Hello and Welcome to the Mom's and Adoption Blog!

Everyone is welcome here. It is an open format to discuss your feelings without judgment. If you have come to judge or say something unkind to adoptive parents, please leave now (yes, I said everyone was welcome, with one exception, however). Thank you.

Otherwise, thank you so much for coming! I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your comments and feedback. I started this blog to help other adoptive parents not to feel as isolated and alone in their feelings, as I did for so many years. With this blog, I hope to bring together the adoptive community as one. This is so we do not feel so alone and judged as we so many times do; even from ourselves. Please stay, relax and enjoy yourself. If at any time you feel judged, please let me know. Again thank you for coming.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Here we go again.....

Why does this keep happening? Every time I think I have a handle on this adoption relationship with my daughter, and understand RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder), even just a little, she switches it up on me. I feel like I am falling apart! I was doing so well for a couple of weeks! Then, I made the fatal mistake of engaging her in conversation. Yup, that's what I did mom's! That's ALL I did. I asked her why she hasn't come and talked to me even once this week as I had asked her to. Going on a week ago I had asked/ told her she needed to come and talk to me as she has been very disrespectful lately to me. I told her she needed to apologize and let me know what is going on. This stems from an agreement that we made together very recently (in the past 3-4 weeks). Isabella agreed we are having a lot of problems in our relationship, and so we both agreed we needed to talk more. We made a plan of how this would work. It has never happened! Once again, heartbreak for both of us! More mistrust for both of us. She can't believe anything I say, I don't believe anything she says...

I just read something yesterday that when you have a traumatized child, you end up with a traumatized mother! Isn't that the truth!! That was extremely soothing to hear, though, too. I have come to the point in this relationship where I am always on the defense. Some would say, 'how can you heal yourself or your daughter or your family if you feel you are being attacked or feel you are a victim?' You know what, though? I have spent HOURS thinking about this. This is the ONLY part of my life I actually do feel attacked, and I think I am! Isabella admits she tries to hurt me! Isn't that an attack? She has tried (admittedly, and it has worked) to pull apart my family relationships, she has tried to draw my husband and I apart- in the end of the day we aren't apart, but our number one conversation is about Isabella. That is terrible. It has been our number one conversation since the day we adopted her! We've had that many problems since day one where we've felt we had to make it the center of our conversations! Also, it gets to the point where I am always getting questioned by everyone about why I do certain things the way I do them with Isabella. How is that supposed to make me feel? So, now it is my fault? I can't even ask her questions? When I do my husband asks me why I did because he knows it starts something between us. He doesn't say it condescendingly, or anything, it is just the simple fact of being asked that hurts. Why can't I just be a mom? Do other mom's get questioned about their parenting constantly? I love my kids so much, and things are literally falling apart. All four of my kids are suffering so much now!

This adoption issue has also caused a separation in my husband's family! My husband doesn't talk, at all, to one of his brothers (and his brothers family), and he just started talking to his sister! They are not close at all now, either, like they were. There is one brother, unfortunately who lives all the way in Georgia, who has very thankfully decided to stay neutral and not take sides. Upsettingly, this is all because of problems surrounding this adoption. The really sad thing is, they all lost their mom and dad in 2000, so their is no one to pull them back together.

So, do I feel attacked and like a victim when it comes to being Isabella's mother? Your damn right! Sorry, but I am sooo hurt and upset, and so sick of anyone calling me or anyone else in this situation a victim or feeling sorry for themselves.

Further, as we speak, I had asked Isabella a couple of hours ago to do the simplest thing.... to come to me to talk about something very benign. As it happens EVERY SINGLE TIME, she digs her heels in, takes her own control, and won't do it simply because I asked or told her to. I can see her walking around as I am typing this and wishing she could have control of her whole life; this house, her sisters, me and her dad, but, not want to do anything it takes to get there (having control of the possible things).
Oh, and so what she did a couple of evenings ago to try and make that happen, was when I was gone for the night, she got on dad's good side (mind you she hadn't spoken to the family except 1 or 2 words here and there when absolutely necessary). This would have been okay except that it wasn't our deal. I am her mom and I want to be the one she goes to when she wants to talk or needs something. That is not happening now. It really hurts. It has never happened. She has never happened.

This is what I am talking about that I cannot take.
And now, now my precious little 3-year-old is starting to fall apart because of all of this... What am I supposed to do now? It used to just be Isabella and I having problems. Now my little babies see what is going on and they are starting to have a lot of problems due to what they see happening with Isabella! They look up to her... and me... I thought I was holding it together, especially for them, but for some reason my little one's are cracking, too.
I don't know what to do. It hurts so much....

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Does discipline work?

How do all of you handle discipline with your adopted RAD child(ren)?
Has anything worked to get them to change? I am not talking about the whip, here, but what do you do when these kids push your buttons so much, or do something that is really naughty? I have a difficult time with this. When Isabella does something that is very hurtful to her sisters (physically) or very naughty; for example, purposefully breaking something, lying over and over, not answering us, walking away as we talk to her, hurting her sisters, and much more, what do we do to show her this is not appropriate and she cannot do it anymore, but also not get riled up so she feels like she won because we are upset and are showing it?
Do any of you have suggestions?
The other difficult part, is that her younger sisters, 2, 3 and 5 years-old see that she is disciplined differently, and they pick up on that very quickly. This ends up causing problems between all four of them because it changes their dynamic and hierarchy as it normally would be between four sisters of this age. No one knows who's in charge or what they should be feeling, and it causes a lot of frustration for the younger one's! I feel very bad for them that they have to see us using different techniques with her, as they think she is getting away with something. I have heard other adoptive parents say this as well. The little one's do not have any understanding at their age that it is because she has different circumstances, and she will not respond to normal discipline.
We have tried all of the usual disciplines; time-outs, taking privileges away, taking her favorite "things" away, stopping her from going places, I've made her write sentences like a school would, I've put soap in her mouth on occasion when she's been very mouthy or the "crime" is with her mouth (so that the punishment fits the crime, so to speak), I've given her extra chores to do, hmmm....what else? You name it, we've done it. We've tried spankings, too. My husband and I said we would never spank our kids, but then when we had a child that didn't respond to anything we threw at her, we had to make sure we tried everything. NOTHING has worked! She just turns herself off from whatever it is and takes it. (Which is very common for RAD kids). So now, we've gotten to the point where we've pretty much given up on punishment because it doesn't work. But, then the other kids see that and they think they can do whatever they want!
I've had a lot of adoptive parents tell me, even recently, that when she does do something wrong, come at her lovingly and just tell her that she must have forgotten how we do things, or that's not how our family does things, let's try it again.
But, how do you do that when it is a dozen times per day?
Further, how do you do that with 3 other children watching? That is the big question to me.
Do any of you have any answers?
Have any of you had success with any of this?

Monday, March 22, 2010

You don't have to defend OR save her....

I have found that since we have adopted our daughter, Isabella, it has been the oddest thing how so many family members and friends we have come across have felt they have needed to defend, save or treat her differently. This has been a big problem for my husband and I because not only do we have three other children whom people treated totally differently than they treated Isabella, but it has made a detrimental impact on our attachment with her.
Our friends and family (not all of them, but too many of them) did one of a few things right from meeting Isabella. One, they would feel sorry for her and what she has been through, so they would talk to her in a very different voice even from how they talk to my other daughters. They would use this 'baby voice' even though when we adopted her she was just turning eight-years-old! Her sisters were the one's who were the babies (even now they are 2, 3, 5 and Isabella is 13)! Yet, then, they wouldn't use a baby voice on the little one's. They would actually treat them less attentively and affectionately and less warmly and lovingly than Isabella. We found this with many people who would meet her for the first time, too. Even with therapists, people from church; anyone who got wind that she had been adopted and had lived in an orphanage. It was crazy. Here we were trying to build this attachment as a family, and we were constantly being bombarded with people who were coming in and trying to jockey for this position of wanting to give her so much love and attention. This was again, people who should NOT have been doing this. It was NOT their position. They should have been helping us to build an attachment with her, or staying out of the relationship!
In hind-sight my husband and I know how detrimental this was to our attachment, but at the time, we didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings because it was our friends and family. What a mistake that was. I know now if we would have followed our instincts, we may have built a stronger bond from the beginning. I don't know. There are so many questions now. And, of course the past few days I've had even more "what-ifs," because things seem to be worse than ever. Isabella is fighting so hard to control things around her. She won't follow the rules, is doing everything the opposite of what she is supposed to, she is lying about almost everything, hiding things, breaking things, she won't talk to us about anything, and hasn't for days, won't say "good-night," you name it, she is doing it. It has been very difficult. I have no answers as to what to do. Just surviving at this point. A lot of the stuff on paper probably sounds minor to other people, but when you add it up, and you are living with it 24/7, and it is constant, it gets to be too much as the parent! There is no outlet, no one to fill your tank, no answers to fix it, nothing......

To finish the other story....
So many people around us thought they had to "save her."
Wasn't that our job as the parents? It was so infuriating as others would treat us, constantly, like we didn't know what we were doing; we were incompetent (even though they had no experience in adoption or RAD or anything near this topic), yet they had all the answers (note the sarcasm)! My husband and I were far too nice letting so many people walk on us just because they wanted to try and save Isabella.
Or, worse yet, when I would try to confide in a friend or family member I thought was a safe person, they would instantly come to Isabella's rescue as though I was attacking her. All I was doing was opening up about what was going on as things were hard right from the start. She didn't need defending. I just needed someone to talk to. I know if I had been talking about one of my biological children, no one would have come to their rescue. That still happens to this day. People still constantly think they need to rescue her, defend her, save her and everything else I discussed.
Have any of you had problems like this with friends or family?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

ABC...123...Red, Blue, Yellow, Green...

Now I am going back to the beginning again. I've been wanting to build the foundation of this adoption story, and talk about some of the things that were odd, or struck a chord in us from the beginning. Sometimes I wish I wasn't such an intuitive person; however, it is a gift God gave me. I feel like I pick up on things with people who are close to me so much so that I begin to know them better than they know themselves- again a gift from God (and this is only so if they are the kind of person who doesn't have a good sense of self; for example, Isabella). I feel this is true about myself because not only have I tested it out on others, but then I have approached a couple of people close to me on the subject, and they have been amazed at how dead-on I am about how they are thinking and feeling. Again, I know this could only be from God, and I'm sure He gave this gift to me in order to deal with Isabella, because I don't know how I could understand her otherwise. Thank you God! So, even from the beginning, I had a questioning vibe about my relationship with Isabella, and things she would do. It wasn't anything I wanted to do, liked or could control. It was a subconscious thing that I tried to stop. I tried to ignore it, too, and for the most part I did, because if I hadn't, I wouldn't have been able to get as close to Isabella as I did.

From the moment we picked Isabella up from the orphanage, she and I were together 24/7. Literally. When we got home from Russia she was sleeping in bed with us. After being home for a week and a half, or so, Mike left for 3 weeks for work (he was in the military). So, Isabella was in bed with me still. I still get a lot of groans when I tell people that, but I am the kind of person who goes with the flow with my kids. I felt like she needed that for comfort. NO ONE told us ANYTHING with regard to how to best care for her, what to expect, etc. I did my best with what I had at that time! So, right before Mike was going to return back home, I transitioned her to her room, which was right next to ours. But, then I was staying in her room with her all the time so that became a safe place, too. We had a blast in her room! We were constantly learning English- the alphabet, numbers, colors, anything and everything. I didn't have her start school for a few weeks because I wanted to give her time to transition in so many ways (new parents, new home, new life, etc), so we spent all day together. Within weeks I already had her understanding quite a bit (communication- wise)! I felt like we were getting so close! She wouldn't leave my side.
It was voting year, for President, and when we went to the polls, she was literally on my feet because she was so scared to be away from me! The people running the polls wanted her to stay with Mike while I voted, but she wouldn't, nor did she understand. So, she came with me. As I said, she came with EVERYWHERE! She would wait outside the bathroom door. As much as I needed space at times, I had wanted kids for so many years, so I didn't really care. Plus, I thought it was because she loved me so much....
Little did I know, and would find out later, that she just needed to get used to her surroundings and learn English, become comfortable, that sort of thing. Then, I wasn't useful anymore.
One very strange thing happened (not strange to my husband, but mortifying to him) one day shortly after he returned home from his 3-week work trip, when we were meeting friends for dinner at the mall. Mike, Isabella and I had been at a store, and then realized we needed to get going in order to meet them on time. I had to use the restroom (I was 7 months pregnant, so, of course) first, so Mike and Isabella went one way and I went another. For a minute or two, Isabella was fine. Mike and she looked at a couple of things as they were walking on their way, and then all of a sudden things fell apart. Isabella had some sort of meltdown or froze, or something. We still don't know. What we do know is that she stopped in the middle of the mall and started acting toward Mike like he was kidnapping her! I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt and asked if it might have been PTSD. Mike said it wasn't, because she was so busy looking around the mall at all of the new things, and wasn't having any problems whatsoever as long as he left her alone and let her "window shop." The moment he told her it was time to go using motions, she got mad. When she wouldn't go with him as he tried to coax her, he then grabbed her hand or arm to let her know it was really time to walk. That was when she had a complete meltdown. She was not going to listen to him! She wanted to look around at the mall, and that was that! So, here I was at the restaurant waiting for them, with our friends, wondering what the heck had happened to them. This was the first time our friends were meeting our new daughter. They were sooo happy for us. Mike and I were so stressed out at this point. How were we supposed to act all happy now? I'm sure many of you adoptive parents were able to blow stuff like this off. But, I had major pregnancy hormones, maybe that's why I couldn't just let it go, and Mike was so upset because he couldn't understand why Isabella didn't love him and want to be with him. It was very hard from the beginning. We thought, assumed (yes, I know) and hoped that when we adopted this precious child that we were helping her and making her life better. It now seems as though this is not the case.
I question that part every day still... Both my husband and I thought we were adopting a child who wanted to be adopted, who wanted a family, who wanted to be loved... Isabella ended up telling us shortly after she learned English that she never wanted to be adopted, it was her sister who wanted to be adopted.
Do you know something else ironic? So I changed how I've been treating Isabella the past week or two. No that isn't a long time yet, but it's been hard work.
So, for at least the past couple of years Isabella has said 'good-night' at bedtime and told us she loves us and hugged us. Now mind you, this was something we taught her to do as she didn't know how to say 'good-night' at all. Meaning, she never had to say 'good-night' to anyone, so we had to teach her what to do and the process. And, for at least a couple of years in the very beginning, we had a lot of ups and downs as this was used as a control mechanism. She would many times not tell us 'good-night' because she knew it would bother and hurt us. But, once we stopped acting like it bothered us, she stopped doing it, or maybe after 2-3 years she got tired of it.
So, ironicly enough, the past 3 nights now, she won't do her 'good-night' routine again! She is doing it again to hurt us. Isabella is upset that I haven't been getting mad, so she is trying to make me pay! That is her mentality (she has told me this before). Plus, she really did some things today to try to upset me that didn't work, so she is mad about that. It is very hard for me to not show her I'm upset or hurt that she didn't do her 'good-night' routine. However, I have to trust God that if I stay calm and patient like I have been lately, that it will be much better than if I get all riled up and upset. That has never worked well for me. Hopefully she will get bored with trying to irritate me like she did last time!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Putting ourselves first....but listen to God...

Hmmmm... what's that? Putting ourselves first as a mom to our beautiful children? Whether adopted or not. How many of us do that? Isn't that selfish and un-Christian? That is what I told myselft for years and still do most days. But, how are we supposed to be a good mother to our wonderful children if we don't take care of ourselves? I remember as a teenager going to a weekend retreat with my best friend at the time. When I got there it was at the biggest Catholic church in our area, and it seemed half my high school was there as well. The lesson of the weekend was J.O.Y.; Jesus, Others, then You. I still sometimes question that because if we always put others first (I believe in putting God first, however), do we ever truly take care of ourselves? I know I didn't take care of myself for many, many years! It was sooo unhealthy! It became scary. My physical and emotional health faltered in a way I could not have imagined.
Prior to trying to get pregnant, I was in great shape. I was close to 100 lbs. less than I am now and felt great! Now, I have fibromyalgia, I weigh far too much for my frame, I have gone through bouts of depression; all of this since this situation started with putting the adoption before myself. I am not blaming anyone else, I am just stating that I let go completely of taking care of myself, and began to only take care of my family. Part of that was inescapable because I had 4 children in 3 years. Three infants and a very high maintenance child who took a ton of time and care! So, of course at first all of the children needed 24/7 constant care. I have absolutely no regrets; it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I just ended up losing myself in all of it, and now need to find myself again!

I started my own personal therapy 3 months ago so that I could better understand my own feelings and come up with better reactions to Isabella. How I was reacting to her before, and still do now on occasion, is not healthy. It does not do either one of us any good when I am upset and angry. Are some of you with me on this one?
It took me a while to get over the fact that if I let her "get away with something," which is what I enterpreted the situation as when I didn't discipline her, but just ignored what happened, it was sooo much healthier for me. I figured if I did this, she would think she won! How could I let her win when she had hurt me so?! Are some of you thinking the same thing here, too? Man, this was hard for me! Honestly, ladies (hopefully some gentleman, too!), this was one of the hardest changes I have ever had to make! Do you know what, though? It has been the best thing I have done! I can't believe it! I have only had the courage to implement this (and listen to God telling me and urging me) very steadily the past 2-3 weeks. Yes, you would think I could have gotten with the program more quickly. But, I guess my dad says our side of the family is "bull-headed." So, not so smartly I was trying to do things my own way, when God knew better all along! I guess I need to start trusting Him more because He always leads me in the right way!

Further, as I have been told by several other adoptive parents that have successfully tried this change... if we do not like how things are going with our adoptive child, we as the parents need to change how we treat them, react, etc. That is pretty much what I said above. The hardest part for me in that, was I didn't think I should have to change! I felt Isabella was the one causing the problems, so why couldn't we just fix her? I know that isn't the most loving thing to say, but I think you adoptive RAD parents out there know exactly what I mean. We don't feel like this every day, maybe, but I know many days I feel like, in all honesty, my life was pretty darn good before all of this, and the reason it isn't now is because of this adoption. Whew, glad to get that off my chest! So, how many readers did I just lose? ;) Buuuuuttttt, as you know, I said I gave in to changing. So, as much as I would love for Isabella to be able to change, too, I realized it was healthier for ME, if I did so, too!

One other note to that, is, I also just started seeing a nutritionist last month to get myself healthier. Funny enough, the very first time I met her she told me how I had to stop giving my kids my food every time I sit down to eat. I used to feed my kids first, then get my food. As I would eat, somehow the little one's would become hungry again (could they really be hungry 30 minutes later?) and take as much as they felt like. Even though I felt a little ripped off, they were my babies. Wasn't I supposed to give them what they needed? As she reminded me, I had just fed them. I HAD given them what they needed. So, when I sat down, this was my time now. And, because I had measured my food to comply with what she had laid out for me, she told me not to let them have my food. She wanted me eating everything I had for my meal because they were foods my body needed. The point is, this was another lesson for me in putting myself first in this situation. It was hard to say, "no," to my babies. They are my life. I say "no" to them all the time when it comes to loving discipline. However, this was different. Do you know what, again, though? It felt good to start putting myself first here. It was in a healthy way. So, putting ourselves first doesn't mean putting others last, or not taking care of others or anything of the like.

So, I am not saying that we should put our family or chilren at the bottom; not by any means! However, as most of you parents know, if we don't take care of ourselves (usually that means first), how can we be a good mother or father to our beautiful children? There is a reason why when we fly on an airplane that the flight attendant(s) tell us to put our own oxygen mask on first before our child(ren). The first time I flew with Isabella only- as flying with my first child (coming back from the adoption in Russia), I thought, how awful. Not give my child oxygen until I do? That doesn't sound like a good parent! But, how it makes sense doesn't it? We can't give our children life unless we are living! Take care of yourself mom's and dad's! Please! You are worth it!

I would love to hear what others are thinking after reading this! Please share your comments below or ask questions!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Let's go to therapy.... again??

Our family hasn't had the greatest luck when it comes to therapy and helping our adoption problems. At the beginning of all of this, when the problems started 5-1/2 years ago (yes, ours started right away), I wanted Isabella to go to therapy and get fixed herself! I didn't understand why that couldn't happen! Our first contact with therapy was from Christian Recovery Center. My husband and I were sooo disappointed in that therapy. It was "play therapy." Now, I know from my background as a social worker that play therapy has its place. But, Isabella's therapist there was sooo convinced she had been abused in more ways than what her paperwork showed (it showed neglect by mom and dirty home; but no sexual or physical abuse). And, Isabella had concurred this to me that it was true; everything her papers said was correct; no physical or sexual abuse. But, this therapist was on a witch hunt to find mostly sexual abuse by way of playing board games with her. And, my biggest problem was, that's all they did week after week. Play games. Seriously. It was awful for Mike and I. Isabella thought it was a dream come true. Here we were trying to build a bond with our daughter, unsuccessfully I might add, and then this other man rides in on a horse and does one of her favorite things. He showed her no boundaries, just wanted to be her best friend. And, what was worse, I had just had Ava (or she was still very young), and I had just become pregnant again. So, Mike was taking her to the appointments because I didn't have the best pregnancies. I felt so out of control with the whole thing. How could I tell her not to play with him when I could hardly play with her myself? I felt terrible! After not too much longer we stopped going to him because it was doing no good at all. Isabella was not moving forward even slightly. Also, the ONLY report we EVER got from him was after playing a game with her one night he told Mike she wasn't always playing honestly, and he also said, "there sure is another side to that girl!" He hit that nail on the head! He said it in such a way as to mean another personality, or something. It was very interesting he would say that so soon into the adoption. That was the only positive thing came from that therapy.
After him my mom was trying to help, and so she set us up with someone from her Sweet Adelines singing group who had some kind of background in therapy. That was an awful day when she came over, let me tell you! This woman came into our home and blamed all of the problems we were having on my husband and I. Isabella is very petite for her age (which makes her look even more cute and tiny), and she knows exactly when to put on the waterworks and look sad and sorry, etc. So, that day she immediately picked up on the fact that this woman was coming down on her mom and dad but feeling totally sorry for her, and she liked it. She was eating out of the palm of this lady's hand. This lady also had the audacity to tell my husband that he was an angry person all because we were being honest about our feelings when she asked questions about how we felt. I was in shock. At least we were being honest about where we were at with the relationship, instead of lying. We told her we weren't at a place where we could do all of the suggestions the RAD books say regarding building a bond with the child, due to the hurt that had been caused so far.
Once again, someone putting the adoptive parent in this place where we are supposedly doing something wrong. This was another reason why I didn't want to talk to anyone for so long. I always felt attacked. My husband and I got this a lot! We had quite a few people, family included, telling us we were doing things wrong and how we were bad parents. It was horrible! I could never have imagined something so horrible!
So, my husband left the room when this lady became rude, and sadly I knew my mom was somewhat friends with her. So, as much as I wanted to tell her to go fly, I felt I had to be cordial, because that is how my mom brought me up. So, I just told her she could leave. She got the message and figured out we weren't going to have her back.

I then really started praying for what to do next because things weren't getting any better. At that point I was feeling REALLY alone and sad, and was convinced no one understood! God led me to put a prayer request on a prayer card at church. I asked the church to pray for our family regarding the problems we were having with Isabella and not being able to attach with her as a family. Shortly thereafter I got a phone call from the Parish Nurse asking us if she could come to our house and talk with us, pray with us and counsel us a little. We were pretty worn out at this point, but at least this was someone who wouldn't judge us, so we accepted. It went well in that it was nice to have extra people praying for our family. We definately needed that. Yet, again, she had no experience in Reactive Attachment Disorder, so, for me, people like that are hard to have therapy with. They want to help, but they are used to counseling mainstream problems, and RAD is so not that! And, I find that when people counsel in a mainstream way, it makes things worse. Or, at least it has for us. The way the relationship is built with a RAD person and everyone involved, including a therapist, is totally different. So, if the therapist is not versed in RAD and they just do regular therapy, they don't go about building the relationship and trust correctly. This is so dire! There are those rare therapists who know how to appropriately build that trust, and it works! If not, things can get worse. Kids with RAD know how to play games, and I have seen several therapists and teachers at school get played because they don't know what they are getting themselves into. These kids are extremely smart when it comes to getting what they want! They watch the people in their life they need to, and whom they are going to at some point need to use or play. I should state that the Parish Nurse was extremely nice and she didn't make things worse, per se. It just gets hard when you have one more adult coming into your home doting on the RAD child before you've built that bond with your child. The adult has no idea how destructive that is. And, how do you tell someone so nice that is from your church? We have found that everyone seems to think that all Isabella needs is love. "Love will conquer all!" So, they come over, pour love, affection, attention and many times gifts on her, without being equal to her sisters. She sits back completely loving it but acting like she doesn't. So, they feel even more sorry for her. Then, they think they need to do it again at a later time! This has also happened to us on many, many occasions.
Has this happened to any of you out there?

To finish with the therapy piece, we did see the Parish Nurse off and on numerous times as she was mostly a fabulous support to the family! I would also stop and see her to give her updates when I was at the church every week for a Mom's Group that met there. So, we kept in touch with her for quite a while.
In the middle of all of this, at Isabella's elementary school, we were seeing the school counselor. She was a fabulous person! I don't think she will mind me saying her first name, Dana. We would have loved to go further with Dana, except that Dana told us forthright that our situation exceeded her training. She didn't have specific training in adoption or RAD. But, she was so wonderful in that she was non-judgmental, she listened, she believed me and she was pretty much the only one at that time who did! Thanks Dana, if you ever read this. She got me through some really tough times! She stuck with us from the time Isabella was adopted and started her first elementary school, for the next four school years (almost). So, we went through a lot with her and she helped us with a lot of issues. She helped me more than any other therapist.
I know that sounds contrary to what I was just saying above, but this wasn't the one-on-one therapy session with Isabella alone where she was having to build the right kind of trust. Don't get me wrong. They did do counseling at school. But, even with that, Dana managed to do that as well as a RAD counselor would! However, mostly what she did with our family was talk to me about what we could do to make things better, she did home visits with me, when I was worried about an eating disorder with Isabella she brought the school nurse to my home along with her, and so much more. She ALWAYS went the extra mile. That's what made her so special. I pray for another one like her! Unfortunately when we moved a little less than two years ago, we changed schools. Isabella would have gone to middle school the next year later anyways, I guess, but we never made as good of connections at either new school (and they are in the same district!).
Lastly, we thought we were being really smart when my husband found out about an attachment center that did therapy out of Deephaven, I think it was. The best part was, they did in-home therapy. We really needed that because we had so many little one's, and we all felt involved at this point. In case you are wondering, this was again just shortly after the Parish Nurse. The very first therapist was about a year after we adopted Isabella, and this last one was about 2-1/2 years after the adoption (so about 1-1/2 years from the first to the starting of the last).
We had heard wonderful things about this place and it had been recommended several times by several different people. On one hand I was totally burnt out and had absolutely no interest in starting therapy again. However, on the other hand, this place was supposed to be the be-all, end-all. This center should solve all of our problems. I could relax. It was going to be over soon. No more problems. We hit the jackpot. I thought they were going to fix Isabella. I was excited. Hopefully they would see all of the hurt she causes us. Or.....
We got a therapist who was VERY young. I think we were her first clients, and I felt like she was doing her internship and wasn't really done with school yet. I had a problem with this because (not just because of the rates), I felt like she was just randomly trying things with us. I felt like she didn't concretely know anything for sure. It was sooo disheartening. I was sooo frustrated. She would come for a couple of hours, which was great, and, Isabella would NEVER talk, which is normal for her. Lisa (I looked them up on-line and didn't see a "Lisa," there anymore, so I feel safe using her first name) would hardly try to get Isabella to talk, all she would do is maybe draw a picture with Isabella and talk to us. Now, I know there is credence to drawing pictures with RAD kids. But, Isabella didn't want to draw it alone either, so Lisa would help her or ask if she wanted Ava to help her. I didn't understand that! We never talked about ANYTHING of importance! Mike and I would bring up big, important issues in our family. Unfortunately, at that time they were things Isabella was doing, or not doing. Lisa NEVER confronted her. That bothered me. How were things going to get better?? We always stayed in the large group, too, which was fine, but we never got anywhere! So, Isabella heard everything we talked about. When we would ask Lisa what the plans were for the future weeks, she never really had one. It was very strange and irritating!

So, this is to Lisa the reader. Please don't get discouraged. First, like I said, I didn't see her name on the website, so even if you are going to the same place, you shouldn't get her. Second, I felt the first time in meeting her (after giving her the full two-hour session) that it wasn't going to work. But, we continued to give her many more weeks. I think you will know with your woman's intuition whether or not it's going to work. If you don't feel good about who you get, ask for someone else. That is what we didn't do because we thought they knew more. Please let us know, Lisa, how the therapy goes. I hope and pray it goes well!

Isabella started seeing someone else again. We waited a couple of years until this current one because we were burnt out and she told us straight out she wasn't going to talk to anyone. At this very time, we are again taking a break from her therapist because she told me just a couple of weeks ago she wasn't talking to her therapist because she doesn't like sharing anything with her (yet she will say she wants to get better, but does everything the opposite to make that possible). She still sabotages all of our efforts to help her move forward. She also intensely saw therapists in the hospital before and after Christmas 2009. I will write all of that in another post soon because that is a whole other story.

As for myself, I had given up on therapy even though I was getting my Masters in Counseling and Psychology until we started the adopton and I got pregnant (I was 1/2 done with my Masters). However, 3-1/2 months ago I started seeing a therapist so I could talk about how I felt with the stress in the home regarding the adoption and living with a child who has RAD. I am so glad I did this. It has been very helpful.

I would love to hear your stories about therapy you've tried that has worked or not worked. Or, do you have a therapist you like/ love, do you loathe therapy? What are your feelings on this?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A New Day

On this beautiful Springish Day (or is it Spring yet? We're almost there, I think!), I can't help but to count the blessings I have instead of what I don't have. So many times I get caught up in frustrations of life; children, money, money, bills. I'm sure many of you know what I mean. It would be especially easy today when our adopted daughter, Isabella, is, of course, doing her best to make mom's day the worst it could be! I have been working so hard recently on not letting her bother me as much as it used to. I try and remind myself that if I get upset, that is what she wants, and, I lose. So, I try and take some deep breaths and relax. My problems is, I am so hard-wired at this point to RE-act a certain way. It is not like other things in life where we just act after something happens. I am sooo used to the same ol' same ol' that I just get used to getting upset and frustrated. So, why change what I am doing when nothing else changes?One thing I have tried to change, however, is from something that another smart adoptive mother reminded me is okay to do. Take a mommy time-out. Cheri Hanson reminded me that mom's can do this, too, and we will be better for it! Nothing major, just a few minute time-out like we would give our own kids. For some reason I had always told myself in the past couple of years that I had to be "on." So, taking a time-out wasn't an option. But, once I did, it really seemed to work! Thanks Cheri!

Taking a time-out in a different way seems to be a great idea for today! It is such a beautiful day it seems we should open our windows and air out all of that old Winter stale-ness inside. And, while our houses are airing out, maybe all of us should go get some fresh air and clear out our own lungs from the "inside only" air we've been breathing all Winter. It might give a new perspective to our relationships that seem stale, too! =) Of course this will not be the be all, end all answer to our relationship problems, but I know I sure needed a newness to my relationship thoughts! I was feeling VERY stale after being cooped up all Winter long inside. I have had Spring fever for a while now. But, that is the great part about MN, the season changes! I definately look forward to something different to come! Iknow I couldn't handle the same weather all the time! Although, this Winter did seem to drag........

Anyhoo, it's almost over, and Spring is here! No more snow, pleeeeaaaaasssseeee???!?!!!?!

I guess I got off track! Ha! Sorry, I love this kind of weather, so it makes me a little squirrely! Sorry, bad joke. But really, I want to hear how the rest of you are doing out there and if you have any stories to tell!