Sunday, July 31, 2011

When I Say My Kids Are Climbing The Walls…

I mean they are CLIMBING the walls….

Seriously folks, I am a trained professional over here. Don’t let your kids do this at home…unless you don’t mind grubby footprints on all of your doorjambs.


Feel free to comment on my serious lack of judgment and parenting skills below. 

Did I mention I let them eat ice-cream and bacon for breakfast this morning?

Mr. Sunday, is on the hunt for an ice-cream maker so we can make our own bacon flavored ice-cream, he is sure it will be a big hit.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I’m Still Standing

After all tomorrow is another day…Scarlett O’Hara

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Therapeutic 101

Obviously I still have lingering “big feelings” that revolve around food and not being properly fed, because I found this part of [C - - - - - - -‘s first name removed 8/01/20011 4:11 pm] post to be quite triggering. I find the thought of messing with a child’s food to be unimaginable, regardless of the circumstances.

This is the space where I had the quote  that [C- - - - - - First name removed 8/01/2011] asked me to remove, even though I believe that the way I used the quote was permissible under fair use. I have no interest in being involved in blog war. I was merely trying to have a discussion.

[S- - - - - - U- T- - - - - - - Blog name removed on my own accord 8/01/2011 4:18 pm] Therapeutic 101 [link removed with out being asked 7/29/2011 12:01am] 

And this is what I have to say about that:

“I found this post interesting and informative. In our household we are a family, we eat as a family and the right to eat as a family is inalienable. Being the child of an adoptee who *I feel* had lingering food issues, having been not feed when said parent always managed to feed herself well, having ended up as a foster child myself….I *personally* see feeding my children as my obligation regardless of their behavior. And the thought of using food on any level as a consequence for behavior which is not directly food related is completely out of the question, *for me*. in our house everyone has the right to eat whatever anyone else is having or chose off the [kid’s] menu wherever we are, and if they chose not to they have every right to makes themselves a PB&J (including Mr. Sunday) as I am not a short order cook and I do not go out of my way to present food that I know some doesn’t like. I believe in equal access. Furthermore, it would seem to me that messing with the food of a traumatized child struggling with deep-seated and understandable trust and survival issues, would in my humble opinion be counterproductive.”

I guess, I just have a very hard time with seeing a child’s access to food as a privilege.

[Updated 8/01/2011 4:30 pm:  I am saddened about the way this has been handled, but again, everyone has the right to their own opinions and perceptions, and while I do not agree with everyone’s, I do respect their right to have and express them.  I would like to thank everyone who has commented on this post and I would hope that we can all move on from here, with our own individual lessons learned.]

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

CHILDMYTHS: Adoption, Trust, Complacency, and the Barahona Case


In this report, while acknowledging all the many problems of caseworkers, including poor training and heavy caseloads, the jury members emphasized a problem that is prevalent but rarely mentioned. They referred to it as a bias of trust and complacency.
The bias of trust stressed by the grand jury report is the assumption on the part of the social work profession that adoptive parents are by definition good people, and that they cannot be the source of harm to the children in their care. Without wishing to accuse an entire professional group, I must agree strongly that this belief characterizes many adoption caseworkers and the staffs of adoption agencies. All adoptive homes are described as loving and nurturing, as if adoption were synonymous with excellent child-rearing. Adoption-oriented web sites describe adoptive parents as “awesome moms”. When adoptive families are functioning poorly, there is haste to say that someone, somewhere, did not tell the truth about the children, who are considered the causes of any trouble. These common beliefs may be the basis for the caseworkers’ bias of trust in adoptive parents which the grand jury report points to so explicitly.

CHILDMYTHS: Adoption, Trust, Complacency, and the Barahona Case

Monday, July 25, 2011

Of Kids, Kittens and Attachment

058As I mentioned in my last post we brought a couple of kittens home the other day. My kids have been asking for a cat for a long time. So when a friend mentioned that she had kittens (well, she didn’t have them herself…her cat did) I packed up all of my kids and took them to pick out a kitten. Actually two, because even kittens need company and just like kids two together are always easier to care for than one by themself, at least the way I see it.

Obviously my kids were very excited to go and bring not one, but two kittens home to love and have for their very own. For me and my friend the process of going and taking two kittens away from their mother was bitter-sweet. She couldn’t keep them all, they would be taken care of and loved at our house, but as mother’s we were each a bit sad about the whole process. And knowing that later their mother would be searching for her babies and they would not be there and she would have no idea where they went or what happened to them. Yes, it would seem that even cats grieve the loss of their children. *sigh*

They (the kittens) cried for the whole ride home, which bummed my big girl out,

“but mom they are so scared…”

“And you would be to if some strangers just picked you up put you in a box and took you away from your mother and everything you have ever known.”

“the whole being away from my mother thing wouldn’t be so bad.”

071“Ha, that’s what you think now! Who’d wash your clothes, who’d bring you a glass of water in the middle of the night, who’d scoop your ice-cream? Huh? You would have to do all of that for yourself!”

And being thirteen, she scrunched up her face and rolled her eyes…but at least she stopped talking and that ain’t no easy feat.

But the little girls were completely unaffected by the mournful cries of their new, beloved kitties. Oh, no the only thing they could think about was getting them home and loving them up. (as it probably should be at three and five. Empathy is tough enough, let alone to transfer human emotions to the plight of animals, just a little too sophisticated for them at this point)

No sooner than we get in the door does the squealing, chasing, petting, hugging, kissing and the badgering with cat toys commence. The kittens are hiding and tiny hands are reaching and grabbing and pulling out from under and it all starts again. I am gently trying to explain, that the kittens are scared, they have never been here before, they have never been away from their mother and we need to just let them BE. They more we pull at them to try to love them up, the more scared they will be, the more they will run away and the more they scratch because those are the only defenses they have when they are scared. We have to leave them alone, and let them hide so they can learn to feel safe in our house. You have to be calm and not react when they come out of hiding. They will learn to love you if you let them come to you, but if you keep chasing them and trying to MAKE them, they will never learn to trust you.

We have to just let them BE.

031Feeling like a good mom, I left the room. Only to return to discover my precious angels attempting to jam our terrified kitties into the cardboard box they rode home in and fashioning a lid out of towels and clothes pins…at which point I completely lost my shit and started yelling, “don’t touch the CATS! If either one of you touches these g-d damned cats again I am taking them back to their mommy! Do you understand? Don’t touch them again!” And I scooped up the kittens, the litter and their bowl and put them in my room, where they slept like babies smack dab in the middle of Mr. Sunday’s pillow for the rest of the night.

Things have been much better for Fred (Astaire) and Ginger (Rogers) since that first night, they are not hiding, and while they still don’t come to the kids, they are not running away either…I call that progress.

…and that is the thing about kittens, kids and attachment, sometimes when we want someone or something to love us back the best thing you can do is let a creature BE.

RAD Behavior Checklist

Have you ever read a RAD check list?

A behavior checklist for RAD symptoms was taken from Liz Randolph's RADQ assessment.
A professional assessment is necessary to determine whether or not a child has an Attachment disorder. This checklist can help you identify areas of potential problem. It is not meant to substitute for a professional assessment and treatment plan. The best person to complete the checklist is the main female care giver of the child, answering the items according to the child’s behaviors seen over the past six months.
Circle the items if they are frequently or often true.
If you find that more than a few items (more than five or so) have been circled, your child may be experiencing difficulties that require professional assistance. If, in addition to several items being marked, any of the last three items is checked, your child may be experiencing attachment related problems.
RAD Behavior Checklist

I did this one for my non-adopted, not traumatized children I gave birth to.
1. My child acts cute or charms others to get others to do what my child wants.
Absolutely, and so does almost every child I have ever meet, with the exception of the kids I know on the autism spectrum.
2. My child often does not make eye contact when adults want to make eye contact with my child.
Yep, especially if they are in trouble or feeling ashamed. Same goes for most kids I have ever met or worked with.
3. My child is overly friendly with strangers.
Yep, my 5 year old loves chatting up anyone who will listen.
4. My child pushes me away or becomes stiff when I try to hug, unless my child wants something from me.
Oh, goodness yes! 13 year old!
5. My child argues for long periods of time, often about ridiculous things.
Ok, what child doesn’t argue with its parents about things that parents THINK are ridiculous? A parents ridiculous, is often a child’s very important. Really, you must have your milk in a princess cup and not the butterfly cup?
6. My child has a tremendous need to have control over everything, becoming very upset if things don't go my child’s way.
Hells yeah! ALL of my kids!
7. My child acts amazingly innocent, or pretends that things aren't that bad when caught doing something wrong.
Um, yeah, hello!
8. My child does very dangerous things, ignoring that my child may be hurt.
Yes, and so do I and every kid I coach!  (If it was easy they would call it football)
9. My child deliberately breaks or ruins things.
Again, just about every little boy I have ever met…I wonder what would happen if…
10. My child doesn't seem to feel age-appropriate guilt when my child does something wrong.
Not always. And unless you are someone with a lot of experience with lots of different children, do you really know what age appropriate guilt looks like anyway?

11. My child teases, hurts, or is cruel to other children.
Now, this can be a serious red flag. My kids are constantly picking with each other as goes on in most families. Many is the day that I feel more like a referee in the WWF than a mother…Again however, if you do not have a lot of experience with children it may be hard to tell what is run of the mill kids pushing boundaries, sibling rivalry, and figuring out how to fit into a group dynamic, self-advocating and real cause for concern which warrants seeking professional help. (In my own childhood I lived with the latter, which was never addressed. So I would never minimize child on child or sibling on sibling violence.)
12. My child seems unable to stop from doing things on impulse.
That describes a good chunk of the kids I work with, most little boys, every kid with ADHD and all kids I know at some point in time.
13. My child steals, or shows up with things that belong to others with unusual or suspicious reasons for how my child got these things.
Like borrowing clothes from friends which I loathe?
14. My child demands things, instead of asking for them.
Abso-freaking -lutely!
15. My child doesn't seem to learn from mistakes and misbehavior (no matter what the consequence, the child continues the behavior).
I have one word…Algebra!  There are other words, to be sure…but that is the one stuck in my craw at the moment.
16. My child tries to get sympathy from others by telling them that I abuse, don't feed, or don't provide the basic life necessities.
Yes, yes, yes! Do you know that we didn’t have ice-cream yesterday, that EVERYONE else’s parents let them go on the class trip to Washington D.C. and we couldn’t afford it, that I MAKE my oldest take care of her sisters, she has to get rides to after school functions when I am at work? I am down right abusive I tell ya!
I could do an entire blog post about the incredibly amusing conversation that my child told me she had with the school counselor! I’d have been mad if it wasn’t so funny…that poor lady!
17. My child "shakes off" pain when hurt, refusing to let anyone provide comfort.
Well…Um my oldest has broken her big toe, once in three places, and practiced on it for two weeks telling me that it ‘wasn’t THAT bad’ before I insisted she needed an X-ray…. I am not a big fan of “shake it off” ….my standard line is, “Are you hurt or scared? ‘Cause if you are just scared there is no need to be carrying on like that!”  because, in all honesty, when you are involved in something where injuries are just a part of what you do you have to know what is what quickly, there is no place for wigging-out over stubbed toes…..broken toes  well, some kids are just tough.
18. My child likes to sneak things without permission, even though my child could have had these things if my child had asked.
Well, she is 3… and she will just blame it on her sister or the cats anyway. 
19. My child lies, often about obvious or ridiculous things, or when it would have been easier to tell the truth.
Oh, man, my three year tells some wild stories, and will tell me she isn’t eating in the living room even as I am standing there watching her do it! And now, “the kittens did it”, is getting a lot of play around here.
20. My child is very bossy with other children and adults.
21. My child hoards or sneaks food, or has other unusual eating habits (eats paper, raw flour, package mixes, baker's chocolate, etc.)
You mean not everyone doesn’t eat paper as a kid? How many people didn’t have that kid in there kindergarten class that eat paste? By the way Pica is can be a medical condition and between 10 and 32% of children ages 1 - 6 have these behaviors.
22. My child can't keep friends for more than a week.
Ha! There are a couple I wish they couldn’t keep for more than a week…does that count?
23. My child throws temper tantrums that last for hours.
Like the energizer bunny! One used to do it, one is coming out the other side, and one has a long way to go…
24. My child chatters non-stop, asks repeated questions about things that make no sense, mutters, or is hard to understand when talking.
Really? Are you kidding?  I have three girls, sometimes I swear my ears are gonna bleed! Muttering?  Like saying she hates me and what ever else under her breath as she sulks off….um yeah. 
25. My child is accident-prone (gets hurt a lot), or complains a lot about every little ache and pain (needs constant band aids).
Yes, yes and yes! I have a gymnast, a daredevil and kid with Apraxia, strangely, around here a paper-cut causes more whining than broken bones.   I should buy stock in, ear-plugs, Johnson and Johnson, ice-packs and Arnica!
26. My child teases, hurts, or is cruel to animals.
Now, this CAN be another real problem…but, since we just brought home two kittens that my children are ‘torturing’ (in my opinion) with excessive hugs, kisses, chasing and bombarding them with cat toys and being generally menacing it is something that may definitely be in the eye of the beholder. A parent’s idea of torture may be a child’s idea of loving-up! Yikes! They are keeping me on my toes!
27. My child doesn't do as well in school as my child could with even a little more effort.
Oh. My. Goodness!
28. My child has set fires, or is preoccupied with fire.
Now, that might upset me.
29. My child prefers to watch violent cartoons and/or TV shows or horror movie (regardless of whether or not you allow your child to do this).
Seriously, my kids (even my 13 year old) aren’t allowed and have never been allowed to watch much TV, movies or even play on the computer in the first place. (We – I mean, they are having a media-free summer. Well, except for the big girl going to see Harry Potter on opening night for her birthday) Because so much media is so violent, and I believe that the more kids are exposed to it the more they crave it. You can’t even walk through the grocery store around here without seeing some little boy sitting in the cart killing stuff on his DS, while mommy picks out her organic fruit. But that is another rant completely.
30. My child was abused/neglected during the first year of life, or had several changes of primary caretaker during the first several years of life.
Not even close!
31. My child was in an orphanage for more than the first year of life.
32. My child was adopted after the age of eighteen months.
And wouldn’t you know it, it appears since I have answered yes to more than 5 of the questions on this particular RAD check list, my very own children just may have RAD. And only a professional assessment can determine if the children I gave birth to, have been with from their first moments, have breastfed until they were 2, carried in slings, co-slept with have an attachment disorder. However, with the exception of setting fires, cruelty to animals and cruelty to other children, *most* kids display many of these behaviors to some degree at some point in their childhoods, for some period of time.
I am not in a position to say that RAD doesn’t exist. And I do know what it is like to have a child who I knew had issues, and to have people reassure me I am wrong. What I will say is that I am concerned that foster and adoptive parents look at check lists like this and panic. I have concerns that children with run of the mill attachment issues and PTSD or other more likely illnesses are being over diagnosed with RAD, simply because they are adopted or foster kids and exposed to unnecessary and possibly counterproductive and coercive therapies in the name of RAD.  Some *most* kids are selfish, egocentric, manipulative, demanding, ungrateful, and entitled to some *a large* extent. Because a kid has been “rescued” into foster care or “redeemed” by adoption, doesn’t mean they aren’t a kid by nature…for the good and the bad.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Report: Foster teens fall through cracks, cost to society called 'tremendous'


The age group with the highest number of people entering the system is 15 to 17, he said.

"People think of Children and Youth as the abuse and neglect system," Mr. Cherna said.

Instead, it is older adolescents

Mr. Pertman believes programs like those in Allegheny County are an important part of the solution, though not the end goal.

That, he said, is getting even the older children in the system permanent homes.

"The new reality is that you don't have to form families with just little kids," Mr. Pertman said. "The way we've been doing [adoptions] is suited for little kids who look like them. It's not like that anymore.

"The idea of this report is to reinvigorate the discussion. We've got to do something today. If we keep waiting for tomorrow, all we're doing is wasting more lives and throwing away more money."

I have said it before and I will say it again…Families for older foster kids would be nice, but we have to face that adoption is unlikely and not a helpful or realistic goal for older children in the foster care system. Why is it that we can’t seem to face that fact and move on to trying to come up with some real- world workable ways to support older children caught in the system? The kids over 15 who are coming into the system for delinquency are rarely even available for adoption (parental rights having not been severed) but still obviously lacking adequate a support within their original families. We need to do much better with providing support and services for these kids, until the age of 24. It is the least we can do for OUR kids.

Report: Foster teens fall through cracks, cost to society called 'tremendous'

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


047Today I became an official mother of a teenager.

She was born on my ‘sister’ Jackie’s 40th, she would have been 53 today.

Today I am grateful to have had the opportunity to have known and loved them both.


The little girls went to work with me. 035

CoCo refuses to cross over any of the of the mesh covered resi-mats, and will only scoot (since she still doesn’t crawl) not walk over the the firmer mats.

Forget about getting anywhere NEAR the trampolines! 

Sensory issues…much?


Amélie on the other hand, made her first appearance at the gym the day after she was born. 

It shows.

You cant get her OFF the trampolines…or the rope.




Today is a good day.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The loneliest children in the world | Percolated Paradox


That people like me don't exist and that foster care is a magical healing place that saves children from horrible people.  People do not want to know what happens to American foster children because then they will feel guilty and no one wants to feel guilty.  It's easier if you just pretend it doesn't exist then you don't have do anything about it.  It's easier if you just pretend WE don't exist. But we do exist.  Foster care is creating thousands of scared, damaged, angry, lonely souls who can't speak the same language as the rest of the world so we end up drifting around searching for love and family.  We end up searching for "home" for the rest of our lives and never finding it.  No one will ever see us because we will forever remain invisible unless people choose to notice and change what the government is doing to it's most vulnerable children.  The statistics for former foster children are bleak, but they are not just crazy, lazy, homeless, drug addicts, and criminals.  They are products of the American foster care system.  They are scared, sad, lonely, damaged people.  They are products of YOUR government and your tax dollars.  So stop allowing us to be invisible.  Open your eyes and really SEE what's happening to children in your country.

The loneliest children in the world | Percolated Paradox

Please take a few minutes to click on the link and read the rest of Campbell B.’s excellent post!

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