Sunday, October 2, 2011

Why Does it Have to Be SO Hard?

This weekend STUNK! Things were going good until dinner out on Friday night. It had been a good week and we wanted to go have fun with the kids. I am not sure what happened but as soon as we entered the restaurant Sweet M* was OFF. He pulled away when I tried to bring him close, he was extra hyper and sensitive and he was in the mood where he truly believes EVERYONE is out to get him or is against him. I tried with all my might and we got through dinner, but hubby took the boys to the restroom and I think he got mad at M*. In our world that means you are asking for it. And, "it" is what we got.

I tried to draw him in and even though we had to leave and did not go to the mall playground as the kids were hoping (do to M* bawling) we still drove the kids to sonic and got them some slushies. We tried to snuggle up for a low key movie night but M* couldn't handle it. He ended up having to go to bed early.

Saturday came around and I could tell hubby was spent. FYI: This was our weekend off but it was my mom's birthday so I decided to keep Sweet M* and switch with my mom for next weekend. I don't think it was a wise choice. It sounds crazy I am sure but I know that part of our recent success has been bc we get a break. And, I think the break helps Sweet M* a ton too. He gets my parents undivided attention. They go to the beach or community pool, play, laugh and most importantly my parents remind M* about how lucky he is to have such great parents and about how much we love him. He comes home renewed and refreshed and it is FANTASTIC!!! Oh, it also really helps hubby and I with the guilt we have for the other three. They put up with A LOT and they are so good to M* that it feels nice to be able to give them the attention that we desperately always want to but can't bc we are too busy trying to help M* heal.

Back to Saturday. I knew hubby was exhausted and annoyed so I tried to help. I tried continually to draw Sweet M* close and love on him. To look deep into his eyes... I tried the chin touch. I tried holding him as he screamed and cried and I did so without ever loosing my patience. But, hubby decided it was enough. He came in and he actually helped M* out of his mood. M* does not push hubby like he pushes me. So, hubby talked to M* and for the rest of the weekend we kept very tight boundaries. We controlled every situation and hubby still poured on the love... BUT I had to back off. I don't get why this works but it does. And, although hubby and I are exhausted after this weekend... I think we still did a kick butt job. We did not lose our temper and we kept trying to connect. I don't think we are completely out of the woods. M* is still a little off but hopefully we will get him back in a few days.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Same old... same old!

So, looks like we are in a new routine and it is MUCH better than our old one thank goodness. Yes, we still have tantrums but they are caused by triggers and I see them coming a mile away. By drawing Sweet M* in and sitting next to him or holding him (like a baby) it seems like I am able to go through the emotions with him and bring him back to calm.

The neatest part is there are real signs of growth. Sweet M* now gives me spontaneous hugs for no reason. He has (on several occasions) been able to get in trouble like the other kids without getting stuck in a negative mode... you know for little things. Just a warning used to send him into crazy land.

And, a few days ago he went to his very first dentist appointment and he had to go with the dentist by himself. I sat in the waiting room. He did amazing!!! He had no cavities and he did everything they asked. I was most proud of him when he walked out and said, "Mom, guess what I knew that you would be here for me when I was done." No one else in that room knew why I had tears in my eyes... but that was the FIRST time I think he has ever trusted me to be there for him. The picture above was from that appointment :)

These are good days!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mirroring Emotions and Fast Food Rules

Friday night was nice. Sweet M* had a little trouble playing but hubby was able to draw him in and calm him down and he finished the night really well.

Saturday was very pleasant and that included me dragging Sweet M* and Belle to a baby shower where they were the only kiddos there and to Belle's Nutcracker practice. So, win for me. Actually, total win because hubby and the big boys went to a baseball game so I had the littles with me all day and through bed with no incidences :)

Sunday was okay. The boys were in moods and were constantly bickering with each other. It was hard. But, it was normal sibling stuff so I was glad that Sweet M* was able to be talked to just like the other boys without sending him into a fit. Sunday night we went to church and all the kids did really well. Sweet M* really impressed me because the service is about an hour and a half long and it is hard to sit that long when your little. Sunday night however, the emotions ran too high. After church we went to my parents for a family dinner. It was a little later than we normally eat and it was 45 minutes past Sweet M*'s bedtime and he just couldn't take it anymore. He was engulfed in complete sadness at any little thing that did not go his way. We collected the kids and went home. I was able to draw him close and put him to bed, but I didn't feel like the mood was completely gone.

Today is Monday and the morning was off. Sweet M* was not following his normal morning rules. He was testing me in little ways. And, he tried reaching out to his brothers but they were annoyed from the night before and did not play with him. That is HARD. I get it... I know Sweet M* is a lot for the other kids. But, when he reaches out it is heart breaking to watch him get rejected. On the way to my mom's I just knew he was not doing well. I dropped him off and he didn't want a kiss or hug. He didn't ask to run and wave on the sidewalk as I drove away like he does every other day. I was sad.

But, I picked him up from school and he had earned two day tickets. I think he used his friends and school to escape his hard morning. He excitedly screamed good bye to EVERY friend he could see. Got in the car and it began. First the constant jabber, then if I tried to re-direct he acted like I was against him. He was crazy hyper when we got home and then he lost it when I tried to lay him down for a nap. He SCREAMED piercing screams and when I tried to hold him he kicked and tried to bite me. I held him and lovingly looked into his eyes. I reminded him that I loved him and no matter what he did it would not change the fact that I loved him. But, this fit lasted about an hour and it was exhausting. I did keep my cool the entire time (YAY! ME!). But, what really helped was towards the end I started mirroring his wimpers and cries... I tried to empathize the way you do with an infant. His screams mellowed out.

He started talking while he was crying about why he was upset, nonsense excuses for those big emotions really, but I repeated each one back to him in his same tone. I had learned this from the Harvey Karp books when my other kids were toddlers. It is called the fast food rule. Just like the drive through repeats your order YOU REPEAT YOUR KIDS WORDS. It totally worked. He slowly came back. Apologized and snuggled with me for a few minutes. Than he laid down for nap.

So, I am going to try and remember these for the next big meltdown. Maybe I can cut off the length of the next one by 15 or so minutes??

Friday, September 23, 2011

Having Fun this Friday Night!!

Thursday night ended well... and that was even with hubby gone all day on a business trip. I was even able to put Sweet M* to bed myself without any hassle. I do think the melatonin and the patch are really helping.

Today is Friday and it was a day that included a lot of changes in the normal schedule bc M*'s school was out but the big boys were still in. I had to work and M* went to my mom's with Belle. I was worried bc sometimes with that much change we are asking for a meltdown. But, to my surprise he had a great day.

It is very interesting but I feel like there is a bottom to his emotions. Before there wasn't. Any little upset could tailspin into a major raging violent fit. We have had ZERO violence except for with the sitter which I believe we could have avoided if she was better prepared.

So, tonight we have company and I am in a great mood. I have no doubt that it will be a Fun Friday night!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

No Fear!

Tuesday's event really shook me up. I had a hard time sleeping and Wednesday morning I felt so stressed. But, I talked to a good friend who reminded me that Tuesday was caused by a trigger. I could have prevented it and will next time. And, that if Sweet M* really wanted to hurt the others he would have. It is getting rid of the fear that helps me. Realizing that I am in control of the situation. I just have to remember that even though my sweet boy looks so normal he can get scared and go into survival mode at any time if there is a trigger.

This occasion was caused by hubby and I being gone at bed time and bc we had not properly trained the sitter on what to do "if" he were to go into that state. My plan is I am going to teach her that Sweet M*'s scared and nervous looks like extreme hyper and silliness followed by complete disobedience. I will let her know that he will only get worse unless she brings him in confronts the emotion by verbalizing it for him and then sits with him until he comes back to his normal state (most likely after some crying). She will be prepared next time... as will any other sitter in the future.

It is so sad that M* still gets that scared of us leaving and not coming back. His fear of abandonment is so raw and real. I hope and pray that someday he will realize how much we love him.

To get back to Wed. though he had a great day. He must have tried so hard at school because he came home with two good day tickets. That means he was not talked to even once and he went above and beyond. I think he was trying to make up for the night before ;) He was a little sad all day. He knew he upset us and I think he was trying the woes me card. But, he had good behavior all night and went to bed just fine. Today is Thursday and so far so good :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It had to happen

Today was one of those days that just SUCKS. Most of the day was fine but hubby and I thought we could get out for a date night. We left Belle with Nana because she was already there and the three boys stayed with our babysitter. I double checked Sweet M* talked about everything and I thought he was okay.

I was wrong. Turns out that right around dinner his switch flipped and he went into survival mode. He tried everything he could to get in trouble. Deliberately disobeying by continuing to jump up and down on the couch and trying to climb on the stairwell's. The sitter was having trouble controlling him in order to keep him safe. At dinner he accused her of serving the other two boys more pizza than him (not the case). Than he went into his crazy hyper laughter phase. He was chasing the older boys and trying to push them. Cuddlebear claims M* tried to push him down the stairs... given the mood he sounds like he was in I believe it. And, worst of all the sitter was cleaning up in the kitchen and the boys were on the couch (in plain sight) and the sitter says Cuddlebear was yelling "Stop M*" and she turned around to see M* sitting on top of a pillow that he put on Captain's head. Captain is 8... M* is 5. This SCARES me. I am trying to remember not to let fear play a part. But, Captain is my son. I am his momma too. I am supposed to protect him and I feel like it is so hard to do sometimes with M*. Once M* goes into survival mode all bets are off. We don't know what he is capable of.

This has not happened before and it was a fear I had. Right now the boys share a room. Now I am thinking that I may need to rearrange the kids sleeping arrangements. I feel like I am handling this all pretty well. But I can't lie- it shakes me up. I know that I can't ignore these behaviors. Safety cannot be compromised. But, it is just like with everything in this adoption world... I feel like I have to run the scenario 100 ways in my head to figure out what I should have done. I always try to blame myself for what goes wrong.

Maybe I can't leave M* with anyone but my mom? Maybe we should have been back before dinner? Maybe if I would have done something I could have prevented it. But, here is the thing. I have left M* with this sitter many times before. In fact she lives with us now and has been very helpful with the kids. And, I have left M* many times to go out on a date night and nothing like this occurred before. Well... not true. The first time we left for an over night trip M* choked Captain really bad. That was a little over a year ago though? So, it is really hard to say what I should and could have done bc REALLY I should not have to worry about him harming the other kids. But, the fact is that I do!

So, I am saddened by the reality that I think my fears can't be ignored. And, while I don't fear M*... I have to put up the cautionary boundaries to ensure all of the kids are always safe. So, I think M* is going to need his own room. And, I think we are sticking with the rule that he has to play where we can see him (recently we were allowing him and the big boys in the playroom together... I thought as long as Belle wasn't there they were okay). And, I think regardless of if I think he is okay... I don't think I can leave him (unless he is alone) with any other kids unless it is with my mom.

Crappy day :(

Monday, September 19, 2011

Still going strong...

Today is Monday and I was nervous bc Sweet M* seemed off as soon as he woke up. Nothing terrible... just emotions were running high and he was testing boundaries in little ways. He just seemed like he was on edge. My mom noticed it right away when I dropped him off this morning (she takes him to school bc it is too difficult for him to say good bye to me) as I drove away I couldn't help to wonder what the day might bring.

The time went by quickly and soon it was time to pick him up. But, to my surprise he was happy when he walked out (a very good sign). And, low and behold... TWO GOOD DAY TICKETS!!! This is great news bc that means he did not have a single incident at school today.

Nap time was a little off again (very hyper, trying to not look at me, laughing like a crazy person if he did). But, he laid down. He woke up off again. But, I tried my new method. I confronted the emotion and offered up ways to help. Reminded him about how glad I was that he was here. How he was the perfect boy for our family and how he makes everyone happy. He was still struggling as he tried to eat his snack and work on homework. So, I picked him up, gave him some kisses on the cheek and grabbed a book. I read in my most animated voice a Barney book and I got him to laugh. As I continued to read I could feel his body melt against mine. He was back. He said he felt much better jumped off my lap and went back to snack and homework. The rest of the night was great... even bed.

The End.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

2 Weeks since Clean Slate and Things are SO MUCH BETTER!

That is right! It has been two whole weeks since we took a deep breathe, decided to ditch everything we were doing and started again fresh. I cannot explain the difference in EVERYTHING with Sweet M*. Oh, my goodness. Two short weeks ago we could barely make it through each day. We were so stressed out, he was doing awful and I felt like we were one small straw away from completely losing it. And, now I feel like things couldn't be better. I am enjoying our life and Sweet M* is just flourishing.

I think learning that Sweet M* is operating in a survival state was one thing that really helped us. We are learning that when we see him sort of switch into that mode we have to watch how we treat him. Before I believe the consequences and talks just looked like another threat to him and so he would tailspin deeper into insanity. He would do things that made him appear to have no conscious because his brain literally thought he needed to fight to stay alive. But by changing things up and focusing on the unconditional love, drawing him closer when he is in that mode, talking very softly and using a recognizable language (same short phrases over and over) I can now draw him out of it. I can bring him back to a state where he is fully functional. I believe this understanding has had the greatest impact. I just see him differently and I know he can feel that I love him. This does take A LOT of patience though.

The other thing is we have been paying attention more to his nutrition. We limit sugar because it can be a trigger. He gets a high from it and than crashes. We also have been watching his water intake and have been using a little sea salt on his food in hopes that it will help his body absorb more water. He takes a multivitamin and some St. John's wort in the morning (liquid I slip in his water) and HTP (tryptophan supplement) to try and get him in a good mood and to keep him in a calmer state. At night like I mentioned we are using melatonin to help him fall asleep and I also think it helps him to sleep more sound.

I also think that the patch has had an effect. It is crazy but I feel like since Thursday (when we saw the patch doctor and he started wearing his prescribed patch) when Sweet M* has been told no, or told he needed to get back in control he has been able to do it. Before at the mention of no (or any other word meaning the same) M* would dive into this mood where a tantrum was immanent or he would just tantrum the second he realized he couldn't get what he wanted when he wanted it. The patch he wears is supposed to help with focus. And, I wonder if bc he can focus on the reason behind him not getting his way if he is able to rationalize it more than before? Whatever the reason it seems to be linked to the patch bc since Thursday it is the only thing that has changed.

The patch is interesting. It is not medicine, but instead it has to do with energy frequencies. It is definitely alternative I am just trying to go natural before I jump into the meds. I have been told by many people that some of the meds for ADHD and mood disorders have side effects and bc M* has not officially been diagnosed I don't feel like we should go there... yet. Not that I do not believe in medicine. I absolutely believe that meds can help... I just don't like it when I walk into a doctor's office and after talking for two minutes they hand me a prescription and label my kid. I guess I just don't like how heavily our society relies on meds and labels... and how quick doctors are to prescribe them. If in the end Sweet M* needs meds to be his best we will look into them and give it a try.

Lastly, I should mention that this was a weekend my parents watched Sweet M* again. I really think these breaks help so much. I was worried about attachment but my parents are so good they constantly remind him how lucky he is to have such great parents and siblings. I think he believes it more when he comes back home. I also think he needs that break from all of us. It is probably hard work trying to attach to a new family. At my parents he gets away from it for a few days. He also gets a ton of one on one time with people that are not completely exhausted. And, we get to refuel... give the much needed attention to the other three to make sure we don't feel so guilty and this way when he does come home we are all glad to be together.

Here is to hoping that we have figured out something that will lead us to the path of healing. This time when we cleaned the slate and started over we went into parenting our trauma boy with full disclosure. We have lowered our expectation, we expect set backs and we have a better grasp on what it means to be in it for the long haul. Our son is worth it and I hope and pray we continue to move towards healing his hurt heart.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A New Approach (anti-meds)

Thursday was interesting. On Wed. our pediatrician mentioned started Sweet M* on Ritalin. I am sort of anti meds... well maybe not anti but I like to try every other resource before I resort to something that has a long list of side effects. Recently my sister in law told me about a doctor that helps children with Autism, Apergers, OCD etc... After Wed.'s appointment I decided I wanted to see if he could help since his methods are more on the wellness/ homeopathic side.

They fit us in and yesterday we went. He spoke about energy in our cells and he ran some really interesting tests with M*. It is definitely a little cooky but it also had some validity to it. He (without me saying anything) knew that Sweet M*'s brain was running way to fast (5,000 when normal reading is 10). He knew that he could not focus, has trouble sleeping, has had parasite trouble before, suffers from anxiety and depression etc... It was really interesting.

So, in the end Sweet M* is wearing a patch on his back that is supposed to regulate some of these energy frequencies. I have a month's supply and I change the patch every Thursday and Sunday. He also has some patches that I placed on certain parts of his bed. I am not sure what to think but yesterday and today so far (it is morning) Sweet M* has been in a really good mood.

We also started using Melatonin ( a very low dose) to help regulate M*'s sleep. I forgot to mention that but it has been helping a lot. Upping water and sea salt intake for the minerals and to help his body absorb water better. Did you know that your brain is 85% water??? Even mild dehydration can cause problems.

I have noticed that the bringing Sweet M* closer every time I see that he is not regulated is very helpful. It is exhausting but we are pairing this approach with also allowing ourselves breaks (leaning heavy on our family for this one).

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Yesterday was a good day. Sweet M* came home with two good day tickets that he was very proud of and I was relieved that there was no more hitting or embarrassment etc... from getting in trouble the day prior. Phew!

But, because I was the one who had to put him down for nap we had a repeat where he woke up with wet pants after nap. The bed (again) was not wet. When I try to wash him off in the shower he freaks out and is deathly afraid of the shower head. It is really odd. I was very patient and empathetic. I showed him how to turn the shower on and that I was not doing that so there was no way water was going to get him. (Keep in mind he loves water and takes showers all of the time???). He said that he had a bad dream and he was scared but doesn't say anymore.

I just was very loving and warm towards him. Took it slow and sort of babied him and he finally came out of it and had a great night after that.

I think that some of us really get caught up in what the professionals have to say. At least I did. It is a scary scary world and I think they see a lot of hopeless cases. However, I am so lucky that I had an amazing friend who sent me some pages from one of the Beyond Consequences books. It really resonated with me and when we were looking into disruption/ re-homing our son this phrase helped us turn it all around.

It basically said that we don't need to fear our children. That they are acting in this survival mode. It may look like they are dangerous and incapable of love. But, as parents we might see things that the professionals don't... glimmers of our child's true self. That is the Sweet M* I am honing in on. That is my son. The rest I feel like is my trauma boy just trying to live through another day.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Monday and Tuesday

Monday went pretty well M* had a good day and he came home with 2 good day stickers from kindergarten. He got lost trying to make a number 3 which he normally can... but he just couldn't do it and he was trying. Hubby picked him up and he just sat silent with hubby for 20 minutes. Then he said he was ready to try again and he did and this time he was able to make his 3's. I met my sister in law so hubby had all 4 monsters and it seemed like bed time was fine.

Today the boys (Cuddle bear and M*) have been competitive and sort of going at it in the morning, but overall the mood was good. Unfortunately, Sweet M* hit a child at school today. This is bad bc this is the first time he has ever hurt a friend. The teacher said Sweet M* went up to the kid and asked if he wanted to be friends. The kid said no, and so Sweet M* hit him. We talked about it when he got home. We practiced ways he could handle the situation appropriately and I am trying (really hard) not to let fear in. I am praying this was a one time situation and that he will not repeat it. Only time will tell.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Back again!

Okay, so yesterday we were back on again. The morning went well. My cousin brought over her two boys to play and Sweet M* did well for the most part. He even allowed me to take him aside and correct a behavior a few times. He did have a tantrum towards the end but in his defense it was past nap time anyways and he was probably tired. He woke up in a good mood and made it through both an 1:15 minutes mass and family dinner at my mom's. Thank goodness.

I do need to work on Sweet M* and Cuddlebear's relationship though. These two both have controlling personalities, they can both be VERY emotional and hyper. But, the but heads and compete against each other like no one's business. So, I think I am going to turn to the library for some resources on how family's treat each other, being kind, sharing etc...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Maybe rounding the corner?

Well yesterday morning I awoke to Sweet M* on hyper mode. I tried to ask him to sit next to me to see if he could calm down but that triggered the emotions and tears started streaming down his face. He was screaming so loud that I took him out back so that the other kids did not have to listen to it. I reminded him that we all loved him. He refused and said we don't... he said Jesus didn't love him either. It is so painful to listen to a child suffering through such trials.
Finally, hubby came out after about 20 minutes and told him "Don't worry... we got you... you are safe. You do not need to do this... we got you." And, he stopped... for some reason that phrase resonated and he was okay.
The rest of the day was back and forth with hyper activeness and extreme emotions. Tears flowed freely through the day. Nap was hard even for hubby. By the time it was nearing dinner hubby had a great idea. He thought we should go out on a date and get away.
Thank goodness I have an amazing brother and him and his wonderful girlfriend came to the rescue.
Hubby and I went out for sushi and the kids had new fresh grown ups to play with them. M* even went to bed okay for my brother. I am realizing more and more that to get through RAD us parents have to get away from it. It is so emotionally and physically draining it is a must.
We are hoping Dr. B will come next weekend. He has worked with RAD families for the past 13 years exclusively and total of 34 years in mental health. He will hopefully train hubby and I on how to deal with Sweet M*'s behaviors. We are also looking into some medication for his ADHD. I pray the two of these additions will help us move forward again. Lord knows we need a break.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Still down in the trenches...

This morning again Sweet M* was struggling. He' is having trouble in the morning before school. He stresses about not having enough time to do things in the am before needing to leave, and, he is concerned about what everyone else is doing. The concern here for him is that he feels like he is going to get the short end of the stick. For example if Belle asks to play on the computer he cries bc he wanted to do that (even though he was busy playing something else previously and never asked), and know she took that opportunity from him. When we try and explain that he still has an hour before school and we will set a timer for 10 minutes and they will take turns he just DOES NOT BELIEVE US.

It is the victim complex. He always believes (and really intrinsically believes) that we are going to screw him. He is not going to get (enter anything here). We try to serve his food first or hand him the first of whatever it is but it is so engrained inside him that we can't seem to help him shake it.

The hard day continued when I picked him up from school. Once again he was fine until it was time to nap. I saw it coming and scooped him up to draw him closer. He screamed and cried. Got extremely defiant and in to the mode where he has to say nasty things to push me away. I was calm... I continued to tell him I loved him and that he was safe. I told him I was strong enough for his pain and sadness and he could just go ahead and get it all out.

After screaming he started to weep and then fell asleep as I rocked him in the rocking chair. He woke up in a decent mood and was fine through dinner (although pretty high strung). And, then we left for church. My aunt and cousin had invited me to a healing mass and I wanted to bring Sweet M*. The service was long and M* was very defiant inside the church. I could tell he was uncomfortable and so the behaviors started. Acting like things were hurting him... they weren't, trying to kick the pew and wipe spit on the benches, trying to take off his shoes, kick the books and tear the pages in the books. Finally, after many attempts on my part I decided it was best if I took him outside. The second the doors closed behind us the flood gates were open and the tears poured out. He screamed and cried, kicked his shoes off tried blowing snot out of his nose so he could wipe it on me etc... But, again I was calm. I repeated that we loved him and that his whole family loved him, and that Jesus and GOD loved him too. After about 15 minutes he calmed down. I made a compromise and told him that if he could be respectful for the remaining time I would allow him to color in the car on the way home. He pulled himself together and made it through the remainder of church... even the blessing (although I had a lot of reassuring to do since some of the people lay down after receiving their blessing and he thought they died- YIKES!).

I hope that by being better servants and making church a higher priority Sweet M* will hear the words of our LORD and his little heart will once again be filled with LOVE instead of FEAR.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Minor Set Back

So, yesterday I picked Sweet M* up from school. I have not done this in awhile (since the aggressive behavior) bc hubby was doing everything with M until things settled down again. So, even though I have picked him up before this was a minor change. He was a little testy walking home and then after his snack when he knew that nap was next he started the disrespectful behavior. However, this time I swooped him up and told him I loved him and when he woke up from nap I would still be here.

I was feeding the emotional need and not the form he was using to communicate it. He flailed a little... tried to pull my hair but pretty quickly settled in and snuggled me. I kissed him and asked him to go lay down upstairs. I wasn't planning on taking him up bc he REALLY struggles with needing to say good night or good bye to me and when he gets in his bed it is always bad. But, he asked me if I would tuck him in. I first reminded him that I wasn't sure he could handle it (this is a way that helps him control himself... a RAD always thinks they are strong enough so I knew he would try and prove me wrong) and he assured me he could and we walked upstairs. Of course when I tucked him in he was extra hyper, and loud, he yelled at me as I left (just nonsense jibber jabber but in a disrespectful manner) and walked down stairs. But, he did not get out of bed to chase me down the stairs. He stayed put and shortly after was quiet. I was pretty proud of myself since I kept it all together and I did not let him get into rage mode.

But, he woke up early from nap and came downstairs. He sat down had a drink and than told me he was wet. He had peed all over himself and the chair. I told him it was okay and took him upstairs to wash him up. But, he went into a catatonic diss associative state the second he entered the shower. He was screaming staring at the shower head (which he is never afraid of) and I realized he would not look at me. I kept saying his name over and over and lightly put me hands on the tops of his shoulders. I told him I loved him and asked him what was wrong. He said he was scared but didn't know why.

After the shower he got dressed and then he started weeping. He said he had a bad dream that he could not live in our family anymore. I re-assured him that he was staying and that I loved him and he was safe. I got him a snack and he worked on some homework. He stayed in a somber mood for about an hour. And, than he finally came out of it.

However, this morning I feel some of the after math. He is extra hyper, asking for things he knows are off limits and testing boundaries. You can literally feel the heaviness of his emotions when he is like this. You just know something (anything) is going to set him off and it feels like you are walking on eggshells. Hopefully, some extra snuggles and love and reassurance tonight mixed with some boundaries to make him feel safe will knock this mood away.

For the count: Tuesday= good, Wed= good, Thurs= sadness/ bad dream/ pee & Fri= is off to a rough start but hopefully he can pull out of it and have a good weekend.

In case you have not had the chance to read this blog post and you are struggling after coming home please do. I received it from several friends this week and it really helped me.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A much needed day of Joy!

Yes... Joy!
I can hardly believe it too but it is true. So, far the theory is good. I even completely stopped a tantrum coming on today (and it was big) with some extra love and sillyness. Man did it feel good. Some new rules hubby and I have given ourselves:

1) Get a Break... Parenting kids from hard places is no easy task and we deserve it. Guilt free!
2)Clean Slate... we are acting and even talking as if Sweet M* just joined the family. Day 3 and he is doing so well.
3) Only allow LOVE to shine through our eyes... view all behaviors as intense sadness and fear. It is what they really are about anyways.
4) Before school and after work/ before bed belongs 100% to the kids. Eyes on them, down playing with them the whole time.
5) Forget about the manipulative behaviors etc... If I have to "fake it til I make it" I need to grant him the same grace.
6) Constant reassurance, whispers of how M* was exactly the piece to our family that we were missing, we wouldn't be complete without him, we love him, we are never leaving him, he is safe etc... CONSTANT!!!
7) Remembering his emotional age.
8) Lower all expectations and expect regression
9) Do not shame him in anyway only build his self worth.

Alrighty... now some catch up photos of my handsome man...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom...

I have not posted bc things went from bad to VERY VERY bad. I think all the therapy and bringing up the past and trauma coupled with starting kindergarten and coming out of the crazy summer with two vacations did us in. YUP... we did it to ourselves. In hindsight as I write this I can see it oh, so very clearly. But, when I was knee deep in it. I thought we had lost our minds.

You see dealing with violent rages is scary. Yes, I said it and it is TRUE! Aggression is not something we want to have problems with. Neither is defiance, disrespect and anger. But, for the past 6 weeks that is all I have been getting from my RAD son. We were at our lowest point people. And, sadly I thought that we had hit the bottom before. Yuck... I really hope this one was the REAL bottom. I pray that something changes and we get it right this time.

We thought we had made progress with some things like Nancy Thomas... but I think we hit a point and were not progressing. I think it is our fault. We got caught up in the loss of privileges and the strictness and so it stopped working. Than at our lowest of lows we had to re-evaluate everything.

Have you ever had to be that honest with yourself. Really examine and figure out why YOU are the problem. Well I did it and so did hubby and we realized that we needed to have a clean slate. We needed to act as if our Sweet M* just came into our family. But, this time with the knowledge of his past. This time we were prepared. And, this time we were going to draw him close every time we spotted defiance, anger, fear etc... We were going to look at those downward spirals as opportunities to correct his distorted views.

Crazy... yes. But, I am hoping that this will allow all of us to move forward. Today was day 1. But, it went well. It feels better to me and hubby and I can tell M likes it better too! I am going to post progress and failures (including rages) so I can follow our progress.

We also might use the services of Walter Buenning. He comes into the homes of families with RAD kids and trains them how to handle the different behaviors.

Here's to regaining hope!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Attachment Therapy- a report

(These pics have no relation to my post... but aren't these two ridiculously cute?)

So, M* and I have visited the attachment therapist 3 times now. Actually, we have spent our last 3 Friday nights with her and I wanted to blog a little bit about it.

The first session I thought was useless. A lot of info I already had. She had him play a game where I asked him to do something and then he needed to look me in the eyes and say "Yes mom". I had already been trying that and I wan't sure if it was working. But, she gave him homework... she told him he needed to practice the "Yes mom" game all week and she would check with me the next visit to see how it went.

On the way home something happened though that gave me hope. Sweet M* told me he missed his family in Ethiopia A LOT and that he still loved them. This was the first time he said those words and knew what he was feeling. So, maybe this therapy thing was going to help? Then as the week went on and I could see he was really trying to give me the eye contact and the "Yes moms". We still had a couple tantrums and one rage. But, not nearly as much defiance as we had been having since the vacations.

Before session 2 I received the first current photo of Shea's family ever (I had recently hired a searcher to go back to his birth family). I brought it with me to the next session. The therapist and I talked to M* about the people in the picture and about his feelings. We also did some thinking out loud to each other about what we thought he might be feeling... or how his family might be feeling. M* talked about feeling happy to see the photo but mad and sad that his family had left him. He is so smart... he nailed those feelings perfectly! On the way home we stopped at Costco and got the family photo blown up. Sweet M* asked me to tape it on the wall by his pillow which made me a little nervous bc I wasn't sure if it would upset him each morning. But, at night I have caught him talking to his family... and each morning he has woke up just fine! I am SO glad to have this photo and I can't wait to receive the dvd to see what other photos we might get from the searcher.

The therapist also talked to Sweet M* about not getting to have me when he was a baby at the second session. So, that week we started rocking and bottle feeding again. He NEEDS this. I had started it when he was first home from Ethiopia but I stopped shortly after. It is amazing how much he loves that bottle time with me though. I am glad we started it back up now that he has more language and I can talk to him about how I wish I had him as a baby but how glad I am that he had that time with his first mom etc.... I think it helps him understand how I feel and it reassures him that he can be sad that I was not there. And, that it is okay to love his first mom etc... it is really helping him connect with me. He is coming to me when he is scared instead of hiding under a blanket and relying on himself. I also made a necklace with a note and my photo so when I live him to go to work he can wear it and think of me. And, I sprayed a stuffed animal with my body spray. He naps with this and my mom tells me she catches him smelling it when he gets sad. I am so glad he is starting to miss me :)
The week following session two went by pretty smoothly really no big tantrums... and lots of compliance. "Yes mom's" have never been better and I started seeing my boy again. When M* gets caught up in his mad and sad (and scared) he is hyper-vigilant. He is on guard and he tries to press everyone's buttons to see if he is "stronger" than them. This is hard to live with. He is so smart and he knows all of our buttons. And, when he is in that state he does not play or just have fun. He looks stressed, he breaks down very easily, he doesn't sleep sound, he scarfs food etc... But, when we give him that structure, loving leadership, consequences and snuggle time we start to pull the kid back out of him. He begins to have imaginative play again, he laughs, he has more patience, he can regulate his moods better etc...

The third session of therapy I did not even have a story to report. So, we read some books about feelings. Practiced appropriate ways to get our mad out. Sweet M* thought blowing bubbles to get mad out was pretty cool... but not as cool as beating up play doh or stomping on pillows ;) But, Friday night M* regressed. He had been on such an upswing it was hard to watch him fall back. This time hubby and I were prepared though. We tightened the structure back up... gave action not conversation. We used each other to make sure he wasn't wearing us down. We were able to keep the laughter in the house and by Sunday morning our boy was back.

So, attachment therapy is helping us. It is helping us have much more compliance ("Yes moms"), we have more tools to help us bring him back from his stages of regression, he is feeling better by talking about his story with me and the therapist (I think he is getting reassurance that we did not kidnap him- Yikes!), and he is feeling much closer to me. The therapist is far (1 1/2 hour drive each way). But, she is worth it! I highly recommend others to find someone good and take a chance.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

There are Others Like Us...

As I was up researching attachment in the wee hours of the night I came across a great blogger Christine. I was so excited to finally be able to read stories of people that are in the same boat. To no I am not alone is powerful and I encourage you to check out her blog and the other bloggers of RAD kiddos.

Christine also linked to this article that you might enjoy:

Monday, July 11, 2011

Attachment/ RAD... hopefully finding a way to heal

Well... I have completely lacked any enthusiasm lately to blog. Between my business life and my nosedive with M*'s attachment issues lately I haven't had it in me to say much of anything. Frankly, (and to be honest) I think I was scared. Parenting an attachment challenged child is tough (and I mean REALLY TOUGH!!!). So much of the pain and suffering gets turned into rage and in my case it is rage directed almost solely on me just because I am "MOM".

And, than because no one else sees the behaviors that you (the mom) sees it is hard to get any "real" support. The fact that in adoption we chose this path we are on also has some stigma bc you feel like you can't complain bc people will say something like "you got yourself into this" or "I warned you". So, sometimes it is easier to suck it up and just try to "get through" each day.

I have spent many sleepless nights recently up reading about attachment. About the horrible diagnosis all of us adoptive parents don't even want to mention in fear it might make it come true for our child- RAD. But, thankfully this huge support/ network of Ethiopian adoptive families has restored me. You have given me hope. My son can heal. It can be done.

We have our first appointment with an attachment therapist this week. I am excited. It feels good to finally be able to admit to myself, my husband and my family and friends that my son is still struggling greatly after being home over a year. And, that his issues are pretty intense and I am not capable of addressing them alone. That I need help!

It feels good because I think that just getting those words out of my mouth was the hardest part. I am hoping that we will move forward now with a better understanding of how to handle our son's behavior's and how to help him with his BIG sad and mad feelings. I know there are others like us out there that need help, encouragement and ideas. I am going to post about our failures and our successes in hopes that we can help others as so many have been helping us.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Attachment on days like these...

Oh, back and forth flow of attachment how I hate you so. My Sweet M* has been home since May 7, 2010 and still there are days where I look into his eyes and all I see is fear. My little boy is still so scared... so frightened of so many things that he doesn't even have words to express. There are so many deep sorrows buried within his soul... there is grief, loss, trauma all hidden behind those beautiful espresso bean eyes. Days like these are hard.

I want to scoop him up and tell him how much I love him... how we will never leave him... how he was made perfect and beautiful by his creator. How he has an amazing story that will help him become an amazing person. How I think he is strong and brave. And, how lucky and blessed we are to have him in our lives. And, I do. BUT... he on days like these he doesn't believe me.

Usually, on days like these I see a side of my son that is ugly. A side that is hurt and struggling, and the only way to get rid of those internal feelings is to be mad and defiant. I brace myself, take deep breaths and pray for patience and wisdom. I try to ride out the storm bc really one year + later that is the best advice I have.

On days like this I want to rewind his story and find a way to keep him with his birth family. I know I can't but sometimes (on days like these) I am NOT sure adoption is a great thing for the child/ victim involved.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer 2011

How does the time go so stinkin' fast... geesh. May and June have flown by.
I guess the time flies when you are having fun saying rings true.

So, what have we been up to?? Well, we jetted off the day after the big kids were done with school to go and visit Papa in Hawaii. We had not visited since Belle was 4 months old and it was Sweet M*'s first time. The kids had a fantastic time. It was an amazing (and relaxing) trip. I forgot how fun it is to be at a beach without a baby. No one was attempting to eat sand. No swim diapers to hassle with. It was WONDERFUL!!!

I was really impressed with M*... he was swimming without his floatie and he was the smallest (bravest) kid in line for the rope swing. I love the pic of him just floating in the air below ;) He volunteered in the luau and did great on the flights. We had minor behavior issues but the idea of missing out on anymore hawaiian shaved ice seemed to help M* snap back pretty quick.

The big kids did boogie boarding and swam like fish. The two of them have recently developed such a great friendship and it was so fun watching them laugh and play together. Warms a mama's heart!

And, Belle was the cutest hula girl I have ever seen. She also was in the water playing with the boys like a champ.

This was by far the best and most relaxing time we have had as a family since M*'s arrival last May. And, it was VERY needed.

5 days after coming home from Maui we set sail to Mexico with my family. Sweet M* did wonderful and had a great time playing at the kids club allowing me and Mr. Wonderful to have some time to ourselves. Cruises are funny. We have done a few in the past couple years and I think we are cruised out for awhile. There is only so much you can do on a boat. And, it is horrible for your diet. I mean really how do you pass up the chocolate buffet... and molten lava cake ever night?? Well... some might be able to but I don't possess such will power :) I did really enjoy spending time with my parents and siblings and getting to know my brothers girlfriend. My brother has become that uncle that the kids swoon over. He throws them skyhigh in the pools... he dances with them and laughs at their jokes (and misbehavior). All in all another good trip.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

One Year Ago Today...

On the day we met...

One year ago today we landed at Bole airport in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. We arrived at our guesthouse right in time to enjoy a beautiful coffee ceremony and then we were driven to meet our Sweet M* for the very first time. What a surreal day it was. Above is a short clip and below are some photos from those first moments.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Look Where I'm Going To Be...

I am THRILLED to be attending this wonderful event Sunday hosted by this fellow blogger. Did you see the line up... pretty awesome. Even more awesome... I am really looking forward to spending some time with the amazing group of people that I have met through this adoption process who I am now lucky enough to call friends.

You should come too. Tickets can be purchased here, or you can also use them as a donation if you can't make it. There is also an online auction going on right now here... Now let's get these kiddos in school and reading!!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Soccer Saturday

The big boys had their first soccer games this past weekend. We all had a great time cheering them on.

I am loving my kids ages right now. All of the sudden there has been a big shift in my duties as a mom. At first I was having a hard time letting go of the baby days. Thankfully that has passed and I am embracing all that comes with exiting baby/ toddler era and moving into the kid stage.

Now I am worried that these are going to be the glory days that I miss someday and so I am trying to soak them up as much as I can. The kids are all so innocent still, they still think mom and dad are fun and cool. They want to hug us and be near us. They want to go places with us. They tell us they are going to live with us forever. They think we are all knowing & amazing people. I wish it would stay this way forever. Unfortunately, they will continue to grow. Kind of a fact of life. So for now I will soak up their youth and prepare to watch them each grow into a unique and amazing person :)