Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thankfuf For Adoption

It is nearly over, this month of November when awareness is being raised about adoption and Americans are giving thanks. These two seemingly unrelated subjects are actually very much related in our home.

The emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, the abandonment and chaos. all of the trauma our adopted children have experienced leads me to be thankful that I never experienced such things. I live closer to all of that trauma, through them, then anyone would ever want to live. It does not go away, it is there always, it is a part of who they are.

Raising children who TBIs, FASD, CP, and all of the other alphabet soup leads me to be thankful for all the successes in life, no matter how small they seem. The success of being able to zip a jacket after years of trying, the success of tying your own shoes, and the success of being able to spread peanut butter and jelly on your own toast are all things to be thankful for. Even the nonstop chatter all day every day, of a child who was never supposed to be able to speak, is a success, although there are times when it sure would be nice to have quiet for just a few minutes.

Raising a child who will not or maybe can not show love is even something to be thankful for. This idea may seem a bit out of line for most people, but this child has brought the rest of our family closer together then ever before. We need each other to get through the challenges that are brought about by attachment disorders. This child has taught all of us how precious a gift it is to be able to give and receive love.

The life we have as a family who has adopted children with special needs is very challenging, every single day. There are medical issues and crisis, and behavioral issues to deal with all of the time. There is the very broken "system" that is constantly throwing us for a loop with some new rule or to take something away. There is always the threat of allegations being brought against us because we have a child who manipulates, lies, and can make up a whopper of a tale when the opportunity arises.

The things I am now finding myself being thankful for are much different then they were before these children came into our lives. Material things are much less important to me now. Many of the material things that I once thought were so important have new been destroyed by our adopted children.

I am thankful for professionals who REALLY do understand and work very hard to provide the medical care, therapies, and educational services that these children deserve and need. They may not have all of the answers, but together we do the best that we can for them.

I am thankful for family and friends who support us in what we are doing.

I am thankful for my husband who can always find something positive about the situation even when things get very rough.

I am thankful for my adopted children who have taught me lessons in patience, understanding, determination, and love that I would have never had the opportunity to experience without them.

As this month comes to a close I am thankful for adoption. Sometimes, okay a lot of the time it is very challenging to parent these very hurt children, but without adoption I would not know how trauma really affects the children, because you can read about and study it but unless you live with it every day you REALLY have no idea what trauma is. These children have opened my eyes to a world of alcohol, drugs, violence, poverty, crime, and social injustice that I would have never known existed in this country of plenty. They give us much to be thankful for every day by being themselves.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Time Flies...

It has been a bit busy around here so I have not had time to blog so here is a brief glance at the past several days.

Saturday morning we went out for waffles for a fund raising event that Karre is taking part in. It went fine, except that Hanna was upset because she only got one and a half waffles (I had one and was full) and Jared got two. She was able to hold it together while at the event. She just sat there staring off into space, but once we got in the van the drama was on. She went on and on about this all day.

Later in the afternoon Karre was in the high school theatre production. she was the stage director. I asked her what her specific duties were and she told me that she just did everything. She had built sets, researched costumes and hair styles of the 1940s, fixed every ones hair for the show, and created sound affects. She also supervised the boys who were doing lights and sound. The kids put on a terrific show.

I went downstairs to find that someone had colored on the book shelf. Hanna claims that it was Paul, however it says "BFF" and there are stick figures in the drawing. I know that Paul is not able to draw this stuff and even if he could he is not at all interested in it. Hanna draws this same stuff everywhere, got caught again.

We celebrated Lauren`s seventeenth birthday with a movie and pizza on Sunday. She has grown up way to fast.

I had court (jury duty) for the past two days.

Paul does not have school today so I am trying to get a few things done here with his help. I will bake the pies that Jared made and put in the freezer. Jared will do most of the cooking tomorrow which I am very Thankful for. We will all be home plus one girl friend. Rene and Trevor are coming today just as soon as Trevor can get off work. The weather is not looking at all good for traveling so I hope they get here safely.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Friday, November 19, 2010

It Is Going To Be A Good Day

It is going to be a good day. I took the frustrations of the last couple of days out on the treadmill, which is not the choice workout machine for me, but Miss Hanna did a wonderful job of destroying the elliptical machine. The Dad and Jared looked the situation over and decided that we need a part and likely $$ for labor because they do not think it is something they can fix. Way to go Hanna!

I will deal with kid services again next week. I can not do anything else right now so it moves to the back corner of the desk to deal with later.

I connected with two physicians yesterday who have differing opinions of what to do with Lauren`s neurological issues so we are going to have to do further testing and then we are going to have to make some decisions from there. I would really rather not have to be making such choices, all of them seem pretty overwhelming right now.

All of that is set aside for the rest of the day because I am going to do some baking for a fund raiser that Karre is involved in and of course I will be sure to save a few good things for us to enjoy over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The chocolate, Carmel, butter, and sugar will all come together in total goodness.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


It has been a long week already taking the girls to the orthodontist, getting medical records, and trying to figure out what to do next with Lauren`s neurological issues, but then late yesterday afternoon I got a call that just made everything else I had been doing all week seem like the run of the mill stuff.

The call was not from the usual, I don`t get FASD, attachment disorders, vulnerable kids, and multiple disabilities, it was from someone else who has a lot more clout then that. "Do you REALLY need the services that you have and those you are waiting for"?

Well now what do you say to that? I just don`t know sometimes what to do next. First of all, all four of our adopted kids meet EVERY criteria they have, in fact they all have multiple disabilities that qualify them many times over for the same services. I was asked to give up services for them so that other people could get help and then they could get them later. NO WAY am I going to do that. We already have a kid who is severely disabled who is on a waiting list for services and I guess after this conversation that is not going to change any time soon. When we adopted these kids we were told that there would be services out there to meet there needs. That has not been the situation at all, in fact they are losing services all the time. We are paying for medical care that is no longer covered by their insurance, maintenance therapy that is no longer covered, and we have legal bills because of their disabilities. and even if you used all of our income that might cover the cost of meeting the needs of one of the four kids. Then what would we do to feed, clothes, and shelter all of us? We will have bills for the rest of our lives because we adopted them. I used to trust that when someone told me that things were going to happen they would, but I have been an adoptive mom of kids who have special needs, to long now to do that any more. I have been blown off by a system that does not work, one to many times to go there again.

Believe it or not we REALLY do need the services. We have two kids who will become adults in a year and then we will have a whole new world of crazy system to deal with. For now all I can do is celebrate one last year of them being kids and then I will REALLY have to get to work because they will still REALLY need services. There disabilities are not going to magically disappear.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Challenge

The smooth sailing has already come to an end once again. Remember last Friday was supposed to be one of the many routine surgery days that we have at least once every six months for Lauren, well it turned out to be anything but routine.

There has been regression in speech, academics, emotional behavior, balance, and ability to do everyday tasks that had been mastered long ago for Lauren. Since Dad, I, and the teacher are all seeing the same thing I had brought it to the attention of the pediatrician at her pre-op appointment. The pediatrician and the physical medicine physician were both quite concerned because people who have Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) like the one she has do not tend to regress unless there is some neurological issue causing problems.

Apparently the two physicians had spoken on the phone while we were driving to the appointment on Friday so when we got there her medical team was ready to have a quick discussion. It was decided that while she was sedated for her other procedure they would also do a CAT scan to see if they could figure out what is going on. There were several areas of concern so further testing will need to be completed. All of the things they are considering will make her medical care more involved.

I got the job of trying to get imaging from CAT scans and MRI`s from before she was adopted, at the time she was injured. This involves working with a major medical center thousands of miles away, going through a mountain of records, and of course dealing with the issue of an adopted child while doing it. Thankfully I have a computer and I can operate it effectively when needed. After talking to four different people I think I finally got in touch with the right one, the one who can actually do something and actually knew exactly what I was talking about. It was a challenge, but I got it done. Thankfully we did not have to go to court to get this done. The staff at the hospital we are working with now had told me that in the situation where the adoption record is sealed it is not uncommon to have to get the file opened to get this information.

Now my daughter who has survived a massive TBI and has reached goals no one though possible will have to deal with another medical issue. This baby was born normal, healthy, with parents who are very intelligent, just imagine the potential destroyed because someone was angry at a new born baby! As her mom it is a challenge every day to accept things the way they are and forget about what should have been.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


This is the gorgeous scene we woke up to this morning. It is snowing and is not expected to quit until tomorrow. There will be plenty of work to do to get the driveway cleared out and all of the vehicles off the street for the snow emergency that will come later today. The electricity has been out twice this morning. All of the plans for today have been changed to staying home except the guys will have to go get the snow blower out of storage and drop Lauren off later. For right now we will enjoy the beauty of the snow. We will be tired of the white stuff soon enough.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Routine Day

Today will be routine as I have to take Lauren to Gillette for as they call it "surgery day". She has done this many, many times. It is an incredible medical procedure which helps to keep her spastic body from contracting. She knows the drill, yet like most big kids who have little kid abilities she protests. I can handle her protesting as it is very mild compared to many others who are dealing with this issue. The staff is great and since we are regulars we tend to get the same ones to work with her every time. They know what movies to bring and they dig through the Band-Aid collection to find purple ones for her. All I have to do is sign a mountain of paperwork and sit on my butt and wait for several hours before she is ready to go home.

The weather sounds like it could get a bit messy for the drive home though.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank You

It is easy to say thank you to all of the veterans who have served our country in the armed forces. As a Navy mom and soon to be an Army mom I understand all that they sacrifice for us. Thank you to each and every one of you, you are so appreciated!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Someone asked what our family rules are and I responded that we had very few and those that we do have we keep simple. This person seems to think that we have children who are very well behaved and they wanted to know how we get all eight of them to do that when they can not get two to cooperate.

Our rules are intended to keep everyone safe and to keep our ship sailing on calm seas as I often say.

When Mom and Dad say no they really mean it. There is no such thing as no, well maybe no, or well if I cry and pout enough I will get my way. Believe it or not parents need to say no a lot. This does not mean that our kids do not get to do anything they want to, they do, it is that each of them is an individual and that is taken into account when deciding what they can decide for themselves and when. Some of our kids will never be able to make choices on their own. They just do not have the ability to do that.

Everyone in our family has chores. They are assigned based on ability. Karre cleans all of the bathrooms, Allen takes out the garbage and recycling, Hanna washes dishes, Lauren takes clothes off the line and puts folded clothes away, and Paul keeps the shoe clutter under control.There is NO getting out of your chores they have to be done. When everyone does their chores then Mom handles the rest of the housework and Dad and the other kids are assigned things to do when they are here as well. It is as simple as this, we work hard together and then we play equally as hard.

Mom and Dad or some other responsible person needs to know the whereabouts of everyone at all times. This applies to both the neuro-typical members of the family and those with special needs. This is not complicated with cell phones and Internet available everywhere. This is for safety purposes. This just makes the Mom and Dad relax a bit. That is hard to do with all of these young people on the loose.

The consequences for behavior are those which naturally occur. We do not do any behavior mod, it just does not work especially with a kid who has attachment issues.and it makes me crazy as well. If you miss the bus you will be paying for the ride to school, if you choose not to come to the dinner table and act in an appropriate manner then you do not eat ( I have never had a kid starve to death even though some of them think they will), if you lose your jacket you will buy a new one, and if you destroy something that belongs to someone else you will replace it.

Everyone needs personal space and that needs to be respected. This is difficult especially for our kids who have FASD. They do not understand boundaries, have trouble figuring out what behavior is acceptable, and are very impulsive. Some kids have this thing for bugging others and it gets annoying, but they can spend time in their room or doing some very physical activity if need be.

That is about it, these are the tools that we use to keep our family running smoothly,no means no, work and play together, know where everyone is, natural consequences, and respect the personal space of everyone else. This sounds simple, yet some days it is very difficult especially when people choose not to cooperate, but most of the time it works for us and that is all that matters.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Summer In November

It is so nice outside that I have not had much time to spend at the computer. I have hung clothes on the line three days in a row, oh yeah that may be some kind of record for November here in Minnesota. Jared put the Christmas tree display out in the yard yesterday. He had lots of "help" from Andrew who was trying to eat the box and Paul who was very, very excited about the whole affair. That boy can talk and talk and talk about anything. (It is amazing since he was not supposed to be able to talk at all). The lights will not go on until after Thanksgiving, but it is much easier to put them up now rather then wait until it is cold and snowing.

The kids did not have school yesterday so keeping track of them, getting them fed. and playing outside was pretty much the whole day gone. I had to leave them with Karre and Angie for a while to take Lauren to a pre-op appointment too. I have already had an IEP meeting thin week and had to deal with a school crisis this morning. It is only Tuesday so the week will be full of lots of other action yet. I had to reschedule some appointments because of jury duty.This week and next. I will really be glad when I am done with that because it messes with my schedule a lot.

I took a long walk today just because it is so nice out and I could do it. The Dad got home from work and calls me up to ask when the heck I was. I told him I was just walking and he goes don`t you have any other stuff to do? Yeah I do, but it can wait until later.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What Day Is It Anyway?

Yesterday I kept thinking that it was Friday. I don`t know why, maybe because things get a bit crazy here sometimes and one day looks just like the one before it.

Paul is holding it together at school at least most of the time. There are things that need to change but that is a long process and right now I am kind of tired of fighting a never ending battle with people who just do not understand FASD /TBI kids and are not listening to any thing I am telling them anyway, so things are going to move really really slow because the Mom in not making a big deal out of it right now. It is another one of those situations where the Mom is going to have to go nuts in order to get anything done.

The kid is sssssooooo cute at home and we love him to pieces and for right now that is enough for me.

He says things like " can you get me some juice"? If you say yes he will come back with "thanks that makes me really, really happy".

He says pogot instead of forgot.
He says punkum instead of pumpkin.
He says that he can`t take his shoes off because he might break them.

I had better get moving to get a few more things done around here before it really is Friday because we have a long weekend here with a teachers work day and no school on Monday.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pay Back Day

We had people over for dinner and let the kids go trick or treating which is a bit of fun and change from the every day routine. For most of us this is a good thing and we enjoy doing things like this from time to time. For Hanna family fun makes for crazy pay back behavior.

She was up singing and dancing a bit before 3:00 am. It was pretty loud. I know this because it woke Dad up and he usually has absolutely no idea of the chaos that goes on around here during the night. When it was time to get ready for school she was doing everything she could to be annoying and guess what it worked. She did not put underwear on so she got sent back to her room to do that, then she put hot pink socks on, which did not match anything she was wearing, so she got to change them, she brushed her teeth without using a toothbrush or tooth paste so she got to do that again too. she finally missed the bus and then went nuts because she was not going to get to talk to her friend. I told her that she could just talk to me until Karre was ready to go and then she could ride with her. Hanna was not talking to me because " I don`t talk to dumb moms and families are really dumb". Maybe she should come up with something more original that that one which I have heard hundreds of times already.

After school Hanna was coloring on the table so her PCA told her to put the crayons away since she did not want to color on the paper any more. Hanna got mad and started chewing on a yellow crayon and spitting it every where. Have you ever tried to get yellow crayon off the braces on the teeth of a kid who is going bonkers? It is one of those things that I would rather not have ever experienced. Hey, at least yellow did not show up as much as most of the other colors do.

That is how Hanna pays us back for letting her have fun. There are times when it would be easier to just never do anything special. When I look at the remainder of the year I see a lot of bonkers behavior coming up.