first time The Dad and I have seen genuine tears of sadness from Hope.

At the end of the session, The Dad and I heard some hard truths. The AT said that Hope had no internalized image of anything good coming from a mother- the damage done in Texas was deep and profound. There is nothing to build on. We will be doing as much nurture as Hope will allow, but mostly will be repeating what we were taught during the sessions hundreds, thousands of times, indefinitely. Hope is a very traumatized child.

Tomorrow the AT is meeting with GB, The Dad, and I without Hope. She is going to help us make sure GB's needs get met while we continue to help Hope heal. This stuff is just so hard.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Intensive Day Five- The Loss

Although Day Five started off exactly as Day Four, it quickly became obvious that it was going to be much more difficult for Hope. The two ATs had gone over the session and decided that we had not finished dealing with the Texas Mom. During Friday's session, they had done a good job of having Hope access the anger. Today they wanted Hope to feel the sadness of being unwanted and abandoned. This was much harder for Hope. Anger she is familiar with, sadness she has been avoiding at least as long as we have had her.  Today, Hope fought letting that sadness out with every fiber of her being. She tried very hard to get the AT's to settle for the anger and didn't know what to do when they wouldn't. She broke eye contact, got silly, gave inane answers for a long time. Once she was told we were in no hurry and she could take as long as she needed and saw everybody waiting silently, she decided to try. It was very difficult for her and you could see the battle being fought in her face. When it looked like there was nothing left in her, I jumped in to support her. I reminded her about the beautiful, gentle baby we have pictures of was still inside. The Texas Mom had made it very hard to even see that baby anymore, but she is real and still in there.

I eventually took the swaddled baby, Hope, into my arms and sang her lullabies. I rocked her and stroked her face, did Eskimo kisses, and played with her fingers. The whole time I told her how this was how I cared for all of my babies and she was my baby now, not the Texas Mom's.

Today's grief was obviously much harder for Hope to deal with then Friday's anger work. Pay back started in the car and lasted for hours. Tomorrow is an other day of behavioral work. I am sure it can't be as difficult as watching her try to rewrite her history.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Intensive Day Four- Trauma Work

Last night, the payback was worse than I had expected. Thanks to my great friend and Trauma Mama from, although Hope bit me, I had a glass or two of wine and some vegetable pizza, and released all the tension of week. It was good planning. Today was tough.

Hope continued her payback this morning into the AT's office, where we started with the Dad doing a takedown. We spoke for a short time with the AT after Hope put us through our routine... defiance, takedown, sloppy sitting, strong sitting, jumping jacks, reconnect. We filled her in on the evening and morning. She was not surprised. The second therapist came in and introduced herself. She had questions for both the AT and us which took a couple of minutes and then we were asked to wait outside with Hope. We spent about five minutes making sure Hope used the bathroom, helping her pick up, and getting water.

When the three of us were asked to come back, we immediately noticed a twin sized mattress, covered with a blue sheet, in the middle of the floor. There was a light blue cotton blanket spread evenly over the mattress. I started out sitting on the same long couch as The Dad. The AT asked Hope to lay down in the middle of the blanket, moved her head up a little bit, and then swaddled her in the blanket. She spoke softly to Hope, telling that some kids liked being swaddled, some kids didn't mind it, and some kids hated it, but she always did it to keep everybody safe while the kids had big feelings. Hope gave her the evil eye, and the AT followed up with, "I know you are angry Hope and it is ok for you to be angry."  The AT repeated some of the prep work she had done yesterday. She spoke of the feelings Baby Hope might have had and Hope was willing to go there. She gave voice to the hungry, scared baby who lost her birth Mom and was able to easily repeat what little babies need and how her birth mother was unable to take care of Baby Hope. 

Then the second therapist laid on the other side of Hope and was instantly identified as the Texas Mom. Hope had no trouble pretending the woman was the Texas Mom. The AT led Hope  back through the things all babies need and then revisited them one by one. Each time she asked Hope if the Texas Mom had done this for her. At first Hope was reluctant to go there, and the AT gave her words to pick from. The AT then used the words to tell the Texas Mom how Hope was feeling and checked back with Hope to make sure she had said it correctly. In a surprisingly short time, Hope was repeating the AT's words to the Texas Mom with real feeling behind them. The AT then stopped giving Hope words for feeling and gently asked Hope to remember back to when the Texas Mom was her mother and what she did that good mother's didn't do. Hope started with being hit with a belt, but immediately added that it was because she was biting, kicking, throwing and was bad. The AT encouraged her to tell the Texas Mom how she felt. She couldn't in the beginning, so it started with the AT defending her, directly telling the Texas Mom that it was never ok to hit a child with a belt. Hope started with her memories of being beaten will a belt on a lot of different occaisions. She also remembered being put bed without eating for not washing her hands and spending one whole birthday in her room. She remembered being left out while the other kids went out. She remembered that she had been bad over and over again and gotten hit with the belt over and over again. At one point, she suddenly didn't need the AT to help her defend herself. She started using her own words and her own anger when the Texas Mom told her it was all her fault because she was bad. 

The AT then had The Dad take her place and defend Hope against the things the Texas Mom was saying. When The Dad told Texas Mom Hope was beautiful, the smile on Hope's face lit up the whole room. The Dad did a great job sticking up for Hope. Then it was my turn. I laid down next to Hope and the Texas Mom started talking about her brown skin and how bad she was and how nobody could love someone like her. After two years of seeing the results of the Texas Mom's words and actions, something in me broke open and I had no trouble telling the Texas Mom exactly what I thought of what she had done to Hope. The Texas Mom fought back and defended her self and I didn't back down. Her defense started getting ludicrous and I told her she was full of shit. I do not curse in front of the kids, so the look of shock on Hope's face was priceless. I told her that Mommy didn't use those kinds of words unless I was feeling something really strongly. 

At that point we took a break. Hope stayed swaddled in the blanket and let me wipe her head with a cold, wet cloth. She let me stroke her face and tell her how proud I was of her. The AT told Hope we were almost done and asked her if there was anything she wanted to do today. Hope surprised everybody by saying she want mommy to talk to the Texas Mom again. I happily repeated my performance. When I was done I was the one who unwrapped her from the blanket.

I am glad there is a two day break before we tackle the trauma again.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             ;                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Intensive Day Three

Hope gave all her pre-therapy garbage to me this morning. I expected it and did not get physically hurt.

Today's goal was to make a time line of Hopes life. The therapist started with her birth and her birth mother. Then each month of her life in Texas was represented by a large white dot. The AT and Hope counted out 30 days for each month in the beginning, they did this for every month. After a while, they just named the month as put the sticker down. There were so many of them! They used tan stars to represent the months Hope has lived with us. The 22 stars looked so overwhelmed.

Hope was willing to talk about her birth mother and how her birth mother and Baby Hope might have felt. She was willing to imagine why her birth mom might have had to give her. She created a whole story, complete with a detailed picture and spent a lot of time on it. When the AT started talking about the white dots that represented life in Texas, Hope shut down. Completely. The AT got her to come back a little to talk about life with us, but it was a struggle.

We spent the rest of the session doing attachment exercises. Hope enjoyed most of them. The only one she balked at was when see was asked to tell me one time she was mad. She couldn't meet my eyes. She kept saying she couldn't remember. She stopped talking. We waited quite awhile. Eventually, the AT just moved on to the rest of the exercises.

When the AT was done, Hope went to the other room. The AT said that we might not get to the actual trauma tomorrow, we might  spend the whole session fighting Hope to access it.

This afternoon we are practicing compliance and lots of jumping jacks. I guess that will also mean takedowns. My goal is not to get hurt.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Intensive Day Two

Today The Dad and I  spent from 9 am to  4:40 with the attachment therapist. She is really very good and even though her questions were very intrusive, I was not uncomfortable answering them. Every once in a while, she would go back to how difficult this was going to continue to be with Hope. She said Hope was very conflicted and the trauma work was going to be very painful. She said this multiple times. I personally think the AT is the one who is going to be surprised at how difficult it is, but it is necessary so I didn't need to talk about it much. I believe you do what you have to do.

We did an exercise based on "The Five Languages of Love" and I was proud of myself. I predicted the exact order The Dad would put them in and then had to laugh at myself- I had managed to turn it into a competition in my head. Since I kept it in my head, no harm was done. Finding out our core beliefs were compatible wasn't surprising, but was nice. We spent some time talking about making sure GB's needs don't get lost in the chaos. I think we decided we have to go back to the earlier evening schedule GB (and Hope) do best on, but we did not figure out exactly how we were going to make it happen.

We were back in the motel room before 5 and Hope immediately started pushing the limits. She spent over an hour raging, including trying to bite each of us, but since the AT told us to restrain her before someone gets hurt and because we were both there, the only injury I had was a little nick on my left hand. Hope fell asleep by 6:20 pm. GB is also stressed by watching Hope struggle and hearing Hope screech. She asked to turn the TV off before 7:30 and was asleep within minutes.

Tomorrow The Dad and I are going to watch (and give minimal assistance) to the AT and Hope as they make a time line of Hope's life and write Hope's story. I know this is preparation for the trauma work Friday and Monday. It will be interesting to see how it goes.

I heard back from the AT's in Chicago and it looks like it would cost around $10,000 to have two therapists fly to NY and do the intensive in our home. The information came a little late, but I have filed it away to consider at a future time.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Intensive Day One

We got into Philly late last night- much later than we planned. I immediately gave Hope her meds. I told both girls to get PJs on. Hope told me she was watching TV. I said it was to late- Pjs. Hope was off and attacking. I was caught by surprise and she did quite a bit of damage to the left side of my body before I had her safely restrained. I couldn't stop her from screeching  at the top of her lungs. Not good at 11 o'clock at night in a motel in an unfamiliar city. I was expecting police to knock on my door because it sounded like someone was killing her. When the Dad finally came in the room (5 minutes? 10 minutes? 30 minutes later?) I was in real pain and angry that again I had Hope by myself  when she went off and I hurt. I vented to my Trauma Mamas and had a hard time sleeping. I think both the pain and stress both contributed to my bad night. I ended up getting a little less than three hours of sleep.

We were right on time for our appointment this morning, despite Hope resisting. The first hour plus, Hope drew in the other room while the AT worked with us. I had a lot to say. I told her I was tired of being hurt and it could not happen anymore. She agreed with me. I told her if the Dad worked after the mornings session Hope would not comply and again she agreed with me. The Dad agreed to work after Hope was in bed for the night. Hope is now asleep and The Dad is working.

The AT explained what was going to happen the rest of the session. It was purely behavioral. The AT said she would teach Hope to do jumping jacks and toe touches "her" way. After she was sure Hope had mastered them, she would explain the new rules to Hope. The new rules were really only one rule- Hope has to ask The Dad or I for everything. Ask to sit down, ask to get up, ask for a drink, ask to put on shoes. If she forgets to ask, we tell her how many jumping jacks or toes touches we want. The rules are
  1. Stand at attention
  2. Ask for permission to start in a respectful voice
  3. Use proper form
  4. Count each one
  5. Maintain eye contact
Afterwards, we are to ask her why she had to do them. If she doesn't know, we just tell her.
If she tries to do what we ask, but misses a step, we are to tell her that was a good try but she missed something and ask her if she knows what she missed. She then has to start over again.

If at any point she refuses, or has attitude, she has to sloppy sit until she is ready to do it correctly. If she refuses to sit by herself, we have to help her. That is called a takedown (looks just like a restraint to me). She shows us by using her body when she is ready to comply by changing from a sloppy sit to strong sitting. When she does, we say "It looks like you are ready to do your jumping jacks" and give her another chance to do them. When they are (finally) done correctly, we smile and say good job and life moves on. Wash, rinse, repeat.

The AT said it was going to be a long hard battle with Hope and that she was a really difficult kid already. She said she knew this even before she had to do a takedown because from the very beginning, Hope had an internal battle that could be seen on her face as the AT was teaching her what was expected. Even when Hope complied, it was obviously costing her a great deal of energy to comply.

We went back to the hotel to practice. Hope hated every second of having to ask for everything and do jumping jacks when she "forgot", She had three major meltdowns this afternoon, each one worse than the previous one. She was asleep by 7:30.

Tomorrow is a full day session with just The Dad and I. We are already exhausted.

Monday, July 9, 2012


This is it. I have some new bruises from Hope last night, but today both girls are attending the first day of summer school. I have lists of people to call, things to pack, what we need to buy, and packing to do. 

I have some idea of what the next ten days will bring, but really I am clueless. We have never done an attachment intensive, so I am not sure how I am going to react, much less how The Dad and Hope will react.  My granddaughter is not happy The Dad is really going to make her go to Philly and babysit. She and MK put a lot of energy into convincing the Dad to just let GB stay here, with them, but alas it was for naught. GB is coming and so is she.

I plan to post the outline of what happens in the Intensive here and probably more about my reactions to it on the other blog. I know what we were doing wasn't working, so there is a lot riding on this.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Two- An Update on GB

Two more days until Hope's intensive. The more difficulties Hope has had, the more difficulties GB has. I have consciously been pouring energy into GB and The Dad and MK have intentionally done the same. It has been a struggle with Hope getting so violent against both GB and I, but I have repeatedly told GB the Intensive would help. Since she is a trusting child and the intensive is only two days away, it is becoming real and GB is starting to relax because I told her things would be better afterwards. I will work my butt off to make those statements true. Meantime, GB is sleeping well at night and happier during the daytime. We are sticking to medication, sleep and eating schedules closely because that is how GB does best. She asks for tapping and that has been helping, too.
There is a really good post here that I wish I had read before Hope came home. Some of it, like divide and conquer, I figured out myself. I made the mistake of a shared bedroom. It never occurred to me to assure GB she wasn't going to die. Live and learn.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Three days left until Hope's Intensive. The Dad left with everybody at 9 am this morning to go to Six Flags and I stayed home. Still resting and recovering, storing up energy for the Intensive. A very dear friend messaged The Dad and told him it was necessary. Hopefully it will help me through the next two weeks. I am not sure why he thinks Hope is up to Six Flags, especially without me, but I am hoping it works out and everybody has a nice time.

Tomorrow, I will post a GB update. Although she will be in Philly with us, by necessity, she won't really be involved in Hope's intensive.

Friday, July 6, 2012


Four days left until Hope's intensive. Yesterday was not good with Hope. The Dad did not want to put her in respite last night, so she is at work with him today. My body simply can't take getting beat up any more. At six, I don't think she understands what an intensive is, but she does understand that we will be seeing Miss Cheryl everyday we are in Pennsylvania and is terrified. I assured her both The Dad and I would be with her every minute. Her behavior is screaming out her terror. Please pray for us.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Five days until Hope's Intensive. So far, I have a pee saturated rug behind her door (a new behavior) and cut up all of GB's waitress pads (a Christmas gift and one of her current fixations). The Dad flew our 17 year old granddaughter in from Michigan to be with GB while are  busy with the intensive. GB loves the water and the hotel has a pool. As Hope escalates, I have been pouring attention into GB. Thankfully, GB is still fragile, but holding her own. 

I do not need any comments telling me how unfair adopting Hope  was to GB. I look at GB and that knowledge is imprinted on my brain everyday.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Six more days. Six more days until Hope's intensive. I can do anything for six days.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Asking Nicely Worked

I received an email from the Special Ed Director last night in response to the email I sent her last week. It said both girls are welcomed to attend summer school. She asked that I let the bus company and teachers know what days they will  be missing. Another checked of my list. Getting ready for Hope's Intensive has a long lists of to-do's and I got to cross one off!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Experience in Normal

Yesterday, we went to The Zoom Flume, a local water park. Hope melted down for the time it took to get ready, but I just walked around her. We brought sunscreen, towels, sandwiches, juice boxes, water and snacks. I sat in the back with Hope, helping her hold it together during the car ride. Fortunately, it was only a forty minute ride.

We arrived at the park early enough to get a picnic table in the sun. There was one adult per child, so theoretically, everybody had constant supervision. Hope loved the tube rides and could play endlessly in any one of the three kiddie sections. GB enjoyed the largest kiddie pool and spent a lot of time under the fake water falls. Her favorite, though, was a large wave pool. GB is a strong swimmer and was not intimidated in the least by the four feet high waves.

We took regular breaks for drinks, food, and reapplying sun block. We spent time together as a group and let each child have time to do exactly what they wanted to.  At four o'clock we went to the concession stand and each child picked out an ice cream treat. On the ride home, each child talked about what they liked best.

When we got home, the girls were fried. GB was whinny and clingy. Hope had a major rage and threw the scale at (and hit) The Dad. Both of them were asleep by eight.

I know the all day trip was the direct cause of a miserable evening. That is OK. For a couple of hours, the girls had the experience of a normal family treat.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Long Days

Having a child who needs line of sight, within hearing range, and sometimes within reach, 24/7 is tiring. It is not only tiring for me, it is tiring for her. The activity in the house moves from place to place with The Dad, with MK and she is stuck behind with me. She is always bored, crying and pouting that there is nothing to do. Her attention span is four or five minutes at best, unless she is in the pool, where she can last twenty to twenty-five minutes. We are working on a boredom jar, which is just a decorated container filled with things to do that take approximately fifteen to thirty minutes each. Some are fun, like painting, some are ok, like building with one of the five types of blocks we have, some are physical, like jumping on the trampoline for ten minutes and some are work, such as emptying the dishwasher or doing a sheet of math. When we have it finished, I will have the answer to the statement "There is nothing to do".

Friday, June 29, 2012


Since Hope's Attachment Therapy Intensive is scheduled for the day after summer school starts, the school district does not want to pay for either girl to go. I understand their position. The girls would miss 8 days out of a 30 day day program. It doesn't even bother me if GB doesn't go, because I had hesitated to sign her up. A relaxed summer, with Hope in summer school may be just what she needs. I want Hope to go, not only because that is key to a relaxed summer for GB, but because after going through the kindergarten program twice, with one on one academics, Hope still is not sure of all her sounds. I am trying an approach with the school that I haven't tried for years... I simply asked for what I wanted, nicely, with no threat, implied or otherwise. I am interested in seeing how it works out.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Big Carrot

It is 90 degrees out and only noon. Hope is looking for a fight, but I am refusing the bait. I am so tired of therapeutic panties. She has had to sit numerous times already today, but has done so without going off. Why? The combination of a really hot day and a swimming pool in the back yard. Hope really doesn't want to lose swimming this afternoon. I am not too proud to use what works!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The System Sucks

Earlier, I wrote about the blessings of seeing the results of some of the seeds we planted.  It was a blessing in and of its self. I was so proud of Jimmy and how well he has done. His children are beautiful. Sunday was pure joy. 

I have continued talking to Jimmy and his family. The everyday conversations we have had over the past three days reminded me of one irrefutable truth. Kids that age out of our foster care system never have it easy. Jimmy spoke of working hard, but never having benefits. His wife has spoken of the frustrations of trying to keep her kids healthy with only medicaid, which greatly limits your choice of treatment providers. The seventeen year old spoke about being considered white trash in some of the schools she has attended. the eleven year old boy only wants to now what his dad was like when he was a child.

I know Jimmy made life harder than it had to be by choosing to dissolve the adoption. But the anger he felt at being removed from the Dad he loved was real. The anger and hurt he felt when his mother kept his siblings and refused to work with the county to get custody of him was real. I understand it. Life is not fair. The pain never completely leaves. The System sucks.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Doing the Happy Dance !

We are doing the Happy Dance! Our Attachment Intensive is scheduled for July 10th  through July 19. I am hopeful, grateful, and overwhelmed with joy. Sometimes life is so good!

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Seed We Planted...

Jimmy, 27 years later

My newest grandaughter- who came looking for me.

Thirty plus years ago we had three boys. You know about J. He was an infant. Robbie came as an adoptive placement at eight. When he hit puberty at 12 he started hallucinating. The only way we could get treatment for him was by dissolving the adoption. It wasn't what we wanted, it wasn't what he wanted but there were no other options. The third boy was Jimmy. He came to us as a foster child when he was 10. The county wouldn't let him go back to his dad. His mother was the permanency plan. When she made only one of her scheduled weekly visits in six months time, that plan was scrapped. We eventually adopted him. When Robbie was placed in an RTC, the anger boiled over in Jimmy. He hated me, he hated The Dad, he hated rules, he hated chores. After six months in a treatment group home, Jimmy was still adamant that he did not want to be adopted any more. After four years as a foster then adoptive placement, we dissolved the adoption. It was painful. I was young and reasonably clueless. That was almost 27 years ago.

Wednesday, I received a FB message from a 17 year old girl asking if I had an adopted son named James. Thursday was Hope's big meltdown. I didn't look at the message until Friday. I answered that I had an adopted son named James a long time ago, but he had chosen to end the relationship. Saturday afternoon, we exchanged more information and it was apparent she was talking about my Jimmy. She then told me that Jimmy was her father and she was kinda my granddaughter.

Saturday night, Jimmy started a chat on FB that lasted over an hour. He left here angry, but was now able to place the anger at the county for taking him away from his Dad and his mother who abandoned him. Sunday morning after breakfast and showers, I opened FB and Jimmy was there waiting. He lives about an hour and a half from us. This afternoon, he brought his wife and his three kids to meet us. His two youngest did well with our girls and his oldest daughter stayed right by me. It was amazing the details Jimmy remembered. The Dad got out two huge picture albums and the two of them went through them picture by picture. The visit lasted six hours and there were no strained moments.

Jimmy had grown into a man that I liked and enjoyed. He has been married 19 years and is a good father. Sometimes, you get to see the flower that came from the seed you planted... even if it is 27 years later.

Friday, June 22, 2012

This Is My Life

Hope did not want to eat lunch before swimming yesterday. She threw her sandwich across the table, I said, "no swimming this afternoon" and we were off and running. Hope spent last night in respite and I emailed the attachment therapist to see how fast we could schedule our intensive.

GB and I took advantage of Hope's absence. We went shopping, swimming, and then grilled. We tapped and she went to sleep last night in less than 5 minutes. She climbed into my bed this morning and we took advantage of our unscheduled time to cuddle.

I am still getting anonymous critics on my last couple of posts, but they aren't particularly interesting  so I am just leaving them there. Our time with the Attachment Therapist convinced me that adopting Hope wasn't a mistake. The waiver people are giving me plenty of one on one time with GB. There is no way that disrupting Hope is in her best interests. Or for GB's for that matter. Adoption is forever. Hope may need an RTF, but we are still her family. Even children who can't function in their family's home, deserve to have that family. 

I am excited to begin our journey with Attachment Therapy. I hope it is soon.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

An Attachment Intensive.

There were a couple of questions after my last post and I would like to try and answer them.

The first question was what is an intensive? This is an obvious question that should have been part of my last post. Sometimes I forget that not everybody who reads my stuff lives and breathes adoption, attachment, and RAD.

When speaking about Attachment Therapy, an intensive is a method of delivering that therapy. Therapy happens, with the child and parents, on consecutive days. After each days session, the parents are given specific exercises to practice with the child for the rest of the day. Therapy continues the next day. An initial intensive usually runs about 10 days.

The advantages of an intensive is that the parents and child are immersed in the therapy and unlike weekly or biweekly attachment therapy, sessions where not everything "takes" can be corrected the next day. Also, since one day's session is directly followed by the next day's session, the material is fresh for everyone, including the child.

All though every Attachment Therapist varies slightly in method, the goals are similar. They promote the connection between the parent(s) and child, help set up a healthy relationship where the child depends on the parent for what they need, addresses the trauma issues the child has, and gives the parents the tools they need to continue working on the child's attachment. 

In our initial appointment, the Attachment Therapist worked on eye contact, compliance, and trust between us and Hope. Eye contact is very important. Children with RAD avoid all eye contact unless they are using it to get something. The Attachment Therapist required eye contact every time Hope spoke. 

The Dad and I spent 15 minutes discussing what would happen during our intensive and listening to the Attachment Therapist's assessment on where Hope stood. We were doing better than we thought, but have a long way to go.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Attachment From My View Point

Hope and I survived the weekend. The psychiatrist Monday cancelled, but we got in touch by email and decided that all the clonidine was doing was making Hope tired, so we stopped the morning and afternoon doses.

I was a little surprised at the responses to my two last posts. I hadn't realized or  even considered how many people feel entitled to judge my lives' work.

Monday, after meeting with the waiver worker, we drove down to Philadelphia and had the pleasure of spending the evening with friends. On Tuesday, we spent most of the day with the Attachment Therapist. The Dad and I took the first two hours and then my friend brought Hope to join us.

It was a long and tiring afternoon. These are the things I took with me when we left.
  • Hope experienced a lot of trauma, most of it when she was pre-verbal.

  • She is on the severe end of the Reactive Attachment Disorder spectrum.

  • There are small chinks in her armor that the Attachment Therapist thinks she can work with.

  • Hope had much more difficulty maintaining eye contact with the Dad. She really struggled.

  • Hope found it easier to maintain eye contact with me.

  • The Attachment Therapist was pleased with what we have done so far.

  • She thinks she will need 6 or 7 days for Hope's intensive instead of the usual 10.
 Now we have to match schedules.

Hope held it together  for most of the session. Of course, once Hope was in the car to go home, she fell apart and raged. We weren't surprised.

Attachment is so fundamental, I hope we can schedule Hope's intensive quickly. The Attachment Therapist believes that after Hope does the work of the intensive, all the other services she receives will  be much more effective.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Dear Troll Annie

Dear Troll Annie, 

All of my children had birth parents who couldn't or didn't want to care for them or never knew of their existence. Hope was adopted by somebody else who couldn't/wouldn't deal with her severe mental illness. My kids had been screwed long before they were mine. My oldest RAD (26) also has FASD. We may not meet your standards, but we meet our commitment. 20,000 to 30,000 teenagers age out of foster care every year, with no family to fall back on.  The last thing society needs is more kids aging out of foster care with no support. My children are not neuro-typical. Fortunately, they  have someone who makes sure they get the services they need as adults.They have love, treatment, and a family that doesn't disappear on their eighteenth birthday. 

That may not seem like much to you, but compared to the children never adopted, they have it all.

To those you have shown so much kindness and caring; Hope has been on edge but so far we have managed to keep things contained.  Hope enjoyed her picnic at school today. GB loved her end of the year gymnastics and Hope held it together for the whole 40 minutes. A success for today.

GB's Mom

Friday, June 15, 2012

Trauma Sucks

Hope wigged out last night. As directed by waiver worker, we called 911 and the crises person . Crisis person is 2+ hours away, a policemen and 2 EMTs show up. Hope stops throwing furniture and starts screaming in terror. Joe went to the hospital with her in the ambulance. I  spent 30 minutes tapping GB back to this planet.  My oldest RAD (26) took the opportunity to tell me I should be happy because this is what I have been waiting for. 
Trauma sucks. RAD sucks. I can't sleep.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Our Temporary Typical

Hope seems as stable as she is going to get. She hit the Dad and he slapped the hand that hit. He said to her "You hit me, I hit you. I hit harder." She hasn't pulled that %$@# with him again. Not very therapeutic, but it worked. She still hits me, but I walk away. I am not getting into any more wrestling matches. Hope is not allowed in the same room as GB. We will revisit that rule after the attachment therapist on Tuesday. Meanwhile GB and I are Tapping away.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Services for Hope have finally kicked in. The crisis people are here within fifteen minutes. Her case manger is here for two hours on Mondays. She has an hourly respite/skill builder that starts Wednesday. Over night respite as needed. We have an appointment with an attachment therapist on the 19th from 12:30-5:30 and after that we will hopefully be able to do an intensive in the beginning of July.

There is a change in Hope. The threat of 911 has contained the violence. She gets in my face, makes animal noises as she pretends to claw me, and punches anything close to me. She argues about everything and escalates to screaming and crying when she can't get anybody to engage. This alternates with RAD "I am so cute" ness. I think we have a good chance at maintaining until we see the attachment therapist.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Circle Game

Hope came home from respite yesterday afternoon. She is still physical, defiant, and has added running down the block to her repertoire. The crisis worker told Hope the next unsafe thing she does, it is 911. I know it is not the first time Hope has heard this. I fed her and put her to bed with the alarm on. Rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat ad nausam. Another meeting this afternoon.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


Quiet evening, a good nights sleep. I am feeling better. Meeting with waiver worker Monday. Maybe we will come up with a plan for Hope. Hope is at respite, at least for today, maybe tomorrow. Even with everyone else home, the house seems so quiet.

Friday, June 8, 2012


Hope had three violent tantrums yesterday. The Dad  was the focus of all three. GB came home with a blank worksheet, stamped sign and return. She wasn't sure what  she was suppose to do with it. After ten minutes, she was completely dysregulated. I sent an email to Mr.Teacher that said WTF, only in a politically correct manor. I am so ready for the school year to be done. I am seriously considering home schooling GB next year.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

  • The crisis intervention people were here within 15 minutes
  • We have eight hours of respite monthly, to use as we want
  •  We have eight hours of skill building a month from the same person
  • We meet the worker Monday

  •  Even without homework yesterday, Hope couldn't hold it together
  • She raged over an eight minute time out for refusing to help GB clean up after painting
  • Hope  slugged GB and then went after me
  • The whole incident lasted almost three hours
  • Hope bit me  me again
  • Even with the crises counselors help, Hope was unable to process anything
  • The crisis counselor is added to the list of people that think she needs to be hospitalized.
She is only six, but we are running out of time.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Drawing Lines

  Hope woke up this morning snarly. The Dad helped her pick out clothes just before he left. Unfortunately, when Hope put on the skirt, it was much too short.    When I told Hope she had to change it, she slapped me. I took her down on the bed and did my best to keep from getting hurt. She was trying to claw and headbutt me and had some success. When she bared her teeth to bite, I reminded her I would call the police and the police would take her to the hospital. She closed her mouth and went back to clawing and kicking. Twice more she bared her teeth and each time, I reminded her what would happen the next time she bit. After a while, I told her she could call The Dad when she calmed down. The tantrum stopped immediately.       

I realize this was only the morning. I count it a victory that Hope chose not to cross that line.                                                                     

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


We went to see the psychiatrist Monday. I put GB on the bus for field day, so that we would have a whole hour to focus on Hope. The social worker from waiver  was late. The psychiatrist was not happy. She said that deliberate aggression was different then rages. It was a personality trait and doesn't respond to medication. The social worker from waiver wanted more time to implement services.  The psychiatrist agreed  and added more clonodine to Hope's day. It went from 1 X to 3x a day. She warned medication does not work on non raging aggression and she doesn't have much hope it is going to help. Both the Psychiatrist and the Social Worker made it clear to Hope that she could not continue to bite.

I asked Hope to leave the room and then asked the psychiatrist what she has seen in the last eighteen months she was been treating her. She didn't want to answer, but I pushed. Her answer was the Hope was severely mentally ill with Reactive Attachment Disorder. She also said she saw no signs of Hope attaching up to this point. She advised us to get an attachment therapist. I am on six waiting lists now and touch base with each attachment therapist at least once a week. I may have to look into a two week intensive because we are running out of time. The pyschiatrist said if the clonidine doesn't stop the aggression, and she had little hope that it would, the hospital is necessary. We go back in two weeks ( The Dad's birthday) to make a decision.

Friday, June 1, 2012

This and That

I am not really coherent today, so this is a stream of passing thoughts post.
  • 28 1892 windows were replaced in my old farm house this week.
  • They are also suppose to make a new entrance way.
  • My Maine Coon Cats were groomed today. I love their tails.
  • I am on a waiting list for a blue Maine Coon Cat kitten.
  • GB are spending the afternoon and evening together all by ourselves.
  • The nice weather is gone. It is going to rain this afternoon.
  • I love caller ID. GB's BM called and I didn't answer.
  • Hope had another tantrum fit last night, but Joe was home and he dealt with it.
  • I replaced my broken kindle. I am going to get to read this weekend.
  • I am really looking forward to a weekend without bruises.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Brief Update

Last night was really tough here.
Hope will be in respite from after school tomorrow until Sunday afternoon, then the SPOA worker is going with Hope, Joe and I to the psychiatrists Monday morning.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Warning: Politically Incorrect

Open adoptions are not always best. I know my oldest adopted daughter, now 26, has questions she would like answered. She deserves answers and I wish I could  give them to her.  GB, on the other hand, knows far more about her biological mother then she is capable of understanding. Her BM is in Lalaland and GB does not need any more stress in her life.

On Sunday, GB wanted to go to a Bar-B-Q with her bio grandparents at her aunt's house. GB and I spent a lot of time talking about the fact her birth mother would be there and her bio half-brother. Her Grandmother assured us that she would have no unsupervised contact. GB had a great time with her aunt and cousins and her grandmother kept her promise. GB was able to tell her BM she was there to see here aunt and was not speaking to her. She came home happy and relaxed, pleased with all the people she had seen, talked to and played with. She mentioned her BM tried to talk to her by herself, but Grandma hadn't let that happen.

The next day the phone calls started. People calling to ask me why there was a video of GB dancing on BM's page, captioned my baby dancing. All GB's biological family live within ten miles of us. I am afraid of strangers coming up to my daughter and saying things like "Aren't you BM's daughter?" GB needs her physical and her psychological space. She does not do well with strangers' lack of boundaries.

I may not be politically correct, but when BM walked out on my granddaughter without looking back, she forfeited the right to have her feelings influence any decisions about what is in GB's best interest. Her parental rights were terminated because of abandonment. BM went over three years without calling or seeing GB. For eight months of those three years she was in a homeless shelter less than a half mile from us.

I  told her to take down the video. She refused. I reported it to FB. They said they would take it down. GB will have no more contact with her BM until it is in GB's best interest. I do not know when that might be, but I suspect it will not be any time soon. This adoption is officially closed.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Change What You Can

Days four and five of Memorial Weekend went much better then the first three days of our seven day weekend. Hope didn't change. Hope actually peed her pants three days in a row. GB's tolerance was so low, she spent Sunday afternoon at her biograndparents. She did come home looking more relaxed and like herself.

The change was that Kristine and her family came to spend two days with us because my week sucked. The kids stayed at home, swimming, jumping on the trampoline, climbing the fort, swinging on the swings, painting giant art on the drive way and giving each other colorful tattoos. There were blow ups, rages, and a lot more whine then wine. But we enjoyed our wine and each others company and that alone gave me strength to try again. Thanks Kris!

I hope you all had a good weekend, too!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Atypical Atypical

Lots of parents have multiple special needs kids. All of mine have had special needs, the usual alphabet soup. GB is FASD, with an IQ 2 standard deviations below average. She is also Bipolar I with psychotic features. We added the diagnosis of Autistic 18 months. I don't actually think she is autistic. I think there is a lot of overlap between FASD and Autism and that the evaluators preferred to see Autism. There is more funding, at least in New York, for Autism then there for FASD. The NY educational system doesn't have a clue what to do with FASD students, so having the Autism label gets us the right services, and we build her goals around her needs. 

GB should have the most intensive needs of all my children. When she did, and we managed her world around her needs, she did well. She was doing so well, we thought we could add Hope. I knew it would be a rough adjustment. In the beginning, Hope was as difficult as I expected. Now, 21 months later, she is more difficult. After she is home from school, Hope tantrums at least 4  days a week. GB fends for herself, using the coping mechanisms she has been taught. I do not know how to meet Hope's needs at this point, but I know exactly what GB needs. I just don't have time to meet them. I am too busy trying to contain Hope. This morning I am tapping myself to Lisa's Trauma Mama Text.

The shrink said yesterday that when Hope is hospitalized, the extreme stress on GB will go away and she will go back to being my normal GB. I doubt it is that easy and I would prefer not to hospitalize Hope at this point. So, back to surviving day 3.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Round and Round and Straight Down.

Hope followed yesterday's schedule until 4 o'clock, when GB's worker showed up. Hope proceeded to kick me out of no where. By the time I had her wrestled down and safe I was already beat up. This morning I was ready. Hope grabbed my leg and tried to pull me to the floor and I instantly had her pinned. The social worker called the shrink. I already know the shrink was her hospitalized. I just want to survive the weekend. I am so tired of being beat up. It does not bode well that she is not hurting me will she rages anymore, she is consciously choosing to hurt me. This day two of seven.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

First Day od Our Seven Day Memorial Weekend

I don not remember having a full week off for Memorial Day when I was  a kid. Back then, Memorial Day didn't even have to be on a Monday. Our school district is the only one I know of that has given seven days of unstructured time to children that struggle through a weekend. I am trying to counter this by scheduling each day. Today:

  • Medicine, morning, routine, breakfast
  • a have hour of TV while Hope's medicine kicks in
  • Chores: make beds, empty dishwasher (GB), make sure all dirty socks are in downstairs hamper (Hope)
  • Friend bringing her sons over to put used Little Tykes tunnel set together.
  • Yogurt parfaits are the snack today
  • pizza and juice for lunch
  • Hope and T play in yard
  • GB and J are doing crafts
  • Fruit for afternoon snack
  • Boys and friend home
  • Half an hour quiet  play
  • GB's DDSO worker visits
  • GB is cook helper, Hope sets table
  • medicine, baths, hair, teeth
  • a game of sticks and stones
  • Tapping and bed for Hope
  • GB reading
  • Tapping and bed for GB
Will it work? I have no  idea.  At least it is a starting point and gives us a frame work to use.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

EFT: Emotional Freedom Technique: Tapping

EFT is the acronym for Emotional Freedom Technique, commonly refereed to as Tapping. It is based on the Chinese acupressure points. It is possible to lead the child in tapping, with you tapping each point on your self and saying the script out loud and the child following your lead and repeating the script. If your child can't or won't do that, you can tap on them directly, speaking the script as you go. There are many scripts you can find online, with videos to follow. If you stick with it, your child will memorize scripts and be able to use them at the appropriate times.

The illustration above shows the acupressure points used. I always start with the forehead, work my way downwards, then end with the crown of the head. 

This link to Lisa's Life in the Grateful House where I started. She has such a good post as to why you should tap, that I will let you read it there. I am using tapping on myself, particularly after Hope has used up my last ounce of energy. I use it with GB to reinforce the self-talk she already has been taught as a technique to use when she is overwhelmed. For Hope, I am using a script Lisa and her daughter made up just for Hope. There are also  RAD scripts on Lisa's blog to get you started.

It has only been a couple of weeks that we have been tapping, but both girls request it. GB has actually requested that I tap with her when she has recognized she is getting dysregulated. 

Tapping isn't a cure for our kids, but it is another tool to use on our journey of parenting special needs children.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggetty Jig

We arrived safely last night around 11pm. It was a good feeling, especially after wandering aimlessly being side tracked in NJ and DC.

My niece's graduation was as unique as she is. She concentrated on her accomplishments in soccer, Tae Kwon Do ( third degree black belt), the importance of family and her faith. She didn't mention her GPA of 3.98 or being a member of the national honor society. Our Christmas pajamas made her slide show.

Hope made  the week interesting, but doable. She raged in the middle of my nieces party, but we were prepared. We took her to an upstairs bed room, closed the door and windows, and waited her out. I missed about 45 minutes of the party and The Dad missed almost two hours. GB's cousin, Kayla, was there and GB had a blast.

We are making small, but significant progress utilizing tapping (EFT). Tomorrow, I will briefly describe what tapping looks like when we use it and add the links that were most helpful to me. The best thing about it is you and your child don't have to believe it works. As long as it is done in a controlled soothing voice, your belief or disbelief doesn't affect the outcome.

Friday, May 18, 2012


After an awful start to her day yesterday morning, Hope was stuck within arms length of me for the rest of the day. She did not get to go shopping, she did not get to go to the movies. She missed a soccer game and Tae Kwon Do. What she did get is a lot of my undivided attention. She colored. We baked brownies. We reviewed her safety contract. We talked about hospitals. We talked about respite. Hope asked me to tap with her. Not only wasn't she fighting it, she asked for it. I was happy to oblige. Later, as I was putting her to bed, she asked me if I tapped with GB every night before bed. I said that I did. She asked me if I could tap with her before she went to bed. I did.

When she woke up this morning, she had another awful start. But yesterday, yesterday was progress!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

It Can Be Hard...

Hope had a full blown rage last night. The Dad was not here. It lasted 2 1/2 hours. This morning I woke up to Hope raging with The Dad. In the process, Hope punched GB. GB defended herself. I took GB down stairs and left The Dad with Hope. It was a nice two hours. GB and I had a chance to tap. The Dad is working for the next three hours. Having Hope within arms length crimps my visiting with  my sister. Hope seems to be unable or unwilling to hold it together. The Dad is taking GB out after he is done with his calls. I am blessed with Hope's company for the day. May be I can successfully tap with her during her involuntary time with me.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Safely in North Carolina

We have all arrived safely in North Carolina. Hope had a major rage when we stopped for dinner last night. She has only had one short (25 minute) rage today. Today she was set off by the word "no", which is almost always a trigger for her. Last night, she was sleeping when we stopped for dinner and woke up raging. The shrink and the waiver worker are saying she will be hospitalized if we can't stop the raging. The Dad is resistant to outside the home respite and to PRN meds. It doesn't sound like he is going to have much of a choice. The whole situation is depressing.

At least I get to spend 3 days with my sister and niece. They are a lot alike!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Mixed Bag

  • The girls enjoyed planting wave petunias in GB's garden. Hope asked for a garden of her own.
  • GB's  anxiety level is at an all time high. I started Tapping with her last week and now she wants it every night. She says she sleeps better.
  • Hope hasn't bitten me in two whole days. Her psychiatrist said I had to go for a tetanus booster and told me  that the prognosis for Hope was pretty grim.
  • I called the waiver worker yesterday morning and she spent an hour and a half telling Hope that physical attacks had to stop. The worker is meeting with the school tomorrow, as it is required by one of her forms.
  • We are driving to Raleigh, North Carolina, for my niece's graduation tonight.
  • GB's teacher said she has been resistant for the last couple of weeks. I made an appointment for next week so that GB, the teacher, and I can meet. I am not sure exactly what "resistant" means.
  • Hope is up to 15 mg daily of Abilify. That is a lot for a 60# six year old.
  • I have to call my doctor this morning to get an appointment for my tetanus booster and to make sure I have enough Valium to knock me out for the car ride. The Dad did not want to put Hope in respite while we were in North Carolina.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day-The Reality

Mother's Day, as it exists now, in this country, is a commercial success for Hallmark. It wasn't always that way. During the 1600's, the early Christians in England celebrated a day to honor Mary, the mother of Christ. By a religious order the holiday was later expanded in its scope to include all mothers, and named as the Mothering Sunday. Celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Lent (the 40 day period leading up to Easter), "Mothering Day" was celebrated honoring all mothers of England. Since many of  England's poor worked as servants for the wealthy,  jobs were located far from their homes and the servants would live at the houses of their employers. On Mothering Sunday, the servants would have the day off and were encouraged to return home and spend the day with their mothers.

In 1914, President Woodrow adopted a resolution that the second Sunday in May was to be set aside to honor mother's. It took less then nine years for Americans to commercialize Mother's Day.

In our family, Mother's Day always involves a mix of emotions. The little ones plan and plot surprises. I still struggle with the loss of my mom, even though four years have gone by. The Dad's Mom has Alzheimer's and doesn't remember anything. GB has been angry at her Birth Mother for several years now and does not, even in her own mind, consider BM as Mom. Hope gets angry, I think, because in her mind, she doesn't have a mom. MK is proud to be a mom, but has never resolved her feelings about her birth mother, prenatal alcohol damage, and being given up. I am her Mom, but in her mind, the worst mom in the world. J always finds Mother's Day a source of guilt- for expectations he had for himself and didn't meet.

With all these emotions swirling around, Mother's Day is tiring, sometime exhausting. I try to take several minutes to myself to be grateful for the mother I had for 50 years, for the birth mothers of my children who chose life when they didn't have to, for the children God gave me to love and end with a prayer that my children will find peace with who they are. Then I join in whatever celebration my children decide they want this year. And maybe, we get a little closer to acceptance.