Thursday, November 17, 2011

The problem with school

I know that school is the toughest challenge of raising traumatized kids.  Schools are not equipped to teach our children with their alphabet diagnoses and multiplicity of issues.

The story is the same.  Our children do not do well, because they won't.  Of course, if the child arrives at the new school in a wheelchair and the school has no rails or ramps, the school does not tell them to get up and start participating after a five minute break.  Yet, that's how our traumatized children are treated all too frequently.

Trauma injures their brains.  They are cognitively delayed.  They are emotionally delayed.  They are behaviorally delayed.  They cannot just take five minutes and regroup to learn.

I say this over and over at IEP meetings.  I say this over and over to other parents.  I say this over and over at support groups.  Our children's brains have been permanently altered and the solution is not easily determined.  It takes a lot of work by the family, the child and the system to help our students become responsible adults.

Blaming the parents will not work.  Blaming the child/student will not work.

Oh, please schools, learn about trauma and it's lifelong affects on our children's brains.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Riddy Lin

Riddy is our most damaged child.  Riddy is also still a child.  She has been with us almost since birth.  Riddy needs medications.

About fifteen years ago, our first child needed medication.  Needed is the operative word here.  There was no way to manage behaviors without the medication.  That child has come and gone from our home.  The needs were huge.

Riddy has lots of mental health issues.  She was born addicted to drugs and mom had used alcohol during pregnancy.  Not sure how much, but her favorites were hard lemonades and mixed drinks.

Riddy is the poster child for ADHD.  She cannot concentrate for more than a couple of seconds without medication.  BUT on medication, she is a different person.  She is capable of focusing and learning in school.  She can make friends.  She can interact appropriately in the family.  In fact, shortly before her 5th birthday, we found an ADHD medication that worked.  She then taught herself to read in kindergarten after becoming quite disgusted that they didn't learn to read in the first few weeks.

The meds have been a God send.  This child could not sit still and play for a few minutes.  Could not sit and look at a book.  Could not sit and eat.  Nothing.  But on medication she can begin to stabilize.  She's been seeing a psychiatrist for all but the first two years of her life.

She's still in elementary school.  We have to tweak her medications off and on.  The one consistent thing is that she must have them.  We try to give them to her shortly before she gets up in the mornings to help her morning routine include fewer melt downs.

There will be many more stories about Riddy.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Grandpa was a Vet

My grandfather was a WWII vet who was there at D Day.  He just passed away this summer, so it's kind of a sad day today.

The thing about Grandpa was that he loved and cared about every single child that walked through our doors.  I have the most wonderful pictures of him spending time with them.

Grandpa was fortunate.  He never saw combat duty.  He enlisted in the Air Force and became a mechanic.  On D Day, he fueled many, many planes as they left the base and returned many times.  He loved serving his country and had many stories to tell.  He escaped the PTSD that many soldiers, adoptees and their families experience.  For that, I am very thankful.

My most vivid memory of his and Grandma's help came on a day about 12 years ago.  We had recently adopted from foster care.  Our Abbey was and still is a very difficult young adult/child, ravaged by RAD, PTSD - all the standard trauma acronyms.  Most of the time I could leave the children with a trusted young adult.  We had left to purchase some supplies for repairing our home.  Abbey was always breaking doors.  That was her specialty.

We were gone about an hour, and as we rounded the corner to return home, we saw Grandpa's car in the driveway.  Fear gripped us.  We did not carry a cell phone in those long ago days.  Pulled in to discover that Abbey had gone on a rampage, damaging the house and threatening the siblings.  The mere presence of Grandpa and Grandma calmed her.  Fear was very, very intense in this child.

The issue: she became afraid of a door that had not been installed.  I'm sure that horrible things happened behind closed doors to Abbey.  She has not ever talked in any detail about the horrible things.  Abbey also hid in closets as a young child to escape the abusers.  She has vivid and clear memories as far back as two years old.  Her life was filled with trauma.

Grandpa was spared PTSD.  Even staying with our children, he never developed PTSD as some in our household have.

One of the last times we spent with Grandpa was in the nursing home with Abbey's newborn son.  Grandpa's mind had mostly left him, but his tender smile remained as he gazed at the beautiful baby.  Grandpa loved his new little grandson we know and despite all of the negatives, he always loved Abbey too.

Thank you Grandpa for your life of service.

Monday, November 7, 2011


As a parent, I think chemical addiction is one of the more painful issues we have to deal with frequently.  Many of our kids have mental health issues which lead to self-medicating with drugs and alcohol.  Even if they have been using medications from a psychiatrist, they often turn to self-medicating.  This is a cycle we had hoped to break as foster/adoptive parents.  Sometimes we have been successful.  We have also experienced the ugly side of chemical dependency.

Most of the time our "high" kids hide from us.  They do not come home until mostly sober.  Then they try to hide their high by immediately going to bed.  If they are high at home, their behaviors are often violent.  Unfortunately, we tease that 911 is on speed dial at our house.  Thankfully, we have had very rare occasions to call in a kid that is violently high.  Actually, we've only had one arrest in all of our years of parenting.

We really try to ignore them when high.  We allow them to crash.  We do not confront.  We do not argue.  It will not help anything, so why stress ourselves.

More often they simply do not come home.  They steal from us to buy their drug of choice.

When the kid is sober and capable of listening, we talk.  We don't talk a lot though.  We truly have never had a kid use just to experiment or have fun with others.  Yes, they join in when the drugs are available.  No, they are not just having fun.  They truly all have a mental health issue which drives the use.  It could just simply be living in foster care.  More often than that, their families use, and it is the norm.  Or they are close to adulthood and have no clue what to do with themselves.  Many have very severe mental health issues that they try to "get rid of" by using.

We are always on the look out for new drugs.  It is very difficult to stay ahead of the synthetics.  They are so easy to get and do not show up in UAs.  Seems our kids use alcohol way less than marijuana.  Almost all prefer marijuana.  It calms the ADHD in some.  It helps them focus.  At least that's what we are told.

Another day I will write about treatment and AA and NA.

Today, I mourn for my addicts.  It is difficult to see them struggle in so many ways with no homes, jobs or ability to function responsibly in society.  Some are in recovery.  Most are on the brink of relapse at all times.