Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity

Sunday, December 9, 2012

You STILL can't lose Christmas, Ralphie

"You can't lose Christmas.
That's it. No details. No exceptions. Period. Finito. That's that.
The same goes for birthdays.
I have literally said to my children, "You can burn the house down. We will move into a hotel until the house is rebuilt. We will collect insurance money, rebuy gifts and still have Christmas. Because you can't lose Christmas.""
You STILL can't lose Christmas, Ralphie - Christine Moers

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Abusive parenting techniques to treat reactive attachment disorder?

Some more to think about during Nation Adoption Awareness Month:

Please go read this article

Abusive parenting techniques to treat reactive attachment disorder

This is my comment in the proper order:
"I am really very saddened to see members of the attachment community come out and being defensive about a situation or several situations involving the abuse of adopted children post placement. This would be a wonderful opportunity to come out and discuss what is appropriate therapy for children suffering from “reactive attachment disorder” (RAD) or more commonly post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There have been several cases of the abuse involving adopted children and the withholding of food. Three that I can think of that it made the news in recent weeks. In fact the state of Washington was so concerned with the growing number of cases of abuse involving adopted children that they commissioned a report and made recommendations: Severe Abuse of Adopted Children Report STATE OF WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL AND OFFICE OF THE FAMILY AND HEALTH SERVICES CHILDREN’S OMBUDSMAN CHILDREN’S ADMINISTRATION. This is a growing and serious problem. The fact that so many of these cases have a set of common denominator is not a coincidence, and until we put it all together, speak about it honestly and work to find solutions to help children suffering from PTSD and or RAD children will continue to suffer at the hands of those who committed to give them a supposedly “better life.” As long as members of the “attachment” community continue to deal with these stories of this growing trend from a standpoint of defensiveness abuses with a root in “attachment therapy” will continue to happen. This is not a time for defensiveness and circling the wagons. This is a time to reassess to reevaluate what is and is not “therapeutic” and or what is or is not “abuse.” And a time to contemplate whether it is possible or likely that some suggested methods of parenting children reportedly suffering from reactive attachment disorder (RAD) and or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are indeed coercive and could potentially if not easily spiral into abuse when employed by desperate parents."

This is what I would like every parent who has engaged in power struggles over food to watch...Food is about survival and it should never be used as control if you expect your hurt child to EVER trust you.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

National Adoption Awareness Month

Many of you may know in November has been declared national adoption awareness month. Many of my fellow bloggers deal with the issues of adoption and foster care have made the commitment to write a blog post each day during the month of November in honor of national adoption awareness month. You will find links to many diverse adoption and foster care bloggers in my sidebar on the right hand side of my blog, I would encourage anyone interested in learning more about adoption and foster care to check out my fellow bloggers. I have been reading many excellent posts on on several aspects of adoption and foster care.

If by chance your fellow adoption or foster care blogger that I have a relationship with and you do not see a link to your blog, please let me know, and I will add your blog. I will also be posting links regularly through this month and in the future on my Please Stand Up Facebook page.

My hope is that during this month that we can each explore and learn from others involved in different areas of adoption and foster care.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Please Take the Time to Watch This

Friday, September 28, 2012

Musings of the Lame: Life as a Birthmother: What's Wrong With the Adoption Tax Credit?

Please scroll down to the bottom of the page where it easy to let your law makers know that we will support a bill that HELPS FOSTER CHILDREN find permanency through adoption. These bills (Senate companion bill (S.3616 ) to H.R. 4373) actually will encourage domestic infant and international adoption and once again leave deserving foster kids out in the cold! Please speak up NOW!

Let us remember that the adoption industry is over a 5.8 billion dollar annual industry. Historically, as the adoption tax credit went up, so does the adoption fees. In other words, the US government subsidizes the adoption industry this way through the Adoption Tax Credit.
In addition, by giving added incentives for adoptive parents to spend more money on adoption, they will look towards international or domestic adoptions more. This will actually HURT the children that MIGHT benefit most from being adopted, the children living in foster care. Of course, foster adoptions often are the lowest cost and with other subsidies, often practically free. So don't go telling me that  we "need the Adoption Tax Credits to help all the unwanted children". It hurts them.

Musings of the Lame: Life as a Birthmother: What's Wrong With the Adoption Tax Credit?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Dear Mr. President, Here’s What I’d Like to see in your National Adoption Awareness Month Proclamation « Land of Gazillion Adoptees


Each November brings about National Adoption Awareness Month.  This month was originally a State-based initiative that was founded to encourage the adoption of children (who are legally cleared for adoption) in the U.S. foster care system.  It has become a Nationally recognized month, and unfortunately, it’s commonly accepted meaning has changed.  Rather than sticking with the month’s original intentions, various adoption groups, agencies, and adoption facilitators alike have used the awareness of adoption this month brings to advertise all types of adoption.  The misinformation that is spread as a result of aggressive marketing is only part of the problem: the actual purpose of the month is negated because attention is diverted away from the needs of those children in foster care.

Dear Mr. President, Here’s What I’d Like to see in your National Adoption Awareness Month Proclamation « Land of Gazillion Adoptees

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

It Really Is This Simple

Sunday, September 2, 2012

As thousands of parents are deported, US citizen kids face fallout

"Behind the statistics are the stories: a crying baby taken from her mother's arms and handed to social workers as the mother is handcuffed and taken away, her parental rights terminated by a U.S. judge; teenage children watching as parents are dragged from the family home; immigrant parents disappearing into a maze-like detention system where they are routinely locked up hundreds of miles from their homes, separated from their families for months and denied contact with the welfare agencies deciding their children's' fate."
Read More:  As thousands of parents are deported, US citizen kids face fallout; some placed for adoption

Have we really done so well at taking care of the children that we already have in the foster care system, that we should be creating more so-called “orphans” by ripping apart intact families?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Foster Parenting Adventures: What is wrong with the System part gazillion


My predictions for the future include the possibilities/probabilities of further placement disruptions, continued sexual acting out, increased aggression, school expulsions, teen pregnancies, depression, sociopathy, possibility of future residential treatment or jail.  Because this is how and why it happens.  I just gave you the recipe.

Foster Parenting Adventures: What is wrong with the System part gazillion

I want to scream! Yep, the system is broken.  Again I say, there are not enough good foster homes, how long are we going to keep doing the same thing and expect different results? 

Noah baby • Severely beaten child was under county watch


Yet another case of a foster child being abused by his caregiver

Noah baby • Severely beaten child was under county watch

My comment:

“Sometimes I think the problem that no one wants to face is that there NOT enough quality people who can and will become foster parents. Instead of accepting and licensing people who “will do” are supposedly “good enough” we need to take fewer children into the system. In cases like poverty driven neglect, or the type of generational “ignorance” I see every day we need to do a better job of supporting and educating parents. When children need to be removed for safety, maybe it is time we start looking at small professionally staffed care homes instead of continuing with a system that doesn’t work OR protect children. I know nobody wants to go back to the days of large orphanages, but what we are doing now is further damaging already hurt kids. Putting kids behind closed doors with strangers with little over site is putting them in harm’s way. The elephant in the room is that foster homes don’t serve kids well AT ALL!”

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I Am Here

So Proud!

Tomorrow is payday, I am flat broke and jonesing for a Diet Coke! I ask my oldest if she has any money. She says, “Yes. But you have to pay me back….


Sunday, August 19, 2012

You Never Know How They Interpret The Things We Say

025They are short staffed, so I have been working “like a dog” this month. That phrase sent Miss CoCo into an uncontrollable laughing fit. Since unlike seeing me coach gymnastics, she has never seen me doing this job, where “I work like a dog.”

You know, where I crawl around on all fours with my tongue hanging out, lifting my leg to pee on things.


As I was leaving for work yesterday morning, CoCo asked where her daddy was, she remembered that I had said that I was going to work and that daddy would be home with them.

I said,  “Daddy had to go to a funeral.”

“What is a funeral?”

“it is a place where people who know someone who has died go to talk about how much they love them and say ‘good bye.’”

“WHAT?” Horrified she said, “MY DADDY IS DEAD!”

Oy Vey!

Friday, August 17, 2012

“Orphan” and Poor are NOT Synonymous

This is a FaceBook comment I made regarding the Pat Robertson video, I just posted:

  As an adult former foster child I find is implication that those of us who have survived adversity are profoundly and permanently damaged and not worth the effort offensive, and clearly untrue.

HOWEVER, when we talk about so-called “Orphan Care” worldwide what we are talking about is “Orphans,” the majority of whom have one living parent and poverty is the overwhelming factor in their availability for adoption. When people quote:

“James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

I am always struck by the fact that it says AND, The fatherless AND widow, it says nothing about take her child, change their name seal its birth-certificate and make them “your own.”

Abused and intentionally neglected children need and deserve loving permanent homes. Children living in poverty who have parents who want and love them but can’t feed them, deserve to be helped at HOME with their family of origin where they belong.

“We love Orphans”

“We minister to Orphans from all over the world, thousands of them. We love Orphans. We love helping people, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I want to take all the Orphans from around the world into my home.” ~Pat Robertson


As offensive as I think this clip is…

As much as it makes my skin crawl…

I would bet there are some “good Christians” and the children that they adopted, only to try to return, re-adopt out (disrupt) who would agree.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

We Made Them a Promise

And those years that we were "protecting them" and "giving them a better life?" We've all heard the horror stories. We ourselves have a son who was neglected in his birth home because of a birthmom's drug habit. He wasn't getting enough supervision as a toddler and so he was removed. He wasn't abused though .. .until he entered the system. Seven years and 15 placements later, he now had a history of sexual abuse, physical abuse that was so calculated and deliberate that it almost makes me vomit, and years of emotional abuse. And then the "system" made the decision that it was OK for him to be separated from his younger birth siblings. As a woman I met with yesterday said passionately, "who thinks they have the right to make the decision to separate people from their siblings???" And, because of the situation, no contact was allowed for these then three little boys until they were all eighteen. When he came to us it is no wonder it took years and years for him to heal.

Go Read The Rest PLEASE

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sometimes You Need a Little Trauma–Versary to Remind You That You Really Are O.K.

I want to go ahead and wrap up my posts about my little trauma–versary .

Part I  Part II

I can be walking down the street all grown up with a family of my own and I can make a conscious connection that reminds me of a fun filled family vacation and another near death, sibling experience. I can smile, laugh, shake my head and say to myself, “good times.” Little did I know that behind my conscious memory of our family trip to Oklahoma, was a deeper painful semi-conscious remembrance that through the connection of the present day fireworks to my trip to Oklahoma was only pulled forward enough from the back of my mind, that just the emotions and the feelings of fear and loss were accessible. Yet, the memory of the cause of fear, pain and loss remained tucked away and elusive.

let me just to be clear leaving my sister in Oklahoma was not the most traumatic, or even the biggest loss I had / or have experienced…not even close. That was more or less one more loss/trauma in a sea of loss and trauma. It was yet one more occasion where I thought things were going to get back on track and that everything was going to start to get better only to be rudely reminded that crazy was still shoveling the coal, and that this train was plowing way off the tracks full speed ahead.

Had I had a similar situation happen when I was still a child or a tween, where something had triggered an emotional/ adrenal response – I would have had no idea at all that something was amiss. I would have completely and thoroughly bought into my emotional response, accepted it at face value and would have been off and running with it, argumentative, oppositional and reactionary. I would have been less than “fun to be around” for days if not weeks, once I started digging holes. As an older teen or young adult I might have gotten self-destructive. I could have gotten very depressed for a very long time or the minute that trigger touched off that fight/ flight reaction (like when I had a strong urge to GET AWAY), I may have grabbed a couple of things and hit the road…in a FLASH, with nary a thought about it. And I wouldn’t have returned until the adrenalin wore off or something triggered me to flee again.

I am much older now. My brain (developmentally speaking) has matured. I have developed ways over time to manage my triggers and my reactions. I have figured out that when my emotional reaction do not match my actual circumstances I need to check in with myself and try to make a deeper connections. And yet sometimes I still struggle for a little while from time to time. But I have learned to keep working at it, and trying new things, to ask for help and I get un-stuck.

The moment I realized: We left my sister in Oklahoma.

I was FINE.

It was as if a wave of calm came over me. I am O.K. today. It is hot, my sink isn’t draining BUT I am fine. We are fine. When I was a kid I left my sister in Oklahoma and it broke my heart, and we are fine today.

I woke up the next day. I called my sister. I cried. She cried a bit, she works very hard at not remembering. She assured me she IS fine. And we moved on, consciously aware of what we’ve lost, and that we are BOTH O.K. today.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Socks For Smiles

About Socks for Smiles

I am eleven-years-old and have a goal to collect colorful socks and other personal items, such as underwear, for foster kids. I was in foster care for five years. I was mostly given plain white socks to wear. I hated those socks! The other kids had colorful socks with fun designs and cartoon characters. It was another way I felt different. I haven't worn white socks at all since I was adopted in 2010! Now I want to help other kids feel special too. Socks may seem like a small thing, but it's sometimes the little things that mean a lot to a kid

Please Help!

Go check out my young fellow Foster Care Alumni, How cool is this!?

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Anatomy Of A Trauma-Versary Part II


I love my mother-in-law.

“I have left Jimmy in more places, more times than I can count or remember.

…But I always went back for him.” She shrugs and laughs.

And she always did. Family lore has Mr. Sunday being left behind at home, at church, in stores, in the Upper Peninsula, in Wisconsin and so on. Being the youngest of seven kids, quiet and always having his nose in a book, somebody seemed to think somebody else had gotten him, they would eventually figure out nobody did and return to find him usually in some corner reading a book before he even discovered he had been lost. He seems no worse for wear.

My sister is 5 ½ years older than I am. She has always relished her role as a mother to me and our brother. When she was in Jr. High she made he and I matching outfits for her schools talent show. (I may have mentioned that before, but that is just not the kind of thing normal 13 year-olds do…stuff for other people, I mean.) Going into her 9th grade year, with the nod and support of my grandparents who were always very adamant that with my mother gone, it was not my sister’s job to raise us for our parents, the decision was made to send my sister to a prestigious boarding school in northern Michigan. (Interlochen Arts Academy)

She returned that summer having failed Algebra and boy was my dad PISSED! The decision was made that she would not be returning to boarding school for 10th grade and my parents began their epic, now classic game of I-don’t- want-her-you-can-have-her that lasted for the rest of our childhoods. Somewhere during that winter, my sister had had enough. She went out, flagged an 18 wheeler down and hitch-hiked her 15 year old self to California, where she stayed.

We, my brother and i had landed, with our nannie (at first) back with our mother. By the time that summer rolled around, our nannie was headed back home to go back to school and my mom was making plans to hook up with some guy she met during his family vacation in Miami, Oklahoma that is. When my sister called from California my mom let her know where we’d be and invited her to join us, if she could find her way. Obviously, if a 15 year old can find her way from Michigan to California on her own that same 16 year old could find their way from California to Oklahoma.

I remember my mom getting a call and leaving us while she drove off t to pick up my sister from the local truck stop. The trucker bought them both dinner and listened to their story trying to make sense of it somehow. I remember my mother returning to the home of the family we were staying with my sister Amy. I remember my mother being incensed as she recounted their dinner with t said trucker and how that Trucker who had picked up her child on the side of the road and brought her on the last leg of her trip from California to Oklahoma to meet her family from Michigan for a family vacation had the audacity to question my Mother’s (of all people’s) parenting skills! The nerve of Him, really!

The guy my mom went to see had a daughter named Shelly (Delozier or Deloiser) who was my or my brother’s age. (I wonder what she’s doing now.) We went to the lake. We went to the Quapaw Indian powwow. We swung into the river while the brothers of my mom’s beau looked out for water moccasins (or that was what they tell the northerners to scare them), we parked along a dirt road hoping to see the “spooklights.” Someone feed me a raw potato and I puked my guts out. I got horribly sunburned; Oklahoma is not the best place for redheads.

We kids were left alone in a tent at a campground over night to fend for ourselves while fierce storms passed over, flooding the valley we were in and 5 separate tornados touched down around us. Per usually my mother was furious when she showed up the next day to find us upset, how could on earth could we hold her responsible for the weather?

And so went our family vacation/ my mother’s week long date, one big happy family…right up to the point that my mother drove my 16 year old sister back to the truck stop, so she could hitchhike herself back into the sunset and out of our lives.

and for the first time that trip, I realized that we hadn’t gone to Oklahoma to pick Amy up and bring her home-- that bringing her home was never part off the plan. She had been invited to baby-sit, she accepted to see her little brother and sister.

But she was not welcome

Nor did she have the desire to be-

Pulled apart.


At home.

We had left my sister in Oklahoma.

Oh. My. God.

We had left MY 16 year old sister alone in Oklahoma.

On purpose!

And somehow, in that moment, I knew I would be next

The Anatomy Of A Trauma-Versary (Or My New Life As a Circus Mom)


The governor of the great state of Michigan legalized fireworks this year. Yippee! Somewhere around the first thanks to a friend’s FaceBook post I had realized, knowing the family directly across from me the way I do, that I had BETTER start watering my “hay” as my kids had taken to calling my front lawn while they pretended to feed their toy horses.

On Wednesday The Fourth we had walked down the block, around the corner to watch another neighbor’s well organized well planned fireworks display, which CoCo, my sensory kid HATED and Mad my anxious kid toughed out. Since I was in the house with CoCo I wouldn’t know, but I am pretty sure the middle kid was wishing she could be the one lighting them off…they all came here with their own personalities.

As we made our way back home, rounded the corner and saw fireworks being launched over our still brown grass and another neighbors roof I made a remark about having not seen such an irresponsible use of fireworks since the 4th of July we spent in Miami Oklahoma as kids. (My brother who was around 11 at the time (under supposed adult supervision) decided to put a whole gross of bottle-rockets in a coffee can and light them all at once. They started going off, the can tipped sending bottle rockets flying just above ground level towards all of us and into the open trunk of the car where the rest of the HUNDREDS of fun-time explosives were being stored. It was just like a scene from some war movie as we were all running around screaming looking for cover (there was none we were in a rock quarry) and the brother of the guy my mom was there to see (who looked amazingly like Jesus) climbed into the trunk and managed to dig out the light bottle-rockets before the whole car exploded. Good times!)

(That by the way was more or less just another funny family story. Since I had spent most of my childhood watching my brother gas things, set shit on fire, damn near killing me and being pretty sure that one day he would, that was more or less just another day in the life, as a opposed to a traumatic experience. Thank goodness with the adult brain comes some impulse control. Some of my scariest/funniest childhood memories begin with the phrase, “I wonder what would happen if I …”)

Anyhow…we came home, put the kids to bed and during the middle of the night a storm rolls through and knocks out our power in the middle of a heat wave. UGH! I woke up hot, frustrated and irritated Thursday, on the verge of tears Friday, depressed and relieved that I had to work in the air-conditioning Saturday, Sunday RAW, the power came back on but the kitchen sink was backed up and flooding the basement, Monday with my skin crawling, having bouts of uncontrollable sobbing and the overwhelming urge to get in my car and drive until I ran out of gas, money or hit an ocean.

Anyone who knows me in real life knows, crying just isn’t my thing. I am way more likely to shed a tear for someone else than I am for me. We foster kids have the uncanny ability to let life’s physical / environmental discomforts roll like water off a ducks back. So it was clear to me that what I was feeling was in all honesty disproportionate to what was actually going on around me…even though it truly did suck. There had to be something else…

As I lay in bed Monday, trying to figure out how one runs off to join the circus with three kids in tow, I realize that this was crazy…I mean crazy…as in bat-shit crazy and I had better figure out what the heck this was about because, with her gimpy leg and lack of coordination CoCo is absolutely not cut out for the circus. This has to be connected to something else this MUST be some kind of trauma-versary, it is the only thing that could make sense. What the heck happened in my past around the fourth of July that could possibly have me so rattled? I started going through the list.

· My mom left? – No

· Patti, my nannie left? -No

· My mom took us back? – Na, right time of year, but it doesn’t feel right

· I went into placement? -No

What the heck?

And then it hit me



Not the stupid fireworks thing. Not that at all!

It was my sister!

Oh. My God!

We left my sister in Oklahoma!

To be continued…

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Since When Is Your Anger MY Symptom?

She’s making me angry!

He’s pissing me of!

They are making me feel bad!

Nope! Not allowed! Rephrase that please. Nobody can MAKE you feel ANYTHING, we are each responsible for our own emotions. - Therapy, Group-home, and Residential Treatment Center 101.

That we are each responsible for not only our own actions, but our emotions as well is a concept that had been drilled into my head for YEARS, in some of the very same settings that parents of traumatized (RAD) children turn to (supposedly) get their children the help they need.

Now, I feel angry when… because for g-d’s sake it is mine to own, you can’t say I never learned anything in exile.

So, when HE makes me angry, I know it is not HIM, it is ME choosing to feel anger about the situation…HE is not MAKING me feel ANYTHING, no other person has that kind of power over my emotional state. That is something that I, (with MUCH brainwashing by the therapeutic community) have come to accept as a fundamental truth.

I feel angry…

I feel scared…

I feel overwhelmed.

I feel depressed.

And if I don’t like it, I am the only person responsible for changing it.

(And sometimes I CHOSE to feel angry, scared, depressed, and pissed off. Sometimes I CHOSE to stew in it…FOR DAYS…WEEKS…YEARS)


Point taken…I got it.

So imagine my surprise and disbelief when I noticed this little gem in the list of signs and symptoms that YOUR CHILD may have RAD:

· “Parents appear hostile and angry.”

Whoa, whoa, Back. The. Fnck. Up!

Either I have been lied to by the very same professional / expert types who use these lists or something is amiss.

Maybe I misunderstood- maybe it is only traumatized children (or those diagnosed with RAD) who are responsible for their own emotions and actions?

Maybe “Parents appear hostile and angry,” should be added to the symptoms of ADHD, because there times when I have been really pissed off by my child’s behavior, and I am sure that I have “appeared angry and hostile” and silly me. I thought that meant I needed to work on MY coping skills. I can’t imagine how much better I would have felt if I had just realized, that it was about her, and my feelings were a symptom of HER diagnosis…not anything to do with me or MY parenting.

How about adding “Parents appear hostile and angry” to the list of symptoms of cerebral palsy (CP) /brain injury? During the two years I lugged my baby around to specialist after specialist only to be told that, I just did not have enough experience with “normal children” to know whether or not some something was just not “right” with my child. And while I spent hours and hours on the phone and writing letters fighting with the insurance company fighting to get therapy for a child that was going to just miraculously “catch up” I am positive I “appeared angry and hostile.” Clearly it was the CP, not me.

Or Autism, giftedness…

And here is where I call, Bull Shit.

Listing a parent’s feelings and behavior as a feature of their child’s diagnosis, is not only unprofessional…it is unfair.

Those of us who have survived childhood trauma have enough to deal with without being held responsible for the emotional health and actions of the adults around us.


Thoughts? Do you think this would be so readily accepted with other child hood afflictions?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

You enjoyed the convenience of my solitude

excuse me if I seem a little rude
While I was missing my childhood,
My brother and my prime
You enjoyed the convenience of my solitude

I will NEVER thank you for my solitude!

Monday, July 9, 2012

A new model of family… | The Adoption Counselor


Brenda McCreight

July 8, 2012

When is the adoption industry going to move beyond the notion that attachment is the key to everything? I mean really, the myth is perpetuated that once the child achieves the capacity to experience a reciprocal attachment relationship with the adoptive parents then there will be no further problems and the adoptive family will be no different than a genetic neurotypical family. Just look at the adoption conferences – the main topic is generally about attachment strategies. All the conferences and seminars I’m asked to speak at want something from me about how to facilitate and create attachment. How did we get to this place?

I mean really – yes, attachment is important because it means that parts of the child’s brain have developed physically to a point where relationships are possible. That’s good, even I can agree to that.  But —- the problem is that there’s a total denial about the incredible significance of factors that I think are vital.

A new model of family… | The Adoption Counselor

I Feel, Therefore I Am.

I haven’t posted much lately, not because I don’t have a lot to say…that is for sure…I NEVER seem to run out of things to say.

Sometimes the past and present collide in ways that make it all hard to untangle and make any sense of…and I get stuck.

I took a real job last August which put me in the inner-city and put me (back) in touch with the heartache of poverty, lack of education and hopelessness that plagues a good section of our population…especially the children. It sucks. It is sad and depressing and because I spent a good deal of my childhood in foster care and a fair amount of my youth in the community we serve I can’t seem to build up the callousness and apathy that it requires to not let the whole mess depress the hell out of me.

I gotten so depressed, frustrated, overwhelmed and triggered that I resigned. I literally did not think I could walk through the doors to do one more shift, and I can’t thank Lisa enough for teaching me EFT and getting me through that. At least I am not having panic attacks every time I think about going to work.  So, here I am now working almost as many hours at a job I quit as I did before i resigned, still depressed, frustrated, overwhelmed but not nearly as triggered and it STILL sucks. And since I can’t seem to muster up the ability to shrug my shoulders and say, “it’s not my problem…” and I have kids at home I need to take care I guess this is just the way it is gonna be for me.

Sometimes I wish it were true what so many would like to believe: the myth tat those of us who survived “ACEs”, “children of trauma”, from “hard places”, “children of rage” grow up with an “inability to feel empathy” because that would make my life a hell of a lot easier. What I, lack is the ability to not see it my responsibility and the pressing urge to do something about it, which seems to come quite easily for those normal people who see the plight and pain of others as, “not my problem.”

I feel, therefore I am.

Adoption PSA From Second City

Would I find this so humorous if it weren’t so true? Discuss.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Medication Generation: Teenagers and Antidepressants - WSJ.com

As a parent who has attempted to medicate a gifted child into conformity, to save her the inconvenience of being exceptional, this article defiantly struck a nerve with me...

Looking back, it seems remarkable that I had to work so hard to absorb an elementary lesson: Some things make me feel happy, other things make me feel sad. But for a long time antidepressants were giving me the opposite lesson. If I was suffering because of a glitch in my brain, it didn't make much difference what I did. For me, antidepressants had promoted a kind of emotional illiteracy. They had prevented me from noticing the reasons that I felt bad when I did and from appreciating the effects of my own choices.

As medications saturate our culture, we may be growing less able to connect our most basic feelings with the stressful factors in our lives. "There's been a kind of pathologization of life itself," said David Ramirez, a clinical psychologist and the head of counseling and psychological services at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. "Life is full of stress, and anxiety, and sadness—those are just base-line phenomena that have come to be considered illnesses that need to be treated. Young people aren't sure how to think about their distress."

The desire to protect kids and help them to succeed is hard to fault in itself. But pushed too far, it can lead to unnecessary prescriptions that cause pain or harm in their own right. Though psychiatric medications have become part of the fabric of modern childhood and adolescence, they are powerful drugs, and we owe it to the next generation to use them with caution.

The Medication Generation: Teenagers and Antidepressants - WSJ.com

Doesn’t is totally suck to realize that in an attempt to protect our children from short term discomfort, we are setting them up for long term failure?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

They Don’t Make A Card For That


Not one of these say thank you for:

Being there sometimes

For abandoning me when the only thing I need was a parent

For my 7 years in foster care

Visiting me when you didn’t have better things to do

Putting your wants before your children’s needs

Looking out for Number One

For making us number 2, 3, and 4

Occasionally sacrificing a little, as long as it was not too inconvenient, or make you too uncomfortable

Nope, not one of them…I know, I checked.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Real Mommy War


While we are all getting ready for this Mothers’ Day weekend and debate what makes one and who is a “real” mother, who we may or may not honor, what qualifies one as “The Bestest Mommy EVER!” Let us not forget that across this very country thousands of kids will wake up this Sunday in institutions and in the homes of strangers, and the recipients of their homemade mothers’ day cards and presents will be those temporary guardians or no one at all.

I am with Kristen on this one:


When it comes to issues of motherhood, there is one issue I care about: some kids don’t have one. All of these petty wars about the choices of capable, loving mothers is just a lot of white noise to me, Quite honestly, I’m often astonished at the non-essential parenting issues I see moms getting their panties in a wad about. Particularly when there are so many kids in this world not being parented at all.

I’ll whine about how, when we called our Christian agency about a healthy African American boy from LA county who was in need of a home, we were told that they had no prospective adoptive parents willing to accept a placement of a black child. NOT ONE.

I’ll get behind complaining about how the government renames orphans and calls them "wards of the state", and renames orphanages and calls them "group homes", and how we collectively turn a blind eye to the fact that we have hundreds of thousands of children waiting for families in the US.

Let’s stop quibbling about what competent mothers are choosing for their kids, and step it up for the kids that don’t have one.

Please go read the whole thing:Kristen Howerton Rage Against The Minivan
Where Is The Mommy War For The Motherless Child?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Life in the Grateful House: Honest

Life in the Grateful House: Honest

Please go read this very brave and insightful post by Lisa, whom I am privileged to be able to count among my friends.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Story Of (not that) Jesus

I read this personal narrative by Jesus Montes (16 years old) over at Cindy’s blog Saturday morning, over breakfast…and since Saturday, been at a loss for words.

Please go read it! I mean it PLEASE GO READ IT!

For 10 years Jesus has been able to wake up in the same bed every morning.

For 10 years Jesus has not been hungry.

For 10 years Jesus has been able to have a school, a community and an advocate.

10 years in the same place is huge, for those of us how have had to stuff everything we own into trash bags and move on time and time again…we know.

The fact is that there will always be kids like Jesus…Always.

And those kids we need to continue to speak up, for those kids we need to fight for openness and honesty, for those kids we need to tell our stories. We owe it to them.

And whether Jesus, grows up one day to be an outspoken happy grateful adoptee or a reformer, I hope we can all respect him, and his story…

Because there will always be kids like Jesus…


Saturday, April 28, 2012

How One Person’s Source Comfort Could be Another’s Source of Terror

I originally posted this comment over on I Was A Foster Kid and I decided to repost it here, because I think it is another example of how kids with trauma backgrounds view and see the would so differently from the adults who are attempting to help them.

Seriously good question LT. I also wonder if in many circumstances, if the immersion of a child in a religion that they do not have a history with…talk of good and bad, sin and sinners, heaven and hell, eternal damnation the “righteous” and so forth isn’t very scary for kids from trauma, whom at their core feel a deep unwavering sense of shame.

I had an experience when one of our staff packed us up took us to her church, they took us all aside, prayed over us, told us we had to be saved, and accept Jesus Christ as our personal savior and be baptized in his name or we and our souls would be damned for eternity. I was freaked the fnck out. And they were not gonna stop until we got dumped in the tank…so completely out of fear, and discomfort…I “accepted Jesus,” and was baptized in his name…so I got that covered. I loved that staff, still remember her very fondly [I believe she honestly meant well]…but that was some scary stuff for me. As a matter of fact that whole experience precipitated a huge back slide and the rest of the staff was pretty pissed about the whole thing. Seriously it was very traumatizing.

Anyhow, I think people who deal with kids from trauma have to remember that they do not process things the same way as they do. One person’s source comfort could be another’s source of terror.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

To Wayne, With Love

Today I got to actually use my own computer for a minute to log on to FaceBook (as opposed to my phone), and what do you know but the fact that it was Wayne’s 60th birthday was displayed up there with my notifications. I clicked over to his profile to peck out a quick “happy birthday” on this wall, as we are all so accustomed to do these days.

And the moment my curser started to blink in that little box, the tears started to flow.

What do you say when happy birthday in 420 characters or less could never do it justice?

When I had met Wayne I had already been institutionalized for a year, and I had missed most of my schooling the 2 years before that. He was a bright eyed idealistic hippie-ish grad student at the U of M. I mean he a tall and lanky, scruffy faces, shaggy hair Birkenstock wearing, tie-dye sporting, health food-eating true epitome Ann Arbor’s native son. He ran/taught our agency’s “In House School,” at the time a classroom setup in the basement of the house I lived in.

When kids would come into placement from any of the houses in our agency they would be assessed academically and an individual education plan would be made. A kid might be schooled “in house” all day, go to their resident’s public school or some combination of both.

I attended to local middle school/jr. high in the morning and walked home for the second half of my day, usually to find Wayne up-stairs on our living room couch eating a bowl or plate of leftover god-knows-what, that he had brought to for lunch from his co-op or commune, or whatever the heck that place he lived was. He’d eagerly offer us kids a bite,

wanna try it?

oh…err…um…nope…not…on…your…life…I…don’t…but, yeah… thanks bunches.

I hadn’t moved at all in math since fourth grade when we had to memorize our times tables and had to be able do them all however many in however many seconds on timed tests, I wouldn’t I couldn’t, doesn’t matter ‘cause I still can’t but was not going to be taught anything else until I did. To which Wayne just shrugged his shoulders and said something like,

Meh, life would probably be easier if you could, but whatever… here I got you this algebra I book from the high school, why don’t you not worry about memorizing those times tables and try this.

Well, I did, I got it and I was over the moon.

I had always been a SLOW reader…I mean SLOW. Reading took a lot of effort. I was humiliated time and time again each time a teacher called on me to read aloud to the class. I was extremely avoidant about reading for school …again, I was held back. Again, good old Wayne wasn’t having any of it. He got me text books and novels ABOVE grade level, because 1. That was where I had tested in comprehension and 2. If reading was going to be such an arduous task I may as well be engaged, interested and actually learning something for all the effort. Crazy I tell you!

I learned the love of the newspaper on the front porch of South Seventh House, in our lunch time class, called, “Current Events.” I think that might have been code for, hows-about-you-stop-talking-long-enough-so-i-can-eat-then-you-can-blather-on-and-on-about-something-I-may-actually-find-interesting-when-i-am-done-okay? Win, win.

Wayne made me write papers, or rather he sweetly suggested that I might maybe like to write papers and I am sure I rather sarcastically, assured him that I would rather not but I did anyway. I’d hand them back and he’d say,

Great paper, good content! Amazing, somehow you have managed to spell, “Because” four different ways in the same paper, and not one correctly. Girl, you got some skills…NOBODY else could pull that one off.

Wayne made me my own cozy little study area in that basement, away from the classroom. I had a desk and a bean bag chair next to the washer and dryer, not as a punishment, not because I was disruptive to the other kids. Nope, not as I remember it. He moved me, because the other kids were disturbing TO ME. Imagine that! I couldn’t focus or concentrate AND keep track of what everyone around me was doing.

He has move on, to much bigger and better things since his one room schoolhouse teaching days, (two if you count my laundry room). He has had the opportunity to test and evaluate and come up with Individualized Education Plans for many, many more kids. When I remember how he used to let all of us kids pile into the back of his pick-up to take us on field trips, to a game, the park, or out for ice-cream I realize not only how very long ago that was (can you imagine anyone doing that today?), but how very lucky those of who knew Wayne back when, and got him hands-on in the classroom were to have him to ourselves.

Wayne taught me:

Learning disabled dose not equal stupid.

Creative spelling is high art.

When one thing isn’t working, it is ok to try something else.

Learning is not linear, it happens in concentric circles.

The way it is usually done, isn’t the only way it can be done.

Struggle doesn’t feel like struggle when you have a good cheering section.

Never let what you don’t like keep you from doing the things you love.

And a whole host of other things that I could go on about all day and night…

Any way today is Wayne’s 60th birthday and all I did to celebrate was write this lousy blog post.

Every child deserve to have a Wayne.  Did you have one?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Healing Power of Calm

I do not talk/write about my story for sympathy, or vengeance. I tell my story so that I may understand and so that others who wish to hear may gain some understanding as well.

When I had met Mr. Sunday, I was 22 or 23 years old. Finally the fireworks display that was the adolescent brain had subsided and I was pretty much left only having to wrestle with my leftover anxiety, depression and PTSD, from years of living in the foster care system. Yea me!

I had aged out of foster care, I had been homeless, lived the thug life, been quite the party girl, I had destroyed relationships, and many times I had come close to destroying myself. By that time I had hitchhiked across the country several times. Something would happen, I’d screw-up, whatever…I would just throw everything I could carry in a trash bag and I would get the hell out of Dodge, just like I had lived out so many times throughout my childhood. I didn’t know it then but I realize it now, “the adrenaline made me do it.” No kidding, that Fight or Flight thing is no, joke!

Anyway, there I was with my new fairly matured neurological wiring, because I somehow miraculously managed to survive through adolescence into young adulthood. I had met Mr. Sunday. Let me tell you, he was nothing I ever thought I wanted in a man or anyone. When you have had a traumatic childhood, spent half of your life living as a ward of the state, you get to live with 6, 12, 24 unique, interesting sometimes very troubled individuals…you get used to dealing with high octane and drama. Mr. Sunday is the antithesis of drama. I have no idea what possessed me to even stop to give him the time of day, because there was nothing familiar or that felt like my dysfunctional home about him whatsoever. Yet, being that there was nothing in common about us, being totally different from each other as any two people could seem to be, somehow we managed to feel at very much at home together.

Mr. Sunday is (was) the calmest person on the planet. He has manage to exist in a level of calm even many a hard core stoner would be envious of…naturally. I mean, steady Freddie, even keel, just Zen… All. The. Time. And here the poor schlep had the dumb luck of falling in love with a trauma-brain girl. My natural calm would register on the national threat warning system as a solid orange, and his would be off the charts at a cool blue at his most stressed.

“Mr. Sunday, Mr. Sunday! The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”

Mr. Sunday would peer up from is book or newspaper, look at the tiny chunk of sky. He would examine it, turn it over, examine it some more. He would give me a thoughtfully look and say,

“Yep, that sure looks piece of sky alright.”

Being a trauma-brain girl and all, I’d jump around and say,

“But Mr. Sunday that is a piece of SKY, IT FELL! We’re screwed!”

Thoughtfully Mr. Sunday would say again, “yep, that IS sky.”

Confused, still dancing around, I’d say,

“BUT Mr. Sunday, we have to DO something! The SKY IS FALLING. I am FREAKING –THE-FUCK-OUT HERE and I have all of this adrenaline and stuff, and it is telling me I have to DO SOMETHING before everything else come crashing down and the world turns to shit. WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING!”

Mr. Sunday would take a deep breathe, look me in the eye and say,

“Yep, that IS a PIECE of the SKY.  I get it.  IT DID FALL I see that.   The chances of more of the sky falling, let alone in this exact spot are ASTRONOMICAL, I assure you. Feel free to jump and dance around if that is what you need to do, but I am going sit her and finish reading this, I’ll be right here when you are done.”

Let me tell you there is nothing that sucks the life out an adrenaline induced doomsday dance of escalation like not having a partner willing to join in. Pop, fizzle, pop.

It has taken years, I tell ya. YEARS!  Mr. Sunday modeled calm, exuded patience. Through every test, and test I have, life has, he has loved me for who I am, trauma-brain and all. He stood true to himself and his reality that fear is an illusion, that nothing so bad; that it can’t be overcome will ever really happen. Slowly but slowly those mirror neurons I mentioned, in my amped-up trauma-brain have learned to reflect his calm non-trauma brain more and more. His mirror neurons have rejected and refused to mold to my whole the sky is falling trauma-drama-brain way of thinking, I was so freely sharing. And that is the biggest gift I have ever been given. It has taken a lot of time for me to get where I am today. I am still not perfect, I still get angry, I still occasionally lash out, I still feel compelled to act, and I still get triggered, I still have times I struggle. I am not nor will I ever be the same slave to adrenaline overload I used to be…not even close.

Let me say, I do realize that poor Mr. Sunday took a lot of shit…lots. It wasn’t fair that he was tested and tested and then tested some more. There were times when he was just so damn nice I was sure I would have to leave him, because obviously he was some bazaar-o freak of nature and I couldn’t stand it anymore. And beyond any shadow of a doubt, I know it couldn’t have been nearly as easy as he made it look.

In the end: Fear begets more fear. Calm begets calm. Peace begets peace. Love begets love.

If you love someone who is surviving trauma and you are having a hard time being that model of patience, that mirror of calm…don’t beat yourself up. Living with constant fearful instinct driven reactionary behavior is not fun. Maybe you are feeling fearful and reactionary yourself, struggling to BE the behavior you want to see. That wouldn’t be surprising, trauma is tough stuff, and us trauma survivors know how to put those who love us through the paces. Put your on your oxygen mask, grab a good book and be there when it is all said and done.

Check out the EFT teleconference for mothers Lisa from Life in a Grateful House put together…who knows maybe you find your inner Mr. Sunday or Lisa, or Claudia, or Christine or maybe even the inner you, you forgot you are.

If you are a fellow foster care alumni, adoptee, trauma survivor, child of an alcoholic/drug addict, whatever who is looking to relieve the stress of triggers check out this special EFT video, just for folks like us.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Being a Child Living With Trauma Feels A Lot Like Being a Backseat Driver

This video is very interesting….go watch it…then come back.

Yesterday I was on the other side of town, right where the suburbs meet the city.

I am tooling along on a four lane divided highway.I’m driving in the second lane, one lane over from and about 3 cars behind a city bus…because I know better than to get stuck behind a bus. The light changes right as I notice out of the corner of my eye a rather large woman with bags in both hands, doing something that slightly resembles running…but really slow. Over the traffic and the noise of the bus I can barely make out her “hey, hey!” Oh, man! She is trying to make the bus…and there is no way she is gonna. The bus is pulling off and the driver hasn’t noticed her, or he has but he is going anyway. I decide I have to take action, I start honking my horn as I speed up to the front of the bus…and I honk and honk and honk until the driver figures out I am not going to stop until he stops and lets the poor lady in. Good thing busses don’t have the capability for rapid acceleration.

Now let’s look what really happened there. Why did I even notice the heavy set woman with the bags? Because I am still am pretty hypervigilant, I tend to notice things and noises in my surroundings that don’t even register with others. (Thank you PTSD) How did I know that bizarre shuffle was an attempt to catch a bus? Because way back when having aged out of foster care without knowing how to drive, I too had to use the bus as my sole form of transportation, and I have had to run to catch one…many a time. (Thank you foster care system for pushing kids out the door without basic life skills) Why did I feel compelled to get involved? Because I could FEEL her panic. (Thank you empathy) Why not just shrug my shoulders and figure she could just catch the next one? I have no impulse control (thank you over active adrenal system), if I didn’t do something I would have felt guilty all day. (Thank you years of being blamed for my parents’ choice not to raise me) And if you know anything about our city bus system you know you had better catch whatever bus you can, god knows when the next one is coming,(thank your local news for you news coverage) and the chances of getting home before her meat turned brown were slim. (Been there, done that) And finally I have learned throughout my life, it is much harder for me to live with not doing than attempting to do and failing. (Thank you overly guilty conscience and deep-seeded sense of shame).

Why was I the only one at that light attempting to stop the bus? Maybe because nobody else noticed the lady with the bags. Maybe if they noticed the large woman running they did not connect it to the bus. Maybe if they noticed the woman running, connected to the bus, they didn’t realize that there may not be another one for hours. Maybe if the noticed the woman, connected her to the bus and realized another bus may not show up for hours they had no idea what it felt like to walk for miles just to get home to discover that the meat you just bought had already turned brown. Maybe their life experiences were so far removed from that woman’s struggles there was nothing in that situation that they could relate to, and thus could not process the woman’s plight in a way which would allow them or motivate them in a way that would inspire them to BE helpful.

This is how life goes; we were all at the same corner. We all brought our own experiences, or lack thereof. We all experienced our time at that light in our own ways. Nobody did it the right way or wrong way. My perceptions and my compulsion to act is shaped by who I am and experiences which are exclusive to me.

Where am I going with this rambling post?

I couldn’t help but think that being a child living with trauma is a lot like having my experience at the corner, but from the back seat. You see, feel and pick up on things that others have who have not had your experiences don’t even register…and there you are in the back seat with no gas pedal, no horn and no control to DO anything worthwhile about it. Meanwhile the person in the driver’s seat, you know, the one with all of the power, is focused straight ahead, has their destination in mind and has no idea what the hell all that honking is about.  And there you are in the backseat, stuck with your adrenalin overload, your feeling of helplessness and shame over what appears to those around you, to be nothing at all.

(At least that is what it felt like for me.) 

Watch Mirror Neurons on PBS. See more from NOVA scienceNOW.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Funny What Makes Me Smile

The other morning my big girl lumbers into my room wrapped in her blanket and whines,

“Mom, I don’t feel good” As she climbs into the now vacant daddy’s side of my bed, and I smile.

I tell her, “That’s ok, honey just go ahead and close your eyes. We’ll decide what to do about that when you wake up.”

I get the little girls up, dressed and off to school and go back and nestle myself back under my covers. I go on about reading, writing blog posts and accomplishing some of the little things that one can do from the safety of their covers. Occasionally I glance over and see what used to be my baby on the far side of the bed, and I smile.

I sit, I work, I drag things out, I think about how rare it is becoming that we two are ever in the same room, let alone within arm’s reach anymore and I smile.

Soon, it passes; the child awakens, wraps herself tighter in her cocoon and shuffles off toward the hallway. “Where are you going?” I ask looking in her direction.

“To the kitchen…” She replies with such indignation and disdain dripping from her teenaged voice that can I just barely hear what I call the silent, in parentheses, *(“You Stupid B!tch”)* that I say follows most of her statements to me these days, and I smile.

I know in these moments I am no longer that mom. I am not her constant companion, her moral compass, the kisser of boo-boos, the fighter of battles, the protector, avenger, the motivator, the counselor, the master of her destiny. I am the *(“Stupid B!tch”)* who is struggling to let her learn how to be those things for herself. My big girl is fighting with everything she has got to learn how not to need me, I am so proud, it makes me smile.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Nature Of The Beast

I wish I had a better camera…or my windows were clean,


because the pictures do not do the scene justice.

I had gotten the big girl off to school, the middle girl was still was still sleeping and the baby girl was all ready and waiting for her bus to pull up in the drive way.

CoCo and I were spending a few minutes hanging over the back of the couch watching our backyard menagerie peacefully enjoy their free breakfast together al la Mr. Sunday’s bird feeders. They were all there, Mr. Fatty Pants the squirrel who can reach the woodpecker food if he hangs upside down from Amélie’s bird house. Momma & Daddy Duck who’s babies haven’t arrived yet this year. Aunt Jackie, that’s what we call the cardinals around here…because she said that was how she was going to come back…her visits are always bitter sweet…but we are glad her spirit feels at home here. The Andy birds, they are the red-winged black birds who are always trying to pick fights with themselves in the reflection of our mirrored window film, silly birds. The sparrows, the bunnies the whole crew of gods various creatures gathered together enjoying each other’s company. The only critter missing from the party I thought was the doe with a broken leg and the vultures. That is, I thought…until…out of…NOWHERE appeared Boots, the black and white neighborhood momma cat…I mean APPEARED…out of NO-Freaking-WHERE! And pounced on a sparrow and trotted off to enjoy HER free breakfast under the big pine. Everyone else scurried, hopped, waddled off and flew away. And our version of the morning show came to an abrupt end.

CoCo and I booth gasped, turned to look at each other wide-eyed having just witnessed an assassination which had, to us…being all wrapped up in the beauty of the moment and all… popped up out of the blue! I froze there, eyes wide, mouth gaping wondering what the heck I tell my 4 year old murder witness. Finally, I shrugged my shoulders, made my *shit happens* face and said,030

“I am sorry honey, it “BE’S” that way sometimes.”

And it is, the nature of the beast, as my IRL friend  Diane would say.  Sometimes all the critters come together and co-exist for a while and sometimes, a cat just being a cat’s instincts kick in and everyone else is forced to take cover. Oh, well, we will have a front row seat for the second act when the vultures show up to to pick over the carcass.



Yum, dead Sparrow!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Borrowing Tools From My Neighbor

So, I few weeks ago, I was really struggling. I was dealing with some triggers that were just flat out dragging me down. This had been an ongoing thing and I had been doing what I thought was a decent job using all of the little tricks and tools I have acquired over the years to deal the occasional anxiety that comes along when you have survived a traumatic past, usually out of the blue. But this was situational, and thing were coming up pretty regularly, and I was handling each trigger as it came pretty well, until the day that my brain snapped, crossed its arms like a three year old and said to me,

“Nope, I am not ever going back there. EVER! You can’t make me!”

I tried to rationalize with my crazy baby brain. I tried to play little games with it. I tried to trick it. I tried to cajole it. I asked it for a miracle, which is merely a change in perception. And still my trauma brain said,

“You can’t make me! You are not the boss of me.”

Well, shoot here I am stuck with this triggered trauma brain who has decided to become oppositional – defiant, and I had grown-up things that I needed to do. Every time I even thought about going back I hit that proverbial brick wall.

I can’t even begin to tell you how ridiculously it is frustrating it is when your own brain choses to defy logic.

Having exhausted everything I could think of to get stupid brain unstuck, I did the only thing left I could think of…I asked for help. I reached out to Lisa, a friendly fellow blogger who has been parenting a child from trauma for several years now and I asked her what she had I their tool box I could try. She said,

Rub and tap.”

What the what?

Lisa, with her sweet-self took the time to talk me through it. That woman is something special!

Psychological Reversals (Rubbing) Think of Rubbing as rubbing out a stain. The negative thought or belief is always stated first and the opposite positive phrase is stated last. Do it 3 times by rubbing gently on the sore spots on your chest. It is a gentle circular motion.” Lisa-Life in a Grateful House



And this is the one specifically for trauma and abuse:


And for as silly as it looks, guess what? It worked. Not like a miracle cure and I will never struggle with anxiety from PTSD anymore. But, like I went back. I walked back through the doors. I faced triggers. I acted like a grown-up. My brain functioned like a grown-up’s. I took care of my responsibilities. I managed my instinct to freeze.

I tap, tap, tapped, Rub, rub, rubbed and hooped my way through it.

Thanks Lisa!

(and that it’s WAY better than being wrapped in blankets and sat on!)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Adoption Ambivalent

Pro-adoption, anti-adoption, adoption advocate, adoption reformer, adoption activist….

I have found in blogging that terms like these are mostly used to discount opinions and shut down discussions and create an us versus them mentality surrounding adoption akin to the sharks and the jets…this is not Westside Story…it is adoption and I honestly don’t know one blogger in the adoption community who doesn’t tell their story, from their perspective without in some way hoping to make things better for kids TODAY.

Me personally?


[am-biv-uh-luhnt] Show IPA


1. having ”mixed feelings about someone or something; being unable to choose between two (usually opposing) courses of action: The whole family was ambivalent about the move to the suburbs. She is regarded as a morally ambivalent character in the play.

2. Psychology . of or pertaining to the coexistence within an individual of positive and negative feelings toward the same person, object, or action, simultaneously drawing him or her in opposite directions.

I have been called and accused of many things by people who don’t like what I write or my opinions.

I have been accused of hating all adoptions and all adoptive parents. Well that is just not true. My absolute favorite set of adoptive parents are called, grandma and grandpa…so there ya big Meany-pants! I have both adopters and child abandoners on both sides of my family for many generations, and some of my best (real life) friends are / have been adoptees, adoptive parents and first mothers…and just because we all manage to love and respect each other doesn’t mean we all have the same experiences or have the same options about ANYTHING, let alone on something as complex as adoption.

So I figured I take a moment to get some things straight:

First and foremost:

I believe that parents should raise their children, however they acquired them…if there is ANY WAY on heaven and earth that it can be accomplished…we as a (global) society need to work much harder at removing the barriers of parenting, before we remove CHILDREN from their families however they came to be.

Domestic Infant Adoption:

Not gonna lie – I DON’T LIKE IT…AT ALL.

I would say end of story…but it is not…you know me. there are far too many kids who have already been born into this world who need stability and care to be ADVERTISING to pregnant women in hopes that they will give up their unborn babies…dear birth mom, give me your baby letters…gross. …and that still doesn’t mean I hate or have [edited 4/15/12 to add: MUCH] contempt for those who have done it.

Older Child International Adoption:

Is sticky to say the least…there are a lot of real problems here. A LOT. I will refer to the Hague Convention on this one… it would suffice to say that I don’t HATE international adoption or parents who adopt internationally. I do think any entity who deals with international adoption should be spending as much time, money and energy on providing family planning services, poverty prevention programs and family preservation services so that NO MOTHER no matter how poor has to choose between keeping one child and feeding her others. Ever.

Adoption of Abused and Seriously Neglected Children from Foster Care:

Pretty much totally FREAKING rocks in my book. But…you know me there is always a but…(and my views on this is something I have been struggling with (a LOT) since I have been working in an inner-city medical clinic) there is a lot to say here. I do not think foster care should ever be used until all reasonable interventions have been exhausted. I do not believe that minor neglect (the kind that stem from ignorance/lack of education or poverty) is enough of a reason to separate a child from its family. One year in foster care will do far more damage to a child than 18 years of living with lice, scabies, worms, dirty clothes, rotten teeth and sleeping on the floor of a filthy house ever could. (Many of those things listed could be avoided if people were able to buy things like tooth brushes, tooth paste, hand, body, dish, soap bleach and laundry detergent with food stamps…just sayin’…) Although, I DO have a pretty much zero tolerance for physical and or sexual abuse. If a parent can’t immediately make sweeping life changes to keep their kids physically safe…somebody else has to.

So Called MEGA Adopters:

Essentially, this is tantamount to running an unlicensed, unregulated, un/under trained un/under-staffed group home…once you get numbers of children being cared for up near double digits, especially when we are talking about children of loss, trauma and possibly abusive backgrounds it would be very hard to keep so many children safe and supervised. This could very easily be a situation where children could be further traumatized and a set-up where a child could find themselves either sent to a residential treatment center or disrupted (re-adopted out) when they cannot function or be safe in this environment.

Interracial Adoption:

Given that there is a disproportionate number of African American children in the US foster care system, that there more white families who as it stands now (for many reasons that i may post about later) are currently willing and able to adopt any child…and as long as adoption remains the most used method of providing children from foster care with safety and stability…and since Mr. Sunday and I have personally spent an extended amount of time parenting African American children, it is not that I do not think interracial adoptions shouldn’t be ever be done…I just think that they shouldn’t ever be entered into lightly or without a firm grasp of just how complicated adoption is in the first place…let alone adding race on top of it.

Say I am too anti-adoption.  Say I am too pro-adoption.  Say I hate adoption, say I love it. Say I “kiss the adoptive parent ass.” Say I “hate ALL adoptive parents.” Say I am too supportive of  birth mothers. Say I hate all birth mothers.  Say whatever it is that lets you believe I have nothing to say or no right to say it. But MY truth is I am whole-heartedly, unequivocally, 100%, without question Adoption Ambivalent.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Square Pegs & The Circle of Moms

For those of you who voted for To Tell The Truth ~ Please Stand Up, in the Circle Of Moms top 25 adoption blogs by moms contest, I would like to sincerely thank you! I never expected to see a foster care alumnus blog hang up in the top 25. What happened this week in the adoption/foster care blogging community was truly amazing, and something I think we can all be very proud of.

For those of you who are unaware of the controversy surrounding the Circle Of Moms top 25 contest, I would suggest you read Amanda’s and Production not Production’s posts on the subject, they have put it all out there so eloquently, I could not do it justice.

The way I understand it, in a nut shell when COM ran their Top 25 Adoption Blogs by Mothers, neither they nor some of the adoptive parents who were involved in the contest realized that adoptive parents were not the only mom bloggers who had opinions or blogged about adoption. Adult adoptees and mothers whose children had been adopted entered the contest, much to the chagrin of some (many) of the adoptive parent bloggers, who feel that obviously the only valid perspective on adoption is those of adoptive parents, and they were very upset. This year the circle decided to open up and allow the voices of adult adoptees, fostered adults / parents and birth/ first mothers (mothers who had children subsequently adopted) which was all well and good…until Cassi a first mother made it to the second spot.

Now, I don’t know whether someone complained about it directly to COM or not. I do know Linda posted screen shots of some of the things being said on a public FB page by adoptive parents about it and…go look for yourself…and Cassi’s blog Adoption Truth was deleted while she was in the #2 spot.

…and what happened next was amazing.

…and beautiful.

The community rallied. I threw my blog into the mix figuring that they couldn’t delete everyone. (I was wrong.) Many posts were written about it. Top adoptive parent bloggers who were in the top 25 last year along with many others who were not wrote emails to COM saying that they would pull their blogs if Cassi’s voice was not reinstated. Meanwhile many in the community voted to push those traditionally marginalized voices, my own included up to the top of the list. My friends and FAMILY (have you read my blog?) shilled for votes for me and others. Because while not everyone necessarily likes everything that each of us writes, there are a lot of people who support our right to be heard. By the time they deleted everyone and canceled the whole contest Amanda an adult adoptee and Claude a first mother were in the # 1 and #2 spots.

…And that my friends, is a beautiful thing!

…And that is what I am gonna take away from the 2012 Circle of Moms Top 25 Top Adoption Blogs By Moms fiasco…

How about you?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The System Today

In my real-life travels recently I ran into a staff from a residential placement run by one of our states large foster care contractors. We had a chat about what it is like to grow up and work in the system. This staff member brought up several things they found troubling about the system as it is today.

It is troubling that in our state there is no avenue to separate kids who enter the system via different avenues. So, as it was in my day…we house kids who come into the system through the juvenile justice system, with those who are severely mentally ill, with those who were abused and neglected, with those who have run of the mill “family problems”. This means that today, just like in my day we can have a child who came into the system for “family problems” walking to school every day with someone who was convicted of beating someone to death with a baseball bat…just like I did my 9th grade year. Or rooming with a 12 year old who was turned out on the streets as a prostitute by a drug addicted mother who is constantly running away back to the life she knows and loves, and bringing lice, crabs and a very foul smelling STD with her upon her return. Yep, I have known and loved a few of those.

And well, the point is…those aren’t really the kind of influences most of us would want for our kids.

They went on to say that studies show (I haven’t had a chance to verify this but I totally believe it on face value) kids who come into care thru the juvenile justice system fare much better in life than those of who come in for the generic “family problems” or for abuse and neglect. This to me makes a strange twisted bit of sense to me one is better off a criminal with family ties, than “rescued” from abuse or neglect without.

And to add insult to all that is tragic, I was told that when kids leave placements in this day and age and attempt to  reach out to staff once they have moved on to the next place, or age out of the foster care system those staff whom these wayward, connectionless kids have formed bonds with those staff are not allowed to have contact with them…even over the phone.

We need to do better by our kids. We need to stop to think before we dump a mildly troubled child into a situation which will only make tings worse. We need to tell adoptive and foster parents the truth about how much work and sacrifice caring for hurt kids really takes. We need to allow kids to form bonds with stable and compassionate adults…even when they are not the “right” ones.

Please vote to keep To Tell The Truth – Please Stand Up  in the top 25 at Circle of Moms Top 25 Adoption Blogs by Moms – 2012

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The truth is:

The truth is subjective.

My truth is not necessarily the same as your truth. My life, my childhood were experienced much differently through my eyes than my parent’s “parenthood” (yes I am using the term loosely here.) was seen through theirs. The way my foster parents experienced my time with them may be remembered very differently than it is by me. And I assume the same could be said for my staff, social workers and teachers. We can only experience and define our own circumstances based on our perceptions which are formed by our experiences and circumstances and it goes on and on like that.

The way my children view their childhoods and the way I view them are vastly different. The way others see my parenting and the way my children experience it differ greatly. Most people think I do a pretty darn good job of it (if only considering how I was/ was not raised) it would be pretty fair to say the 13 year old however, thinks I completely suck at it…and…well…that is her JOB. She MUST think I suck and that she can’t wait to get out of here, because that is her developmental imperative. Otherwise, we would be stuck fetching late night glasses of water and playing taxi to her and her friends FOREVER.

Am I angry my kid thinks I suck? Um, maybe…not much. Do I think she is wrong? No, not really, from where she sits, I get it. Do I think she should realize just how good she has it? That she should be grateful that she has had a childhood that is so much better than the one I had? Hell NO! How Could she? But…Do I define myself and my parenting by the weight and measure of a child with 13 whole years of very narrow and shelter life experience? Well, that would be unwise.

And here is what I am getting at; the TRUTH IS SUBJECTIVE. I cannot be grateful that my childhood was better by comparison than the one my mother lived. My child cannot be grateful that she does not have to live through my childhood, because she doesn’t. She and I and my mother have each lived our own truths.

And…I believe, so it goes in this little corner of the blogging community as well. One mother’s heartbreaking loss is the answer to another mother’s prayer. One child’s adoption is the loss of a family, a forever severed tie. While to those who have aged out of foster care with nothing and nowhere to go, will forever look at adoption as the one hope that got away. And yet there are others who hoped that a child would be an answer to their prayers, who instead feel like adoption was really the beginning of a nightmare. One person’s “selfless gift” (yeah, ok…I still don’t get that) is another’s lifetime of abandonment. These things are all true here in this little corner. We all live each of our own experiences differently…that is the truth.

And…maybe if we can each have and tell our truths…respect that we can all have very different experiences, we can HEAR a truth that is not our own…we can learn something…about what is true.

Vote For To Tell The Truth - Please Stand Up  Circle of Moms Top 25 Adoption Blogs by Moms – 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Memories of Crack-Heads, Queens, Dead Prostitutes, Friendship and Survival

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I came home last night from a long day (LONG week), sat down at the table alone to eat the dinner my kids had excitedly told me they had saved for me. I finally pulled out my phone to see what goings on in the social media world I had missed. Little did I know that a FaceBook post my friend Angie had tagged me in was going to bring me to my knees.




It's funny the things you think about when you can't get to sleep at night...I thought about my old apartment on West Alexandrine in Detroit. This was my 3rd apartment since being emancipated by my mother, I was on the 3rd floor, it was a 2 bedroom Massive apartment on the third floor with a balcony outside my kitchen as well as a huge balcony just outside my apartment. The rent was $250 with all... utilities included, roaches not extra, this was 1988. I was remembering Marilyn who lived down the hall, an alcoholic and heroin addict who was frequently sporting a black eye given to her by her boyfriend who was at least 15yrs her jr. Marilyn showed me how to make my first Thanksgiving turkey. Then there was Smitty, it wasn't uncommon to come through the apartment building and find Smitty drunk and naked in the hallways screaming that he was not black he was colored and didn't appreciate being called black. I as well as my friend Sunday Koffron Taylor were very good about getting Smitty back to his apartment, dressed and calmed down. After awhile the landlord (Lou?) would come get us to do just that because he couldn't convince him to get out of the hallway naked. I remembered Jimmy, he lived down the hall from Sunday who lived on the 2nd floor. Jimmy was an older gay black man who lived immaculately. Jimmy was also very lonely and would sometimes get visits from Sunday and later myself to keep him company. He would give us his returnable bottles to take his garbage out for him which was just out the door and down the stairs, I think he just did it because he liked us. That stopped when the police found a headless prostitute in our dumpster. I remember the day/night Jimmy died, the EMS made us get into Sundays Apt while they took his body out of the building. Sunday was hysterically upset and rightly so, she was Jimmy's friend longer than I was and he was gone. She kept looking out the peephole and then we heard a thump, they dropped Jimmy's body right up against her door, it was horrific. My friendship with Sunday started and disconnected in that building. Ironically after moving out of that building, I ended back there when Femm Noir and I crashed at Lacy's apt for a short time (probably felt like forever to him) This building holds a lot of memories, it was my and Dennis' first WWAnthrax smashdown, Julie and many others would come over and we would blast music while each friend balanced someone on their shoulders until CRASH! I met Stefanie while living in this apartment building as her boyfriend at the time was my roommate. It's funny the things you think about when you can't get to sleep at night...

Memories are a strange thing…for me time and the ability to dissociate tends to soften them around the edges. Usually when I remember moments of that life, they have a certain distance about them as if they were something I once saw in a movie…I was there but not really…and not as the me I am today.

But there are times like last night when the past crashes into the present and I can HEAR the thud of Jimmy’s body hitting the floor outside of my door. I can FEEL the knot in my chest. I can SMELL that hallway…and I KNOW I was really there. My life isn’t just some bizarre movie that once played out before me…I LIVED it.

And I grieve for my dear friend Jimmy, and for the girl who in the end wasn’t there for him when he needed her. For the girl I once was. For the girl who had parents. For the girl who had a home. For the girl who felt loved. For the girl who was abandoned and alone.

And there is that flash of anger that I ended up a teenager on my own in the Cass Corridor in the 80’s in the first place. That parents abandon their children. That parents throw their children away. At the secrets kept, lies told and justifications made by parents to free themselves from the responsibilities of raising inconvenient children. At the judges, social workers and attorneys who cannot force adults to act like grown-ups. At a foster care system that turns it’s back the very children they are supposed to protect at eighteen with no place to call home.

And then there is so much gratitude for those crack heads, junkies, alcoholics, prostitutes and old queens, who in the best way they could looked out for two thrown-away teens in way over their heads. Grateful that in a time and place where dying alone on your kitchen floor or ending up headless in a dumpster were, if not expected, were not surprising, those who found the corridor the end of their road took pity on us and pushed us to find our ways out. I am grateful that I had a great friend during some of my most difficult trials and that we both lived to tell our stories.

Tonight as I sit at my dining room table in my solidly middleclass neighborhood with my husband of nineteen years and our three miracles I remember that life and how this life began in the very kind of place that is the end of the road for so many. I feel blessed to possess the secret knowledge that when we need it most the universe can send us angels in the form of crack heads, junkies, alcoholics, prostitutes and old queens. 

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