Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Working through Frustration After Frustration: A Thousand Congratulations to Cristy

My frustration level is sky high and reading Theresa's post didn't help. Or did it?

I can look at other families more objectively of course since I'm not emotionally involved. Her daughter may not back down from this decision, who knows? But my experiences have taught me that, believe it or not, contrary to all present information, we as mothers, we've made a tremendous difference even though we are now severely traumatized, blatantly suffering from PTSD, bruised and battered...but still standing.

While Hazel was eating her first strawberry in the garden and Sarah was taking her 35th year of garden tours in which we both take a second to watch the garden grow, Cristy called to tell me she'd finished all her UGA coursework. Now she has earned a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology.

Sarah and I congratulated her and then Sarah congratulated me. "I know how hard you worked for this moment Mom."

Amen and amen.

Thank God my caseworker didn't let me disrupt way back when I was a neophyte adoption parent. Thank God this woman knew how to speak to me in such a way that made way too much sense. "She's not a pound puppy, Cindy. You can't just send her back." Ice water in the face, just what I then needed to hear, yet this same child of mine ran away permanently at age 17, put us all through a long decade of torment, and terrorized some other well-meaning folks as well.

This same caseworker did allow me to disrupt later for our family's safety - twice in fact, although Joey later rejoined us.

Much of the success of our family goes to Emily who has guided me through some very harrowing times, listening when necessary, straightening me out at intervals and uncannily empathetic always.

What if I'd have ignored her gut feeling and her vast social work experiences and simply quit on Cristy at age 13? I'd likely have jeopardized Monica, Sergi and Gina's chances of ever having a successful placement as they'd already suffered through an earlier disruption, plus I'd never have had the pure joy of raising Lily, CW and Jack. I'd not have been able to later claim credit for Gina and Cristy's college degrees that they both worked on diligently nor would Monica now be married to Dewayne, and subsequently Alana would not have been born.

I likely would have stopped adopting then and not had the indescribable joys of parenting Yolie and Daniel (next) and the many that followed. I wouldn't now be Jesse's mom and he wouldn't have married Lena. Alyssa wouldn't be my grandchild nor would I have happened upon Carolina. (I could go on and on here about all my other children and grandchildren...)

Disruption is the only answer sometimes, but it would have been wrong for me to have done so back then on Cristy's sib group. Thank you Emily for your foresight at the time when I had zero. I'll also say that I hadn't then heard from God to disrupt and Lord knows, I try and try to stay in the will of God. Yes, this free will thing stresses me out. I want emails from God with specifics.

Has it been hard? DUH.

But Cristy and I decided to give it a rest some time ago, quit revisiting it all even though we could use it to help others, dwelling on it stresses us both out. Suffice it to say, if I'd been blogging back then, I likely would have discouraged even me from continuing on this journey. So what if it took Cristy until age 31? So what? Doesn't that then speak to others who are struggling with their children? I'm a certified teacher and Cristy dropped out of high school. How do you think I felt then? Like a stinking, loser failure with a scarlet F branded on my humiliated backside.

When I agreed to parent Cristy's children I emphasized, "You need to go make them proud somehow," and she has absolutely done so. She's succeeded in so many other ways such as marrying a really nice man (Chris) and now buying a house. She has stayed in the kid's lives, there are no secrets here, and I remain glad that I stuck it out. Once diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, Cristy took a minus and made it a plus.

An old gospel song I've always liked went something like 'take this stumbling block and turn it into a stepping stone.'

JoJo has been given several other chances to complete his CHAMPS project which has resulted in screaming, crying meltdown fits, suicidal threats (I'm not kidding) and absolute Pure-T frustration. It is still not done. He threatened to run away to a far off land where there are no stupid schools and mean mothers like me who expect them to do their homework on time.

I despair at this point. The entire family has tried to help him get this done but unless we literally do it, it isn't gonna happen. This is a very intelligent child with less than zero frustration tolerance. The public school system is not designed to help kids like him. How could they be expected to do so? I dunno. And JoJo has 100% parental backing. What about the legions of children whose parents are unable, incapable or don't give a rip?

If any teacher could have watched JoJo's four hour meltdown yesterday they'd have been abysmally stymied. This child worries about everything yet seems, on the surface, to be utterly nonchalant about life. He is super sensitive, cries at the drop of a hat, yet puts on a tough front until he's home where he feels safe enough to explode and cry over someone looking askance at him. Terrible grades, yet he reads constantly.

Homeschooling appears to be his only avenue to any sort of success unless maturity swoops down and bats him upside of his hard head.

Daniel, pictured here, polar opposite of either Cristy or JoJo, very much like Yolie. Deeply devoted to his family, ready to serve his country after an extended stay at UGA, has been super easy and constantly rewarding to raise. I kid you not, I have 39 exquisitely unique individuals and balancing their needs, their futures, their pasts and their possibilities keeps me teetering on my ten tore-up, twinkly foot firmly planted on the rock and the other on a banana peel.

Thank you God for trusting me this much...I think.


FatcatPaulanne said...

Yay Cristy!

"Thank you God for trusting me this much...I think."
I love this quote!

I am a member of an email list called 'achildswaiting' and yesterday they sent out a list of 20 or so children who have been adopted and now their adoptions are being disrupted. Sad but I can totally understand the parents getting to that point.

Amazing Racer said...

"one foot firmly planted on the rock and the other on a banana peel."
So true!

Congrats to Cristy and to you as well. Sometimes you just gotta keep on keeping on.

Anonymous said...

Dear Cindy, thank you for writing about Cristy today. I so needed to hear that today, as I just got a strip torn up and down and out of me by my 27yo dd (yes, adopted) because I wrote on my blog that I had raised some "challenging" children, and she proceeded to take that as telling the whole world that she had "f-ed" up her life, HUH?

But if it took Cristy until 31 to get it together, I'm still holding out hope for my 27yo S, last night I was despairing whether she would ever find real healing. She's already really messed up her own 9yo son in the process and is pregnant with another right now. Bravo to Cristy for trusting you to parent her children. I think our S would have done so as well, if it were not for the input of her birth mother who didn't allow her to let us even see him until he was 3yo. I'm still holding out with hope.

Hehe, I also love the description of your humiliated butt, or something like that, I can SO relate. I was a social worker, I was supposed to be able to heal all my kids problems, I think God knew I needed to be taken down a few notches ;).

Lisa said...

I guess I'm surprised that you have so few children like JoJo. I seem to have gotten 3 here out of 10 -what are those odds? If you decide to home school, you are going to have to throw all of those "regular school" ideas right out of your head (and it's so....hard). With my son, after home schooling for the past year, I still get the melt downs when doing any kind of written work, even when it's definitely review. He's a smart boy, just starting to LIKE reading, and has a vast knowlege of birds, insects, animals and dinosaurs in that brain of his, but he would NEVER be able to hold it together for a regular classroom schedule and his rages over homework (or schoolwork in the classroom) were rather spectacular. I felt like such a failure with him, but am slowly getting over that. It serves no purpose beyond dragging me down and discouraging me.

Maia said...

Congratulations to Cristy and to you, Cindy!