Christmas Blessing

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Today found us receiving the tiniest bit of hope. Enough hope that I feel like I can breathe.  An answer to prayer. Maybe not the 'total' answer to prayer. But enough. Enough.


My dear friend-ok, full disclosure. This woman does not know me. She has blessed my life in more ways than I can measure, but we've had one email communication and that's all. Anyway...my dear friend, Christine Moers, posted this blessing for mamas of traumatized children on her blog today. It's a blessing I need. I know most of you who read this blog are not parenting traumatized children, but maybe there's something, someone in your life that causes you to need this blessing as well.



"May your legs remember to walk away before your mouth loses its loving voice.

May there be special stolen moments with your neuro-typical children, even if it is when the rest of house is in bed.

May your eyes be magically fixed from rolling as a parade of family and friends question every single choice and interaction you have with your child.

May your mind be filled with the people in your life who DO get it and DO support you, because they are the gifts that keep on giving all year long.

May there be one tiny, but unbelievable hair of a moment, when you find the strength to step outside of the behavior and see your child for who they were born to be, and who they need you to be.

May you find peace, albeit fleeting.

May you find hope.

May you find healing within yourself, again and again, so you can then teach your child how to find their own.

And may the eggnog be spiked."

Amen.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Well, I feel like we've been through hell this past month.  We're still there.  We're praying for a miracle.  The depth of this valley that we've sunk into with Mr. B seems unending at the moment.  So I have very little to write right now.  Very little that isn't despairing or bitter or angry.  Or angry.

So this is all I have tonight.  I know I've posted part of this before, but this is all I can muster for the time being.  My prayer for Mr. B.  My prayer for myself.  My prayer for our whole family.


Your voice has stilled the raging storms
The wind and waves bow down before
Your still small voice brings hope to all
Who wait on You, we'll wait for You
To lead us to the place where You'll restore our souls
And all our earthly strivings come to cease

Take from our souls the strain and stress
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Your peace
The beauty of Your peace

Bright skies will soon be overhead
We'll enter in to Heaven's rest
There'll be no death, there'll be no pain
The things of old will pass away
You'll lead us to the place where You'll restore our souls
And all our earthly strivings come to cease

Take from our souls the strain and stress
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Your peace
The beauty of Your peace

joy

Saturday, November 27, 2010

How do I maintain joy in the midst of my heartache?  How do I explain to others why I feel so sad when nothing bad has happened yet?  It's kind of like my children have been diagnosed with a terminal illness.  I know the end might be coming.  I have to grieve that.  There is a chance for a miracle.  I have to believe that.  It's called 'anticipatory grief' according to Google.  Every moment is bittersweet.

So I want to choose joy.  In the midst of it.  I cannot, canNOT live in despair every waking moment.  So I have two challenges this coming Advent season:

1) 50 points of joy:  This comes from a favorite author in our fostering journey, Deborah Gray.  I was reminded of it by a favorite blogger and a precious sister who has personally spoken wisdom into my life, Lisa Qualls.  http://www.onethankfulmom.com/
In her book, Attaching in Adoption, Deborah gives a list of suggestions for weary and worn-out parents - those who are feeling overwhelmed by the needs of their children.  Among those suggestions is this one - 
"When parents have begun to be too worn out, it is often because they have spent so much time doing tasks that they have deleted the fun or enjoyable things in their life.  I like to see parents make a list of fifty items that give them pleasure.  These are individual lists…every week, each person must attain fifty check marks on the list.  Using the same item more than once is permitted."


Fifty items that give me pleasure?  I'm not quite sure I can get there.  But I am determined to live in joy. I deserve no less.  My husband deserves no less.  My children deserve no less.


Here's my beginning:

  • reading a book for pleasure alone
  • listening to music (instead of a podcast or something for 'learning')
  • reading to my children
  • making cookies with one of my children
  • a glass of wine
  • a date with my husband
  • coffee or dinner with a girlfriend
  • an adult dinner with friends.  one without children.
It's gonna be awhile before I can get to 50 listed items, much less 50 accomplished items.  Here goes nothing...


2)  A parenting manifesto of joy.
http://www.aholyexperience.com/2010/11/10-point-manifesto-of-joyful-parenting-free-printable/
If you can read just one blog, please don't read mine - read Ann Voskamp.  Every day is an outpouring of grace into your soul.  I have printed this manifesto and placed it on my fridge.  I will choose joy.


I will choose joy.



trust

Thursday, November 18, 2010

After receiving some upsetting news about this case and the children we love, I am struggling with my emotional response.  It's difficult to not overreact to any news we hear.  We were not necessarily surprised by this particular bit of news, but we were definitely disappointed and feel slightly betrayed since we were led to believe that we were past this point.  This morning, in addition to all of that, I woke up pretty angry on behalf of Mr. B and Baby R.


I know what I will hear when we get around to sharing this news. Things like "God is in control.  God has a purpose in this.  God will take care of these children."  While I believe all of these things to an extent, I also am having extreme difficulty in this.  Sure, God is in control.  Sure, God can take care of these children.  But...He doesn't always take care of children.  Children get hurt all the time.  Children die.  They are orphaned.  They are abused.  They get moved from place to place.   He doesn't always intervene, and at that point, the 'God has a plan' line just doesn't cut it for me.  His plan is for these children to experience even more pain?  His plan is to move these kids from the only safe and loving home they've ever known?  Eh.  I have a hard time with the platitudes.  Do I trust God?  I'd have to say yes.  Do I trust that what happens to these children will be good for them?  Definitely not.


Trust is a lot of work.  I'm in a lot of pain.  It'll get better.  Or it'll get worse.  Either way, I still choose God.

The Connected Child, Chapter 6

Monday, November 15, 2010

I have been alerted that comments were disabled on my blog (thanks Jess!). Lesson: I am NOT good at managing the various widgets and all that on my blog page.  All I wanted to do was be able to reply directly to specific posts. I really like the intensedebate comment system, but obviously cannot install it correctly on my site. I swear I followed the directions exactly.


So...chapter 6 of The Connected Child is chock-full of helpful parenting advice. I wish that I had read this book before my oldest was born. He has a personality that would have responded so very well to all of these tips.  


For me, the highlight and most applicable part of the whole chapter is the "IDEAL approach". Just an acronym reminder about how to deal with challenges from your children, and one that I desperately need to implement more often.


I: You respond immediately - within 3 seconds of misbehavior
D: You respond directly - eye contact, undivided attention, physical proximity
E: The response is efficient and measured, using the least amount of firmness and corrective effort necessary.  You also use the least amount of words possible.
A: Action-based response.  Actively redirect your child to better behavior.  Often a re-do is the appropriate action for this step.
L: You level the response at the behavior, not the child.  Your child is never rejected, even when behavior is rejected.


A re-do is just a chance to reenact the entire scenario with the appropriate response. A small example would be if I ask Mr. B to pick up the toys and he gets mad at me and throws the toy towards the toy box, I would then allow him to retrieve the toy, bring it back to where we started and then place it in the toy box in an appropriate manner. We have been using re-do's off and on with Mr. B. It is very effective for minor offenses. I find it a tad impractical for major things at this point. I definitely like that it hard-wires an appropriate response into his memory. Not just his 'thinking' memory, but his physical memory as well. I have tried it a couple times with Ben and Maggie as well, to fairly good effect Now that I'm writing this, I wonder what it is about a technique that works well that makes me forget about using it more often! I can write a whole paragraph about how well it's worked when I've used it but can't seem to actually use it when I most need it.


I think the part I need to work on most is the efficient and measured response. I tend to over-respond. A little firmer than necessary, a little louder than necessary, and a lot more words than necessary. If I can keep my tone, my demeanor, and my words at the least amount necessary to accomplish the correction, it would be much more effective.  Mr. B, especially, needs the quiet, calm firmness to help him feel secure. I think it's similar to what I talked about with Chapter 5 - the need for order and peace. When things feel out of control, I tend towards more structure, when really, what is necessary is more nurturing. A properly nurtured family will naturally be more at peace.

hope

Thursday, November 11, 2010

hope waits but does not sit. it strains with eager anticipation to see what may be coming on the horizon.  hope does not pacify; it does not make us docile and mediocre. instead, it draws us to greater risk and perseverance.
dan allender

The Connected Child, Chapter 5

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I haven't blogged specifically about this book study yet, but I've been doing an online book study (check it out on the right side of my page). All of The Connected Child is just amazing, and every single person who has adopted, fostered, or parented a child from a hard place in any way should be required to read it. In my opinion.


This particular chapter could not have come at a more opportune time for me. It's about teaching life values to your children. This is precisely what we are struggling with with all of our children right now, and I unfortunately know exactly why. We're not modeling the values we want our children to learn. At least not consistently and well enough. If I want my eldest to respect me, then I have to first show him respect! (Boy, do I have a long way to go on this one. I am definitely reaping what I've sown when it comes to my son's attitude towards his parents. I don't want to say I was a know-it-all, but goodness. I swear that some of my son's words towards me are ripped exactly from the script of my conversations with my mother at age 10.) If I want my kids to listen and obey, to accept consequences, and to focus and complete their tasks, then I need to model gentleness, firmness, and focus to them first.


A couple of things that I'm going to specifically try with Mr. B right now are practicing obedience and praising him for accepting no. These are things that he is struggling with greatly right now (well, he's 3!). For practicing obedience, Karyn Purvis suggests simple games like Simon Says and Stop & Go.
"You should not have to scream or yell to gain your child's cooperation; instead you should calmly remind her to "listen and obey". Once your child cooperates, praise her and remind her of what she did well."


We already do this to a certain extent. We have really worked hard at praising obedience specifically, but it's the escalation into yelling that I'm struggling with right now. My voice just gets louder and louder and louder until I'm yelling at everyone. I earnestly desire to change this dynamic in our family. Thus my action step for this week comes straight from Karyn:
"Before speaking to your child or giving instructions, stop what you are doing and move to within three feet of the little one - then, say what you need to. Don't lob words at him or her across the room while you're rushing about. You won't build deep interpersonal connections from a distance, or while hurtling around like a runaway train."


I want to enlarge this to make sure that I'm no longer yelling instructions from another room, up the stairs, etc. While we are a loud family, and that will not change, loud does not need to equal chaos.


I feel like this entire chapter of life values, which include respect, accepting no, consequences, making eye contact, who's the boss, and listening and obeying, are all about raising children are well-regulated, well-adjusted, peaceful children. We desperately need our home to become more peaceful. When we began parenting traumatized children, I definitely underestimated how much extra work it would be to have peace in our home. We have to be purposeful in creating peace: in our relationships - the emotional space of our home, in the physical space of our home, and through the spiritual space of our home. One thing that is being made abundantly clear to me is that when one of these areas is out of balance, the others suffer as well. I'm learning a lot about peace in the throes of parenting my hurt three-year-old - he needs me to make peace for him, he needs me to teach him how to make it for himself, and he needs to live in a peaceful space.


I came away from this chapter with a song on my heart, one that I put on a playlist of 'blessings' for Mr. B and Baby R. A life in order brings us peace. Here's the first part of it - my prayer today...


Your voice has stilled the raging storms
The wind and waves bow down before
Your still small voice brings hope to all
Who wait on You, we'll wait for You
To lead us to the place where You'll restore our souls
And all our earthly strivings come to cease

Take from our souls the strain and stress
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Your peace
The beauty of Your peace

from the Beauty of Your Peace by Tim Hughes

Friday Listmania

Friday, October 29, 2010

I think this blog looks like my life is too focused on the intense and difficult things.  Not true.  Well, partially true, but here is a random list of other things that make up my existence.

1)  I have new running shoes.  My old ones were four years old, and they had no support whatsoever anymore.  I know you're supposed to replace them every six months, but I always assumed that advice to actually be for runners.  Which I am not.  Well, I do run on the treadmill at the gym now.  As a result, my feet hurt a little because my shoes are not yet broken in.  More support, sure, but the pain is about the same right now.  I think I finally get running a little bit at least.  There is this one point where your muscles get all warm and tingly and you don't actually feel like you're working at it anymore.  I read this lovely runner's blog where they describe the feeling as 'orgasmic'.  Seriously?  I hardly think so.  Although it has changed how I look at the runners I see at the gym.



2) My eldest son has planned the Halloween costumes for next year already.  Apparently my plans for this year were unacceptable.  He prefers our entire family to go as a theme.  This year, he is Max from Where The Wild Things Are, Maggie is a pink fairy, Mr. B is a pirate (in the cutest pirate costume known to mankind.  It was Maggie's, and I had always hoped we would have another child who would wear it.), and Baby R is a ladybug.  I realize that cute costumes do not constitute a theme, but come on.  Ben has decided that next year we are going as cowboys and Indians.  He wants to be an Indian chief, Mr B and Maggie will be cowboys, and Baby R will be a baby Indian princess.  He wants a bow and arrow.  He decided it would fantastic if Baby R could have a dagger.  You did read that correctly.  A dagger.  Somehow babies with daggers is terrifying to me in a way that I really cannot explain.  Probably the same reason I'm so scared of Chucky.

3)  Several of the blogs I've been reading lately have listed all the books they're reading.  I was always a one book at a time kind of gal, but since we have so many children, I'm now reading four different books.  All at once.  Whenever the mood strikes me.  Until I fall asleep.  (usually about 2 minutes into the book)   Current List:  The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis (full disclosure: I've read this before, so I'm skimming it for an online book study I'm doing), Nurturing Adoptions by Deborah Gray, Fields of the Fatherless by Tom Davis, and a fiction book that I can't remember the name right now.  Yep, it's that good.  I have about twenty books in my to-read pile.  Eager to get to them, but I've decided that four books at a time should really be my limit.

4) I really wish that I were going to the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear tomorrow.  We'll settle for DVRing it while we're cleaning the house.  Which is a pigsty.



5)  In spite of my desire to attend said rally, I hate campaign season.  I am longing for the day when it's over.

6)  I met Maggie's friends at the Halloween party this week.  They all have names that start with 'M'.  Is she prejudiced against other letters?  Have we not taught appropriate letter tolerance?  I'm fearful for what this means for her future, and am praying that she finds a husband named Matt as opposed to Millard.

7)  Millard reminds me of Millard the Monkey and my love for Jungle Jam which around here, airs every Saturday morning at 10:30 am.  I know this because my children like it.  Yep.  That's definitely the reason why I know when a children's radio program airs.  As well as every word to the theme song, which I definitely do NOT sing very loudly when it comes on.


8) I am currently listening to my daughter coach Mr. B on Trick or Treat.  Mr. B says "Twick ow tweat"  It's adorable.

9)  Tonight I am going to celebrate my sister's birthday at a favorite Mexican restaurant.  Wendell is keeping all the kids since he has determined that I need this time out.  It's brave of him because Baby R does not like me to leave her.  ever.  Even with Wendell.  She's pretty attached to me, which I definitely found charming for awhile since Ben and Maggie used me for food and then rejected my affections in favor of their father at a very, very young age.  It's no longer charming.  I really need people not to hate her when I have to leave her somewhere for babysitting.  Hopefully this stage ends soon.  In the meantime, I will enjoy my margaritas chips and salsa and celebrate with my sisters and friends and forget that Wendell might be miserable at home with the baby.

10)  And now for your moment of Zen:

embarrassing displays of emotion

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

yesterday, I was with Mr. B waiting for his therapist at the center where we go. It's also a health clinic, a prenatal clinic, and the location of the foster care nurse and health unit. While we were just waiting, and I was thinking over how difficult he was being lately, how I was contributing to that, and how I just need to have some more tenderness and patience with him because he is just a hurt and traumatized little boy, another foster mom came in. I don't know her. The only reason I knew was because our beloved foster care nurse went over to greet her and the baby (well, he was probably 2).

The baby was crying and crying, and I was suddenly just overwhelmed. This poor child was clearly traumatized and distraught, and the cry was just this one of heart-breaking sadness. I hear the foster mom say, "He's missing his mommy"  I thought I might break down into an ugly cry right there in the waiting room. Fortunately, I had Mr. B on my lap and he wasn't noticing anything around him, so he neither saw this child nor my distress. What pain our kids are going through. How sad this must make God. My heart is broken today for these children, these families, the brokenness of this world. I am resolved to continue to follow God's voice in ushering His kingdom in here on earth, and I long for the day when all will be restored.

ode to the gym

Saturday, October 9, 2010

whilst exercise has never been the bane of my existence, neither have I ever truly loved it. until now. I think this has little to do with the actual exercise and much to do with my new gym membership.


Dear 24/7 Gym:
You are becoming such an important part of my life. I long to visit your soothing green walls and black trim. I relish the idea of your fancy equipment where I can watch the Buckeyes' game on my own individual screen AND listen to my ipod while working out.   Most importantly, dear Gym, you are never busy when I am there. This is probably because I go at hours that no other people actually desire to exercise during. But the result is that you are quiet. So quiet. Except for the hip-hop that I can listen to at blasting volumes through my private headphones. Most importantly, there are no children there. No one under 16 is even permitted in the gym. No one is saying, "mama, mama, mama. mama. mama. mama." No one is tattling. There are sometimes grunting men, but I can drown them out with my hip-hop. Yep, you and I are going to have a long and fruitful relationship.
I may love you,
Suzanne

love

love on display is the ultimate apologetic
Francis Shaeffer

unexpected answers to prayer

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

we received word yesterday that Baby R's great-aunt dropped out of asking for custody. This is exactly what I've been praying for, yet I was caught completely off guard. I know that God does answer prayers, but I do not often expect that He will answer my prayers for my own desires in the way that I want.


according to the caseworker, the great-aunt was the very last family in the running for Baby R. I don't know what this means for her permanent custody situation at this point.


Today Mr. B and Maggie watched Beauty and the Beast. I worried that it might be a little scary for him. He spent a good deal of time talking about who was going to die, who had died, this person was dead, that character was dead, etc. I don't remember Ben or Maggie talking so much about death. It disturbs me a little and makes me sad for what he may have been exposed to in the past.


In other news, I am certain to win foster parent of the year since this evening, I saw Baby R use her push toy to push the box barrier I had created for her out of the way and crawl down the step into the mudroom. I was cooking, so I let her be for a little bit. About 2 minutes later, I round the corner to see that she had pushed open the unlatched storm (read: heavy) door and crawled out onto the porch to stuff dog food from the dog bowl in her mouth. Apparently not even heavy doors will keep Baby R from dog food. Terrific mothering on my part. I don't think I'll share this story with the caseworker. Hope she never reads this blog...

back at it

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

since things are actually moving forward, I really want to make sure that I try to document some of them. as carefully as possible. The agency will be moving for permanent custody on Mr. B and his older sister. The caseworker expects this trial to happen around Thanksgiving. However, they want to move the baby to be with a great-aunt. We are not thrilled with their suggestion. It would devastate Mr. B to be without his sister. I feel like she's the one piece of his past that he still has. Not to mention that we are the only family she has ever known. Their CASA worker is opposed. So there's some room for change, but as of now, that is the plan.


I've been overwhelmed by this the past week. I don't understand God's plan in all of this. I don't get why He would allow one child (Mr. B, in this instance) to experience yet another trauma and loss in his life. How can a 68-year-old single woman be better for the baby than a family with children and her actual brother? I just don't understand. And I'm angry and sad.


Today, I read this passage of scripture. This passage is where I'm going to live for the next few weeks, I think. Trying to rest. Trying to trust. Waiting on God to move.



God, the Master, The Holy of Israel, has this solemn counsel:

"Your salvation requires you to turn back to me 
   and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves.
Your strength will come from settling down 
   in complete dependence on me—
The very thing you've been unwilling to do.




You've said, 'Nothing doing! We'll rush off on horseback!'  You'll rush off, all right! Just not far enough!  You've said, 'We'll ride off on fast horses!' Do you think your pursuers ride old nags?  Think again: A thousand of you will scatter before one attacker. Before a mere five you'll all run off. There'll be nothing left of you— a flagpole on a hill with no flag, a signpost on a roadside with the sign torn off.  



But God's not finished. He's waiting around to be gracious to you. 

   He's gathering strength to show mercy to you.

God takes the time to do everything right—everything. 
   Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones.


Oh yes, people of Zion, citizens of Jerusalem, your time of tears is over. Cry for help and you'll find it's grace and more grace. The moment he hears, he'll answer. 

Isaiah 30:15-19

waiting

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

a brief update since I feel guilty for not blogging:


I am frustrated because so much time has passed on this case already. I feel like the kids deserve permanency soon. however, in theory, I also believe that the best place for children is with healthy, safe, healing biological families.


I'm not certain how much to post here or not post given that I don't know which direction this case will take. I'm worried that if our stuff would be subpoenaed at some point, I want to take every precaution. I might be doing some consulting with an attorney over this soon, just to be sure.


That said, things are going well here. Mr. B has dramatically settled down over the past month or so. Anxiety-driven fits are few and far between. Three-year-old defiance is on the rise, but that's to be expected. :) Baby R has bonded with us so well. I really don't remember feeling differently about my first two babies than I do with her. We're just continually in prayer. It's a challenge to remain 'present' sometimes because I think so much about the future. But no matter what happens, this is worth it. Today was worth it, yesterday was worth it, and tomorrow will be worth it too.

birthday party

Friday, July 9, 2010

tonight we celebrated Mr. B's birthday a little early so Uncle Nate and Aunt Jen could participate since their wedding will clearly preempt the actual birthday day. :) Mr. B still has a lot of difficulty with parties. it's not like he can't handle them at all or even that he throws tons of fits and doesn't enjoy them - it's more of a tension that's in his little body and spirit during parties. he's just a little more anxious, a little more unsure, a little more controlling.  tonight went SO well though. We just had the family that he was most familiar with and most attached to - Grandma and Grandpa, Uncle Nate and Aunt Jen, Uncle Larry and Aunt Katie, Megan, and Krista. All of his favorites.


I'm not sure if he's ever really experienced a birthday party or if he just had no memory at all of what birthdays are like, but he was a little scared of the cake and candle. actually, even when I was making the cake (he requested chocolate), he was fascinated by the cupcake process, thought the chocolate cake was a brownie - all things that indicated he was a little unfamiliar with this process. He was unsure of the presents.  He opened each card and each gift fairly slowly - savoring each one. He really, truly enjoyed every gift he was given.  he was really into the idea that these gifts were all his, but still so willing to share them with Ben and Maggie.


we had special play time on his new bean bag before bed time because I felt like it was important to tag the day with some nurturing activities. but even so, a couple hours after bedtime, he was up - a little distressed, even while sleeping, opening and closing the bedroom door. obviously unsettled. which just put a little tag of grief on my day. I'm wondering when or if we will ever have special occasions that aren't tinged with sadness. I feel like I can't even truly enjoy the moments like these because I don't know if they're really 'mine' to enjoy. When I say 'mine', I'm not even referring to the children so much as I am to the actual moments. everything is bittersweet, full of wonder, full of pain. watching Brenden love his party and his gifts and his for-now-family only reminds me that he has no forever-family right now. It might someday be us. It might someday be his mother. It might someday be someone else entirely. and who will be able to enjoy these moments then? will he remember? will I be able to remember without pain? sometimes I feel this loss so much that it takes my breath away.  


so today, right now, it's midnight.  a new day.  I'm putting it aside for now.  for at least the next half hour while I worship my Savior.  who loves me more than I believe sometimes.  who loves Mr. B and Baby R more than I ever can.  who loves.


the medicine - john mark mcmillan: this album has ministered so much to me over the past two days.  I have a strong dislike for much of what the contemporary Christian music culture has done to art and music and true worship and calling, but this.  this is organic and raw and the divine meeting the humanity in music.  the kingdom here among us.  this is a song probably more famous because of which bands have covered it, but I prefer this version...and this story...by far.

alive

Thursday, July 1, 2010

This morning, I am treasuring my sweet, sweet mornings...
sweet Baby R smiles before she goes down for a morning nap
sweet jammy-clad children coloring 'pwetty houses' in the streaming sunlight
sweet sleeping newly-hormonally challenged oldest, wondering why I had wake him up when it's only ten


"The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware,
joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware."
-Henry Miller

one more thing

Sunday, June 27, 2010

One thing that I can share is a favorite quote that I ran back across while reviewing some of my writing from months past: Hope is not the expectation that things will turn out well, but the conviction that something is worth working for, however it turns out. (unknown)


So here it is. What I'm clinging to right now. The absolute conviction that this thing that we're doing - this life that we're living, these children that we're loving - is worth working for. However it turns out.

uncertainty

at this point, I'm just uncertain about how much to write down and how much to share. I want a record of how this process took place, of what we dealt with and went through, but I also want to be mindful of privacy for the case. I want to protect the children. I want to protect their mother, frankly. Since the mom is back in the picture somewhat for the case, things have gotten a little more complicated. I want the very best for these children, but I also have this very strong desire to protect them. What has happened to this family is just so sad, so devastating. The trauma that the kids have endured is unbelievable to me sometimes, but I just can't help but feel an overwhelming grief for the demise of this family. Sometimes people say to me how lucky they are to be in our home.  I just have a hard time seeing that right now. What about what has happened to them is lucky? Do people not get that they are in our home because they have been devastated by traumatic events and situations. That there is a family involved here that will probably never be healthy and whole and together again. So, so unbelievably sad. How God must grieve over the pain His children - both the actual children AND the parents - are experiencing.

triggers

Sunday, June 20, 2010

When you are fostering, you have a lot of appointments.  Especially if you have a child in therapy or children who have visitation with birth families.  Fortunately for my schedule, we don't actually have to do visitation with Mr. B and Baby R.  We do have weekly therapy however.  In addition to the children's appointments, we also have several people out to the home each month.  The caseworker is required to come visit us in our home once a month.  The CASA worker also visits once a month, as does the Help Me Grow worker.  This week, all of them came to visit on three consecutive days.

Mr. B did not do well with these visits.  There has been lots of crying, fits, anger, sadness, anxiety, and defiance.  The visits clearly do not make him feel secure.  He loves his caseworker, but when he found out she was coming, he immediately went upstairs and brought down his shoes.  To him, she represents moving.  Six moves in a little over a year will do that to you.  My heart breaks for the pain that these kids have been through.  

The information that we have now on childhood development tells us that when repeated trauma like this happens to a child, that their brains actually rewire.  So Mr. B not only has the memories/impressions from his past, his brain is actually wired differently than a normally attached, normally developed and secure child.  It's just devastating.   I have found a lot of help and encouragement in several different books on adoption.  I know that we're not technically in the 'adoption' category at this point, but the information is still highly relevant.  People like Nancy Thomas (Attaching in Adoption), Gregory Peck (Parenting the Hurt Child), and Karyn Purvis (The Connected Child) have been gifting parents with help to parent their hurt children.  I owe them a great debt of gratitude.  What a blessing it is to not have to go through this on my own.

Mr. B has been asking for extra nurturing activities - several Theraplay techniques that we learned in therapy (God BLESS you, kind therapist).  I'll try to explain more of what each individual routine consists of.  The ones he specifically asked for during this traumatic week were boo-boo cream, band-aids, and fishies.

'Boo-boo cream' is a routine that we go through where I inspect his body for boo-boos.  He is responsible for telling me where they are.  I gently rub lotion onto each spot (real or imagined), and reassure him that I like to take care of him.  That it's my job to take care of him.  Thanking him for telling me where he hurts.  Letting him know that I, the adult in the relationship, will always be there to take care of him and care for his hurts and pain.  The band-aids go right along with this.  Just a reassurance that as the mama, I am the one who can care for his needs.  That I provide a healing and safe presence, instead of an inconsistent, anxiety-inducing, hurtful presence.

The 'fishies' are a nurturing feeding activity that we do.  He sits in his bean-bag chair, and I feed him goldfish (or some other small snack).  He does not touch the bag, the food, or anything during this time.  I put the fish directly into his mouth when he tells me he's ready.  This exercise is to reaffirm the nurturing and caretaking aspect of our relationship.  Of course he can feed himself, but it's my job to take care of him.  It's my job to provide him with his needs.  For children that have largely been left to themselves, to care for themselves, and with no safe parental figure to turn to for needs, this is a very important skill for them to learn.  I also like the 'baby' aspect of it since this is not a stage of life that I got to experience with him.  The regression, I think, is extremely bonding both for him and for me.

One of the most important things during all these activities is the attempt to make and maintain eye contact.  When Mr. B moved in, he was very reluctant to make eye contact.  He still has some hesitancy.  But his willingness to trust me and just the simple act of meeting my eyes is healing for him.

Maybe I'm not describing these Theraplay techniques in the most clinical way.  Maybe the things that I'm getting from therapy aren't actually the things that are designed.  But they're working for Mr. B and me right now.  We are bonding, albeit slowly.  We are attaching to one another.  He is learning to trust me as a parent, as someone who will always keep him safe and care for his needs.

In other news, Baby R has been introduced to several new foods.  She LOVES food.  I am enjoying watching her discover new tastes and textures.  She is clearly attaching to all of us significantly.  We are her family (as far as she knows for right now).  And she's adorable, and I am falling in love.  The end.

favorite thing

Friday, June 11, 2010

Here, quickly, is my favorite thing from yesterday:
Mr. B and I are talking about families. Me: "Mr. B, what is a family?"
Mr. B: "A family is happy."

Yep.

Terrible Days

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Mr. B has had three really, really terrible days. I have literally spent the entire day with him all three days. He wants to control every tiny thing, and full-on fits ensue when it doesn't happen. It's so obviously driven by something other than regular 2-year-old defiance and independence. Something deeper is going on, and we can't quite reach it. I think that it's mostly fear. I wonder if he's really starting to feel safe and secure and love towards our family, and maybe that frightens him. There's a lot of anxiety built up in his little being, and I want so badly to relieve it. It is so frustrating - not his behavior, but the fact that I can't fix his problems.

I also know that there is a spiritual component. We are in a battle for his healing and wholeness and happiness. For his future. That's a physical battle and most definitely it's an emotional battle. But beyond that, it's a spiritual battle. Fortunately, we have the Healer on our side. I'm just praying for His intervention. Mr. B needs His healing touch, and Wendell and I need His strength because this is beyond what we can do on our own. This is the hardest thing that we've ever done. This is the hardest thing that I've ever done. I wasn't prepared for the depth of what this would require of us. It wasn't really my intention to be this invested; I intended to protect myself from some of the emotional fallout in case these children are moved from us. I realized over the past three horrible days that I'm all in. I have to be. It's what Mr. B needs to heal. How can I protect myself at the expense of his healing? How can I not love him with everything I have? How can I not surrender all of myself to what God has called me to do? Anything less would not be obedience. Anything less would not be true love.

Case Progression

Friday, May 28, 2010

We went to our first team meeting a couple days ago. It was very interesting. Almost every person involved with the case was there - foster parents, therapists, nurses, Help Me Grow worker, CASA worker, case worker, and the grandma who is interested in keeping them. Everyone was very frank on how the kids were doing, and what their feelings were on their placements. While most of them aren't really professionally free to 'recommend' where the children should stay or move to, they were all very frank on how pleased they were with the current placements and how well the kids are all doing.

It's difficult for me because Mr. B and Baby R are definitely not our children. But in very real ways, we are their parents. I don't know what the future will bring for our family, but for right now, they are part of our family. That feels very right and very scary all at one time. If I didn't feel like they are part of our family, it would be far easier to let them go someday should that be what is required of us. Continual patience, grace and strength are my never-ending prayers right now.
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