Aug 31, 2011

The Teenager Turns 18!

What was she looking at?

Oh, nothing. Just the giant Hummer limo that picked her up at 5:00 pm.

Filled with balloons, cool fiber optic lights, mirrored ceiling, loud music, pizza...



silly dancing sisters...

and teenage friends.

Stopping at various locations throughout the city for a "scavenger hunt' where pre-planted gift bags for each teenager were waiting.

And oooo-la-la I had sooooooo much fun shopping for nail-themed items, bath-themed items, writing-themed items and candy themed items.

And eating the candy-themed items.

Only one melt down regarding a left behind gift bag, ( The Teenager) one seizure ( a guest), and one popper mishap pictured above. Seriously! I'm amazed myself at how smoothly it all went.

And at the end of the three hour limo ride, a very happy teenager.

Happy 18th! You've come a long way baby!

Aug 26, 2011

Adoptive Child Syndrome

"In twenty-five years of practice I have seen hundreds of adoptees, most adopted in infancy. In case after case, I have observed what I have come to call the Adopted Child Syndrome, which may include pathological lying, stealing, truancy, manipulation, shallowness of attachment, provocation of parents and other authorities, threatened or actual running away, promiscuity, learning problems, fire-setting, and increasingly serious antisocial behavior, often leading to court custody. It may include an extremely negative or grandiose self-image, low frustration tolerance, and an absence of normal guilt or anxiety." ("The Adopted Child Syndrome: What Therapists Should Know," Psychotherapy in Private Practice, vol. 8 (3) Hayworth Press, 1990)....

David Kirschner, Ph.D (No, not the same David Kirschner, producer, who did the Chucky film series) coined the phrase and although it is not an "approved" diagnosis by the American Psychiatric Association it is an interesting concept.

Knowing of more than a few failed adoptions I'm of the firm belief that it would be a good idea if this subject was touched on in the Model Approach to Partnership in Parenting (MAPP) classes required for all potential adoptive parents instead of the inane "role -playing" dramatizations they put prospective parents through. I remember my role playing assignment had me miming a tire change on an imaginary car. Seriously, to this day I have no clue as to how this exercise prepared me to be an informed foster parent or adoptive parent.

Especially since I pay AAA auto club to change my tires for me.

A friend of mine who took the classes years later called me weekly to tell me horror stories regarding the supervisor who taught her MAPP classes The one story that sticks with me all these years later was that according to my friend the supervisor kept discussing "gentiles" and she and her husband could not figure out what gentiles had to do with anything until it became apparent that the supervisor was mispronouncing "genitals."

Of course the flip side is that if prospective adoptive parents were given the good, the bad and the ugly statistics in their MAPP classes would anyone ever adopt? Certainly those on the fence might climb off leaving behind the seasoned veterans who actually know what they are getting in to but even those seasoned veterans who've already experienced and won battles are sometimes taken by surprise.

This week, for instance, the arrest of the adopted son of dear friends was plastered on the front page of our local newspaper. After reading the article and being overwhelmed with grief for his wonderful parents I did my own Internet mini-study last night.

Of the five families I personally know who have adopted boys, now in their 20's two are currently in jail, the third has been arrested four times and the fourth has been arrested 3 times.

Only the fifth has never had a brush with the law but is currently living at home driving his parent person insane.

Although experts don't all buy the Adoptive Child Syndrome almost all will agree on the fact that if a child is adopted before the age of 6 months the outcome is generally the same as if they had been raised by a birth parent.


Who in our current foster system is adopted before the age 6 months? According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway the average age of the adopted foster child is 8 1/2 years while a 2005 study showed 7 years. Of course there are some exceptions but rarely are those exceptions under 6 months of age.

Who's to blame? Don't ask me. I'm pretty certain you don't want to hear it.

One of my favorite bloggers and someone who lives in the trenches is Cindy of Big Mama Hollers. Reading this post yesterday, as always, gave me more food for thought.

The difficulties of adoption, whether you are the adoptive parent or the adoptee, needs to be addressed in detail before embarking on the life. If you have had experiences with adoption or know more than one person who has adopted, you have a pretty good idea that some adoptions do not always, realistically speaking, end well. The fail rate alone of teens who are adopted is 14- 15%.

So what can we do?

I believe the most productive thing a prospective adoptive parent can do is to educate themselves and not rely on the "system" to adequately prepare you for the issues that the majority of adoptive families will face.

Once you've completed your Forever Family Puppies & Rainbows classes take a moment to ponder these blogs from veterans that will tell it like it really is:

Big Mama Hollers
Mega Family Living
Never A Dull Moment

Or you can do your own searches for your own blogs. There are hundreds out there.

Read about what it's like
from the child's perspective when they find themselves snared in the foster care web starting with Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter and The Red Glass:From Abuse Hell To Living Well by my friend Pamela K. Keyser.

And for all of you Pollyanna's out there I'll go ahead and apologize now. The above rant is intended to inform.

I did not set out to pee in your punch bowl.

Aug 22, 2011

The Magic School Bus

School started today.It was the happiest day of my life. I love my children but after this summer I was seriously thinking about becoming an alcoholic.

Remember last year and 25 days before we got a school bus for The Baby? Well, this year we got one on the first day of school!

The FIRST day!

Of course it went down the wrong side of the street and parked two houses down. Call me smarty smarty because I just knew that bus down yonder parked at the wrong house had to be our bus so I went screeeeeeing out the front door waving my old lady dingle dangle arms in the air.

A faceless voice out a small window yelled at me, "The Baby?"


"We'll be right back. We went the wrong way."

As my 86 year old mother used to say before she passed away, "No sh*t, Sherlock."

Eventually the bus weaved it's way through the maze of my neighborhood landing on the correct side of the street to lower the wheel chair lift AND in front of our house. We put the baby on the wheel chair lift and she jerk, jerk, jerked up.

And then jerk jerk jerked down.

And then up up up.

And then down down down.

And then up up up.

Seems the driver couldn't get the lift level with the door.

The Baby looked a little worried now so I soothed her with my
fakest biggest I'm-not- worried-look-at-mommy-smile informing her that this experience was better and bumpier than a Disney World ride.

And no admission fee!

Finally level the driver pushed the button to release the flap blocking the bus entrance so we could roll her back into the bus and the awaiting aide.

It didn't work so he pushed the remote button again.

And again

And again.

After about 10 to 12 button pushes he reached over and flicked it with his finger and the flap fell over like a piece of flimsy cardboard. I was starting to have some concerns...

Thinking it was over I go inside to finish getting ready for work and get The Boy up. I'm sipping my coffee when I notice the bus is still in my front yard. I look at the clock. It's been there 20 minutes. It looks like the LA freeway in front of and behind the bus from cars waiting.

I know my neighbors seriously hate me by now.

I finally go outside when I see the bus driver get out of the bus again. An alarm is ringing. He explains that he can't get the door to latch. You know, the door The Baby sits next to.

The alarm goes ding ding ding diiiiiinnnngggggg as he fiddle faddles with the door.



As always I'll have to tough this one out un-medicated and pray I don't have a stroke in the meantime.

He finally gets the door latched so I go indoors.

And then he sits grinding gears for five minutes in front of my house.

Did it get better? No.

The bus was 40 minutes late in the afternoon. It arrived at 2:40 pm. School is over at 1:30 pm. The Boy's school is in another area of town and gets out at 2:30 pm. I had promised to pick up Mrs. M's daughter as well as Mrs. M is swamped with appointments.

After Iris rescued all of us Mrs. M and I sat across from each other in my living room.

"What a day," she sighs.

I didn't even have to ask. I figured if it was anything like mine we were blessed to be cerebrovascular accident free and still able to communicate with each other over our bottled water without drooling.
So how was your day?

Aug 20, 2011

Too Bad Our Salaries Don't Double Every Year Like Our Electric Bills

My electric bill history printout really slapped me awake today. I had signed up for on line payments this week after the post office lost my check last month. Getting hit with a two month bill this week was terrible financial timing.

Mortgage Delinquencies And Foreclosures

Cruising around the Progress Energy sight this morning since they still haven't taken my payment out of checking I found this:

Payment History:

Payment Date
Total for '09$1,151.00

Total for '10$2,559.00

Total for '11$1,571.00

Civilian Unemployment Rate from The Department of Labor

Aug 18, 2011

Achieving Balance

Does one ever achieve balance with a parcel of special needs children? Ever?

The Boy has been sleeping through the night this week thanks to The Big City Doctor and his prescription. Yesterday I phoned Iris/Virus from work at 10 am and made her take his pulse because he was still asleep. He was not thrilled.

You pray for sleep and when it comes through chemistry you are checking respiration's and carotid pulses. Are we ever happy?

Last night he heads to bed and says, "Do not wake me up in the morning."

This from The Boy who hasn't slept through the night in a year and hasn't napped in 8 years and would never, ever admit he was sleepy even if he was asleep.

I've died and gone to heaven.

And the new attitude? I'm not sure I know who this boy is. Calm. Sweet. Cooperative.

Alien abduction aside it's got to be the sleep.

Someone asked how come it took so long to get him on some medication when the sleep deprivation was so severe? I believe I present my self as being a tad too calm and therefore the severity of the issue must have been minimized in the eyes of The Big City Doctor.

This time me screeching, "We are in crisis!" and "I'm going to drop him off at a fire station!" got the ball rolling. The wracking sobs helped, too.

Today we went to school orientation for The Boy. Mrs. Needs-To-Be-Canonized was canonized over the summer and crowned the principal. The Boy was not happy to lose his favorite teacher until he met his new teacher a cute, new graduate who Mrs. M observed was only slightly older than The Boy.

"I think I have a crush." he sighs.

And do you remember your new teachers name? (I do because I wrote it on a bank envelope. Miss Zulinski)


I'll give you a hint.....Miss Zooooooooo

"Miss Zookeeper!" he shouts.

No sweetie. Not her job description. Her name.

Aug 16, 2011

"I'm A Little Sleepy"

Just got home from work early as my last client didn't open the door although i could see them peeping out of their curtains. Gotta love it.

Last night The Boy took his first dose of sleepy medicine prescribed by The Big City Doctor.

The Boy slept through the night for the first time in...oh...say a year?

This morning as I was getting up for work at 7:00 am he came out of his bedroom but informed me, "I'm only going to the bathroom and then I'm gong back to bed."

And he did.

This afternoon he greeted me with holy words I never thought I'd hear in his lifetime.

"I'm a little sleepy."

You know I'm Ms. Organic and all for holistic treatment but it doesn't do you much good when you're dead. Which is where I was heading from lack of sleep and cortisol levels through the ceiling from stress.

As Mrs. M says, "Thank God for drugs and the M.D.'s who prescribe them."


Aug 15, 2011


The Big City Doctors' nurse called me this morning to see how the weekend went. I told her I went to sleep at 11:30 pm last night and The Boy went to bed at 9:30 pm. He woke up 3 times in the 2 hours I was still up. Once for water. Once to potty. Once to torment me.

This morning he had a major meltdown.

And then I found the stool pulled up to the cabinets and a bowl of peanut butter in the sink. Clear evidence that he had been up roaming around when I was sleeping.

Probably all night.

We hung up and I figured that was the last I'd hear but an hour ago the phone rang and The Big City Doctor feels the lack of sleep is a contributing factor to the meltdowns.

Do you think? I know I am ready to rip someones head off and I get at least a few more hours sleep than the boy does. Of course I also maintain a two story house, gardens, work and take care of 3 special needs kids as well but we won't go into that sob story because I don't feel like whining today.

The Big City Doctor is prescribing something for sleep to be given with the melatonin and the Tenex. All three together? Yes, the nurse confirmed.

Sounds like they are bringing out the big guns. Which is good because now I won't have to shoot myself.

I hung up and could have sworn I heard a choir of angels singing.

When the Boy was a baby he went through a period of babbling, cooing and talking to someone who was very tall...only there was no one there. The first time I heard him I thought someone had broken in to the house. There he sat looking in a specific direction and giggling and acting like someone was clearly interacting with him. One of my foster children noticed this and I told him it was probably The Boy's guardian angel. God knows he needed one...

A week later my foster child yelled to me in the kitchen, "The Angel is back!"

Children are so sweet.

When they sleep that is.

The Boy loves this story even though he hasn't "talked" to his guardian angel in over 10 years. Recently, however, he came to me a bit distressed.

"I think I killed my angel."


"I think he had a hard time keeping up with me and may have died." He was serious.

I reassured him that his angel was still hanging around looking after him although in my heart I secretly suspect that God had probably assigned one or two more to assist the first exhausted celestial being.

Perhaps a SWAT team of angels.

We will pick up the prescription on the way to music therapy and start tonight. I'm not terribly optimistic.

Well, no. That's not true. Don't tell anyone but I can hardly contain my glee.

Aug 14, 2011

Ponderings Of An Exhasuted Mom

This summer has seriously kicked my butt. The first two weeks were idyllic. That ended far too early. Illness, finances and, maniacal meltdowns (no not me...well not initially anyway) have taken a toll on my physical health and energy level.

The boy has developed a most horrifying nocturnal disorder sleeping 2 hours a night and then torturing the rest of the family during the day. He hasn't napped since he was three. I am awaiting a call back from the hospital to attempt to get to the bottom of this and hopefully find some medication that works. We are years beyond the Melatonin and Benadryl suggestions.

Unless you live this life you have no clue what mind numbing stress is heaped upon a parent of special needs children whether birth or adoptive.
Although adopted kids do come with their unique sets of challenges.

Children damaged beyond repair by in utero drugs, lack of bonding in infancy, poor or no pre-natal care, torture at the hands of the mentally ill sperm and egg donors before removal, beaten by mom's boyfriends, family genetic predispositions including addictions, and mental health issues. These darling children come to you after 5-10 different foster homes ( one friend adopted a boy who was in 27 homes and now has a restraining order against him) and we still expect them to be suddenly happy and grateful to us because we've bought them a Dora quilt, painted their rooms pink and filled their closets with pretty clothes.

Here's a news flash for the naive in the audience. Love is not enough.

And save your well meaning comments because having a man around the house would make no difference. Spanking is not the solution. And sticker charts...well I won't go there as I may be tempted to say the "F' word out loud and this is a g-rated blog.

It is times like this when I cling to the few and far between who understand parenting special needs children like Big Mama Hollers, Elizabeth, my best adoption buddy Mrs. M and The Big City Behavior specialist. It is ONLY those of us in the trenches who truly understand the life.

One blogger who has suffered with the adoption of special needs older children ( which have a 15% failure rate) has recently asked the question, when the puppies and rainbows of the forever family bites the dust then what?

I've seen professionals who should know better rejoicing over "made in heaven forever families" knowing full well the difficulties the former foster families have had with these children for years and the homes they have been moved in and out of yet they continue to perpetuate the myth that love is enough. Many of these kids go on to be placed in residential treatment facilities by the forever families who were unprepared to cope with the severity of the pre-existing damage.

And then there are the birth parents who show up in your back yard or bump in to you at a fishing tournament, walk up to your child and tell them, "I am your mother."

In the Teenagers case it went directly over her head as she knows that I am her mother even if i have blue eyes. She told me at a very young age that I had blue eyes and white skin but in my heart I was really black like she was.

An astute observation probably derived from listening to too much Motown growing up with whitey.

We've been mother and daughter for a long time and I wouldn't have it any other way.

The Teenager and me in 1994

That doesn't mean that there are not challenges with both Baby and Teenager. They have extensive neurological damage and any time you have brain damage you have 3 things that are universal. Seizures. Learning Disabilities. Behavioral Challenges. The gospel according to our Big City Neurologist.

So it was no surprise when The Baby yelled at the cook in the restaurant this week. Due to the cerebral palsy the only discernible words were, "EAT! EAT!" and "FOOD! FOOD!" Apparently, the cook wasn't preparing our order quickly enough. When I told her to use her restaurant voice she poked her little finger towards my face and said quite clearly, "UT UP!" to which The Boy burst out laughing, encouraging her with his heart felt glee.

I could have smacked em' both right off of their booster seats.

The Boy is a different matter altogether. Severe street drug and alcohol exposure in utero, first 6 months of life with little or no bonding. Every time an adult approached him in NICU it generally ended in infliction of severe pain and fractures. Limited physical contact. Carried around on an eggcrate. No skin on skin or warm touches, hugs or cuddling. A lost sleep study which had him lying in his first foster home with severe nocturnal anoxia to the point where when discovered he was emergently trached.

Throw in Dyslexia, Dyscalculia and Dysgraphia and you have a crap load of challenges.

And now he doesn't sleep.

I'm not alone.

I just heard from the adoptive mother of the little girl pictured below. She has been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder and is being placed in a residential treatment facility.

It took two years despite multiple abuse complaints to remove her from her prostitute mother who lived on the street with the child and ate out of dumpsters. God only knows what the mothers "friends' did to this child. Two years that formed her future.

She is 5 years old.

No. Love was not enough.

And so i sit here tired and defeated. Exhausted from battle and lack of sleep.My house is messy. My dishes need washing. I have tons of laundry. Meals to prepare. Attitudes to adjust and two dear sick friends to check on. Haggie Maggie has been diagnosed with cancer and just finished one week of radiation and chemo and Mama Mia Maria just had another surgery. That's where my heart is... to encourage them. Bring them soup and balloons and sunflowers.

But...I am paralyzed with exhaustion and can't seem to even move!

Yesterday my dear friend in Alabama lay awake praying for sleep for my family. Now there's an irony!

When the bumper sticker above was sent to me by Big Daddy Dr. Weed today it cracked me up. It was my only smile of the day and oddly enough has become my silly incentive to at least attempt to "look busy" today.

Even if the day is half over...

Thanks to all of my friends who prop me up when I am too weary to stand upright.

You know who you are.

Aug 1, 2011

Proud to Be A Guest Blogger!

Back in June when we were all fighting the eye crud and hacking up chunks o' lung Rachel approached me to do a guest post on her amazing blog, Journeys With Autism: Reports From Life On The Spectrum.

Go here to read it.

Thank you, Rachel for the honor!