Friday, March 30, 2012

The Apple. The Tree's and HATE....

I have stayed away from reading the updates, and articles over the Trayvon Martin murder.

NOT because I don’t want to be educated.
NOT because I don’t want to be supportive, and or outraged at the complete injustice….

Simply because it scares me, and breaks my heart.

As a Mother to four beautiful, crazy, independent boys, two of which have light skin, two of which have dark skin. WHY? Why in this day and age do I have to teach my boys separately the reality of dangers in driving at night? Making hands visible on wheels, speaking overly respectful to cops. Why do my children being raised in my home, with the same values and beliefs have separate stereo-types to face once they walk out of my door.
In 2010, after my children came home from Haiti. My mom came for a visit and stayed at a hotel, with a pool. She invited all of her grandbabies up for a swim.
Lets be honest, my 11 member family, and my brothers 5 member family, kinda commandeered the whole pool.

My kids camped out on the stairs as I and my husband took routine turns bringing them out into deeper water.

A family walked in. Mother, Father, two children. I smiled, really friendly, and as they directed their children into the hot tub…I realized my kids were taking up all of the stairs.

I smiled at the Mom and said “I am so sorry, I can have all these munchkins scoot to one side of the railing, we don’t need to hog up the stairs.”

That is when she gave me the disgusted look, and glared at my children.
“That really isn’t the problem”. As she pointed her chin in my children’s direction.

My first reaction (come on I went to high school in Philly)…
(imagine the neck roll and sway)
“OH NO she Di’ Int!”

As a mature mother of 9…I weakly looked at her with hurt eyes. Swallowed that lump of hurt in my throat, and tried to have fun with my children without making eye contact.

Part of my heart ached so deeply, my brain screamed “YOU HAVE
and then I looked at her two young children a boy and a girl …only sticking their toes in the too-hot water, and I saw the true injustice…that hate, that ignorance being spoon fed to those two beautiful children.

After another 30 minutes I pushed through, for the sake of whatever I thought I needed to prove…my kids were sufficiently raison-ed.   We toweled off and I begun the process of taking first the girls and then the boys into the bathroom to dry off and slip into pajama’s.

As I walked back into the pool area, to retrieve another batch of short people. An older woman with a disgusted face (whom I perceived as the Grandmother to the other children) Glared at me and said “Oh no your NOT bringing those children in here!”

“WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?” is what I screamed in my head.

Again the mature woman in me (sometimes I hate her) simply calmly said:
“Nope we are done here…just got the party started!”

I think back and sometimes wish I would have had some snarky remark about “be careful my brown kids probably peed in the pool!” But that would not have been effective, christian, or made any point other than reiterating ugliness.

So instead, I ushered my kids out, buying Ice Cream cones on the way home.
Secretly thanked the Heavens they had not noticed the injustice that was being paid in their direction…and uttered a silent prayer for that little boy and girl (the poor little apples needing to fall FAR, far away from the dark shadow of their Tree's) hoping they will overcome odds they will have to face being raised in Hate, Ignorance and Intolerance.

A gun didn’t kill Trayvon Martin, hate did.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Evil Siamese Twins *************************************and "NOT" talking about it!

Soooo Today was Awesome, but no, not really it wasn’t.

So many people say “I would LOVE to be a fly on your wall”…but no, really you wouldn’t.  I Promise.
I would give you a tour.
“Here is my Laundry Room, pretty sure the floor is Checker board, but I don’t remember.
Here is the Swamp, aka, Bathroom.
Here is the Bedroom, where the magic used to happen; now we are lucky if we sleep.
Here is the back of my closet, where I cry on really bad days…(I am still trying to con Trev into getting a power outlet for a mini-fridge installed)

….. Here is the dent in the wall, in which I like to bang my forehead.”

Today was HARD.

 Dude and Potty Training= Not.going.well.= understatement

Two year old Faith found economy jar of mixed homeopathic chest rub…and spread it all over the bath room. It took a spatula, and 3 towels and vinegar to clean up.
Down side, peeing in my bathroom now gives me a slight headache, upside, man can I breathe.

Other Wonky behavior ensued, every which way…

And Diva, well she  got booted out of Kindergarten today, again = now what.

See I have been bragging talking about how fortunate I am that my daughter goes to a Trauma Pre-School/ Kindergarten that is run by women that happen to be Catholic Nuns, with Maters in Education, and Social Work, AND opened a Trauma School in the Holyland.
Perfection right.

Well, kinda, sorta, no.
I really wanted it to be the answer, It worked great for Chatter, but Diva, isn’t Chatter.
Diva is MUCH craftier, and uses her adorableness in AMAZING ways, that terrify the snot out of me.

She is tiny, and sassy, and funny, she is the exact DSM definition of “Superficially Charming” her profession is wrapping people around her little finger, so she can stamp, “Chump”-stupid-friggn’-idiot-I-can-manipulate” on their forehead.

I have to give the kid props, she is a MASTER.

When I go to pick her up and she has three adult women chasing after her, cause she asked them to try to “catch her”…
3 points for Diva.

When she can tell grown Women they can’t go to Lunch, because she will miss them, and they stay.
5 points for Diva

and as the points added up. As she hid her food that I packed, and ate other kids snacks, as she threw her own lunch away and feigned starving, as she affectionately ran to hug every adult in the building acting sincerely loving…they.were.all.fooled.

and behaviors popped up 10 fold.

NOTE: Darling teeny 6 year old hugging random people, and charming them with her sassy, spicy demands and affection is adorable…A 16 year old randomly making out with the check out boy at the Piggly Wiggly she just met,
Hence. BOUNDARIES are important.

Because as MUCH as she wants to control her environment, as MUCH as she wants to prove the adults in her life are idiots, as MUCH as she wants to be the boss, If they can’t help her keep her boundaries, she becomes terrified.

Deep Sigh,
Phone call.
We pick her up half way through the day.
It is over, no second chances.or third , or fourth…or you know, one hundred and fifty seventh.
Chances are up.

She came home. In full blown Trauma freeze mode. Not speaking, cold stare….saying “you can not break me.”

The pure dichotomy of Trauma and Attachment is this. For her Trauma she needs to be reminded she is safe, she needs a comforting environment. She needs people to be sensitive to her triggers. She needs exceptions made on days she is stuck, she needs ways to re-regulate herself, she needs loving understanding.

For her Attachment she needs to know I and my husband are her safe place. She needs to know appropriate ways to get what she wants. She needs strict boundaries socially. She needs to be called on her crap, and not be able to manipulate people. She needs distant, committed teachers. She needs consistency.

Trauma and Attachment are evil Siamese Twins Beating the shit out of each other.

Which is why none of this is working.


How this went down:
(The only reason I share is because of no matter how CRAP-TASTIC this situation was…it walked away beautiful…and well if this helps a Mom, or a Dad from driving off a cliff, I have served my purpose.)

She was SO ANGRY.
Her little face stone walled.
Her fists tightened up, she was not giving a thing, heck if she could have held her breath during that hour, she would have done it.

I sat on her bed.
I thought, “What would Billy do?”
(Shameless plug for PARENTING IN SPACE, but it is true)

and I remembered the “not talking about it approach”…it really works well for Diva.

“Diva? I know you don’t want to talk about it right now, so we won’t.”

Steel eyes shot daggers right through me.

“So, we are NOT going to talk about feelings, and we most defiantly are NOT going to talk about feeling sad about losing school, because we don’t want to talk about that right?”

Head shake ‘yes’.

“So we are not going to talk about how maybe, this is making you feel, nope, and we are NOT going talk about why we have rules and how even if we HATE rules, they keep us safe, cause if Mommy wants to drive she shouldn’t have to stop at a stupid stop sign, or drive as slow as the police thing I should drive, heck I shouldn’t have to pay for things I want in the store, I should just take em, RIGHT?”

Weird look.

“But Mom, if your don’t drive safe, we could get in an accident.”

“True, maybe THAT rule is good, but the rest of them…WHATEVER. Right, and we aren’t talking about rules anyway, or how you feel about losing school, we are DEFIANTLY not talking about you feeling sad.”

She froze, popped back into “forget you mode.”
and screamed, “I’m NOT SAD, I AM MAD.”

“O.K. well good, MAD is Good, it’s a feeling, a BIG FEELING, so are we talking about it, or not?”

“NOT talking about it”

O.K. well good, cause if we are not talking about your feelings of being mad, then I wouldn’t mention with all of that MAD and ANGRY, that there might be a teeny, tiny amount of Sad in there…like this big?”

nope, she shook her head.

Going smaller with my fingers, “this sad”…

‘NO, NONE of it is sad, it is ALL MAD.”

“Well O.K. then.”

“ Since we are not talking about it, I won’t tell you, if I was a little girl, and as much as I loved my Mom, I got mad at her for reasons I didn’t know, but I so wanted to show her, so I started breaking rules, only it never hurt her, it only hurt me.  AND THAT might make me MAD, worse, if I lost things I loved, by not keeping my boundaries for my brain to feel safe, I might be really, really sad that I lost something like school, that I loved so much, but since I am NOT a little girl, we aren’t talking about that.”

FULL BLOWN TEARS, like the real kind. This was NOT a rage, this was sincere, real, little girl tears. And I sat there are cried with her. And she crawled up in my arms and let me hold her. It was lovely.

“Mama, I’m not Mad, I am so so Really sad.”

“I know baby girl, I know.”

“Diva do you understand the difference between “MAD” and “SAD?”…

sniff, “kinda”

“Mad ( holding fist really tightly clenched) means being tough, not letting anything in or through. Sad means being Brave (I opened my hand) and saying you need help or something to hold, and I am so proud of how brave you are being with your Sad.”

We connected.

She gave feelings a try, vulnerable, beautiful ones.
 We made a plan, we talked about how she might feel when the other kids got up and got ready for school and she did not.
We talked about her doing extra chores to earn some new work books, so we could do our own school.

I know things will suck, I know we will have digression….
I also know how very far we came today.

So there…I let you be a fly on the wall, on a very Good/Hard day.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Underneath the Skin of Adoption...

So, this post may piss a lot of people off. Meh. Been there. Done that. Haven’t written the book on it yet.
Maybe I will, maybe I won’t.

If you just found my blog…this is not one of those "warm and fuzzy-cutie-adoption-blogs" keep-on-surfing that ole’ google search button.

Yes I have nine children.
Yes they are ALL adorable.
Yes each one has incredible talents and strengths.
Seven of my children are adopted.
Seven of my children had someone else make a life choice for them that severed something deep in who they are, who they might have been, and how they must pick up the pieces. They were too young to understand how deep their loss is, so most of their loss just equals unexplainable shame. ALL OF THE TIME.

One comment routinely that makes me want to punch people in the face help correct people so that they might understand better is ;
“Oh but they were SOOO young when you got them, I wouldn’t expect anything to be wrong with them.”

Yeah, I know, RIGHT?

How is it people brag about how SMART babies and young children are, unless we are talking adoption? Then thank goodness they are too young and stupid to not realize biologically you are not that original voice that lulled them to sleep in the womb, you are not that heart beat that arithmetically reminded them everything was safe. You are not the walking pattern that soothed and rocked them in the womb. How is it a newborn can seek his mothers voice out of a crowd…but  not considered intelligent enough to realize when another surrogate comes available to take the original ones place?

That was my new born adoption preparation. NADA.
I was there to resume a role, naturally fall into sync with a child I didn’t give life, because he was 3 days old and wouldn’t know the difference.
Can I just say it?

You see I had biologically experienced that wonder and miracle of that instant biological connection with my daughter. I knew what being a mother meant. Then we adopted.
When they placed that beautiful baby in my arms, the love and adoration I felt for him was over whelming, it was life changing, I have never loved or wanted a baby boy more. Still it was not the same. I will admit that.
He did not smell, feel,  his heart beat to heart beat was not in sync with mine like it had been with  my daughter.
Shoulder shrug, moving on, I WAS a new mama!

I had kept my breast milk in by pumping and borrowing friends babies to hold and smell while I pumped. I was going to breast feed this new son…but then a enormous realization began in my world. He. did. Not. Want. Me.

How? How can a new born not want to be nursed, not want to be cuddled, prefer anything, his car seat, a swing, lying on the floor on a blanket, than his mothers arms?
But he did. He would STOP CRYING, if I would just leave him alone.
I remember calling the agency, embarrassed I was doing something wrong, possibly I had missed something in the training, but all I got was “Maybe it is you, maybe you have post pardem, it can happen with adoption.”

and so I began to believe that myth.
You know the one…the one that says “what your child is struggling with is YOUR FAULT.”

I had a perfectly happy, sweet two year old daughter that loved me. So I couldn’t be that terrible/failure of a Mother,Right? but I was.

From the time he was little I deeply loved my son. He cried, oh how he cried. He cried all of the time. Especially when I was trying to comfort him. His swing was his favorite thing…but I refused batteries and had to push it, so I would be near him. Same with his Johnny Jumper, and he would let me rock him, if he was facing out…facing in towards me, he would push away and scream. I sang and rocked him every time before I layed him down for bed or naptime. Unlike my other babies, and nieces and nephews, he would not let me rock him to sleep. He stemmed once he could sit up, humming and rocking him self against the crib.

There is nothing more painful than being rejected by your baby. Nothing.

It took until he was 20 months old for him to spontaneously reach out for me, and hug me. I remember the day. I was 8 months pregnant with Peanut butter, He was wearing striped footie pajama’s with Cowboy boots over the top…I was holding his hands and jumping on the bed singing “Ring-a-round-the-rosies” and we all fell down, and his eyes lit up, he gave a glorious laugh, he looked right at me and he hugged me. 20 months.

Now six years later, I understand. I have been able to forgive myself and that sweet baby, but not forget the hurt those years ago afforded me. As that familiar primal rejection hits me in the face over and over gain with my other children I have more understanding, education and empathy to deal with it. Though it still breaks my heart.

I don’t remember where I heard it first. “New born and Baby adoption and abandonment is not just a loss to the child, it is an amputation”.

Nancy Newton Verrier, Ph.D. author of The Primal Wound said;

"I believe that the connection established during the nine months in utero is a profound connection, and it is my hypothesis that the severing of that connection in the original separation of the adopted child from the birth mother causes a primal or narcissistic wound, which affects the adoptee's sense of Self and often manifests in a sense of loss, basic mistrust, anxiety and depression, emotional and/or behavioral problems, and difficulties in relationships with significant others.”

Ummm yeah, how, how would a teeny child, so very vulnerable and needy who loses the only thing familiar in their lives not have trust , anxiety and other issues?


But I still get questions. Questions and comments about Dude and his chronic crying/whining. “He came home at 17 months old, right, he should be fine.”

Dude was dropped off at an Orphanage, at 12 days old. Put in a crib, and in his limited understanding abandoned and left to die. Food is not the only thing that sustains a human soul.
and now I raise this angry little 3 ½ year old. Never in my life have I felt so much rejection, hate, defiance and control from another living being., and do I wonder why? NOPE, the kid survived didn’t he?

May I suggest a theory. I ain’t no Docter. I’m really not much of anything but a mother, desperate in this journey to help my children heal the things that we can, have tools to cope with the things that we can’t and no matter what let them know what it is to be loved and accepted for exactly who they are.

I believe beginning at conception our children’s story begins being written in their bones, behind their eyes, with the growth of each little their skin develops and they are born those words begin being written on the inside of their skin.

It is written on very thin lines with a sharp pencil. Everything. Everyday, every moment.
These daily, moments, second by second experiences recorded forever within their bodies. Some of these words and stories happened preverbally , I can not get to those places. The other places of their stories have ingrained and written their belief systems, their recipe’s for survival, their understanding of cause and effect, their deep belief in story after story that they are unworthy of love, that they will be abandoned again, hungry again, abused again, alone again. These are their first stories, why would they not believe them the most. They were true.

I am NOT saying ALL of my adopted children don't trust me, or are not bonded, some of them are, deeply. NOR am I saying all adopted children are hot messes...some of my kiddo's really and truley are doing incredibly well, as I expect are some of yours. That doesn't go to say that some day, some time in their lives they are not going to experience the loss that them being separated from that first mother for whatever reason has afforded them. I as an adoptive Mama, have to own that and be prepared for that for them.

and so for my children that are struggling now, and may always,there are dates and times that trigger my kids from their past stories, written on the lining of their hearts that terrify and torment them. There are sounds and smells and people that are not safe or to be trusted, for they have that proof written there as well.
The beautiful hard, the time and sensitivity it takes, and what I have come to realize…is parts, slowly they will show me, let me into, and help them re-write some of those stories.

But just like when I am helping Chatter with her homework, the stronger she has written and pressed the pencil into the paper, the darker she has written the wrong answer, the more gentle and patient I have to be with the erasure. The harder I try to do it quickly, and with out patience, the more likely I am to rip the fragile paper.

There are far to many stories, far to many words that have been written in my childrens hearts, and heads, behind their eyes, and skin that tells them LOVE is not safe, that TRUSTING someone else to protect and care for them is a LIE…and so each day is another story to be written to defeat those beliefs…some days are even opportunities to go in and rewrite…but we, parents, therapists, family members and fellow humans can not discount their stories.  We can not discount that even if their stories of being in a SAFE, LOVING, Forever Family began at 3 days old, 3 years old or even 13 years old, that those stories have not been written, have not become the intricate belief system that created who they are and what they believe about themselves.

When people say adoption is no different, when people say, it is the same, the love is the same, the family is the same…it is not.
That does not mean what we have is not beautiful, and meant to be . But as a mother adopting children from hard places, even if that hard place was a hospital at three days old from Utah. If I am not excepting my children’s stories, seeing their losses, truths and struggles, I am not seeing my children., and I want to see my children, every.beautiful. inch.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

There is no place like Home.....

There is no PLACE LIKE HOME…except for when they have no idea what the definition of “Home” really means.

I went to Orlando for six days.
 It. Rocked. My. World.

I can’t use words to describe what these women mean to me and what their love and acceptance did for me, my heart and my healing…like if there were words, I wouldn’t use them because it was so sacred to me.

And then I came home.

Correction: I flew to my mother’s town, picked up Baby Faith, Cookie and Diva, and drove the four hours home the next day.
This was the first time I have had an extended time away from my children since they came home over two years ago, and left them with someone other than my husband.
My Mom ROCKED it. She really did. She respected the boundaries my kids needed to feel safe, she even took the time to call me during my trip to let me know “she gets it”…the charming of two years has worn off on her….


So we get home. While on a lovely drive to therapy…cause you know I had that planned pre-Orlando…Diva gives the smack down with;


“Yes baby-girl”

“Me and Cookie were talking and we have decided we like Grandma better and are going to go live with her.”


(Note: I was prepared for this, since my kids have come home, the second someone/another adult be it a teacher, someone from Sunday school, the chick that fills the all you can eat bar at Golden Coral, shows they provide basic needs for them, an option B. flashes into their little brains.
I learned not to take it personally….O.K. so it still hurts, but I’m not talking about that.)

“Oh wow, well I can see how you would feel that way, Grandma ROCKS, and there are days I want to go live with her too. That’s what is so great about special places, like where Mama went in Florida, and where you went at Grandma’s….but cha know, they wouldn’t be so special if we were there all of the time.” (I lied…Orlando would be)

“I don’t care we are going to go live at Grandma’s, we like her better and don’t love you anymore.”

Feeling is mutual kid…
“You know that’s O.k. that you have those feeling right now, it might have been scary for you that I left, I can feel that with you.”

“No I don’t care you left and might have died.”

“So what I might be hearing is you thought I would leave and not come back and maybe die.”

Silence in the back seat.

“wow, I am so sorry my leaving may have made you feel scared, I love you and made sure you were in a safe place, and that I was going to a safe place, so we would see each other again soon…and that way, next time Mommy has to go, you know I will be coming back.

Silence in the back, accompanied by a brave sniff.

“Well, I still want to live with Grandma.”

“Well if you want, let’s call Grandma, and see how she feels about you moving there.”

(this was pre-planed)

We called Grandma on the speaker phone, while sitting in therapy parking lot…

Conversation went as planned…me calling and explaining that Cookie and Diva had decided unanimously they were to move in with Grandma forever….

and then Grandma, individually explain her adoration and love for each child, and very plainly saying, “No” they may come for visits, and are welcome when Mommy wants them to come, but that children belong with their Mommy and Daddy, and her job was to be a special place, sometimes, but not always.

I asked her if she was sure…and she said “yes”…and then we hung up.

I smiled gently at my disappointed crew..and said,” I sure love you guys, and you are always invited to stay with us, forever, cause that is what a Mommy and Daddy are for.”

Secretly, we may have all been a little disappointed the Grandma thing didn’t pan out. …but, there is a HUGE part of me, that thinks maybe, just maybe a little bit of healing and another confirmation of them where they belong, no matter how much they push us away, may have just gone down…..maybe.

There is no place like home.