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.

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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.

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