Saturday, July 31, 2010
Trying to explore, and to probe within my children's collective anxiety level is baffling at best. An almost 15 year old son of mine had balked at leaving for the beach last week, nearly shutting down the planned trip. Several of them found immediate refuge in sleep as soon as my van hit the highway, shutting down completely, and some simply go with the flow, eager for an adventure, knowing it wouldn't involve any sort of shopping for recreation with Big Mama.
If my own siblings and I had been wrenched away from our parents, I know we'd have hated the next folks who tried to parent us. It doesn't matter that conversely my children's parents would not follow through on case plans, were incarcerated, were emotionally unstable or major league party animals - children love their parents, good or bad. I think we need to rethink parental terminations as a society, some children never recover.
I've tried many times to put myself in my children's shoes, to imagine their intense fear and soul-numbing shock, to comprehend their murderously horrific trauma. I was always their last placement, often after disrupted adoptions, shelter stays, multiple foster homes, RTCs, and failed attempts at reunification.
Most of my children here at home with me have almost zero memories of their birth parents, the residual fear and dread still prevails though, threading through their life, and still damaging many aspects of their everyday existence.
The oppositional defiant disorder is a difficult behavior for a parent to endure, the intense stress it provokes is shockingly high and unrelenting. Disengaging from a potential argument over every possible word or phrase is my only option, as the arguing person never even hears what I say, much less attends to it.
I say all this to point out the difficulties of vacationing with issue-laden children. It is much much easier now, than in the preceding years, when everyone's physical safety was in jeopardy each day from a couple of very disturbed children, who are now either grown or unable to live with us due to events, criminal charges, or other unbloggable situations.
Tony was a huge help all vacation, as was Sabrina and Mayra. We can't just irresponsibly whip out the charge card and dine in restaurants, although I did go out for take-out pizzas one night ($125) and Subway on the road ($82.16), illustrating our need to eat at home 99.99% of our usual life.
I'd already paid the very nominal rental fee, I allotted X number of dollars for the rest, via debit card, did not carry one penny of cash, nor any credit cards with me and can end this month fiscally without owing anyone anything. Our trip home included two stops for two cases of 24 water bottles, we were all so dehydrated from the heat and our nonstop exertions.
Of course I've still not bought the flooring for Jack's room, nor any back-to-school shoes or supplies, factoring all that into the August budget, but dang if I didn't get July done properly.
My retirement check hits the bank at midnight tonight, the van is full of gas, and we have groceries, so all is well.
Jack is fascinated with historical events, wanting dearly to go to the Tybee Island Lighthouse and Museum. We got group rates because I'd called and asked, just as I'd argued the pizza man down from his original pizza price, "But honey, I'm gonna buy 10 large pizzas, can't you do better than that?" And he did.
Sandwiches and cereal were staples for us, and what July could be commemorated without Sarah's creme de menthe brownies that she's toyed with until perfection has been achieved with darker dark chocolate involved?
There were 178 narrow steps to climb at the Lighthouse, and an even narrower metal ledge outside the top of the lighthouse that nearly made me swoon with unexpected height-induced phobias, but it was all extremely interesting, and I'll post pictures at the bottom of this post, not just to bore my readers, but because Jack wants me to entrench them here in posterity. We were all bathed in sweat, a long climb up in 99 degree weather, but to me, y'all, this is fun. Lily stopped halfway up, we could see down as we climbed and it was disorienting.
Ray was equally as enthralled, Hazel pitched a fit over the boring-to-her 13 minute video we all watched in the Lighthouse Keeper's cottage, a thunderstorm blew up, and I fell crazy in love with this island.
Chuy, CW and Martin are excellent travelers, mature and helpful, and they took off with crab nets, boogie boards and floats. All three are responsible and emotionally stable, best friends, exploring the island with a natural curiosity. JoJo was hilariously annoying as usual, Allen sulked, Jonathan and Scotty held it together right decently, while Tabby and Nando had a complete blast.
When we'd gone to a more crowded public beach on the other end of the island, JoJo shook his butt, dancing ridiculously every time pretty girls walked by him, looking like a demented ape, acting socially challenged the rest of the time, making a scene, falling down cartoonishly, and tripping and pushing the other boys. He is irrepressible with no sense of embarrassment other than that which he can cause for me.
"I'm gonna live with you until I'm 40!" he hollered for all the world to witness, "So I can vacation with you more."
Seriously? I don't think so, I didn't reply.
They'd all have chosen Myrtle Beach as a destination, but Grandma and Grandpa are ridding themselves of condos in this downturn market, and I prefer quieter beaches anyway, less commercialism and more nature appeals to me. Indeed, a deer jumped out of the swamp in front of some startled children of mine, and coming out of the swampy woods onto the point where the river meets the ocean, we saw dolphins cavorting. Could it have gotten any better?
The tropical vegetation at Tybee, and the slower pace of everything, infinitely called out to me. With Sarah babysitting those who were less inclined to traipse after me, my long legs propel me quickly at an impressive speed that I can keep up for long periods of time, I took off one evening with seven kids exploring on foot, and delighted with all I found, coming in only as darkness fell.
The next night however, Ray was not about to be left behind from Bita's rambling walks, also wanting to watch the sun set towards Savannah. Ray held up marvelously the entire trip, hanging with older children, proving he too had learned to swim extremely well in Bita's pool.
Friday, July 30, 2010
We'd left earlier in the week. I'd found a lady wanting to rent out the remainder of July for a very reasonable fee, super cheap and it was a very nice place on the north end of the island.
I thought I'd never been there before, until I got there and remembered a date I'd been on from Savannah - another long story - and we'd gone to a restaurant there years ago on the island.
Only three miles long, fairly un-touristy, and I liked it a lot, especially since it was only five hours from my house.
We'd spent most of our time on the more desolate end, but also checked out the other beaches, and nowadays my life's so much easier with kids who are all excellent swimmers. One year at Pawley's Island I'd had 17 children under age 11 and I was on High Alert every single second of that year.
This year I'd allowed my teenage boys a great deal of freedom and they'd been very responsible.
I inhaled the wonderful salt air deeply while walking and wading around, thinking and planning.
We're already back home, I'd prewritten blogs because it doesn't pay for me to advertise being out of town, I've learned the hard way 'bout that.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
A quiet day in regards to the Back to School countdown, now there's a blessing. I suppose if no one thinks about it, it might not exist? Their minds motor differently due to wiring challenges.
A long phone call from Pepe, who's doing right well where he is, and will likely go to a step down facility with more emphasis on future independent living skills, which I totally support. Paloma's next step is more uncertain still.
Literally the other day, I'd gone outside three separate times in one ten hour period, to pick bucket loads of ripening tomatoes, knowing I simply don't have time to drag out the canner. I could be wrong, sure have been there before, but freezing them whole, is fast and effective. Taking the peels off is a dumb aesthetic move for someone like me, the best anti-oxidant phytochemicals are located in the peel's membrane, why would I remove what I need for optimal health?
I truly don't get sick, and I hold up fairly decently, loudly certainly, under horrific stress events, and attribute much of it to fantastic nutritional emphasis. My high-octane food system fueling the massive energy demands at its best.
Just six more days and then 7:30-3:00 each day will be mine all mine. Obviously taken up and dominated by chores and other demands on my time, but I need the quiet days in which to gather my thoughts, regenerate my banged up self, and absorb the peace I need to forge on ahead.
The Weather Channel predicts August will be a very hot one, July has been stifling, but I'll just guzzle more water and keep on sweating, knowing I'd rather be hot than cold anyway.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
The stated spread of my 1930 New Dawn antique rose was some 30 by 30 feet which didn't factor in compost, manure, coffee grinds and a wood chip mulch which sent hundreds of canes arching 30-50 feet each, with billions of fragrant blooms every summer, finally closing the entire gap between the garden shed and the house.
CW and Martin worked all day, cutting it down, some ten years after the fact, to a stump that'll soon send out new canes, but marking the first pruning event in over a decade.
It took nearly all day and while they labored at it, I made cucumber pickles, more fire hot pepper sauce, and froze tomatoes that were ripening on the vines as quick as we could pick 'em.
A high of 98 degrees, but a real scorcher was the day Jesse was at the pool with us, 102 degrees, the pool water nearly as warm as baby pee.
I believe I've picked the last of the blueberries, eating so much, my own diaper might soon resemble Hazels' if I had one, sad to see the berries go, but this year's Moon and Stars watermelon is rivaled only by the Verona ones I planted.
Scotty had a screaming meltdown fit, most likely over next week's start of middle school for him. No kid ever comes out and say, "I'm afraid of this or that change," they prefer to rage it out for some reason. It does lessen as the years pass by.
JoJo tackled him down, Scotty screamed and flailed about, knowing if he went limp and quiet then JoJo would let go of him, but preferring to know that someone else would contain his fury. Eventually they were laughing and I was able to return to the pickles who just minutes sooner were in mortal danger from the upcoming sixth grader who was swinging his fists.
Last week Nando's swum into the side of the pool inexplicably leaving an abrasion the exact size of a quarter, which would've been OK had he not picked at it so often. Somehow his older birth sister, Sabrina, had bumped the underside of her chin on the diving board, leaving a similar mark which prompted all sorts of comments this week.
And for some unknown reason Nando brought inside a dozen snake eggs he'd unearthed. Don't snakes do this in the Springtime?
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Hotter than blue blazes lately, one literally melts outside, and eventually a soaking wet t-shirt seems to weigh too heavily on the worker to continue laboring under such smothering blankets of heat. I waited until after supper, hoping the gathering clouds would cool the air, the thunder then kept me indoors, which is fine by me, if it would've rained like it did all over north Georgia except it didn't do so in my end of the county.
Some Georgia areas received over five inches, while we got not a dern drop.
So I shelled pink-eye peas, thinking I'd get 'em put up and frozen for winter, went upstairs to water houseplants, and burned the dang peas.
A toilet then overflowed, two kids got in a pushing match, a teenager had a babylike rage, and tempers flared everywhere.
A Sargent with the sheriff's office woke me up by phone at 2:30 in the morning to tell me, since I was the victim, that the sentenced one had been transferred from county to prison, information I was glad to hear, no matter the hour, but my heart was thudding from the fear that comes from a call in the middle of the night, and I had a tough time shaking it off.
Then I heard the mouse rustling around.
Mr. Meltdown all weekend actually talked with Dr. Mandy, a praise God moment, he'd been asking me about wanting to start to take meds for his lack of focus abilities, wheels are in motion, and I'm still waiting for the apology he owes me.
The riding mower is broken down again, needs the belt to be put back on, along with a gear, so if all of the older boys will take a turn, the push mower's gonna get a marathon workout.
I did find the article that studied vegetarians not gaining the same amount of weight as meat eaters, even factoring in equal lifestyles, and I gotta say, I'm a fairly good illustration of that fact. Even at my heaviest weights ever, I've hardly gotten to 135 in my entire life, other than the 152 I hit before delivering Sarah. And while I'm bragging, look what vegetarianism does to one's energy level.
Being a vegetarian is easy for me though, as I'm convinced that meat looks and smells nasty. I was brought up mainly on fruits and vegetables my entire life. As a child, meat was expensive and not ever a focal point in our home, thus giving me a healthy head start.
And how disturbing is this?
Monday, July 26, 2010
I don't think I even wanna rehash yesterday's uber-stress. I'd made a great deal of arrangements to handle something for someone who then inexplicably and rudely melted down for hours, me knowing this wasn't the issue at all anyway.
It's just so wearying, this dumping out upon a person, pent up years of fury and rejection, that will likely emotionally waylay the person for life if that person doesn't soon get a grip.
It ruined our entire day, this having to stop everything to manage the negative emotions of one who's larger, stronger and completely irrational. I don't fear he'll hurt me, I fear he'll eventually have so few coping skills that he'll be unable to function normally out in the world.
And then all the little things that bother me are amplified, the way I'm the only one ever attempting to make this work out for everyone, who'd sabotage everything, just because they can.
Because I'm emotionally very strong, folks just assume that I can take everything they dish out to me, never any consideration about me at all, no appreciation for what all I do, just the expectation that I will do it, because I do do it.
Finally the house calmed down enough for me to try and go to sleep, emotional fires subdued a bit, and dang if I didn't see a mouse run across my bedroom. I wasn't in the mood to do battle, I got Chuy and Martin to chase it all over, but I have so many houseplants that there's only a billion places for it to hide.
I banged on Lily's door to awaken her, to get Shadow the wild terrier, who was shocked when I drug him upstairs where he's not ever allowed, and he clattered about my room all night long, so I'm sorely lacking a good night's sleep, and have about a thousand things to do, so if all I'm gonna do here is gripe and complain, I think I'll just go get started on all my chores instead, funnel my energies appropriately, fueling me for all that needs to be done.
I'm an automaton sometimes.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Sarah blogged about green beans and an onion vinaigrette, while I spent the entire afternoon managing shockingly dark, angry moods around here.
It just came out the blue...or should I have seen it coming? School's fixing to start, the party with Jesse is over, and oftentimes after a particularly rousing church service, the devil tries to kick our butts bigtime.
I have shoe prints on my rear end. I managed to stay calm throughout it all, but am very weary of it all.
A rewarding text from Jesse when he and his family finally made it home to New York.
Joe and Jesse became brothers here some 16 years ago, then ages 11 and 12, their sibling groups melded together under one roof, we went through tons of issues, but none nearly as serious as what I'd later face in the adoption world. While Jesse's own scattered, troubled sibling group has disappointed him in so many ways, he's very bonded to all of my other children, he's very likable, affable, easy going and simply fun to be around.
Although Lena and Jesse's visit was limited to less than 48 hours, many of my older children came by, bringing their children along, and as he left, leaving me sniffling, sad that the visit was so short, he told us all they'd be trying to return for Thanksgiving.
Nando put his head in his arms and cried at the kitchen table, surprising Jesse, who'd tried to comfort him. I know that Jesse and Lena are happy in a small town in New York near her parents, I get it, but it doesn't make me miss them any less.
Lena's become a vegetarian, which just cracks me up in regards to Jesse, who likely thought the next woman in his life, after his own vegetarian mama here, would share in his love for grilling meats.
Lena and I'd talked about a recent study that had fascinated us both, taking in equal calories and an equal activity level, yet one group was a vegetarian group, and as a whole the meat eaters still weighed more. I was more impressed though with the results of this particular study that looked at significantly reduced antibiotic and chemical levels in vegetarians.
Again, no drama, an easy Saturday. The first half filled with extended family, an indoor game of bat the balloon, and the second half had me dragging in buckets of tomatoes, peppers, shell peas and cucumbers. Yesterday, just like any other ornery three year old, I stuffed myself with blueberries til my tummy ached, never learning apparently, always nearly greedy with the delicious berries.
It's super duper hot, even I stayed indoors mid-afternoon, AC barely making a difference, other than to annoy me with the shut-in feeling of inhaling canned air, and the literal sound of my power bill spiking hysterically.
We get an environmental channel that I've grown to love, watching fascinating shows late into the night, caught up on the lives of the Fabulous Beekman Boys, but put off a little by the unnecessary drama that tv production crews wanna stir up. The scenery is fantabulous, their barn is to die for, and I'm crazy in love with their house.
Finding that one of them had written a book, The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers, I located it from a used book seller, and am now very happily ensconced in this man's witty repartee. An ad executive during the week, farming and preserving food on weekends, nearly four hours north of the city, made me appreciate living where I work. Any commute farther than having to cut through the meadow for my upper gardens would just be the tipping point for me.
Not this school year, but next, I'll have nine children in high school, starting my own countdown to childlessness at home, and an ability to travel or just fart around with few responsibilities, this upcoming school year marks the first time since I started kindergarten in 1959, that I've not had to go out the door, headed towards a school, for 51 years.
First I was the student, k-12, then college, grad schools, 25 years spent working in the public school system, followed by 8 years of driving my own children to school, but no more. Yolie will drive Tabby, Nando and Jack, along with her CJ, to the elementary school, my older children will all ride the bus, while I remain happily at home in my pjs. 51 years of jumping up and headed out the door, 51 years of it. Now I appear to be free of that one singular responsibility chore.
We're not in a drought at all, thank goodness, just too much overall dryness and lack of adequate rainfall is stressing out some plants, but the wood chip mulch keeps their roots cooler and decently moist, preventing rapid evaporation. Organically amended soil is a big help, but my newer beds in the upper gardens could and would greatly benefit from a cover crop this fall of hairy vetch. Not driving to school, even the nicely short distances that I've had to do, adds a whole new element to my school day free time, more I can accomplish, less stress yet again.
Or I could just plan to sit and eat granola calmly and read some good books.
"Why do you write such long blog posts?" both Joe and Jesse asked me. Oh my goodness, not writing longer ones has been my challenge lately.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
My second oldest son, Jesse, now 28, drove 856 miles one-way, with his wife and son, from their home in New York state to our home, just to be able to spend less than 48 hours here.
"Man, it's HOT!" he hollered, stepping out to pump gas in the steamy, sweltering heat, not missing the Georgia humidity at all.
We stayed up at the pool all afternoon, the older grown kids coming with their kids to swim, and later I made a big dinner, Jesse remarking it was his first time ever to sit at the dining room table, versus kitchen tables, having missed years of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners while in the Navy.
Marcela, 29, Yolie, 30, Deysi, 34, and Daniel, 24, stayed for supper, making us nearly roll on the floor laughing so hard at their antics many years ago. I never knew that Joe and Jesse had one day convinced Sergi to smoke toilet paper. "Dude, we already did it, you try it!" they'd suggested to Mr. Gullible.
Again no drama, none at all, not one minute of strife, zero arguing or nil contention. How nice.
The night before, Allen and CW had been playing soccer in the meadow when they were surprised by a seeming explosion in the chicken yard, running over there to discover a very large limb from a sweet gum tree had crashed down from 50 feet above. Oh my goodness, that'd could've been disastrous. It took them, plus Martin and Chuy, to saw it up and get it off basil, peppers and a fence. The hens were unscathed.
Gotta get over to the church this Saturday morning, I have Lisa's car, she has my van, probably 40 or so children spent the night there for the lock-in, even Ray went, knowing Jack and Nando would be there also. Sabrina has cheer leading camp again today, and I wanna spend my last remaining minutes with Jesse, Lena and Isaiah before they take off to return to New York where they are happily living in a small town near Lena's parents.
Friday, July 23, 2010
Lost in my thoughts, nerdishly sorting the tomatoes I was picking into categories: prime specimens, need to cut out the bad spots, and toss 'em in a bucket for the chickens, and I was way too startled over there by the cucumbers, at this back end of a departing snake. Not a brave woman, I did not pull it out of the pampas grass just to see how long it was, my curiosity does have decent boundaries.
Rather I beat feet over to the peppers and kept on picking, irrationally looking over my shoulders to see if the snake followed, which it didn't, being just as startled as I was.
I had a twenty-two page admittance fax to fill out and send back regarding Paloma. DJJ and I both have files and reams of documentation, it appears as if this new short-term stabilization unit will do a PRTF to get her into more long-term care. The camp counselor had called to tell me some of the behaviors she'd personally been trying to manage within Paloma, agreeing with me, "She is a very sick little girl." She'd been trying to manipulate the system to a small degree, but overall, hearing voices in one's head does get in the way of any attempts at normalcy.
It's ultimately very sad, knowing what a tough life she'll have with these disabilities that will be nearly impossible to manage well, much less to overcome. I've long since stopped watching news channels, knowing I can get the gist of current events within three minutes of reading headlines on my computer, but truthfully the breaking news and urgent banners are stressing me out as well. It's not necessarily gonna benefit me to be aware of more craziness in the world, maybe I best just work on lowering my own blood pressure, blithely unaware of much of what is happening outside of Braves baseball or the five day forecast.
Jesse, Lena and Isaiah made it safely to Georgia, making a very long road trip for a very short time, but I'm intensely glad to see them. Jesse'd joined the Navy right out of high school, deployed three different times, living in two other states when on shore, now living way up north in a small town in New York where his wife is from, he's not lived near us in nine long years, but he's very bonded and keeps in touch thankfully.
No drama yesterday, just a sweaty CW working hard on maintaining our pool, while I froze produce and made more fire hot pepper sauce for the winter, filling out Paloma's paperwork, and running out to take Miriam on an errand after first loading up the van with young'uns. Sabrina's cheerleading camp continues through Saturday, plus we had Dr, Mandy here for a couple of hours.
I know not every adoptive parent can be so blessed as to have a psychologist in the home like we do, but the importance of it for us can not be underestimated. She counsels so many of my children, hears versions of stories and tattling that can easily be corroborated or worked through, the children are more open with her in the quietness of the sun room on Grandma's side of the house, it seems more conducive to confiding and working through issues, versus the unintended stress of visiting an office. Dr. Mandy's young, in her 30s, intuitive, brilliant, compassionate and very discerning, traits this family needs in that she's also removed emotionally from our day to day family bickering or strife, and she can be the fair dispassionate third party that is educated and professional.
For many years it was Dr. G who came here, and for his own protection against any potential false allegations, same with Pathways, Advantage, or any, and every other counseling service we've used, it is always conducted behind glass doors. Less privacy maybe, but beneficial in the long run, as it offers another layer of protection for every one involved. We adoptive parents have to think outside the box, knowing that severely angry and/or disturbed children have deep issues that can also hurt others. Living like this has been more than stressful, not what I'd once dreamed of, but I've learned to cope and continue forward.
Dr G's practice grew very large and we'd slowly shifted over to Dr. Mandy who was his colleague, she'd been testing my children before her PhD program, and they'd all come to know and trust her, so the change did not set them back. I'd never change now, it'd be too great of a loss for my children, but at times I've had to add other services in order to access different resources.
JoJo, reading from a daily devotion asked me, "Mama, what are your aspirations?" He's right smart for someone who takes great pains to disabuse anyone of that notion.
"Oh honey, I just want peace within," I told him, looking up from the dishes I was washing, even the repetitive motions of this dull chore is soothing, a pretty good indicator of the amount of pressure and stress I labor under, when washing cups is a step up for me.
My three youngest children are having a church lock-in tonight, complete with midnight bowling and flashlight tag in the sanctuary, making late snacks in the church kitchen, and coming home happy and exhausted in the morning, Tabby's got her sleeping bag ready for two days now in anticipation.
I've put off purchasing the back-to-school stuff on purpose, both for money reasons as I budgeted for August, but also since I'm the slow learner who finally realized I'd just been amping up the meltdowns. As a child, I'd loved school and wrongly assumed my children did so also, not totally comprehending how alarming the transition can be for them, the dread versus anticipation.
I'm very, very blessed in that we don't move, therefore they never lose last year's friends. Children coming out of the foster care system have had multiple moves and breaks, consistency not an option, and I'm glad I can provide this form of stability, yet the inner chaos in their minds is still there and difficult to vanquish for many, many years.
So this summer we're moving way more slowly towards the beginning of the school years, at least outwardly so.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
I'd gone to Youth Group at church last night to listen in on Pastor's Tony's plans for hiring another youth pastor, coming away impressed with the process he'd discussed with the teenagers. He's narrowed the search down to two very strong applicants, then he gave the teenagers a devotional, along with Krispy Kreme donuts.
The dichotomy of my life and the rest of these well-adjusted, untraumatized teenagers at our church struck me last night. To the right is the four square game they often play, a hole in the wall where no Bodie children were involved, amazing when one considers 11 of my children are in youth group now.
We're very blessed to have spectacular facilities upstairs in our church, this very large room for exuberant teens, and the audio-visual equipment is high-tech and spectacular, as is the youth band that usually plays, rumbling the walls of the rest of the church, planted smack dab out there in the middle of a gorgeous cotton field. There's often upwards of a hundred noisy teenagers there on Wednesday nights.
I'd already had a pretty tough day what with the two teenagers that had melted down and refused to help me clean the pool, a job we desperately needed to get done, and when one factors in the hours I spend working around here, to add the pool to it, can tilt the scales of justice, leaning heavily towards Mama just being a slave.
All sorts of underlying reasons this summer, that is almost over, well at least the school-less days, our Georgia heat will remain nearly until October, and I ended up not stepping foot into my gardens all day, what with managing the emotions around here, I was the one who ended up in tears, surprisingly Mayra and JoJo were the ones who helped CW and I the most.
Apparently it was a premature burst of tears, I'd have more to cry about later with a phone call learning that Paloma was 10-13'd away from OTP, she'd been disrupting all areas of camp, call it a rage or not, it's a psychotic episode I've experienced many, many times in which everything and everyone shuts down in order to tend to her, to keep her safe from herself, and in our case, to keep all of us safe.
I do not know with any certainty. There are a couple of options, doors I pray that will open.
My mom wondered aloud, "What happens to kids like this? Do they lives to be old women who still rage and fight?"
I just don't know what will be the next step. I do know that I can not adequately parent her and everyyone else, not even attempt to do so, while also struggling to daily keep everyone else safe from her. She is very, very sick, and needs mental health treatment, something I've been saying for quite a few years now, and I think it'll take the experiences of others dealing with her to fully get the picture, to see the deep need.
I'm just the mom, in their eyes I'm someone who chose this, go deal with it lady, not comprehending at all the depths of Paloma's very severe mental issues. I am begging for mental health help, as it can only benefit this beautiful child, it's not the adopted child label they might want to assign to her, it's bipolar, it's trauma, and it's an alphabet soup of turmoil from within her mind.
I am going on record, telling folks she is potentially very dangerous, an explosion that will very likely hurt others, please help her.
I really had hoped that an outdoor therapeutic program would be just the thing for her to respond to, but maybe she just can't, maybe it's not in her, maybe the severity of it all within her is even more than I'd experienced here?
I now need to be faxing consent forms and paperwork, doing laundry, picking peppers, taking Sabrina over to the high school and waiting on Dr. Mandy to come today.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
I have six downstairs bedroom closets like this, closets where two kids share the rack space, and each closet is packed full of really nice clothes we were either given, or that we bought at yard sales, thrift stores, or Goodwill. We feel blessed, we truly do. I insist on hanging up t-shirts also, as the fixing-to-crumble drawers would be a jumbled mess otherwise.
I took yet another miscellaneous load to the dump yesterday, an entertainment cabinet once with nice doors and two drawers that went out of here unceremoniously in 19 pieces, another mattress bit the dust, along with various and sundry items that again filled my truck to overflowing.
I so dearly want a minimalist look, a sparsely furnished house, with gleaming hardwood floors for me to float upon while pretending to have ethereal sensibilities, when in reality I'm just full of it. A happy ole bat with farming garden dreams.
Flat out of potting soil, seven kids and I were loading up a sack when I got The Phone Call I'd Been Dreading. OTP is no longer willing to work with Paloma, she needs too much, she disrupts the facility, and they can't afford to assign one counselor to her at all times, the futility of it anyway seems completely overwhelming.
The upshot of it again dumped upon the indomitable Miss Kim from DJJ, she's making calls, searching for an appropriate place, knowing that for Paloma to come home in the meantime would only reinforce the twisted notion in her mind that she got her way. That she controls OTP, DJJ, and the entire developing nations of the western hemisphere. Honey, that's how she thinks.
I sat on the curb out back of the garden center to take the call, my heart thumping in dread, the kids circling me, trying to discern what was going on, quickly putting two and two together to equal an impending upheaval, the dread visible on everyone's faces.
I'd like to ask for prayer again for doors to open, for the appropriate facility that can deal with the bizarre, controlling, and aggressive behaviors that we've so labored under for eight long years.
"Mom is Jesse adopted?" Tabby asked me, apropos of nothing, thinking of this week's upcoming visit.
"I don't remember," is my stock answer, "are you adopted?"
She sat there quietly trying to decide. This A word can be a trial sometimes, a label they'd just as soon forget, until adolescence sets in and tilts their thought processes.
Sabrina has an entire week of sideline cheerleading camp, soon to be followed with two-a-day practices, Jonathan has a Pathways Counseling appointment here this morning, and Dr. Mandy's trying to drop in as often as is possible to get in as many sessions as we can before the start of school.
These last fourteen children still at home are an independent bunch, issues of course, but none of the nearly insane behaviors of the past several troubling years, freeing me up in many ways, allowing more happy time for my own two fun outlets - gardening and Braves games on TV.
I worked past nine outside last night, mulching, weeding, harvesting and watering, kids ambling in and out of the gardens, picking and eating, talking and playing, a soccer game in the meadow, and I went past dark by myself walking up the dirt road to shut and lock the gate, as grateful to God as I've been for more than 17 years to have found this delightful piece of land. Bullfrogs were chorusing loudly, lightening bugs twinkling, a pretty half moon shining through the trees, the fragrances of the woods, the flowers, and the heavy warm moist air all combining beautifully to just make me smile with deep, abiding gratitude that I so profoundly love where I live.
A burst of energy had me cleaning out the kitchen refrigerator, singing Jimmy Buffet's classic, Cheeseburger in Paradise, out loud to kids who are fairly sure I might be losing it, having been parented 100% by a die hard vegetarian. I'd sooner eat a turd than a burger, but the song is hilarious.
By ten o'clock my house was quiet, alarms on, dogs divided up into specific rooms, and the Braves beat the Padres, while I continued to pray for the help we need with Paloma.
One more day until I see Jesse, Lena and Isaiah, whose expression below is identical to Jesse's guilty face many years ago when put up to mischief, usually by Big Joe, who just got full-time hours at the hospital where he's a surgical orderly, a job he loves, yet another reason for me to be thankful.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Honestly, sofas and my family are challenged. This blue plaid one was the one Tony spent an angry evening pulling the stuffing out of it, simply because he was angry that I'd corrected his behavior. He never responds appropriately, he always melts down in some way or another. Every minor behavior redirection attempt escalates until my own blood pressure is soaring. He takes an insane delight in provoking negative emotions.
I've often explained to him that this ill-advised behavior will likely cost him a great deal in his adult life. This is a guy who'd even been ugly, rude and hateful to a teenage cancer patient, leaving me in a mortified, horrified shock stage that one could act so ugly for no reason. Yep, the school administrators had certainly called me up over that incident.
Food preservation is cutting severely into my weeding time, as are the back-to-school meltdowns, anticipation, and acting out behaviors. I was doing the math aloud to Sarah, "If I freeze four batches a week of Fire Hot Pepper Sauce, I'll have this many after at least another eight weeks of production," knowing I likely still have three more months of sunny weather and no frost.
My tomatoes are producing, but are too frequently splitting open, making me cut out pieces or chunk 'em to the chickens, which is a full circle move, as then I end up with eggs and no waste.
After planting, growing, mulching, maintaining, picking, shelling and cooking the pink-eye peas, I've expended way more calories than I'll eventually eat, thank God for potatoes to fill in the gaps, but with so little stress lately, I've continued to chunk up, so much so that it wouldn't now hurt me to start watching the massive amounts that I do ingest each day. This huge appetite may only be me porking up, getting girded for the next stress event that won't allow my stomach to unclench enough to digest anything. BTDT too often.
As I swept out my garage last night and eyed my neglected front gardens, it did dawn on me that 95% of the chores and work around here is now on me and Grandma. Grandpa truly isn't able anymore, the evil Pulmonary Fibrosis is sapping him slowly each day, Grandma's tending to him and her large garden, still playing Bridge twice a week, while I work on my side of the house with precious little help from any kids.
It's just not worth the impending explosions.
CW, Chuy and Martin will get up and use the mowers, lift heavy things for me, like dead sofas, and help a little bit, maybe even a big bit, but no one wants to even try and keep up with me, which irks me, but I remember a hundred years ago, being a teenager and hating the boring chores.
Scotty feeds the chickens, Mayra and Sabrina help with the kitchen, clearing counters, Lily clears tables, I do all the cooking and dish washing, mainly because they won't do a very good job of it, who wants crusted food bits left on the plates? I do all the laundry, and I fussed yesterday at the girl pile of dirty clothes. "Why on earth can't you all turn clothes right side out?" I'd complained.
Allen and JoJo are flat-out plug lazy. Period. Allen less so than JoJo, but they have fits, complete screaming, complaining fits over any and everything. Having raised four of their nearly as lazy siblings, those who'd sit and stare flatly, run away when confronted about slothfulness, complain to folks because I made them pick up their dirty stinking socks? Heck, I'm the one that's now been trained, or conditioned, by negative reinforcement, to just leave 'em be, it isn't worth the horrible battles to get them to help.
They absolutely 100 percent don't give a crap.
Their older brother hasn't lived in one place for hardly more than a month since he moved out of here at age 21. He was much easier to raise than the rest of his sibling group, but I'm terribly disappointed that he drifts from sofa to sofa, won't work steadily, uses women, and overall has not made one iota of progress in the two years he's been on his own. No arrests and no babies though. Can I call that progress in our world?
Reckon Vanessa's gonna be the star of that entire sibling group? She was the one who fought against closeness with me, she couldn't help it though, I won her over at some point, I became The One she finally felt she could trust after ten years of trying on my part.
Anyone remember my Teenage Day Care a few years ago, when she fought so much at school, when Joey committed a felony at the high school, when others could not, nor would not, attend? I thought I'd explode from the abject frustration of those years.
It's so much easier now. I don't mind hard work, there's way less destruction, way less fighting, there are severe behavioral issues within my home, but not the raging insanity I'd once dealt with. Three years ago after surgery for a stress-induced tumor, I crawled out of the hospital weighing 109 pounds, scary skinny, and pissed off about it. I'm 5' 6 1/2".
Twenty pounds later, I'm so much stronger physically and way more guarded. If caring so much, when they were hellbent on self-destruction, nearly took me out - derned if I didn't learn a lesson about emotional disengagement.
That lesson cost me a foot of my intestines in surgery.
The majority of my children need me to be strong and healthy, they need for me to care, they emotionally reciprocate to the best of their abilities, and are scared to pieces of ever losing me...they invigorate me and spur me on each day.
Th ones that'd do me in due to their own emotional sicknesses, those that have done so much irreparable damage are grown now, some are incarcerated, some are lost to the streets, wreaking havoc and mayhem everywhere they go, not ever allowed here again for the safety of us all. This ain't Red Roof Inn, nor a flophouse.
It is what it is.
I didn't end up with a Walton family homestead...but it sure wasn't for a lack of trying on my part.
Today my handsome, very well-adjusted son, Jesse, my only married son, is turning 28, he'll be driving here from New York tomorrow with his wife and son, and I can't wait to see them all. His birth sibs have severely disappointed him, their emotional disabilities have hampered them terribly, they are all grown up now, but Jesse's other siblings here, all adopted at different times, totally adore him and can't wait to see him. The ones he'd once lived with here at our house, Big Joe, Daniel, Sergi, Yolie, Gina, Deysi, Saray and Marcela, will all be by to see him, as we ease into our back-to-school countdown - a soon and very soon event.
My hens scurry down the moat that hugs the fence line around the upper gardens, knowing they'll get treats tossed at them as I work, I'd stuck some poke sallet through then fence, a delicacy for us both, but I'm not in need of greens at the moment, especially those that'd poke up through my garden beds.
So many chores, so little time, but at least it all eliminates a gym membership need, right? Like I could ever get away for weight-lifting or aerobics.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Changing over last winter to the early service was no real big deal for us, as a family we're early birds anyway, due to the fact that I send everyone to their rooms by ten, even on summer nights, winter nights end even earlier.
I don't dress anyone anymore, I just holler, "20 more minutes," or other countdown times to keep everyone on task. I had 14 children standing in the living room, one of them remarking that I was wearing the same thing I wore last Sunday, to which I snarked, "Big stinking deal," as if anyone gives a big cahoot about what an ole bat's wearing. Church ain't a fashion show.
"Where's Paloma?" I asked Mayra, only to learn that Sabrina and Mayra had made any number of suggestions, offered up their own trendy clothes, sparked her along, yet like shades of yesteryear, she sat angrily on her bed, hair in total disarray, refusing to dress, knowing she was gaining power over our entire family, making us either wait until she was good and ready to go, or pulling the big one which meant none of us could go.
I informed her, as if it were my idea, "OK, we're not going. Get your stuff together and I'll take you back to OTP" Not raising my voice, not getting entangled in a, "You'll go to church because I said you'll go," routine that would've allowed her, in her mind, sufficient reason to rage and break a window.
A couple of kids changed back into their stay-at-home clothes, I went upstairs to do the same when Paloma reneged on her control battle and finally got dressed so we could all go. I hate to arrive late, as I feel it shows disregard and disrespect to say nothing of our then inability to find three rows together.
When we finally got settled, I noticed how handsome and beautiful they all looked, if one kinda ignored Paloma who refused to brush her hair, how well my children present out in public, but knowing how they save their rages and meltdowns for the safety and confines of our home, I sighed deeply and tried to concentrate on praise and worship.
Our wonderful pastor Tony, preaching on deep water praying, the kind you do when it feels as if you're drowning, the big prayers that are needed at times, versus our usual mundane, "thank you Lord for supper," and I hung on his every word.
Grandma babysat my five teenage boys as they played Runescape on the computers, while I loaded up everyone else and enough groceries to keep 'em all occupied, and we headed for the six hour round trip to return Paloma, who spent the entire time verbally threatening Tabby for even looking her way.
I put on my Ipod, wanting to tune them all out, listening to fiddles and pianos, honky-tonk, foot stomping, happy and rousing country gospel music, singing along so far off key that I prompted Jack to request, "Please, can you sing in your head?"
What I lack in talent, I make up for in enthusiasm, which probably is even more annoying to my van mates. I had yet another power struggle with Paloma about wearing seat belts, an issue I won't budge on. "It's the LAW," I'll bellow, while she glowers hatefully at me. Click it or ticket.
Returning home to find we'd had a beautiful deluge of rain, I ran up to the top gardens where I'd planted heirloom Pink-eye Peas. I'd watched them grow, thrive, bloom, put out green pods that later blushed to a deep purple, and I picked me a mess of 'em, bringing them in to shell, thinking I'd simmer them with garden potatoes and tomatoes, a hot pepper or two, and just be thankful that I don't spend much time on the interstate, but rather here in my peaceful gardens.
The evening sun, sinking beyond the pine trees, was warm on my skin, the birds were singing sweetly, and I inhaled heavily fragrant air, trying to calm myself after a stressful weekend managing severely irrational behaviors, even though we'd also had some good hours, the stress of impending explosions wears on one.
Palpable relief to have Paloma gone, her birth sibs tread lightly when she's home, dreading her lashing out at them, her inability to not rage. This may be TMI, but she'd refused to take off a bra of Mayra's, she'd worn it back to OTP, a place where only sports bras are allowed, underwire ones might be fashioned into weapons.
If I'd have forced a showdown, we'd still be waiting it out. Her refusals are legendary, so much so that even the therapeutic camp director has remarked upon her non-compliance and refusals to do as told. Tell me about it.
Life's hard enough when one is following rules, laws, policies and procedures. To buck 'em all just adds to mayhem and confusion. I thought about my son, the one with the three felony charges and four misdemeanors all involving thefts and burglaries. It's nearly compulsive with him, he sees it, he wants it, no matter if it pertains to him, or even can be of any use to him.
Lying, denying and stealing are three traits I've fought long and hard against in so many of my children. It is non-stop, demeaning to me, frustrating and raises my blood pressure nearly every day as we've had so many instances of it, from food they'd have been allowed to have if they'd simply asked, to money, office supplies, cosmetics, any and every thing. Maybe that's why I garden so much, there's no interest in anyone pilfering plants...oh wait...all of my tools over the years have been stolen one by one.
I only buy Craftsman tools because if I break a spading fork, it's replaced for free. I have three different ones I use. One went missing, I found it in the possession of someone here known to steal, he flat out lied to me, "Uh-uh, I just bought this." Bullcrap, I could see the nicks I'd put into it. This kid (this was years ago) would stand holding a possession he'd just stolen from the kid who was looking for it, would lie and deny the obvious, swear on everything holy that he'd just bought that particular item that exactly matched someone's missing item.
"But those are MY initials," someone might suggest, while the thief continued to stonewall. Year after year after year, there was NO changing of that one specific compulsion, until eventually all siblings would totally avoid this kid who'd long since grown up and moved out, knowing he would still steal. Sadly the jails are full of folks like that.
I now have very little of value. My laptop is chained down, I do have an Ipod that I lock up, I do my darnedest to never keep cash around, but still after all these years I find stolen food in bedrooms, or the wrappers stashed under stuff. We have a no food except in our very large kitchen policy, but my dumb rules fall on deaf ears.
My frustration continues to mount, and I just go dig and dig and dig in the gardens, after I search for one of my spading forks.
A reader, a single mother like me, wrote to me, telling me she's had a wonderful sib group adoption and was contemplating another one, which I do hope she does. But I had three sibling group adoptions before some of the more serious issues arrived at my house. I've also heard that from other adoptive moms. Most of my first 11 children were grown and gone before I added any more children, and the issues in the next two groups were massive, a subsequent group nearly overwhelming, and my last sibling group was a very good group overall.
There's just no way to tell...I'd advise all y'all to line up resources, therapists, psychiatrists, and psychologists. I believe you're gonna need it all if you adopt older children from the system. How can they not have issues with what all they've endured? While I've also had some exemplary children, no one is totally unscathed.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
I'd typed out yesterday's post quickly, before we all left for yard sales, and boy did I ever hear from you all, via emails, comments and by phone.
Mayra and Memaw, 16 and 15, came home with loads of name brand clothes, they were ecstatic, and Paloma behaved very decently. We almost always find art supplies, and the kids make projects all afternoon on Saturdays. Hazel was here and involved with her brand new homemade princess crown.
My experience has led me to believe that almost nobody should come into foster care or older child adoption - but maybe I'm too bitter and burnt out.
Not my words, or are they? Certainly my thoughts at times, I cannot continue forward in promoting the adoption of older children, as Claudia has done so well, I've been way too mangled to keep on a fake happy face. I chose to resign, after gnashing my teeth and stressing over the decision, from helping others to adopt, knowing what they'll likely face, and I've seen folks in much worse situations than I've been in, with far fewer children. The scary potential to destroy once happy, naive, and do-gooder families with excellent intentions is too forebodingly overwhelming for me to even consider participating.
As I answered comments this morning, I watched my own thread of thought emerge, and as usual, I still do deeply believe this is the life God wanted for me to lead - I obviously need some answers from Him on many issues, there's so much I still can't wrap my mind around, and the casualty count around here has been too high.
Looking back, thinking how carefully I'd read my children's case studies, highlighting explanations, and making a list of questions for case workers to further explain to me, yet how blindsided I'd been later on as the children grew up. I think society as a whole is one million percent clueless as to the debilitating effects of trauma on children.
Armed Services Veterans can sometimes get help to recover from PTSD, there just seems to be no one size fits all therapeutic answer for young children who, in many ways, will never recover from what had happened to them long ago.
Then what's the difference between them and my thriving children? I dunno. Resiliency? Intelligence? Level of traumas endured? A willingness to change and move forward? An ability to do so? Less of an Alphabet Soup Diagnosis? Not pickled in utero? A deeper faith?
I rejoice and celebrate with those that can, and do, move forward, Daniel willingly gives me total parental credit for his successes, yet I know he'd have been successful anywhere, in any family, as long as he'd been allowed to have been adopted with Yolie. Had he'd been cut off from his older, then sad and angry sister, he'd very likely have floundered, been too angry to move on. What a tremendous loss that would have been on every level.
I will be forever grateful to Maureen Sadler, their caseworker 20 years ago, who worked hard both to keep the children together and to get them out of the drug-infested barrio in which they lived. "I want them out of this state for their own safety and well-being," she stressed to me. Many years later we were notified when she passed away and it tore Yolie up, the woman who so obviously cared enough to work for their best interests, now gone. Fortunately we had kept in touch with her over the years, and she knew how successful they'd become, she'd been thanked many times.
I've met their birth mom, she found us, and getting to know her explained a lot of things to me, their older sisters and their families know us now as well. Another birth mom that I'd met in my second sibling adoption, second time in a row that I'd met the mother during the adoption process, kept in touch with me for years and years, calling me at work rather than at home. Yes, it is both daunting, emotionally threatening, and also very valuable to have this contact, if at all possible.
One grown son tracked down a mom I'd not yet met, and he encountered exactly what he'd seen in his case files, wanting it to turn out differently this time around, disappointed and hurt, of course, but also strengthened from within, a new resolve to get on with life, empowering the mystique he'd held on to for so long, ultimtely freeing him to be the man he now is, successful and happy.
I have another sibling group still openly furious at their birth mom for the murder of their father, and two other festering situations that may one day bubble to the surface when we least expect it. Oh Dear Lord, please protect us.
So I waver in my busy mind, stressing over all the good children in foster care who only need a home and a family in which to thrive within, familial support, and the love that comes with it. They so deserve it, yet I'm too traumatized to trust in any situation turning out well for anyone.
But, and it's a very big but to me, I'm scarily aware of the many outright dangerous children who are placed into unsuspecting homes by professionals that are also then unaware of potential, brewing danger. Yet when it explodes, the adoptive parents are treated criminally by those who should be helping.
That's the part that makes my blood run ice cold. I still cannot either talk about, nor write about, some of the horrors we've endured.
A successful, married child of mine called me yesterday, embarrassed that a police officer friend of hers had called her cell, trying to hunt down the same one the deputies had come to me about. Like me, she'd explained that we don't consort with this one, we've all been robbed too many times, and there are other suspicions and accusations that we've discussed with law enforcement.
And this has been a smart, although seemingly cold-hearted, move on our part. We can truthfully claim not to know where he is, nor to be involved in anything having to do with him, especially important for a lady like me, trying to continue to protect the young children still at home. There are several other grown children not allowed here for our own protection. We've been severely burned over the years, endangered and crippled by the actions of others. There are also those who'd lie about us, or anyone else, and it's best for everyone to keep a distance.
I now know he's been arrested on seven counts, three felonies and four misdemeanors. I will not support him in court, will not stand up for him, I will not even go to court, I know he's guilty of this, and of much more. I've been to the sheriff on two different very serious occasions to discuss my concerns.
I did stand by him when he was a child, allowing him to live on our property, as he faltered into adulthood, driving him to work, helping him find other jobs when he continuously was fired for thefts and other incidents, indeed Grandpa gave him a truck, we led and guided him carefully, pouring ourselves into him, only to end up shocked, stunned and damaged.
This is why I have such loyal readers I believe, I appreciate your responses, that you drink your coffee with me each morning honors me and sustains me through some very trying times. Because I barf it all out here, or at least as much as I can legitimately share with you, due to the sensitive nature of a family, that I've had superb successes and heart-breaking failures makes me relatable, I suppose. You all mention how others just don't understand the world of the adoptive mother, yeah, Honey, I get it.
I grieve for this grown kid, I don't know what will happen. I don't know if he'll ever be capable of making better choices.
I do know, without a shadow of doubt, that I poured myself into him for many, many years, and he ultimately chose to reject my apparently boring morals and my law-abiding lifestyle. It hurts me certainly, that I was unable to get through to him, but I do know that I tried very, very hard.
As a Bible thumping, toe the line, church lady, I once deeply believed that all my children would turn out to be upstanding citizens simply because they believed in God's promises. A therapist we used for several years before Dr. G., Dr. C and Dr. Mandy, had predicted my children would summarily and eventually reject my deep faith. I didn't believe him at the time, but I was kinda wrong about that. And it has been personally heart-breaking to me.
Tony severely melted down last night, a furniture destroying fit because he and his birth brother disagreed about a fan, I lost my own cool when he tried to destroy the computers, Chuy stepped in, I hollered and stomped off to the next room to calm down. Then I worked on calming this one down who provokes everyone to fury, it's simply his nature, and we've worked and worked on trying to help him understand what this particular behavior will eventually cost him terribly in life.
Paloma has been fairly decent overall, glad to be here, and accepting redirection so far. But it's kinda like aday at the beach for her. This article explains why. We're always better when we're at the beach. It's just not real life now, is it?
Saturday, July 17, 2010
On September 30, 2006, there were an estimated 510,000 children in foster care. (See Exhibit 1.)
Almost a quarter (24 percent) were in relative homes, and nearly half (46 percent) were in nonrelative foster family homes. (See Exhibit 2.)
Almost half (49 percent) had a case goal of reunification with their families.
The percentage of children who left the system to be reunited with their families or placed with relatives remained about the same from 2000 to 2006 (70 percent and 69 percent, respectively). (See Exhibit 3.)
Almost half of the children (49 percent) who left foster care in FY 2006 were in care for less than 1 year. (See Exhibit 4.)
Not very recent statistics but likely they're applicable overall, in a ballpark manner, I'm responding to a reader, Amie, who'd recently brought this up in a questioning comment.
The children that so many of us have adopted, were older children, unattractively and even unfairly deemed hard to-place due to ages, races, number of siblings, and sometimes very severe emotional issues, from the fotsre care system.
I never have adopted any true orphans.
These children of mine generally were labeled adoptable after all efforts at family reunification failed, the reasons for the failure were mainly non-compliance on the birth family's part.
Black and white words here that in no way possibly can appropriately illustrate the hoops that were not jumped, the failed drug screens, missed court dates, jail time, violations of safety resource rules, adding up to a myriad of reasons that finally drove a judge to terminate parental rights.
In all of my adoptions, there's a living, breathing birth mother still out there, quite often it was an unknown paternal situation, in several cases here the birth fathers are deceased, and maybe a common denominators might be simply parents who chose drugs and alcohol, addictions and partying, over parenting.
To the shell-shocked children, who then were moved from pillar to post, breaking even more bonds via several different foster parent placements, or even relative placements, eventually arriving here with me, hollow-eyed from fear, no reason later given to them can compensate for the turmoil that was to follow over the years.
It's no wonder we've had a tough go of it.
All I once saw, many dumbly naive years ago, were cute children who needed a home and a mama. It took me many years to even begin to understand the depths of torment within their souls. Sometimes, due to the violent or aggressive nature of their anger, I was never able to breech this wall, sometimes it just wasn't safe for anyone.
In the 1980s I parked my happy butt in the UGA library, devouring books on social work and the issues of children, firmly convinced that Claudia Jewett wrote the best ones, the textbooks were dry, unable to portray the raw and bleeding emotions I'd later encounter in my children.
Other times my darling children participated in therapy, resources and programs, they chose to get better and excelled. There've been varying degrees of success, no predictable blueprint available, nor expected.
I recently had one older child, a grown up now, want to burn the Lifebook as an empowering gesture, wanted to shred the DFACS files I'd shared with them as adults, yet another sibling in that group just wasn't emotionally ready for that act.
Right now I have a couple of grown kids who are severely estranged, one in particular with very little conscience left intact, will maybe never contact us again. I also have incredibly bonded grown children, as well as those that take me on their emotional roller coaster rides frequently. I kinda never see it coming, even after all these years.
What'd I do?
My own birthday is upcoming, a day we generally let slide by, as the amped up acting out can be excruciatingly severe, my own birthday's not on listed on Facebook, and isn't really all that important to me. Jesse and I are two days apart though, and this year he and his family are coming down here both to celebrate jointly, and also because he's concerned about Grandpa. He's pictured here with his son who is being nurtured perfectly, both by Jesse and his beautiful wife, Lena.
Vanessa's wanting to come from Alabama, but I've been discouraging that as finally she has a pretty darn good job, very steady employment, and is picking up a lot of hours, the emotional satisfaction she's finding in living a productive life is priceless and I don't want to jeopardize it by her asking off from her job.
49 percent had a goal of reunification with parent(s) or primary caregiver(s)
23 percent had a goal of adoption
8 percent had a goal of living with a relative or guardian
9 percent had a goal of long-term foster care
6 percent had a goal of emancipation4
6 percent had not yet had a permanency goal established
These cold hard numbers fail to take into account the emotional distress of these grieving children. I'm not blaming either the system, nor the bean counters, as ultimately parenting responsibilities should fall on the parent. I'm just still as staggered as when I started this lifestyle so long ago, that overall so little improvement has been made.
A living, breathing, feeling baby that is not properly nurtured does not bode well for our society as a whole, yes the system steps in for physical protection, but it seems as if the child's soul gets lost along the way, the price is so tragically high.
I'd rather see birth control in city water (puh-leeze, I'm exaggerating) than children born from random sexual encounters to women who are so incapable of parenting. And yes, I blame the men as well. But I can't legislate morality, I can't demand full time nurturing from incapable participants, I can't demand immediate permanency for children, I can only sit in my tiny corner of the world, and try and nurture children who so often are too damaged to ever respond.
And I can also preen and fluff my feathers in pride at the majority of my children who can, do, and will succeed in spite of everything, maybe even in some small part, because of everything.
One of Cindy Adams' grown children had posted this status on Facebook, "God allows everything to happen for a reason. Circumstances will either direct you, correct you, or perfect you." I went to bed last night, knowing her backstory from her late mother who loved her so much, the beautiful woman who was gone from this earth way too soon, thinking, thinking, thinking obsessively over the elusive whys.
It was kinda along the lines of an ongoing discussion I have with both Daniel and Yolie, two strong grownups who've overcome so hugely, how using one's past experiences, not as a stumbling block, but rather a stepping stone, eventually leads to much happiness. Hey, cliches are born from solidness.
I have plenty of empty bedrooms now in my home, bedrooms I once desired only to fill with children who needed a mother. God has long since closed that door in my life, no more new children, and I don't argue with Him about it either, knowing I don't have the inner emotional resources to start over yet again with another troubled sibling group, rather to forge on ahead and finish raising my remaining children. I'm very firm and resolute about that now.
39 children, who'll need me in varying degrees for all the years to come, as I continue searching for answers.
Friday, July 16, 2010
"Mom, a deputy's parked up on the dirt road. You think anyone radioed ahead about Paloma?" Cristy, driving away from my house, called me on her cell, fearing that the transport folks had had an issue with Paloma. Lord knows I've had to pull off the road many times to deal with her aggression.
Truthfully I feel much safer when I know the deputies are near abouts.
"Nah, I don't think so," I tried to blow it off, but became very antsy sitting up by the pool, leaving the kids with Sarah and Yolie, I got in my truck and drove down there to make sure both their houses weren't being broken into or something, waving at the deputy, wanting to stop and get in his business, nosey ole fool that I can be, but a state van then pulled up, Paloma jumped out and landed in my arms, no doubt startling the deputy. First she'd run slap into my driver's side door like a cartoon. "Girl, (two syllables) let me get out first," I'd bellowed.
The state transport van followed me back home, I got to talking with the chief from OTP that had grown up herself amongst a very large family, including 15 foster siblings. She described some of Paloma's behaviors and what they'd been dealing with at camp. To my surprise, I looked up to see two deputies were coming in the house, not an issue as the back door was hanging open, no one ever knocks around here, rather they walk in and holler.
They were hunting for an older son, there was a warrant for his arrest, and I reassured both lawmen that it had been several years since The Laptop Thief had been allowed on our property.
Surely the deputies know I'd never cover for a lawbreaker. "Honey, if he'd've come down this dirt road, you best believe I'd've been calling you."
It dawned on me later that I was standing there holding six baggies of pills, the OTP Chief had handed me Paloma's meds divvied up by doses for the 48 hours she'd be home. Not in prescription bottles? That's not very wise.
Paloma bounded up to the pool where Hazel and Mae were absolutely thrilled to see her, we spent the next several hours up there, and ended the evening decently. Charging out to the gardens, "We never have fresh food there," she bellowed, not looking food deprived at all, grabbing up cucumbers and blueberries, shoving them in. We don't peel homegrown cucumbers, just slice 'em and chow down.
JoJo insensitively blurted out about the two dogs, Ty and Babe, that had been put down this summer, then launched into our youth pastor loss, as if wanting to pile up the negatives upon Paloma, who appropriately cried over the dogs. "Bronson's gone?" she asked in complete bewilderment, but fortunately held it together.
So far, so good.
I'd once spent years with a daughter, a diagnosed one struggling with schizo affective disorder, hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital for what turned out to be close to six years, her entire adolescence in which she fought, attacked others, and was often restrained by the staff until she could get what amounted to a tranquilizing shot. One facility finally claimed she needed a lateral move, as she wasn't responding to them after years of treatment.
I'd balked, of course, as the lateral move turned out to be a step down facility in which she eventually ran away, punching out a police officer, smearing his face with blood, and spending her 18th birthday in an Atlanta jail.
It's been several years now, maturity has helped, her episodes are not as frequent, but are no less devastating, and our relationship is very much improved. We often talk on the phone, and during the school year, when I can get away, I try and go visit her. I cannot have her come here as she's been known to make a scene that frightens my younger children.
It was with a very sinking feeling that I listened to the director of OTP inform me yesterday that they'd soon have to decide if their facility was appropriate for Paloma, they're extremely frustrated with her behaviors, which I totally understand, so much so that they're driving her the three hours today to my home for an unscheduled visit. I'll return her there on Sunday.
"She sucking up all our time, we're having to assign one staff person on her at all times," the director explained, and went on to illustrate her many behaviors that I already know by heart.
She's controlling the entire camp, the residents and the staff, by her negative behaviors, by her irrational demands, and complete non-compliance, and my gut is frightened that I'll once again be in the unenviable position of trying to maintain the behaviors of a very sick and violent teenager while also attempting my dead-level best to keep us all safe.
I looked around me yesterday at absolutely crestfallen faces over this surprise visit, she was literally rewarded a visit for one day of decent behavior, unlike every other girl there. No one else was given this opportunity, which I pointed out to the director, who was momentarily taken aback at the realization, but that's my point. Dealing with crazy making behaviors eliminates rational thinking.
I absolutely dread the next 48 hours.
I'd been transplanting blackberry suckers that spring up willy nilly over the summer, a dumb time to even attempt successful transplanting, as it's so hot and dry, but I needed that area so I forged on ahead, picking another ton of jalapenos, tomatoes, and digging up potatoes.
Running to town with the big kids, while Sarah took the younger ones swimming and frog catching, then socked with the news of this visit, left me reeling with changing plans. The interim youth pastor, kinda, sorta I suppose, at any rate, he's beautifully stepped up to the plate, took CW, Chuy and Martin out to dinner with his own family last night, thrilling them with the outing.
Lily and I went out in the meadow, watching the three Yorkies frolic while Shatter chased squirrels, checking out the impending pear harvest, watching the sunset, knowing we have a great chance of rain this weekend, Lily is also not thrilled over this upcoming visit, but what're gonna do? A rhetorical question to my own self.
Daniel called me at 6 this morning, "I'm coming over."
"Right now?" I'd asked, surprised.
I'm likely the only one he knows who is up this early, plus he has a later meeting up with another lieutenant in this county, and drinking coffee with him'll be the highlight of my day. That boy always makes me smile.
So I shut my computer, hung out with Daniel, and now at nine, he's gone, big sigh, and I gotta figure out how to redo our weekend plans.
And now, the behaviors around here are ratcheting up, none of us happy at all over this unexpected visit, a cloud descending upon us.