Discipline = Security

So I haven’t kept up with my blog.  I just stink at it.  But sometimes I write a post on a FaceBook group and say, “hey, that is pretty good.  I should keep it for the next time I need a few reminders or a wake up call.” Here is the post I wrote this morning (edited slightly):

Children are more secure, happier, and learn the associated lessons better when discipline (teaching/guidance) is fair and consistent. Giving extra chances, saying things multiple times, responding differently each time, etc actually causes problems because they don’t know what to expect. It makes it more likely they won’t learn the associated lessons. It confuses. It really is a kindness to be firm and consistent (no need to be harsh, punitive, rude, un-empathetic, etc though, of course).

I would liken it to math. Let’s say 2+2=4 🙂 How fair to a child would it be if we let him get away with saying it was 5 sometimes? “Well, math is harder for him so give him an A.” But six weeks into the school year, he will now be saying it is five half the time because though they keep telling him it is 4, his papers are correct when he puts 5.

So then he either accidentally or intentionally puts 10 one day. The teachers get exasperated. How many times have they told him it is 4? They decide they aren’t going to let him get away with 10. He doesn’t put 10 on the page anymore because that boundary was clear and firm from the get-go. Teacher notices.

But then why is he still putting 5 when she has told him over and over it is 4? She starts resenting the 5. Or at least she decides to finally do something about it. How is THAT fair? She allowed it to go on sooo long. But she finally does let him know that 2+2=4 and only 4 will give him the points. He tests the first day. She puts X on the ones he put 5 on. He tests harder the second.  Again, she puts X on the ones he put 5 on. A week later, he starts consistently putting 4. He is much more confident and now proud of his achievement. Teacher is spending less time on such things. Everyone wins.

The same is true of behavior. We are very very strict in our home. We spend the time teaching and guiding (disciplining). We are firm but kind. We leave out almost all punishment even. But boundaries are clear and upheld so kids feel more secure and confident quickly. They also learn to trust our judgment and that we will be fair, empathetic, etc. They progress and can be proud of themselves.

I want to make it clear that strict does not mean punitive. But we take kids with severe behavioral issues. We have to help them feel secure and teach them skills quickly for their own sake as well as the safety and health of everyone in the household. It isn’t foolproof because behavior is communication and many times it takes weeks, months, even years for those big feelings causing behavior to be dealt with. But we are consistent so they know that we can handle those big feelings until they learn how to.

 

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More Family Nurture Group

So below, I was worried about how superficial it may seem.  But there was actually some good stuff there!

First, please notice that my kids LIKE Family Nurture Group!  They ask about it regularly.  They get excited that we get to do it.  They participate fully.  They like when they get to lead a session or when they get to be the one who is sharing.

But I wanted to share about some of what you see in those videos below (and hopefully it makes enough sense to make a difference).

You see the video where my son is talking about his hurt?  He talks about slicing his finger while cutting watermelon.  My husband was a bit worried about putting that video up.  I mean, who lets their almost 8yo cut watermelon? Not us 🙂  However, just because that was made up doesn’t mean that it was useless.  Actually, what happened was that big sister was cutting up some fruit and sliced her finger. It bled a lot and just wouldn’t quit.  Every time we thought it had quit, it started up again!  It did eventually quit 🙂 So really, he was processing that!   And empathy is a good thing!

And the video of my daughter talking about the cat?  That was the second time it was brought up during FNG.  The first time was during the cards (but my videos were segmented in a way I couldn’t share hers easily).  She picked up the card of the child holding the kitten.  She talked about him being happy to have a kitten.  So then when she said she had a “heart hurt” because daddy said we couldn’t have a kitten (a neighbor has a small litter and we had taken interest in them), she was talking about something real.  And how wonderful that this little girl could express that it was sad she couldn’t have a kitten.  How nice she could express that to her family.  She was a little guarded and was unsure if it was okay (my take on her behavior in the video), but she did it!

I do want to say that normally, the kids don’t sit all bunched up together, but not everyone could be or wanted to be in the video and these three would gladly take center stage to share.  Generally, we have people spread out and try to sit next to different people each time.  That isn’t always easy.  Sometimes it goes better than others.  We just try to push through the awkward or tough times and really focus on the “cool” times.

I chose activities easier to video and especially activities that are done each time.  I’ll try to post more videos at a later date.  Please ask for anything specific you may find helpful as it helps ME to think about such things for us also.

Some Family Nurture Group Videos

Here are a few videos of snippets of our family nurture group a couple weeks ago.  Sorry it took so long to get it up here.

I do want to say that I really am that cheesy.  🙂 And we really do seem a bit fake at this point, not natural.  I’m trying not to judge, just go with the flow 🙂  Hopefully you will not be too distracted by the out-of-camera shot family members, especially the baby 🙂

Okay, so we start with the Rules.  This is Tony leading us in the rules 🙂

Then I led the Skills of Attachment.

Here are a few of the activities we did.  Sometimes, how superficial things are surprises me.  For example, I’m sure you can tell that my boys made up their hurts.  Other times I’m surprised how much *does* come out as the feeling cards and my daughter’s hurt shows.  This was not the case at first, but it starting to show some.

Feeling Cards

Breathing exercises are different each time but fun:

Bandaids are done every time:

I hope that this glimpse into our livingroom was at all helpful.

Pi (π) Day!

So Pi Day is a great day for some neat activities even when kids are young 🙂

First, we need to start with a (gluten free) menu. All the items on the menu must be round.  Now, how round they are depends, of course, and we didn’t go overboard (for example, the veggies in the supper are not also round!).  This is what we decided for this year:IMG_6138

Quiver’s Cinnamon Rolls for breakfast
Cucumber Rounds with Hummus for lunch
Fruit (bananas, pineapple, oranges) cut in circles for snack
Vegan Pot Pie for supper
and
Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Pie for dessert

Note: Due to some difficulties with supper, we had dessert before supper!

FullSizeRender (8)So I thought that first we should start with some math, giving them SOME idea (maybe not much at their ages) of what Pi even is.  So we got paper plates, labeled the diameter and radius (and discussing how many of those there are in a circle which is a tough concept for little kids to grasp!).  In the side without the radius, they drew the letter pi.  We put digits of pi around the edge (discussing circumference) and decorated them.

Then, we listened to some stories and songs about Pi on YouTube.  There really are quite a few.  We spent a bit of time with it.  Some was over their heads, but all were fun 🙂  Maybe you’ll enjoy these:

Nine year old and I both learned 25 digits past the decimal because of the song above!

Next, we decided to find our birthdates in Pi and see whose comes up first (and last).  Here is the link so you can try it yourself: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/find-you-birthday-pi/  Our 7yo’s birthdate is first within the digits of pi.  Our 19yo’s birthdate is last.  The next closest to his was over 117,000 digits before his!  Kinda strange is that their birthdays are only 3 days part.

FullSizeRender (9)Of course, what Pi Day is complete without a circle art project.  Abstract or more realistic, circles are just fun!

And lastly, I challenged my nine year old to writing a story using the digits of pi as the number of letters in each word.  So the first word in the story would have three letters.  The second word of the story would have one.  The third would have four letters.  Alternatively, she could use the digits to decide how many words per sentence.  Wouldn’t it have been neat if I had been smart enough to write this post with one of those patterns?

Family Nurture Group

Several weeks ago, hubby and I went to a training that was based on Karyn Purvis’ work.  We got a lot out of the training, but we had one takeaway that has changed our Sunday afternoons.  It is Family Nurture Group. The kids LOVE it.  Here is some of what we are doing, could do, etc:

***We start each time with the rules and skills of attachment. We do them as a back and forth chant like was done in the training I went to. We also use hand signals (which I do a lot of anyway ala Whole Brain Teaching).

***We practice a regulation skill. One week it was the magic mustache. Another time, it was strong sitting (which was an adventure as my 4yos had a very hard time learning how to do their hands).

***We do team activities. For example, one time we each picked a color marker. We each drew a line (curvy, zigzag, even items as long as you keep the marker on the paper) for the count of five then the next person starts their line where the person before them left off. Other ideas would be a vision board, mural, etc.

***ropes course type things like falling backwards into people’s arms (adults from sitting since most of our people are very small). Also, a giggle run would be fun (where you put each person’s head on the person before them’s tummy and then try to “ha” one more time than the other person without laughing).

***A family knot would work with older kids or at least if the people in the family were all mature enough to do it and similarly sized.  Be mindful of the dysregulation some may have with this.  Some may be uncomfortable with touch, how close everyone would be, or be apt to hurt someone.

***Kid games with “listen and obey” like Simon Says, Mother May I?, Red Light/Green Light, etc

***We loved doing cotton ball activities. Our play therapist showed us these years ago. They can be things like closing your eyes and saying where the other person is touching you with the cotton ball. Yes, we had boundary issues when we did it originally, but that is another opportunity. Another that we did recently was having 4 cotton balls “in play” and blowing them across the circle (this could also be a regulation game in that it encourages proper breathing).

*** Certain books would work here. Last week, we used The Otter Cove. It is about belly breathing. We also LOVE LOVE LOVE the Little Owl Lost Her Whoo book. If we did it right before bedtime, we could use our Snuggle Up Sleepy Ones book (I swear that book works! Just thinking about it makes me want to yawn!).

***telling a story based off of the feeling identification cards was another used at the training and that I liked. I really liked the idea of naming the children on the cards! I never would have thought of that on my own and yet it makes so much sense!

***We could make stress balls (sand, salt, beans, tiny stones, etc) in balloons.

***Role playing. We’ll almost definitely use stuffed animals.

***Using lotion to massage hands or feet. Our therapist also had us use extra so that after doing so, we could do a hand/foot print on paper and sprinkle with baby powder. Shoulder massage could go here too.

****Activities from The Out of Sync Child Has Fun or Playful Parenting. I already had both books, so I’m going to look into this more to see what things would be good for this group.

***We did a family cheer. I’m less sure about this (though the kids love it) because we have temporary members. I keep thinking we could change it, but if I did it in a way to be less unified, it’d be weird and not the way I want. AND temporary members ARE H****s while they are here. And the two temporary members are very young so probably not thinking of any of this anyway. Just not sure.

****I was thinking of doing something with boundary bubbles, an issue we still have some struggles with, mostly with the one foster kiddo who is very sensory seeking.

***Last activity is a feeding activity. The first week, we used dumdum lollipops and peppermints. Each person got to choose which they wanted when asked and then their partner fed it to them. My 19yo *really* struggled with this! We used cookies, various candies, etc.

***The bandaid on your hurts thing hasn’t gone very well yet as we have a bunch of copy cats, but we are going to keep trying. I bought a ton of bandaids on Amazon. We also have used them to apologize in real life situations. The other day, I hurt my daughter’s feelings so went to her with one and apologized and asked if I could put it on her heart.

***And we end with the rules and skills of attachment again.

Anyway, so the kids love, love, love this and I’m so glad it has gone so well.

What People Ask Foster Parents

So the other day, someone shared this link and so now I share it with you for your enjoyment (and so I can find it and watch it again).

And there are a ton more.  I’m sure you can think of some.  Here are a few we’ve heard.

“Are you a daycare?”
“How many are your real children?”
“Do you have any of your own?”
“Who did her hair for you?”
“How much money do they give you?”
“Can you get food stamps now?”
“Are they all yours?”
“Can their parents just come get them?”
“They call you ‘Mama?'”
“Their real mom didn’t want them?”
“Why would someone give up their baby?”

Behavior is Communication

On a recent support group, someone posted about a very young child having huge fits that lasted 30-45 minutes and were destructive also.  The question was how to get the child to stop.

I didn’t say it at the time, but I don’t think the goal really *is* to get it to stop.  I mean, the long term goal may be, of course, but right now, I think the questions are “what is the child trying to communicate?” and “how can I best help the child?”  In time, because we stay calm, help the child get her needs met, and help her learn some life skills.  

In the end, though, different things work for different kids.  This first suggestion I listed almost sounds shocking, but I think if you’re matter-of-fact, empathetic, not punitive, it can really work.  Well, it did really work.  I’m much more likely to do a mix of the second two suggestions, but again, all kids are different.

Some ideas:

* Put her outside. “Outside voices go outside” and outside tends to be calming. ECI completely agreed with this idea for one of our toddlers a few years ago. And it really helped and worked. I do think you have to be careful about HOW you do it.

* We have had MANY kids that sitting very close to them, quiet, matching their degree of eye contact, or pulling them into your lap and rocking with gentle touch and soft speaking like you would an infant (shhhh, “I see you’re upset,” “Those are big feelings; I’m here for you.”). IMO, this teaches kids that big feelings are something you can handle and that you still love the child when she has them.

* Matching intensity by stating what they are really saying in words. This is good because usually screaming is something they do because they don’t know what really to say. Giving words for their feelings helps. Matching intensity tells them that you understand HOW they feel it.

The point with any of these things is to give them something they need. If they need a skill, you’re giving it. If they are needing acceptance and loving they hadn’t gotten prior, they are now getting it.

Punishment is rarely necessary for a 3yo and it often takes away from better discipline and need providing.

If you feel it *is* necessary to discipline further, whether that discipline includes punishment or not, doing so when everyone is calmed down will make more of a healthy impact. You can even make it more related to the situation. For example, using the calming jar (Pinterest) may be a good situation for a time out because it also is something the child could use in the moment later. Better discipline options like making amends and/or serving others will work well after everyone is calm.

Trying to discipline when people are out of control is just going to frustrate everyone more.  The 3yo is not going to want to apologize to her sister.  The 5yo doesn’t care that you have now taken his screen time and will send him to bed early because he wouldn’t just sit on his bed for five minutes.  Your just making the 11yo angrier and more focused on himself and his perceived injustice by grounding him for increasing amounts of time.  And it rarely *works.*  It isn’t likely to control him.  It certainly isn’t teaching him self-control.  And people can’t learn *well* when they are so upset. 

It is just so important to remember that behavior has little to nothing to do with how the child feels about us.  Instead, behavior is communication.  It tells us if our child is working from a place of love or fear.  It tells us if our child has needs for us to meet.  It tells us if they are lacking certain life skills.  Negative behavior is a call for help.  And when children can do better, they will do better.  That behavior communicates that they are starting to feel safe, secure, heard, loved.  It tells us that they have gained skills and tools they will need in life.  

Behavior is communication.  

 

OB: Fear = Freeze

The following post was from a little over two years ago.  A post on a group reminded me of it.  That and I’ve been going NUTS with this child’s “staring” rather than answering when I speak to him. I really wish I was as empathetic as I used to be.  I’m working on it.  I saw a few other posts when looking for this one.  Maybe I can get back to being more gracious.

A week ago, we had a situation come up that really helped me see how solidly T-lo is operating in a state of fear rather than actually being *here* sometimes.  All the other kids had gotten down from the table. T-lo was playing with his second piece of broccoli.  He had eaten the top off the first piece.  It had been 20-30 minutes.  This is something we struggle with not stressing about due to his growth issues.

I turned his chair to help him down (we have one of those bar height tables AND he has a booster seat).  I picked him up and told him “I love you. No matter what happens I love you. I. Love. You.”   He looked terrified.  I asked him what I had said sure he couldn’t have heard me or he would seem so scared.  He said, “get down from the table.” I tried again and he replied, “eat.” I tried one more time and he went back to his first answer. The child was so terrified when I picked him up, that he could only guess what I had said.

I hugged him tightly and a few moments later repeated what I had really said. This time he heard me. “I love you too, Mama.”

So that was quite an education.  A lot of times he seems to blank out, zone out, just not be there when we say something to him.  Or he’ll start crying though what is being said or done is not cry worthy (sometimes, quite the opposite).  It’s like he’s responding to something else.

Dear Foster Momma of a Stranger’s Child

I feel so incredibly inadequate so much of the time.  And when kids like Monkey get hurt because I couldn’t save them from the system, I really wonder if it is worth what all we’ve tried to do.  I cried through the beginning of this post by another blogger:

Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child.

Preschool of some sort

Okay, so part of the psych report for the boys says that preschool is highly suggested.  As a homeschooler, everyone seems to think I’d be against preschool.  However, as a prior preschool teacher, I certainly am not.

As with all things, there are benefits of a child being home with mom as well as benefits to going to preschool.  My final thought comes down to the fact that with a good part time preschool program, a child can have the best of both.  At the same time, I don’t think preschool is necessary for most children.

But Ace and Champ are not most people.  They have some needs that suggest that the psychologist is right.  These kids may actually have hindered development if they do not attend preschool part time.

First, they have the common issue of foster kids to be so intermeshed in each other’s life, as each other’s main support, to practically believe they are two sides of the same person.  Siblings have a close bond with pretty meshed lives anyway so trauma, abuse, and neglect seems to weld them together.  I’ve only seen one sibling set more welded together than Ace and Champ. Preschool will allow them to become individuals (they won’t be in the same classroom).

Second, Ace and Champ both are followers.  This is good in some ways as they have some special needs.  Copying others will help them in the long run.  However, copying each other will not.  And copying only one or two other people may be an issue, especially if those people have some issues also.  Having the boys in a few settings, including preschool, will allow them to copy a wider variety of people.

Having a wide range of people around will give them a variety of experiences, opportunities and exposures.  Some people worry about this, especially for their young children.  However, a good preschool doesn’t have any real number of highly dysfunctional children to worry about.  And part time preschool gives them the opportunity while allowing them plenty of redirection at home as necessary also.  But in terms of speech patterns, social skills, sharing, following the direction of other adults, etc, preschool gives a great varied experience.

It is my experience that preschoolers who attend a program outside of the family truly are better at socializing.  Generally, good socialization is learned within a healthy and safe family and practiced in the community.  I do believe that too much time with peers and less time with family can cause negative social skills to prevail.  Obviously, all children and families are individuals also though.  But I do believe there may be a benefit to part time preschool allowing children to learn, practice, and use social skills.

Along those lines, some children, including Ace and Champ in the opinion of myself and the psychologist, have a greater need to be in a greater number of settings in order to learn, practice, and use a variety of skills (social and language primarily in Ace and Champ’s case).   Now, most kids *get* a variety of settings naturally in living life; but some kids need those situations to be more intentional and planned due to their individual needs.  Ace and Champ need more time in each of many settings in order to figure out the “rules” of language and socialization the way other children may do less formally.  Preschool will allow them many hours per week in a well-chosen setting to give them those opportunities.

Of course, all this is assuming the boys (and their baby sister) are staying.  I should have more information by the end of the week.

I’m right :)

I just want it known that I was right.

Really, I’m right a LOT.  Of course, that is probably because I just don’t give an opinion about something that I don’t know anything about.  But when I do have an opinion, it is because I know.

But this time, I was second guessing myself.  It is dumb really.  I knew all the reasons that I was right; but sometimes, even though I know I’m usually right, I think maybe I’m wrong when a “professional” disagrees with me.

What was it this time?

In April, my foster children were taken into care.  They were taken to a children’s shelter where they lived for two weeks.  This still surprises me as CPS so could have gotten these children a home within an hour had they made a referral. They could have chosen from many homes.

Okay, so a week after getting to the shelter, a psychologist went to give my oldest foster son a psychological evaluation.  It is something done with every child over age three.  The goal is to come up with reasonable recommendations, usually something like firm boundaries, patient redirection, play therapy, preschool or school, speech therapy, etc.

So what was wrong with this one?  First, it was given a week after the child came into care.  Now, I can see why it may be helpful to do it quickly and start putting interventions into place.  However, children are typically very stressed out when they come into care so the testing, especially the IQ testing and knowledge evaluations are inaccurate.

Second, the testing was done by a man.  My foster children have a strong aversion to men.  It has gotten considerably better; but it certainly was rough the first month or two.  So that is additional stress playing upon the results.

So then when I’m considering the results of that testing, I pay attention to the fact that the children have progressed SO incredibly much since they’ve been here.  It is amazing really.  Additionally, various accounts just don’t seem to make sense.

Just for example, Ace was counting 27, 28, 29, 20-10.  I corrected him a few times.  Finally, he says, 28, 29, 30 and smiles.  He continues the pattern with 31, 32, 33…  I’m impressed.  Pretty good deducing!  BUT then he immediately did something else impressive.  He gets to 37, 38, 39 and looks to me.  I tell him 40.  He says, “40!  Hey mom, I counted to 40!  40!”  He was so incredibly happy!

He is going into pre-kindergarten this year.

Okay, so how was I so right?  The kid has a solidly average IQ, high side of average even on testing I had done for him.  He actually has some great strengths.  Sure, he has some deficits.  For example, he has a language disorder.  Well, we knew that.  But a language disorder doesn’t mean someone is cognitively deficient.  It just means he may not be able to use (understand or express) ideas verbally.

There were other things, but this was the one that I was thinking, “I really gotta quit doubting myself” 🙂  See, the original testing had his IQ in the 60s!

One thing about many foster kids is that they have *very* strong fear responses.  When you look at the science of it, it comes from what we call the “reptilian” brain.  That is what keeps you surviving despite whatever is going on in the moment.  Surviving is much more important than some matrices or analogies on an IQ test, you know?

Actually, I would not doubt that Ace could even be gifted to some degree.  One of my children had an IQ test say the low low side of average.  This child also learned to read before Kindy and is a couple grade levels ahead academically now.  Obviously, a child with a lowish IQ isn’t likely to bypass average, even gifted, classmates, especially across the board as this child has done.

Anyway, I know this post could sound as if I’m bragging about my smart kids or my own intelligence.  I’m really not. Instead, I think that people simply don’t trust themselves to the point that they disregard information that doesn’t fit regardless of the source.

In 2007, my oldest daughter started “bloating.”  We thought she was just getting a bit chubby as kids often do.  Get a little chub, grow another inch, skinny minny again, right?  But it didn’t change.  Then it started getting worse.  Then her legs started “blowing up.”  She was uncomfortable.  We noticed pitting on her shins.  WHAT?  Why is this happening to a teenager?  So she was miserable and I got worried.  I took her to the ER on a Friday night.  Doctor blew us off.  Sent us home with a pill and told us to visit our family doctor in 2 weeks.

The next day, my daughter couldn’t wear her shoes.  She started crying as she tried to walk.  This being a child who wasn’t dramatic or tearful generally. I really thought that the doctor the night before must have missed something.  I kept trying to tell myself I was wrong.   But we went to the children’s hospital that Saturday evening.  We were in the ER all night.  Early the next morning, they admitted her.  Her liver, heart, etc were having trouble.  All tied to her kidneys.  Seems that if one system gets desperate enough, they all will try to compensate.  I was right.  And my daughter was okay because of it.

Anyway, so my message isn’t how I’m always right (far from it, btw).  It is to trust yourself.  Really?  If I had been wrong about Ace, I simply would have thought a kid brilliant when he simply had some strengths.  And had I been wrong with my daughter, I would have lost a night worth of sleep for no reason.  Those aren’t horrible consequences to checking it out further, trusting my mommy instinct.

Just do it; we’ll figure out the consequences later

There once was a beautiful child with her whole life ahead of her.  She was full of life, quick to smile, made her family laugh, did amazing things, was bright and fun.  She was just about perfect, at least to her mother who loved her so incredibly much, she felt words could never even begin to describe it.

She had one flaw.  When she was a baby, her got a teeny cut on her finger.  Mom put some neosporin on it, put a bandaid on it, and watched it carefully, ready to do more if necessary.  Well, it healed a little funny so Mom talked to her doctor about what could be done about it.  Basically, she was told, time and caring for it daily would help in time, protect it from injury.  So that is what Mom did.

However, a storm was brewing in this little girl’s life.  One day, the little girl was whisked away across the country to a new family for reasons and in ways that were a complete injustice to the child and her family.  The family, thinking about themselves and not the little girl, decided they didn’t care for the tiny cut on her finger and just cut the child’s hand off altogether.  They took it upon themselves and refused much in the way out outside help for it.  The little girl suffered so badly.  The people would tell her family that the little girl was doing well, but pictures showed her very ill, in pain, sad, and confused.  The bandage on her arm was bright red, having bled through despite the people trying to hide it with various dressings, long sleeves, etc.

Several months later, the people make contact again.  This time they say that the little girl is doing wonderfully, but they have decided to go to the children’s hospital to see if anything can be done about the little girl’s arm as it is still giving her fits, bleeding, hurting, and they are concerned the damage is really bad.  But not to worry, they read another book and started doing the dressings a different way so hopefully that will help between now and the visit to the hospital.

The little girl’s mother is just devastated.  It has been so painful to have her child taken; but more than anything, the mother has worried about the child.  She knew the original cut hurt a little and needed treatment.  SHe was trying so hard to help the child.  Maybe that little scar would have caused the slightest problem (noticeable, might be tighter while playing violin, etc). But these people just chop off the child’s hand with no consideration of the consequences.  And then they want a pat on the back for finally taking her to the doctor? The little girl has to deal with the consequences of these people’s action forever.

The above story is how I’ve tried to explain the situation that has happened to my Sweet Little M and the end is what happened today.  If the people who have Sweet LIttle M see this, I’m sorry that they may not like being seen as a kidnapper who maimed a little girl.  But that is exactly how I see it.

Sweet Little M was the most beautiful baby, full of life.  She was a “little high strung” according to the doctor.  She had a bit odd development for various reasons.  She had several homes in her first year, landing with us just before turning 9 months old.  In time, with a lot of love and time and help, she was thriving.  Her “little cut” that was taking it’s time healing was attachment though.  See, people think babies can handle anything we throw at them from drugs to neglect to multiple caregivers.  But that pre-verbal stuff is pretty tough on them.  But she was coming along really well.

In a short time, her lawyer suggested we talk to our lawyer about intervening on her behalf.  I hoped she would advocate for her client, the baby, also.  And I let my agency, her caseworker, and the supervisor know my concerns also.  And things just kept going, nothing happening.  Maybe it was going to turn out alright.  The doctor wrote a letter.  Someone suggested a bonding assessment and psych eval even though she was so little (not yet two at this point).  The caseworker wouldn’t sign off on it.  There is question whether people this removed are really even fictive kin (and btw, their state doesn’t recognize fictive kin).

The lady told me they wanted her.  Who wouldn’t?!? She said that they would help her through this huge change in her life.  Why not just not hurt her in the first place?!

Through all this, I’ve been devastated for my loss; but more than anything, I’ve been worried about Sweet Little M.  Can you imagine the confusion when you don’t go back to your family?  The pain she can’t articulate of being abandoned?  the fear of being in all new surroundings with strangers?  the confusion of being passed around to multiple caregivers during the week?  The fear if you’ll be abandoned again?  what she may think when they are frustrated with her behavior? I’m so angry that the people involved (caseworker, lawyer, CASA, people she now lives with, etc) did this to her, put her in this position!

I thought about this earlier.  Basically, we had two mothers fighting for a baby.  Being the bigger person, I said, “no, please don’t cut her in half!”  I went above and beyond to help her.  I looked at pictures of these people.  I skyped with them.  I sent texts and emails.  I told them her little routines.  I tried to make it as easy on my baby as possible because THAT is what a MOTHER does.  But instead of being in front of King Solomon who would have granted me the child for putting the child’s needs above all else, we had CPS.  CPS who granted her to people who simply thought about what THEY wanted, another daughter, no matter the cost.

And now what?  They want kudos for getting help for her?  For the hurt they could have prevented?

My hubby asked, “how can they sleep at night having done this to her?”

That’s easy.   They won’t take responsibility. It would take a mighty big person to take responsibility for hurting her they way they have.  Instead, they’ll blame the biomom, neglect, the fact she had multiple homes, the fact that it took so long to get her to them.  All those things, no doubt, play a role.  But the biggest injustice of Sweet LIttle M’s life was being taken from the only home she remembered, the one where she was thriving with those she considered her Mom and Dad and siblings, where she had spent the majority of her little life.

We hope she can heal from this in time.  We hope she ends up healthy and happy.  We hope she learns the peace only God can give.

Swimmer

So Tumbler was whiny, really whiny so I put her in bed for a nap at 10:15ish this morning.  Obviously she needed it as she didn’t get up until after 12:30!

Anyway, after I put her to bed, I walked back to the main part of the house and found Swimmer reading the newspaper, which he continued to do for about 15 minutes!

reading the paper

Little M Update

Well, I finally got a decent update about Sweet Little M.  4 weeks ago, Little M was taken across the country by fictive kin she only knew as I encouraged skyping while awaiting legal proceedings, their foster care classes, etc.  Little M had her longest and healthiest bond with our entire family broken unnecessarily.  I simply cannot make sense of this.  It obviously wasn’t in her best interest to be with them rather than us.  So why do it?  Well, of course, I now know about things like kickbacks, statistics, the state saving money.  Forget the kid, right?  

Anyway, so I’m definitely grieving.  I admit that.  It hurts terribly to lose a child you were led to believe you may be able to keep (even though there was other information to the contrary also).  I’m bitter.  I’m angry.  I’m sad.  I’m scared for my baby now and for her future.  I miss her so incredibly much.  It hurts so much to see my hubby cry over her, to hear my children ordering the state she is in to put her on a plane back to us, etc.  

Over the past four weeks, I have received almost no information and only three pictures.  No smiles.  No anecdotes.  No videos.  No skyping.  No details or stories.  Just a vague, “she’s adjusting well” with a few bits of information that suggested otherwise.  

But I have news.  K wrote a semi-detailed email of a decent length.  It gave a little bit of information about how things have gone over the past month, how she was adjusting, how she is doing now, etc.  There were details that helped.  

I came to two conclusions when I read the email.  First, the chances that these people are disrupting placement are pretty darn slim.  Second, Little M is at least making some progress for now.  I hope pictures are forthcoming, maybe at least a couple that include a smile to show she ever does?  But I could believe one particular story.  It was so her.  And that made me feel a little better.  

I will worry about Sweet Little M forever more (and I do know that as I still worry about another child from 16 years ago).  I really hope that she can overcome this situation and live a happy, healthy, productive life.  No matter what, she has a family of seven in Texas who loves here dearly and always will.  

I know the above still sounds a bit “crazed” with sadness, anger, fear.  I do have a good bit of that still.  But….but something is different.  Maybe some acceptance of what I cannot change?