Thursday, March 29, 2012

There Is No Cavalry

Hope had another rage last night, and The Dad was home and was the lucky ragee. The social worker from ICM called this morning and said that Hope's needs were too severe for her program. Her supervisor wants us to meet with the teacher, school therapist, outside therapist and ICM worker. Of course, it won't be until after Easter break. After/if we do that, she wants to refer us to a 4-6 week program that DSS runs. It is not the program that the worker feels Hope would benefit from. The worker said maybe we can get referred to the program that would meet Hope's needs from the 4-6 week program. We have had Hope 19 months now and I have less than no interest in getting involved with DSS. The program currently not giving Hope services is run by the Mental Health Association. The program she needs is run by MHA. I am too old to jump through hoops just because that is the way it is done.

To answer some questions from the last post:

Hope is disassociating, but that does not necessarily mean she has Dissociative Identity Disorder. There are four dissociative disorders and I am not sure they can differentiate between them at Hope's age. They are not sure she doesn't have DID either.

Nobody has ever been prosecuted for what happened to Hope. The abuse was preverbal, which means Hope has no words for what happened. The first adoptive family has not been cooperative.

An RTC is a residential treatment center for children with behavioral problems. It is in the same branch of services that foster homes and group homes are in. The state has custody of your child.

An RTF is a residential treatment facility for children with severe psychiatric illnesses. The level of treatment is more intense, there are fewer beds, and it is much more expensive. It has nothing to do with DSS and you keep custody of your child. It is administered by the same people that oversee MHA.

It is hard and it is exhausting living with a young child with severe RAD and probably other major mental illnesses. I appreciate all the support I get from my readers. Thank you.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Therapy Tuesday with a Twist

Yesterday was Therapy Tuesday. I received an email from Ms. VY Teacher detailing a complex lie Hope was caught in and the lies she told to get out of the first lie. Hope was not happy... she had told me she had a good day.

We fed them and went to therapy. The Dad dropped the girls and I off and went to get more coffee. As soon as we walked in the therapist's waiting room, Hope realized she for got her pencil. I told her she could get it when The Dad came back. That started her rage. As she was trying to kick and punch me and I was trying to get her in a therapeutic hold, GB became agitated and tried to defend me. While I was keeping GB from hurting Hope and getting her in her own space, Hope took advantage of the opportunity to head butt me.

I took her down to the floor, which was hard linoleum and dirty, and she started pounding her face into the floor. She ended up with a bruised face and a bloody lip.

In the middle of this, Hope's social worker from ICM walked in. She was there to work with the therapist and me on a safety plan. The therapist told the social worker that Hope dissociates regularly, with no warning. She said that Hope was severely sexually and physically abused. She also said Hope did not need an RTC, she needed an RTF. 

The social worker's response was that she thinks Hope requires a higher level of care than she can supply and she is going to speak to her supervisor about transferring Hope's case.

I am bruised and battered and doubt the cavalry even exists.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

GB and Me

GB and I spent the evening together. We shopped and she bought sandals and a watch out of her birthday money. We went to Ruby Tuesday*s and she had a salad bar (no lettuce) and ribs... no children's menu for my nine year old! Dessert was at our local ice cream masters, The Jolly Cow. We came home and conditioned her hair and were cuddling in bed when Hope and The Dad came home from their date. GB was asleep by 7:30, worn out from three exciting days in a row.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Building Memories!

Hope IN the circus!

Yesterday we went to the Ringling Brothers Circus. We had first row seats and were circus celebrities! We all went out on the floor when the acrobats were performing. All three kids sat with wide eyes through out the show! GB couldn't handle performing, but it was right up Hope's alley. None of them had been to a circus before. GB loved the acrobats, Hope loved  the trapeze artists and Mali couldn't get enough of the motorcycle trick riders. The performers talked to the kids and nothing sidetracked them from the show.

It was a long day though, and by the time we got home, all three of them had lost it. During the show, they were all present and engaged. It was worth it!
Cotton Candy

It was a dragon circus!

Great seats!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Hope's CSE: Surrealistic

Hope CSE followed directly after GB's. Ms. VY Teacher started by saying, "She is SNEAKY! We now see every behavior her parents have  told us about. The World's Longest Honeymoon is over".

I don't really remember much else, but I would like to share a few of this years IEP goals with you:

Hope will reduce in class avoidance behaviors, such as unnecessary pencil sharpening, daydreaming, doodling, walking around, from 15 to 5 times a day.

Hope will reduce lying behaviors from 6 to 1 times per day.

Hope will reduce stealing behaviors from 5 to 1 times a day.

I have never seen IEP goals like these before. Academically, she is still reading on a kindergarten level. Her math skill are slightly higher.

In thirty years of fostering and adopting ED teenagers, I have never seen an IEP that resembles this one.

At the end of the meeting, Mrs. Director of Special Education suggested that we meet again in September to update  "Miss Sticky Fingers IEP". Her words, not mine.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

GB's CSE: Bittersweet

We went to GB's Annual Review. I noticed the school psychologist wasn't there. Since this was GB's Triennial year and I knew she had been tested, I wanted him present. The secretary went off to find him. He came in a few minutes later, with only a WISC III score sheet, and was clearly uncomfortable.

Mr. Teacher started the meeting, by saying GB was a wonderful kid, hard working, well behaved, and fun to have around. She is the youngest in his class and the only third grader. She is working on fourth grade math. Her writing skills are at least two years behind, but she has made great progress in the last three months.

Mrs. Reading Specialist said GB has progressed beautifully and is currently reading on grade level. She provided documentation, which had much detail and actual scores. GB's current DRA  level is 34.

OT said GB scores went up in every category except sensitivity. This was not a surprise. The latest medication has left her more fragile than the Invega or risperdal did. OT will focus on sensory needs for the next year.

ST was pleased with the results she saw after adding a third speech session to GB's week.  She recommended staying at that level of services.

SW is working on personal interaction skills, twice a week, and also recommended staying at current level of services. 

GB will also continue with adaptive gym, social skills class, and "Therapeutic Stretching " (which is really a combination of Tai Chi and Yoga).

Then came the school psychologist. He made several false starts and finally said "My findings are inconsistent with the testing from 2008". I laughed out loud. I told him that in 2008 the school psychologist from her old school came up with an IQ of 100 and subtest scores of 10 across the board. I said back then I didn't know who the psychologist was testing, but it wasn't my kid. GB has always had great strengths and glaring weaknesses. The school psychologist was obviously relieved. He said he didn't know how to tell a parent that their child's IQ had dropped 30 points.

I had known GB's IQ wasn't a 100. I had known that she was developmentally delayed. Still, when I heard that her current IQ was 71, my stomach did flip flops. I was functioning enough to make sure the new IQ was put on the new IEP and a copy was faxed to medicaid, but I still had to wall it off so I could continue to function.

GB joined us briefly at the end of the meeting and everybody got a big smile and I got a hug. It is amazing how hard she works and how happy she is. I remind myself everyday that GB is a gift from God. I am blessed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

And The Cavalry Is A Comming!

A lot has happened in the last three days. We had two CSE meetings, Therapy Tuesday, new sensory activities, and made a couple of decisions. None of that makes the radar screen today. I am sure it will later in the week. So, the news that is the center of my life right now?

The cavalry is coming! The Dad and I met with the intake worker for the ICM (intensive case management) program for two hours. It is run by the Mental Health Association. We got the consent signing out of the way quickly, and started talking about Hope. We needed to go into her history in excruciating detail. I found that painful to do... the child comes from such a difficult place.

Next we had to list all of Hope's needs, and prioritize them. We ended up with anger management, impulsiveness, sexual acting out, and physical aggression. We then listed our needs. We need an in-home tutor so that we are out of the daily homework battle. Weekend respite. A number to call to bring in reinforcements when the Raging starts. Time for GB. Most importantly, an agency who has our back when we get turned into CPS, which is inevitable. 

I feel hope and confidence that raising Hope is possible.

Yay for the cavalry!

Monday, March 19, 2012


Everybody came home and Hope immediately lost everything we had gained. Both girls saw the psychiatrist this morning. She was thrilled with how GB is doing and unsurprised at Hope's current functioning. She also said that intensive case management was the first step to RTC and we had to start making a paper trail. Such discouraging news. I am hoping the intensive case management will help, if only by getting The Dad and I on the same page.

Both girls have CSE meetings this afternoon. Have to finish my prep.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Mid-Day Report

It has been a whole day of just Hope and I. Nobody to triangulate, no play options but me. We started cleaning the play kitchen after breakfast and found all the dishes and pots had been smeared with Vasoline. I gave myself a 15 minute time out and a cup of tea and then the two of us carried them to the real kitchen to clean up.

We have read books, cuddled, colored, emptied the dish washer and tried to hoop. Hope is practicing listening the first time, with swimming tomorrow dangling as the reward. 

It is much easier to live with Hope when it is just the two of us!

Friday, March 16, 2012


A week ago yesterday, I submitted a SPOA form to try to get some support for Hope. Today, I received a phone call from a social worker from the program I was hoping to get Hope into. The committee has already met, the application approved, the referral sent and accepted. A worker is coming on Tuesday to do the paperwork. It is a blessing.

Hope and I spent the afternoon together, just the two of us. She raged, but they were short lived once I reminded her Daddy wouldn't be home for three days. Tomorrow we are going to get rid of all the contraband (nail polish, paint, sharpies, ect) in the house.

After 18 months...

New Post on other blog.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Therapy Update

On Tuesday, I spent 25 minutes talking with the girls therapist without either of them present. The therapist was pleased with how well grounded in reality GB is at this time. The therapist prescribed TLC when GB starts to get overwhelmed and suggested I never leave GB alone with Hope (Duh).

Hope is struggling and while the therapist was pleased Hope and I will get bonding time this weekend, she is more interested in how Hope reacts when it is just me and nobody to triangulate. We see the psychiatrist Monday and the therapist and I are both confident that the Abilify, while helping, does not keep Hope stable enough that we can work on her issues.

Besides the door alarm, we now have a lock box for all medication.

The girls both have CSE meetings on Monday afternoon. GB's should be quick and easy. Hope's will probably not come up with an appropriate IEP and will have to be tabled. Reading up on Wrightlaw's Smart IEP goals.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bonding Time Ahead

This Friday, somewhere around noon time, The Dad, GB, MK and Mali are flying to Myrtle Beach for my niece's wedding. Hope and I are staying home. Hope is not doing well enough to travel safely. I thought that perhaps three days of uninterrupted bonding time might be good for Hope and I.

Attachment is a two way street. While Hope is clearly RAD, and I am committed to her without reservation, there are too many times where I simply do not like her. I am tired of being called names, I am tired of being a target when she throws things and I am tired of fending off a six year old's manipulations. I am tired.

I want to use this weekend for us to interact without any distractions. No Dad to run to, no places to go. No busyness to hide behind. I would like to end the weekend with some level  of connectedness. After all, bonding is a two way street.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Our Star, Today....SPOA!

SPOA stands for Single Point of Access. In New York, it is the only way to get mental health care beyond once a week therapy.  Hope's therapists filled out a SPOA application last week. I took it home, read it and sent it to the proper office. Yesterday I received a call from the SPOA lady, who said I needed an axis four diagnosis and a GAF. A GAF is a number that tells you a child's Generalized Assessment of Functioning. I needed this number to get GB a medicaid waiver. Her GAF was a 68. Her socialization skills were not age appropriate and her self care skills were behind, too. Hope's GAF was a 48. This score is apparently low enough to get her an RCT placement. We don't want an RTC placement- The Dad and  I are convinced that if we sent Hope any where, we would lose what chance we had of her healing. I do believe she needs more support services.

I am still sleeping better with the alarm on Hope's door set.

Monday, March 12, 2012

What a Prize!

Hope comes home from school, all excited because she "earned" a prize. She shows us an ipod. We are stunned and speechless for a solid minute. The Dad recovered first and took the ipod from her. He turned it around and saw his name and phone number etched on the back of the ipod. No explanation convinced Hope she was caught. 

Now it seems funny in a lot of ways. After all, she IS only 6. It is also scary. Hope's ability to see things as she wants them to be, instead of how they are, has me worried about the future.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Why I am Proud to Be a Trauma Mama

A Trauma Mama is an ordinary mother who chooses to parent a child from the hard places. For various reasons, our kids have experienced things no child should have to experience. Abandonment, abuse, overwhelming neglect. Trauma. Children from Trauma can not be parented in the ways society takes for granted that neuro-typical children are raised. Ordinary parenting does not work with children of trauma. You need to have a whole different perspective on parenting.

Children from the hard places are different. They have never learned the world is safe. Their internal tapes are filled with shame, anger and worthlessness. They have no self worth and instinctively sabotage any good that comes into their lives.

As a Trauma Mama, my parenting is based on years of hands on experience. It is also based on years of literature, past and current. Not only books, but every scientific article I can find. I attend seminars that introduce new techniques that might be useful. And I have my other Trauma Mamas who share their hard earned knowledge with anyone interested.

Being a Trauma Mama is not for the faint of heart. It is 24/7, it is intense, it is relentless. And when I am not sure I can do it another second, my Trauma Mamas are there to tell me I am doing an awesome job and to breathe, I can take the next step.

A lot of Trauma Mama's have multiple children who came from trauma. Our children do not  define us as Trauma Mamas. How we chose to react to their behaviors and the commitments we make to them are what defines us.

That is why I am proud to be a Trauma Mama.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

GB is Nine!

Today GB is nine. Nine years ago, I had the privilege of catching her as she was born. Although I am sad her birth parents  were unable to get their acts together and take care of her, I have been blessed with her constant presence in my life.

She makes ordinary moments worth celebrating and  highlights unforgettable. She is the baby I never expected and the child the second half of my life is built around. She has issues and challenges, but every morning she gets up ready and eager to start again. GB is a gift from God. 


Friday, March 9, 2012

ETAAM 2013

If you are a Trauma Mama who missed Orlando this year, the official dates for ETAAM 2013 are March 8 - 11, 2013.
Blogger Corey said...
Registration for Alumni will be May 29-31. Registration for newbies will start at 12:01 a.m. on June 1!

I would like to weave words of magic, so that you, too, would know you belong. If you are uncomfortable, there are literally dozens of women who will do their best to help you past that feeling. We are all different, yet have walked through the same fire. Thus, I am never alone.

You do not have to be either.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

I am Visiting Today!

I am posting over at Foster to Forever about the early signs of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Please come over to visit!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Enchanted Suites Villa: Photo by Carmen Miranda

GB had a smooth reentry. Hope... not so much. Yesterday was therapy Tuesday and Hope was yelling and crying before she got to the door. It lasted right through bedtime. Today Hope came off the bus the same way. It lasted until I put her to bed at 6 pm. I received an email from her teacher saying Hope was caught stealing another students ring. RAD kids always seem to make you pay for anytime you are away.

My time in Orlando was worth so much, Hope's ramped up behaviors are no more than a blip on the radar screen.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Beautiful Tattoo

Orlando was awesome. I experienced so much in 72 hours that it will take time to process it all and will never fit in one post. The picture above started off my weekend. The beautiful, talented Kelley comes to Orlando even though she is not a trauma mama. Kelley spoils us all and this year she blessed my friend Lisa and I with these beautiful matching henna tattoos. I have never gotten a tattoo because life has a habit of changing and I have never had a design that I was sure I would still love ten years later. I love Lisa and the tattoo was perfect. I started thinking about having it made into a real tattoo.

One of the activities this year was a scavenger hunt which sent people from house to house to complete activities. We each had an ETAAM passport to get stamped at each house. Right after lunch Saturday, I was  decluttering our villa of my mess and found my ETAAM passport. This triggered the realization that I had not seen my real passport when I unpacked Friday night. The real passport was the only ID I brought with me to Orlando and I was going to need it to get home.

I checked my knapsack and my tote bag. Others looked in various vans I had been in and the main house that had been first stop. I called the Orlando airport and waited on hold for while, but it hadn't been turned in. Tried the airline and they didn't have it either. I reluctantly called The Dad to update him on a potential problem with me flying home Monday. To say there was a notable lack of support was an understatement. I was feeling more than a little annoyed.

I did find my passport in my  bathroom and was greatly relieved. I didn't call or text The Dad right away and let him stew for a while. He was at the pool with the kids and their friends and I figured a little stewing wouldn't hurt. My housemates thought my tattoo was beautiful and were encouraging me to make it permanent. The Dad and I exchanged a couple of snippy texts and as the afternoon turned into evening, making it permanent sounded better and better.

I was still pissed three hours later when some of our group were getting ready to leave for a tattoo place. I so wanted to go. I didn't. Sensible people don't make decisions that are difficult to change when their decisions are being, at least partly, fueled by anger.

I still am enjoying my henna tattoo. I am still thinking about having it made  permanent. But not while I am angry.

Monday, March 5, 2012


I am at the Orlando Airport, waiting for my flight home. Some of the most loving people I have ever met are taking a piece of my heart with them today as our weekend had to end. I am at peace. These are women I can trust and know they will handle the pieces I shared with them gently until I see them again. Thank you all.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Gone to Orlando. Will return Monday afternoon. Photo courtesy of Sherrie Rouse.

Friday, March 2, 2012

On My Way

I am on my way to Orlando! This year, I am not feeling nervous. Maybe a little excited. Mostly, I am experiencing the peace of going where I belong. I will share some of my Orlando experiences when I get home, but this weekend I will be too busy being to blog.

There is a new post or two on the other blog.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Constructive Steps

Although Orlando has been occupying my mind most of this week, I have managed to  start  the wheels in motion to get more services for the girls. I finally located an elusive SPOA form. SPOA stands for single point of access, and is the golden key to accessing mental health services beyond what private insurance will cover. Hope's therapist says she will qualify for intensive case management. This will include respite, community access aides, and crisis management. 

I finally heard from the medicaid waiver people for GB. They sent 12 (double sided) pages to be filled out and it has to be returned before March 9th. School was closed yesterday and today, then comes Orlando. I will get the forms done next Tuesday.

The added support is necessary.