Sunday, June 29, 2008

The New and Improved Douglass

These pictures don't show adequately the transformation in Douglass, but its there. In the first picture that is how he looked all the time 6 months ago, either angry or depressed or totally shut down. Then at the Challenge Academy he got some of his spirit back and he started to engage the world again. He is a transformed guy. He would always do chores if I nagged him enough, now he does what he is asked and follows through completely, but even more gratifying is that he sees what needs to be done without being asked and does it. A huge change.

Douglass because of his prenatal drug exposure and the history of severe seizures has some real cognitive challenges. He particularly struggles when it comes to more abstract stuff like higher math. But he is bound and determined to get his GED and he knows he needs to conquer the math, so yesterday, on a Saturday, he pestered me into finding the home school math books and he began to study. He has committed to at least 4 sessions a week, he is also working so doesn't have a lot of free time, and i think he will follow through on this. He was very receptive to my teaching him yesterday, something he had gotten extremely resistant to in the last two years of home school before he just dropped out.

One of the things that cheers me and lets me know that this is not all some sort of show on his part is that he and his sister immediately settled back into their intense sibling rivalry. He has also been genuine with his expressions of frustration and anger since he has been home. What is different is that the edge is gone. I am not afraid that he will explode or blow up into aggression. He has used words and gone off by himself when overwhelmed. He really seems to have finally internalized some of the self- regulation that we have all been trying to teach him for years.

On a humorous note, one of the nice things that has changed is that he does not have a comeback for everything and need to argue about everything and/or have the last word. This makes interacting with him so much more pleasant. So I asked him about this and he said that at the Academy if you answered back or argued with the sergeants you had to do military style push ups, 10 for every time you argued. He allowed as how he had to do 80 one time because he wouldn't shut up and just do what he was told. This apparently made an impression and he has learned to curb his tongue. :-)

So next week we explore adult education/literacy so he can get working on his GED and we will enroll him at the community college in some non-degree classes. He is working right now for a friend of ours but I want him to get out and get a "real" job with a boss who is not a friend of the family. I think he needs that accountability in the long term. And I am going to insist that he work towards at least testing for his driver's license. Just from a self-esteem point of view he needs to conquer that fear.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Not sure how to handle this

Got a frantic phone call from Annie's placement the other night. They wanted to know what they should do now that her sister had died. I was like What?!?!?! (which if you have read here before you will know is my usual response to Annie's antics)

She had convinced them for several days that her sister was in the hospital with severe seizures and then at 2:20 that afternoon she had gotten a call that her sister had died at the hospital. They wanted to know how to support Annie through this and what the funeral arrangements were going to be.

Well it took a little bit, but I set them straight and reassured them that no one in our family had died, at least that I was aware of and I assumed I would be one of the first to know. Also let them know that although Annie did have a sister Brooke who had some issues, none of them were life threatening and she was not in the hospital.

So, how do I handle this? I am not sure what Annie thought she was accomplishing by this, we haven't seen such obvious lying in awhile. This was something she set up over several days, laying the groundwork of being worried about her sister, than pretending to get more phone calls with even worse news until her sister "died". How did she think she was going to explain that to us? Her treatment team thinks that she was trying to set up a possible AWOL, but she has never had to be so clever in the past, she has just slipped out when no one was watching.

I have not called her and she has not called me. I can't just let something this big lay there untouched. So I will have to deal with it but I don't know what to say. Should I use humor, should I be angry, should I make it clear that we will catch these things and that she is not making life easier for herself with these lies? I don't know. And then part of me is worried that she has had a psychotic break again and that she really thought this was true, which would be a whole 'nother kettle of worms.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Not a G or PG post, a bit raw sorry

I apologize ahead of time if this is a bit much reality, but it is what we are living with so here goes.

It's Annie, again, could you have guessed? She just called from her placement, first the good news, she made her level 3 which means she can be outside the house without staff, and I am supposed to feel good about this given her extensive history of really, really poor decision making, including repeatedly getting into cars with strangers who stop by and ask her if she wants to go party with them! Sorry, that was supposed to be the good news. And I am glad that she is working to gain more privileges, do I think she will choose well this time?, nooooooo..... But I am hoping and praying.

Then she tells me she got a job, had an interview and everything. Why isn't this the good news, you ask? Well, it is because she has a history of being inappropriate with younger children, not one who was charged with anything, because we intervened and got her sent to a specialized treatment program for young girls. I am beginning to think that we did not do anyone a favor by intervening so quickly and taking responsibility for our child so quickly as here she is an adult (well by the birth date anyway) without a record who is going to be working at the *&**( group care for elementary children). Now, she assures me she is not working directly with the children as she would have had to pass a drug screen and a criminal check for that, but is rather cleaning up. Still I worry because she will be where there are a lot of children and I do not trust that she will always act appropriately in relation to them, it is a huge temptation that she is putting in front of herself. I warned you it was raw!*

Third piece of "good" news, she doesn't have cancer. I was like what?!?!?! Apparently she had to be taken for a biopsy of her cervix as she had such bad genital warts and other STDS (again with the raw, sorry, sorry) that they were sure she had cancer. The blood tests indicated possibly cancerous conditions, but it was just a really bad bladder infection, and the biopsy was benign. Now I am glad that she doesn't have cancer, yes, I truly am, but I didn't even know about the biopsy so I am in such a state of shock I haven't gotten to the good news part of the story yet. I am still absorbing the STDs part.

Oh and to top it off, her last comment before her minutes ran out on her phone was that since she doesn't have cancer she doesn't have to worry about quitting smoking anymore. And I was speechless and left with a dead phone into which I mumbled, "but, but, but". It is so scary to deal with Annie and the way her mind works. I am sure that she thinks that since she doesn't have cancer she won't ever get it and so unprotected sex will not hurt her. ARGHH!!

*She had to go out and buy some work appropriate clothing since none of her tee shirts could be worn around little children given the slogans and impossibly low cleavage, etc. This is one of the areas that she is so inappropriate with, her clothes all have really graphically sexual messages or have booze and drug slogans, etc. I really worry that she will talk about this kind of stuff around children and that she will not clean up her language which is worse than a sailors'.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Pride or maybe just Dignity goeth before a Fall

I had to laugh at Cindy's skinned knees, because I am nursing an abraded elbow and bruised hip from my graceless fall. I thought I was being cool playing with the teens' balance board until I lost concentration and my legs flew out from under me and I came down hard on my elbow, shoulder and hip. There is nothing broken, but I think I will be sore tomorrow. Very luckily there was no one in the TV room to see my spectacular splat, so I got to lay there and whimper quietly to myself for awhile until I felt well enough to struggle to my feet. (martyr, martyr, whine, whine)

Right now son, Douglas is trying to master Guitar Hero and not doing too bad a job. Everybody has better rhythm than I do, it isn't fair.

I had a very quiet day, almost boring. I don't do down time well but I guess I will have to get used to it. As the last kids get older and are so self sufficient I will have to discover a life of my own, (help). I am not sure I am up for that just yet.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Douglas graduated!!!

This is a picture that a number of people would have thought to never see, Douglas graduating. At this time last year he had withdrawn so far inside of himself, refusing to do school, refusing to get a job, not a bad kid, just vacant and withdrawn, going nowhere.

He had a great therapist and psychiatrist working with him on the depression but none of us could get him off of square one, he seemed intent on sitting in the basement watching horror videos and paying personal shooter games on his various video platforms. When I had gradually consequenced him from all of those, he just stayed in his room, or went out back and shot arrows at targets for hours. Obviously we were very concerned for his mental health. Then at the state fair he ran into a National Guard booth and found out about this challenge academy that they run. He was intrigued and despite my pacifist reservations I was happy to see him interested in something. He was accepted into their 6 month Challenge Academy in January and graduated yesterday.

We have gotten back a much more mature focused young man. He has goals and thoughts about his future. He no longer seems scared or hesitant about how hard things are going to be, he seems to have an inner confidence that he CAN do it now. He still has to get his GED, which for someone with his incredible learning disabilities will be tough, but he is willing to work at it. Tonight as we were talking he said, "My life is filled with teachers all around me, I just need to learn the lessons". He is amazing these days.

We are very proud of him, but most importantly he is proud of himself.

Friday, June 20, 2008


Using that picture in the last post brought back a flood of memories about one of our placements. It was a sibling group of 4 young Hispanic children who had been abandoned by their mother at the local shelter.

They were the most adorable children and we took them on an emergency placement the same weekend we were doing respite for 2 other little boys so we had a total of about 11 children all told in the home that weekend. When the supervisor came out to do the placement paperwork on Saturday, since I got them late Friday, she didn't stay long, she couldn't take the chaos. I was in my element having a great time.

The four kids were 2,3, 5 and 6 years old. Only the oldest girl had much English, the two babies had none. Luckily my husband is bilingual. They came in with bruises and marks that had to be photographed and before they even got a chance to have dinner they had to be interviewed by the cops and the SW. It was a difficult time for them. They should have been terrified of the whole process and of us, but they were actually happy to be somewhere where they would have beds and they were ecstatic over the toys. The 2 year old, that I had gotten the referral saying she was like a feral animal scratching and biting, throwing tantrums at the shelter, was a sweet, loving baby, wanting to be held and carried.

Of course they had lice and only came with the clothes on their back. I was able to arrange the sleeping rooms so that the three girls shared a room and the little 3 year old guy slept in an adjoining "nursery" so that he could be close to them. Every night they went to bed in separate beds, every morning they were like a pile of puppies snuggled together in the oldest sister's bed.

We had a blast that summer, went to the pool, to the zoo, clothes shopping, played in the backyard. They loved bubbles and catching fireflies and taking walks and riding bikes. We had some interesting "cultural" experiences. It never occurred to me that these kids had not eaten take out in a car before, I mean it should have because they were strangers to car seats and seat belts, but as middle class suburban family there are just some things you take for granted as universal experiences. (Live and learn, I guess) So we stopped at the drive through on the way to the soccer field from another person's activity and I ordered them all kids meals with milk. Well before you could say boo, there were french fries spilled and milk on the seats, etc. They didn't have a clue how to balance all that food in and around their laps. Now that is a skill most of mine developed before they were out of diapers, I regret to say as it reflects poorly on my feeding choices :-) It was just an interesting eye opener. And it was a skill they quickly learned as they had numerous opportunities to practice, again I regret to say.

Before we were able to settle into any kind of routine the system broke for these kids. Despite the fact that the grandmother had some neglect charges stemming from her own teenage daughter and that she had a 2 bedroom apartment with a disabled husband and said teenager already living there, the judge saw fit to return the children to the grandmother.

Now I am all for reunification and keeping families together. Our most joyous and proud work is mentoring parents and families into healing. But it was so sad in this case as the older girls expressed a great deal of fear about going to Grandma's. They asked the SW not to send them, they begged to stay with me. They spoke of the physical discipline Grandma used, the fact that the teen daughter always had lice and Grandma's house was smelly and dirty. They cried. But the judge saw fit to put them with the grandmother.

As I was transporting them all back to the SW's office for the last time, we got the call while we were at a bowling alley, I had a truly disturbing conversation with the oldest sister. She kept asking me what she was going to do, she was truly worried about the safety and health of her younger siblings. With tears in my eyes I coached her on how to call 911 if needed, how to tell a teacher or an another adult if needed, to keep telling until someone listened. But I don't think she had any faith in any of that, after all here she was going back into her dysfunctional family, sent by the very system I was telling her to contact. My heart broke on that trip.

So many times the foster care system puts these kids back, gives the parents and families way too many chances, and it is the kids who are destroyed. It isn't any specific post of Cindy's that I am remembering but some of her references to how her sibling groups lived and survived in their birth environments and how often an older sibling tried desperately to parent and protect the younger siblings. It is heartbreaking to realize the responsibilities these young children must assume. As a foster parent we often face such tough experiences through our kids and it is in situations such as these we experience most fully our true total powerlessness within the decision making part of the system.

I still love and pray for you L, Nando, C and S.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Got a cute call

(This photo is not truly relevant, just a sweet picture of a surprised baby, expressing the emotions I had when I got the cute call)

I don't think I mentioned that last week when DBG was with me she cut her hair, hacked off a huge swath and we had to go get a very short bob that only minimally disguised the damage. (wish I could show you the photo). Well today I get a call from her mom, and she says "I picked DBG up at daycare today and you wouldn't believe it" Yup she had hacked that hair again. Apparently she has a bald spot on her left side now and looks very goofy. Ahhh gotta love those natural consequences.

After I talked to mom for a bit and we chuckled about it, DBG got on the phone and told me she was going to glue her hair back on. She knew she was in trouble because she was trying to talk all sweet to me, "I love you Mama," etc. So since I am not going to see DBG for almost 3 weeks I asked mom to take some pics. It will be almost grown back in by the time I see her again, or at least I hope so. Don't know if I want to be escorting a patchy haired child to the zoo and the swim club!?!

I do love that mom is feeling comfortable enough again to call and chat over something like that. Our trust had eroded badly over an incident that got blown out of proportion by the social workers, but we seem to be getting back onto more solid ground again.

I am hoping that by making myself unavailable (truthfully so with my work ,but we could have arranged something if we had to) for the next 3 weeks that they might do a little more work at family building. I have resolved that I am not really helping them by taking her every weekend, I was selfishly serving my own needs, and convincing myself that DBG needed me. So I am going to be firm and only do every other weekend or even only once a month. It is time for this family to get it together and I really think they can. I wouldn't be risking DBG if I didn't believe that mom had it in her to succeed at this. She just needs a big push, so here I go with a push.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Down Day

don't know why, but I am a little blue today. I got a lot of good work done at work today preparing for our upcoming training series which starts next week. It is my job to fill that class and I have at least 8 families pretty solid so it looks good. The photocopy machine and I were in sync today which is unusual and I got most of my materials copied. Did some research on the book we are thinking of assigning as outside reading to our prospective foster and adoptive parents. So I got a lot done, I am still feeling down and yucky.

I figure it is still getting over being ill, I don't know.

Our summer is looking kind of crummy, I mean nowhere near as crummy as the folks in the Iowa flooding, but we don't have the resources to do any traveling and so our big trip to New York and Washington DC will have to be put on hold. My mother who lives in Connecticut and who would have been part of the visit is feeling pretty bummed that we won't be up to see them. Don't have any money to fix things up around the house, and so I might actually be forced to clean and organize, yikes.

Right now I am trying to convince myself to cook some dinner for Kendra and myself as DH is out at his men's meeting. But I haven't gotten very close to the kitchen. Kendra is entertaining herself watching season 3 of Grey's Anatomy up in her room, so it is quiet and boring.

The good news is that Douglas graduates on Friday from his military academy. He will be home again and I have really missed him. He is one who can motivate me to organize and clean because he is always pretty cheerful about being the muscle for projects. I have wanted to defrost my freezer all Spring so that I could give it to a young couple in our church who have gotten into canning, etc. big time, but it has to be moved to the drain, or better yet outside. The dolly is right there next to the freezer, but it has not willfully leapt onto the dolly, so Douglas is needed. If I move the freezer I can organize my laundry room more ergonomically and I won't hate doing the wash as much. (yeah, yeah, let me live in my fantasy land okay). And if the wash room is organized then the laundry that currently spills into my sewing room will not need to migrate there and so I can organize my sewing room and maybe get back into some quilting again. So there, I am glad Douglas will be home soon.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Performer of the Year

Last year Kendra had the honor of being awarded the prestigious title of Performer of the Year. At her studio this is the big recognition that you have arrived as a dancer/performer. In order to win Performer of the Year (POTY), you not only have to show excellence in dance, vocals, and acting, you also must have performed in community shows, and most importantly the teachers must think that you will be a good role model for the younger students. POTY does not just come to you if you have danced at the studio enough years, etc. it is truly a prestigious award that tells the student that the teachers think the student is awesome as a performer and a person.

Part of the joy of being awarded POTY is that you get to be an assistant teacher and join the ranks of the in group of teachers. If you do well at assistant teaching for 2 years you then might get asked to have your own students but that is not a given. Kendra has truly taken on the teaching mantle with joy and responsibility. She is very determined to do a good job as an assistant teacher, she understands the task of a teacher to encourage, challenge, and support her students. The younger students flock around her and they love when she comes into class to demonstrate for them because she is very patient in breaking down the steps into manageable teaching moments.

Anyway, her year as POTY ended at this year's recital as she helped to award the title to the next student. Part of the tradition is that the POTY writes a speech. She gave me permission to print it here.

Last night when I was writing this I was watching Dora with DBG and she said I should talk about rainbows and cookies but I'm pretty sure that's not quite the right subject. Now when I was DBG's age I used to freak out when Miss Sandra announced Performer of the Year, even though I was three and still mastering the good ol' shuffle step. When I was 7 and I was working on my single turns I would convince myself that it was my year. When I was 12 and practicing those fouettes I would actually break down in tears the night before recital, but I'm a cry baby so that is par for the course with me. Through the years and dance steps I have realized that earning POTY takes time. commitment, patience, talent and a lot of hard work.

Last year my nerves were going crazy. I had heard some whispers about me being POTY and I was more than nervous. As I remember it I jumped a good 3 feet into the air when I heard my name. I was so ecstatic that I even named my trophy "Pinky". I kept Pinky by my side for the next little while. I actually took it to Quodoba (a Mexican chain restaurant) with me the Monday after recital, that's 3 days later folks, but I didn't take it in because I thought we might see Emily(a former POTY) and her mother there, and who did we see but Emily and Siri!!

A lot has changed for me in the last year, I started teaching which has been quite the experience. The girls have been great and they have taught me a lot too. I know that's cheesy, but cheesy is what we do here at Dancensation. I went to YPAS (the Youth Performing Arts School) which was a big change, I sprained my ankle in the Fall which set me back a little but all in all it has been a great year for me.

Right now when I have my minute with the mic I want to thank Sandra and Dancensation for everything they have given me which is a lot when you think about it. Dancensation has given me my best friends, my talent, and my second home. So here's to the new POTY whoever they may be. I hope they have a wonderful year.

Sick in the Summer, Bleah!!

Well I got the strep throat too. I have been down and out since Sunday afternoon. I am finally feeling better but DH just went to bed feeling horrible. Luckily the DR gave me a prescription for his antibiotics just in case.

We have had the most gorgeous beautiful weather for the past three days, brilliant sunshine, blue sky with light puffy white clouds skidding by, and a Spring like temperature with no humidity. And guess what, I haven't felt like even sitting outside. What a waste. I hate being sick during the summer, February is a good time to get ill as all I want to do is cuddle in a blanket on the couch anyway, but June, no I should be gardening or swimming or hiking or camping or something, not laying on the couch moaning.

So today I am feeling a little better and I went outside to pull some weeds and stake up my tomato plants some more. I was only out there for maybe 30 minutes and I feel so drained I am going to have to take another nap.

But by tomorrow I am planning on being totally well, of course then I have to be at work all day, but I will swim when I get home.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Some more thoughts on dance

13 years ago, I could never have foreseen myself sitting through two 3 hour long dance recitals, loving every minute of it! I was a tomboy myself, although my parents tried to civilize me with dance lessons and piano, etc. I always escaped to the football game with the boys, the rougher the better. I was initially blessed as a mother with 2 wonderful boys, who were all boy and we happily played in the mud and wrestled and climbed trees. We camped and hiked and were fascinated by spiders and snakes and I taught them how to throw and catch and all of it. I figured I had this mother thing down pretty pat and wasn't doing so bad on some of the more traditional father things either (DH is not much of one for the playing).

The we adopted and got 2 girls as part of the sibling group so I was introduced to dresses and such, but neither of my 2 girls were very girly. Given some of their early trauma, things like dance and frilly princess stuff just didn't come up.

And then Kendra was born, our joyful gift from God. Right from the get go she was a different person. She was not a rowdy baby, she was mostly happy and content. Then at 18 months old she started to insist on being who she was, A GIRLY GIRL. She refused to wear anything but dresses and had to have her hair up in curls and bows. Heck we didn't even own bows, I had to make some. She insisted on wearing dressy shoes, no practical sneakers for her. And at 18 months she announced she wanted to be a dancer. I was floored, I don't even know where she got the idea. We were never around girls who took dance class, but she was insistent. My mother got her a VCR tape of little girls doing a ballet class and that is all the child wanted to watch. She would watch and imitate and soon had the moves memorized.

But she wanted to go to a real class she kept insisting. We bought tutus and ballet shoes and when she was toilet trained I found a great little dance studio on the recommendation of a friend. Thus began Kendra's obsession with dance. When all the other 2 year olds clung to their mothers and cried about going out on stage, Kendra marched right out, found her mark and waited in opening pose. She has never looked back.

And how my life has changed. I learned to sew and design costumes (because dance is expensive!) I learned about makeup, something I had never used my whole life. I learned about competitions and auditions and shows. And every step of the way Kendra has blossomed and grown.

The studio where she dances is fabulous. I don't really know about the quality of dance but it must be good enough as each year several of the dancers are accepted to the Youth Performing Arts high school and they only take 20 dancers for each freshman class from across the whole city/county. The reason I say her studio is fabulous is because of everything she has learned there. The values of the director and her teaching staff are awesome. They do not push the girls just to get awards, they push them to be their best in every area of their life. The role models of sober, hardworking, family loving adults is one that is awesome.

Kendra considers the studio her second home and it is one that I feel comfortable leaving her at. The friends she has developed are the right kind of girls and boys. They are focused on dance and school and giving back to the community (a big part of this studio's philosophy). The parents are involved and know what their children are doing and with whom. There is a level of trust there that is pretty awesome.

Kendra has been able to explore who she is in a welcoming and accepting and forgiving environment. There is always plenty of drama, get 100 teens together anywhere and you will have drama, but the teachers keep a lid on it and model how to live life better.

Every so often my DH or I question the monetary commitment we have made to Kendra's dance but then something will come along to remind us of how lucky we are that our teenage daughter has a circle of peers and adults who are going the right way. Her path to adulthood has been smoothed in many ways by her participation in dance. She is never bored, she never has nothing to do, she has tremendous self-confidence, and she is developing great teaching skills as she is now an assistant teacher.

Solos have taught Kendra how to focus and improve herself, being part of a dance group has taught her loyalty and responsibility. Being a teacher has taught her empathy and patience.

Being a dance Mom has taught me to respect each of my children as unique individuals, and has taught me to a friend myself to the other dance moms.

I can't remember the last time I played touch football but just yesterday I was at dance and I'll be there tomorrow too.

Grand Recital Kendra

Kendra absolutely loves to dance. In almost every single picture we have of her she is smiling and grinning. She dances everything with a big smile, whether it is ballet or just technique class. The girl loves to dance, it is her life.

Pictures from Recital DBG

I make a lot of the costumes for my girls' dances. Here you see the monkey costume that DBG wore. They tapped to "We're going to the zoo"
The other picture is waiting in the audience, here she is between her little cousin (foreground) and her birth father.
Most of the other pictures I can't share since she is such a performer she is front and center, square on to the camera with a big smile on her face.

Dance Recital

Yesterday was the grand recital for Kendra's and DBG's studio. It was a big deal for Kendra as she was relinquishing her title as Performer of the Year (POTY) and crowning the new POTY. DBG was also very excited as she was getting a TROPHY!!! I know I just shouted but that is what she has been doing all week. DBG also got the Tiniest tot Award II, she was the tiniest tot last year and this year, that is how young she was last year when she preformed! She is a natural performer and just loves being up on the stage. Not a lick of stage fright or concern. She even knew her dance!
Her parents came and brought her cousin and baby brother. We had a good time. The only down part was that recital spanned nap time and by the time it was all over and she had her trophy clenched in her hands it was time for a big meltdown. It was not pretty, but we managed and she is now back home with her parents and we won't see her (because of our busy schedules) for 3 weeks.
I hope to get Kendra's permission to publish her speech as Performer of the Year here, she did a fabulous job.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


No we have not dropped off the face of the earth. I have several sickies. What is it with getting strep throat in the summer? I thought that was a winter thing. But both Kendra and Dancing Baby Girl have strep and DBG has an ear infection that is oozing goo out of her tubes. Yuck and yuck.

Oh, I know what you are thinking, it's Tuesday why am I blogging about DBG being here? Well she is here for the week. We had great plans to go swimming and to the park, etc. but mostly we have sat and watched Dora dvds until I want to run screaming for the padded room. But DBG has actually been a good little patient and seems to be on the getting better end of the ordeal.

Of course with two sick children I am now in paranoia mode, when will I get it? My DH is already convinced he must be sick although he has no fever or sore throat, but he still claims complaining rights apparently. I so hope he doesn't get sick, he is not such a good patient and lately every time he does get sick it seems to linger and he has a hard time recovering. So no strep for hubby please!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Brooke's home visit

Brooke (in her prom dress and hairstyle) was home for several days this week. We had a good visit, we went grocery shopping, to the zoo and then picked up a few outfits for her. She learned how to use the Wii to bowl and got a huge kick out of me playing Guitar Hero. We had a good time all in all.

During the two days she also had several anxiety attacks, followed me around the house, even stood outside the door to my bathroom while I was using it, asked the same questions over and over and persevarated over food. That is life with Brooke.

Suffering from prenatal alcohol exposure, mental retardation, and a host of mental health issues ranging from anxiety to psychosis, Brooke has had a rough time of it. But with the support of many fine professionals and our constant presence in her life she really seems to be coming out the other side. She is calmer, more accepting of her life and far more willing to accept direction, love and care from those around her. There were many times that we thought her best result would be a locked psych facility if it wasn't jail. She was so violent in a crazy, crazed way, violent to herself and to others, indiscriminate in her violence and really quite scary that we were not sure she would survive. But she has and she is now blossoming.

Brooke is in a group home for young adults with mental handicaps, she is still in public school until next year when she turns 21 (hence the prom). And she is doing great. She has the structure she needs, the expectations she can live with and the wonderful care of some truly loving staff. Do I wish she could live with us? Yes. Is it possible right now? NO. Despite her major improvements she is still very volatile and we still have younger, smaller ones who need to be protected from her potential violence. Do I see a time when she might be able to live with us? Yes, but I also see a time when she will want to live independently in the community with minimal helps, and that is such a positive, wonderful goal that it makes me cry each time I think if how far we have come as a family with her.

You are in the wrong place so I don't know you

I saw one of the little ones that I used to provide a lot of respite for. She apparently didn't recognize me. It has been about 2 months or maybe three since we last had some time together and since then she has transitioned to her adoptive placement. Still I would have thought a flicker of recognition since I had known her since she was 4 months old, provided respite a week or more at a time over the period of more than a year. But nothing, she didn't know me at all.
I was at the office when I saw her and dressed in my business clothes with a new haircut. I am actually thinking she didn't know me because I was in the wrong place with the wrong people. I am hoping that if I saw her in a more familiar setting with some of my kids around me she would remember me, we were pretty close.
But maybe that is how it should be. She is happily settled into her adoptive placement and she has a new Mommy and Daddy and a new sister. Her foster mother gave her a wonderful loving foundation and I did my part as a member of the village that supported her.
It is interesting how much of a blow to my ego it was though.