Saturday, June 29, 2013

Family Fun On the River

The post I just wrote is a downer! But not all has been bad. Hubby had some vacation time, so we have been having some fun. There's nothing like some recreation to build up our family. There's nothing like focusing on the good to help us get through the hard times.

We went rafting this week with family and a couple of friends.




Ms. D didn't want to go, but she ended up having a great time.


When we went last year, Ms. D wasn't feeling well. Sometimes when she has a bad experience once, it it hard for her to try it again. Some friends of ours encouraged her to go. It wasn't enough for Hubby and I to tell her it may be different. But once she was on the water, she loved it. She really enjoyed looking at the fish in the water, the deer and goats on the shore, and the hawks and other birds.


We had a water fight with some people on other rafts. We were outgunned, so we got pretty wet!




It was so good to do something fun as a family after such a difficult week.

Bitterness, Grief, and Anger

Our family has been hit pretty hard lately with drama caused by FASD, RAD, past trauma, adoption, all mixed with typical teenager identity issues.

Before I had kids, I told myself my child would never wear unmatched socks, run around with a runny nose, or be outside half naked while potty training. Before I adopted, I told myself I would not be like other adoptive parents who are bitter about adoption because their teens or adult adopted child became out of control. Well, I completely failed with the socks, noses, and potty training vows, and I'm struggling with the adoption one. I love all my kids dearly, and it hurts me to the core when any of them are hurting.

I realize that my youngest kids have a lot stacked up against them. The statistics are pretty grim for kids with FASD. It will be so hard for them, especially the one more affected by prenatal alcohol exposure, to have a good life. Some things, like impulse control and decision making are difficult for any teen, but it is many times worse for a child whose brain has been damaged by alcohol. I don't blame either of them when they struggle.

But I am angry. I'm angry at people who have made policies that make it harder for me to parent my children, that keep important information away from me because my children are teens. I am angry when people gloat when the policies that will harm my family are passed. And if I even hint at having another viewpoint, I am considered a bad, bad person. I am tired of educating people who should know about fetal alcohol yet have no clue. I am tired of people who look at my daughter and tell me she is an average teen who is angry at me because I homeschool her and took away her iPod. I am angry that I have to spend so much energy getting help, but come across roadblocks because my state doesn't even recognize fetal alcohol as a problem. I am angry that my precious children are struggling because their birth mom drank, neglected, and put my kids in abusive situations and yet the kids are drawn to the birth family and their culture of gangs. I am angry that an official told my daughter that when she turns sixteen next year, she could apply for emancipation and decide for herself where she wants to live. The same official told me that my daughter doesn't look MR, and that I don't know how to parent. Maybe I don't. Maybe parenting a child with FASD is so much more difficult, and so different than how I raised my older kids. Maybe no matter what I do, I won't get it right and my youngest kids will suffer for it.

But maybe we'll get through this time, my kids will get help, and I will learn to accept and appreciate in whatever situation I find myself.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

More Good Times in the Midst of Crisis

Our family had some good times last week, even though one of us was in crisis.

Tuesday, we went to the beach with some friends. It was good to see the kids having fun.





We had a great time, but in typical attachment disorder fashion, the **** hit the fan when we came home. It was like old times, when the kids had meltdowns whenever we had a happy time as a family. The only difference is that when the kids are teenagers, the meltdowns are scarier.

This was the hardest part of the week.

After the dust settled, one of our older kids took Mr. I out for a movie. I was in a daze, so Microbio daughter took me out to watch a baseball game at a pizza place. It was escapism, but we couldn't do much else at the time.



Monday, June 24, 2013

Battling the Blues

I tend to be able to hold it together during a crisis and then fall apart when the worst is over. Last week's crisis was bigger than most, so it's no wonder my emotions are all over the place today.

To fight the blues, I am trying to focus on some of the good events of the past week or so. Like today, I was in the middle of a crying spell when a friend called. She then took me out for a short trip to the store for some company. I lean more towards the extrovert end of the spectrum, so being with a friend and hugging my W*lmart lady cheered me up a bit. I know I haven't been the best company lately, so I'm thankful for a friend that can lift me up when I fall. She knows what I need, even when I don't know what would help. She is a blessing.

I am also thinking of the family times we had last week. It would be easy to just focus on the negative, but there really were great things that happened.

Our family had a picnic on Father's Day.





Even though at the time I didn't know what last week would hold, it's as if God knew I would need to start off with a good family time. I am amazed at the wisdom my older children have and the encouragement they are to me. I doubt I could have made it through such a difficult time without them. I am blessed.

There were more good things that happened last week, but it's getting late. I still need to catch up on sleep after many sleepless nights. Sometimes all that I need to change my mood is some rest, so I'll finish this up tomorrow. Tonight I will try to focus my mind on the love and support of family and friends. I'm feeling better already.

Friday, June 21, 2013

One of the Most Difficult Weeks

This has been one of the most difficult weeks.

I don't know how to fix what was broken before I even knew my girl.

I don't know how to heal the hurts, or at least lessen the pain.

Only a miracle can accomplish what I desire for her.

These kind of things should not have happened to one so young.

And it breaks my heart.

My daughter called out for help.

But the hurts are too big for me, too big for Hubby.

So we got help from others.

Some who should have known better made things worse.

Others who don't know the details have reached out in love, like our neighbor who gave us cookies and tea and others who have prayed.

My children have rose to the occasion, and have supported me and the rest of the family.

And close friends have put aside their own needs to help us in our time of crisis.

People have done their jobs well, and helped our sweet girl.

We are not alone in this difficult path before us.

And for that, I am grateful.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

OK, Down, Up a Little, Down, Down, Worse, Up!

Hey! Things are looking up this morning! How about that!

Hubby woke Ms. D up early this morning to help deliver food. She got ready with a great attitude, even though she only got about six hours of sleep. She and Microbio Daughter had gone to the movies last night, so she got back late. This morning, she cheerfully took care of Brewster, played with him, and got ready to go with Hubby.  There was no grumpiness, no arguing, no pushing the parents away, no negativity. This isn't the same girl that I've lived with the past few weeks years.

I can't tell you how happy I was to see Ms. D's big smile as I waved goodbye to them as they went off to deliver food. I know there will be ups and downs with any teenaged girl, especially with one who has gone through as much as Ms. D. But I'm enjoying the good time today!

Friday, June 14, 2013

How Do You Handle the Stress?

Today was an emotional roller coaster. It was a very stressful day.

I did do some things with some friends to cope. I helped one friend pack to move, which wouldn't normally be a stress relieving activity. I'll really miss her. But it helped me to keep busy with something and help someone who was going through a stressful time too. It was a lot better than mindlessly fiddling around on the computer or taking a nap. I was surrounded by a small army of boy scouts and a few others who kept us company. I do better with others around me when things get tough.

I also took a walk with another friend who had also adopted. I didn't talk much. Usually talking helps me to sort out my confusing thoughts. But I had no energy to talk. So I listened. This time listening was better than talking. My friend asked me how I handle the stress that comes from parenting a teenaged, adopted girl in a good way. I looked at her and couldn't come up with anything. My brain is in such a fog. She said the sweetest thing. She looked at me with understanding and said, "Of course you can't think of anything. You are in the midst of it now."

In the midst of it. That phrase really encouraged me. I'm in the midst of it. There was a beginning, and there will be an end. This crisis won't last forever. No matter what I do, there will be a resolution sometime, somehow. I don't know how to respond and parent in a way that will keep the kids safe and at the same time attached to me and become closer to God. I don't have the answers. But that's OK. I don't have to beat myself down for things out of my control. I have made plenty of mistakes, but I have tried. Even though I sometimes feel that I'm one of the worst parents around, I really don't have the best of perspective. Why?

I'm in the midst of it.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Women's Brains, Men's Brains

Hubby and I just finished watching a video by Mark Gungor about marriage. I'm not one for marriage seminars, especially Christian ones that get down on the men for not communicating like a woman. This video was a real change of pace and funny too.

One of the things I have gleaned from this video was about the difference between men's and women's brains. There is a difference between how Hubby and I are handling the stress of raising the youngest kids. The difference isn't bad. He can distance himself emotionally, but I am having a harder time doing that. Neither of us is crazy. We are just different.

So what did we do this evening? Jim stayed home to decompress in quietness (the kids were with friends), while I went out with a friend and talked. I was able to express my fears, disappointments, confusion, and more with someone who didn't feel the responsibility to fix me. It's good for women to talk.  I can be a much better wife if I don't impose my stream of verbosity on the poor guy. Hubby really appreciates and encourages me to go with friends. Isn't he sweet?

I'm glad we watched the video together. Sometimes it's good to have these kind of reminders!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Friends to Cheer Me Up!

I have been a bit sad lately. I'm having a bit of a crash after a crisis. I usually can hold myself together when things are tough, but after the dust settles I fall apart. When the kids are all sick, I take care of them, but as soon as they start to feel better, it's my turn. The same goes for emotional turmoil. Things are going pretty well right now, better than they have for a long time. But after dealing with some pretty difficult situations, I'm worn out. 

An interesting thing is happening though. As soon as I feel the urge to cry and have a pity party, someone cheers me up. Hubby has been helping me with things around the house, took Ms. D out for a date night, and gave me some beautiful flowers TWICE this past week or two! 


The kids have been giving me lots of hugs. Mr. I washed the cars. Yes, he did it for money to pay back his oldest sister, but he did some work! The older kids have done things for the younger and have lessened my load. Friends have called, stopped by, or have even taken me out of the house to go on errands with them. Others have encouraged me online. They have all helped me to get through a pretty tough time. They have reminded me that I don't have to go through anything alone. They have cheered me up and reminded me that not all is bad. 

I am blessed to have such caring friends and family. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Carly's Voice

I just finished a book, Carly's Voice, by Arthur Fleischmann and his daughter Carly who has autism and a few other things like apraxia. It is inspiring and well written. I am so thankful for people like Carly and Temple Grandin, who can communicate the inner world of autism. It helps me to understand some of the people close to me. There are so many people on the autism spectrum in Silicon Valley.

Even though my kids don't have autism, reading a book like this helps me to be more understanding of the difficulty of Ms. D's and Mr. I's lives. I so often want my kids to just be normal, but I forget that being normal is much harder because of their FASD and a few other things like past trauma. It is hard to be a parent of a child with a hidden disability. I need to remember that it is much harder to be the child who has to deal with the disability every minute of their lives.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Homicide on the Birth Family's Block

I was looking at our neighborhood crime stats for the past month. I look at the map maybe every other month to see if there is a rash car break ins or anything else to be aware of in order to keep us and our belongings safe. I was pleasantly surprised that our neighborhood was pretty boring. We only had someone rummaging through the recycle bins and a couple of cars were dumped by one of the main roads on a bus line. Not too bad.

I then decided to check out the birth mom's neighborhood. On the police map, I saw that there was a homicide on the birth family's block the night before last. I couldn't find any more information. No names or details were in the news yet. But I immediately wondered if the birth family was involved in some way. I worry for them. I have reason to worry. I wish I didn't.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Meh...

It is hot outside. I am sad. I have made so many mistakes, and could have done better. Today I have cried and cried. I'm glad I can cry silently, but I'm not good enough at it to hide my sadness from others. I can still get things done. I'm not immobilized. But I cry. I cry because I am grieving. I cry because I really don't have enough to cry about and so many have it far worse. Hubby is great. He even finished installing the new light fixture in the heat. I have an awesome family. I had a great time with my grandson yesterday. I have enough to eat, have a roof over my head, and I even have air conditioning. But I am hurting.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Confession

I took Ms. D grocery shopping with me today. Other than when we ate lunch with Microbio Daughter, we were alone. As we drove from store to store, Ms. D felt safe confessing all she did the past year. I did my best to calmly listen, so she opened up even more.  If she thought like a typical teen, she wouldn't have shared as much as she did. But she isn't a typical teen. FASD has impacted the way she thinks, how she makes decisions, and how she can follow through with what she already knows. Lately, I wondered if I was worrying too much, if I was overblowing the whole thing. I wasn't. I'm thankful she told me what happened and that it ended fairly well, but at the same time I am even more frightened than before.

I also have a confession to make. I don't know how I can fully protect my kids from the many secondary conditions of FASD. The lack of judgement and executive function, the impulsivity, the gullibility, and the desire to be liked is a scary combination in this world. Neighbors, doctors, the kids' friends, and Mr. I have hidden too much from me this past year, well, the past few years. I want to keep my girl safe, but I haven't been able to do it as well as I would have liked. But like I told her, we can only pick ourselves up, start anew, and work with what we have. And pray, because I know we can't do it alone.

Difficult Time for My Girl

I'm so proud of Ms. D! She told Xander, the supposedly seventeen year old boy, that she would not see him until he came to meet us, her parents. When he "lost" his driver's license when she asked to see it and didn't come as planned, she put her foot down and broke up with him. It took a lot of courage on her part, especially since her friend, Ms. M, and Mr. I were both putting pressure on Ms. D to keep the relationship going. Ms. D stood firm.

Ms. D also told me the story within a day of the breakup while we were walking dogs yesterday. I knew something was up because of the kids' behaviors, but didn't know why they were so dysregulated. Was it because I was so busy helping my friend move, the end of the school year, something with the birth family, or something else? When Ms. D told me what happened with Xander, I gave her a hug. Teenage breakups are hard. I wish I could have taken the pain away. I wish she didn't start a secret relationship with a young man before she was ready. But we work with what we have and move on. I explained to Ms. D why it is so hard for me to handle it when she and her brother act so strangely. When they were little, I knew why they acted out. But as they grew, the difficult behaviors decreased. But then, when they start up again, I don't know why. I imagine the worst, and worry about them. Ms. D laughed, gave me a hug, and agreed that they do act up when they are hiding something from me. Our relationship was restored.

Breaking up with a boyfriend is hard enough, but Ms. D has to work through something even more difficult. Ms. M, her best friend, is not willing to stop being in contact with Xander. Ms. D is seeing that Ms. M is choosing Xander over Ms. D and is pretty upset about it. It doesn't surprise me, since I have seen for a few years that Ms. M was using Ms. D as boy bait. Ms. D hasn't been able to see that until now. This is so hard, because earlier in the day Ms. D told me that breaking up with Xander had been easier because she knew Ms. M would stick by her. Ms. M is not sticking by. This really hurts.

Hubby wanted to take Ms. D out last night, but she wasn't ready. He'll take her out another time. She did spend some girl time with Microbio Daughter, and was able to express her feelings. I'm so thankful that I have daughters who are able to support one another through difficult times. I pray that this whole experience will bring growth. It has taught me that Ms. D is a stronger than I thought. I love my girl!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Down With the Kid Trap

We have lived in our home for nearly fourteen years. For fourteen years, I have been planning on getting rid of the ugly, outdated light fixture in the front entryway. How ugly was it?

...Ugly enough that Ms. D and Mr. I thought it was A Kid Trap when they first saw it.

Here it is, lying on its side.



The light fixture was a trigger of bad feelings in the kids when they first came to our home, and for years later. It reminded them of the child catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. And even now, after ten years, they still react to it. We should have replaced it long ago. It is more than just ugly. It is bad.

But as of today, it is no more!


Monday, June 3, 2013

Hard Work

Today, I helped a friend's family move into her home after living two years in another state. It was so good to have her back! Because of my joy of seeing my friend again, I was able to do more than I thought I could. Hopefully all that work will strengthen my muscles a little and get me in better shape. I took a couple of breaks to homeschool the kids and walk the dogs, so I was able to gather my strength and pace myself. After all that lifting, I'm pretty tired this evening, but not as sore as I thought I would be. But my feet are used to flip-flops, not shoes, so they were pretty achy. Hubby massaged my toes and helped them to feel a little better. Thanks, Hubby!


It's interesting how the kids reacted to me being so busy. I worked a couple of hours in the morning before the kids woke up, so they hardly noticed my absence then.  Mr. I helped us with the move for about an hour after we finished school. I left Ms. D and Mr. I home for an hour or so in the afternoon before Hubby came home so they could spend time with friends. During that time the kids made multiple calls to me, had little fights, and were a bit dysreguated. Even though they weren't alone for very long and I was five minutes away, they acted like I was gone a very, very long time. I wonder what was going through their minds? Were there fears of abandonment? I don't know if they even know why they were so uneasy today. But I'll figure that out later. Tonight I'm resting.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Happy Birthday Brewster!

Brewster, our guide dog puppy, turned one year old yesterday.


We had church at our house, and a good friend moved back to our area, so we were too busy to celebrate. I don't think Brewster would understand the whole birthday thing anyway.


He did like the dab of peanut butter I put in his Kong. And Microbio Daughter gave him a new toy, which he has been enjoying. Well, enjoying isn't a good enough word to describe the absolute ecstasy he has with this toy. Happy Birthday, Brewster!