Friday, February 27, 2015

Older Child Adoption and RAD

Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)  We've seen it with all of the kids in some manner or other.  Some of ours have very few RAD behaviors. Some have quite a few. We have lived/live it and it does get better over time. But it's a reality not many people want to share because we all wish for rainbows and lollipops in our older child adoptions.

I am more of a "down to earth, give me reality so I can go in prepared" kinda gal:)

So here it is. 

According to Nancy Th*mas in her book When Love Is Not Enough, there are 23 symptoms that RAD children can exhibit. The child needs to have more than half the symptoms to be diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder. They are as follows:

  1. Superficially engaging & charming. This helps them to manipulate and triangulate.
  2. Lack of eye contact on parent’s terms. They avoid eye contact unless they are lying, then they make excellent eye contact.
  3. Indiscriminately affectionate with strangers. They don’t have appropriate “stranger danger” when they’re little.When they get older, they will hug and befriend anyone they think they can get on their side against their mother.
  4. Not affectionate on Parents’ terms (not cuddly). They give stiff hugs.
  5. Destructive to self, others and material things (accident prone).
  6. Cruelty to animals. Pets in the home of a RAD child are an “endangered species”.
  7. Lying about the obvious (crazy lying). It’s a hobby for these kids, and they’re extremely good at it.
  8. Stealing. They have no conscience, so if they want something they’ll take it. Plus, it makes them feel powerful.
  9. No impulse controls (frequently acts hyperactive).
  10. Learning lags. They are constantly in an agitated, emotional state. They want to do things their own way, and they think the teacher doesn’t know what she’s talking about.
  11. Lack of cause and effect thinking. This part of the brain doesn’t function in the RAD child. Normal parenting methods such as star charts don’t work for them!
  12. Lack of conscience. It’s all about them – they don’t have the ability to care about others.
  13. Abnormal eating patterns. They frequently starve or gorge themselves.
  14. Poor peer relationships. They don’t have many friends because other kids don’t want to put up with their lack of conscience, need to be in control, and cruelty to others. Without help, this will plague them for their entire life.
  15. Preoccupation with fire.
  16. Preoccupation with blood and gore.
  17. Persistent nonsense questions and chatter. Nancy Th*mas says that normal people talk for two reasons: to communicate thoughts or feelings. RAD kiddos talk for three reasons: to interrupt, make noise, or control.
  18. Inappropriately demanding and clingy. Usually to get something they want.
  19. Abnormal speech patterns. They don’t speak clearly. They aren’t interested in learning good communication skills.
  20. Triangulation of adults. This is very common! Having adults united on one team is very threatening to children who don’t trust. In order to be in control, they divide and conquer by pitting one adult against another. This can be father against mother, grandmother against mother, teacher against parents, family friends against parents, and counselor against parents. They’ll triangulate anybody they can!
  21. False allegations of abuse. This is a bad one – how do you prove you did not do something?
  22. Presumptive entitlement issues. They think they deserve whatever they want, and it’s always something. This leads to draining their parent’s energy.
  23. Parents appear hostile and angry. This is very sad, and people that don’t have RAD kids don’t understand this. The more the parent loves the child, the more pain the child dishes out to get them to stop. The child had his heart broken as an infant, and he believes that love hurts. They do whatever they can not to be loved – they don’t use the parents love to grow emotionally strong. Parents are basically abused in their own home.

We are very thankful that we do not have anyone who is worse case scenario. In a way it's tough to have just some of the behaviors (not as hard as having worse case though) because oftentimes the behaviors aren't seen by others as RAD behaviors. Even we were not sure of what we were seeing when we had our first child present with some of the behaviors.

I think the hardest thing is the day to day grind of dealing with the behaviors. Dealing with them over and over, the SAME behaviors. We've noticed a few things with the ones with more of RAD behaviors as well-----

Extremely slow progress.   And I MEAN SLOW.  The immaturity seems to stall with them as well. At varying places, mostly much, much lower than their number age and as time goes by their slow creeping immaturity/progress is more and more apparent the older they get.

Others expect once they have been home "A few years," which all of ours have been now, that they will be near to catching up with their peers. And it's not always happening nor is much progress being seen. What is cute at 6 months home and 5-6 years behind in immaturity is NOT as cute 2-3 years home and still 5-6 years behind in maturity as they are now 2-3 years OLDER as well.

The biggest thing we have is firstly- a united front.  Mom and Dad on the same page. This was hard to come by at first. As with most RAD kiddos, due to the lost of trust in the nurturing figure (mother) they needed as babies, they do not want me, MOM to love them because that means they could lose me if they trust me. So therefore their behaviors are aimed at ME.

When we first encountered this many years ago we were blown away. Seriously.  And we looked at what WE were doing/ not doing that was causing the behaviors.  Only to come to learn there was NOTHING we were doing/not doing.  This is NOT the parents fault. This is not even the CHILD'S fault.  This is the damage done to a child denied timely basic care as infants.

So we have a code around here. Gonna share it with you adults:)  We call it PARTY TIME. (I told ya we cling to our sense of humor like nobody's business to remain sane:)  And what it means to hubby and me is "someone is showing/doing/ behaving in a negative (RAD) manner."  Because it was really hard for hubby to get clued in to what was happening IN OUR OWN FAMILY.  The behaviors aimed at me and me alone--- disrespect. Silent treatment. Rudeness. Refusal to sit near me, denying me affection readily given to dad.

Sometimes it's STILL hard for him to "catch" these behaviors, they are THAT subtle.  Yes, they are.  And there's major "sucking up" to dad to manipulate and triangulate.  We can NOT allow that.  So any "party" alert means just that--- someone is acting out even if the person they are doing it to doesn't realize it. 

It takes a TON of effort. Patience. Grace. Unconditional love. It takes mom being mentally "beaten up" and support (I have GREAT supportive friends and places to vent/ share with families struggling with this as well) as well as taking a ton of crap not just from my children at times but also from well meaning people who only see our charming and lovely children.

They have no clue the behaviors or even reasoning behind the issues. And that's fine. I don't worry too much about that because my children are much more than just some behavioral issues. They are great kids. They are worth keeping on with them.

Our faith in God has been HUGE to help us. Guide us. Strengthen us when the battle makes us weary. He gave us these kiddos and He makes NO mistakes. We trust in Him to be with us, to help us and to show us the way to best help every one of our kids that will benefit them and guide them on to be emotionally healthy adults.

And around here, we try to avoid "Party time"--- we joke about being at the "party" too long, being tired of the "party." We tell each other "Welcome to the party."  We make a joke when it's a total bummer to see a behavior again and again and well.... AGAIN.  Because it helps us to not take stuff too seriously and be swept up in the behaviors therefore not enjoying the GOOD of this family. And there's TONS OF GOOD.  Lots and lots of it.

I know that others are living with their own "party" with their kiddos. I wish it weren't true but I know it is true.  Hopefully most of you can say you've never been invited to the "party" we are at.

But if you are part of your own private party I am here to tell you that you are not alone and to try to help with how we have coped.  How we continue on and how worth it our precious treasures are.  And for our kiddos, well, they get our love if they want it or not.

Nothing they do, and I mean NOTHING will cause us to stop loving them and doing all we can to help them heal.  Love, love, LOVE all of them:))

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

6 years ago

It's such a wonderful thing to say we have had our Chloe girl another year.

SIX years ago (Monday) I was in China signing papers and so excited to finally meet our newest teen treasure.

Never imagined that she would blow me away in so many more ways than just her sweetness and amazing bravery to trust me to come with me.

Yes, those added guys, her brothers were a huge shock. Of course. But even with that whole story unfolding I could see what a special person this girl was.

We were able to connect even with the lack of language, laughing and joking some, her ordering duck and making sure they brought out the whole head on a platter to freak me out (it did) and then laughed her head off at my very obvious disgust.

Monday was her official anniversary and we were able to go out to supper with everyone (except Chase who had to work) to the kids' favorite Chinese buffet. The weather cooperated and she was off work too---YEAH!!!

I forgot my camera though:(  So you get old pics from last week.

We did some shopping too, exchanged pants Camden didn't like (pickier than the girls I tell ya!) and the sales girl assured me that guys are wayyyy more picky about their jeans than girls. Hummm.

We had time to do some shopping and got another dress and a really cool pants outfit for Chloe, she cracked me up when she said she didn't think I would let her wear the dress pants to church because I said they were "funky" but I meant "funky good" not "funky bad." 

They are really cute. She looks really good in most everything anyway and I've told her many times God doesn't mind what she wears to church as long as she's there.  

 I might have to rethink the "guys are pickier" because she rejected many dresses (as did I) for too short, tried on and rejected 3 dresses (too low in neckline she said). But we came home with 2 new outfits:)

Our gift to Chloe for Gotcha Day Anniversary this year was to pay for her passport renewal in anticipation of her mission trip. We don't usually spend as much but we are helping her out because it is a mission trip and we are so happy she feels led to do this.

So how did the girls' haircuts go over?  Kat is really happy with hers. So is Paisley. Kat said some kids at school said it didn't look like her.

It does make her look more grown up, which she is growing up fast. She is so much more than just her hair and I think she is seeing that the benefits of shorter hair is very easy to care for and worth it.

Paisley made some progress lately. Might sound silly but for her to ask for anything is difficult. Relying on US, her parents to provide because she asks for something.

We have been working on this for a very long time. And baby steps later she is asking for her shots each week and telling me before her pills run out each month. This is huge for her. Because it's very easy for her to just go along expecting things to be done when in fact she needs to acknowledge a part in it.

Someone "Having a part in things?" That Chance, still always asking if there's anything he can do for us, goodness, I wonder how we lived before we had our Chance here. Keeps us laughing too, tonight I asked why the dog wouldn't stay out of the fire pit?

I knew Chance had burned some papers/boxes but didn't think there was FOOD involved in that. Come to learn that while burning the papers he got the idea to "cook" (in 6 inches of snow, mind you) some leftover ham (his favorite food) and obviously dropped some leftover ham in the fire pit. So there was my answer.

He was kind enough to make chicken on the grill, he did it in shorts and a tee shirt on a day we had 15 degree temps and snow squalls. It was calm when I sent him out to cook for the chicken fajitas I was making for supper. Dad thought I was nuts when he came home and it was blowing snow like crazy and there's Chance dressed like it's a summer day cooking on the grill! I told him I did ask him to grill BEFORE it was blowing snow like that. I did NOT tell him it was okay to do it in shorts and a tee.

Hubby saw Chase at church tonight and he told him he took his driver's test last week, he did good but bumped a cone trying to park with the truck he was using (his landlord's/friend) so he didn't pass but hopefully will next time. His landlord has turned out to be a wonderful mentor/friend and seems to be helping him with things he was too stubborn unwilling to listen to us about. You know that whole "I know it all" teen attitude?? Yep.

Chloe is struggling with her driving lessons. Sadly she has nystagmus and although it is barely noticeable when you are around her it's causing her great issue with driving. Till she tilts her head to get a focal point the vehicle has moved on (obviously) and she's not doing well. She's also very nervous which isn't helping her either. Any pointers on helping her with the nystagmus issue anyone has send them my way, will ya? Cause she wants to be able to drive.

Phoebe got herself in some trouble--- sadly when Kat arrived home with her new hairdo Phoebe laughed at her:(  Yes, we still struggle with jealousy and not nice/inappropriate laughing with 2 years under our belts with her.

Many behaviors we still see/ work on with her are immaturity. Stomping-- yes, she weighs the least but sounds like an elephant going through the house. Laughing at inappropriate things/times. Sometimes this is nervousness, sometimes it's meanness/ attention seeking. Lots of work with her still, but as always, she has come a long way and is totally worth the work to get her where she needs to be.

Some great improvements-- her learning levels are good, she's very book smart. The million and one questioning (only for attention ) has lessened greatly.

 She's learned to put her own clothes away, help sort clothes, pick her own outfits (even matching them well) and do her own hair every day. Her "zoning out" due to visual issues is much, much less often.

I find it helpful to point out the progress so that the focus is not always on the negative---it's an ongoing work even as things get easier the longer the kids are home but tolerance and a good sense of humor goes a very long way when dealing with the kiddos no matter what the issue is, that has always held true for our family.

All in all we are doing well and we are hanging on knowing there's less than a month till SPRING! We will be warm eventually:)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Xin Nian Kwai Le! Happy Chinese New Year!

Xin Nian Kwai Le!

 Happy Chinese New Year! 

Year of the Sheep.

Who all are "sheep"  in this family?  ME:)  Malaree, and Kat. Yep, we are.
We went out to our New Year celebration last week again due to weather we were unable to go as far to the kids favorite China buffet place:(
Let me explain this weather thing-- COLD. COLD and COLDER.  Wind. snow, ice. Last Friday was to be a half day make up snow day. CANCELLED. Monday was a make up snow day--- 2 hour delay.
Tuesday was to be a half day make up day-- ended up being a full day because of Friday being cancelled and we still ended up with 2 hr delay.  Wed, full day of school.

Thursday, 2 hour delay. Today CANCELLED. That's ONE FULL DAY of school in an entire week.  Not sure the kids are learning ANYTHING.
Since they were off today and Chloe still had to work-- we went on errands. Freezing day to errand run but it needed done. Passports (hers and mine expired) pictures done and new passports applied for.
Paisley's blood work done. Praying the results are okay on those, this weather is taking a toll on her:(
Kat got a library card, wow was she ever happy. Her very own, that is.  She was thrilled.
THEN......... we did something really super crazy.  CRAZY I tell ya.

WE did it. IT.

THE HAIRCUT.  Actually Paisley decided to do it too, and Phoebe got in on the action as well.  Even Camden got a haircut. Kat has 21 inches of hair to DONATE!! Paisley 12 inches. Phoebe's wasn't long enough to donate.
No tears were shed, I did tell Kat if she cries about the hair being gone it will be another 8 1/2 years till she gets another haircut. SHE LIKES IT, and she looks GOOD.
  Paisley too, as does Phoebe. I'm so stinking excited that there won't be hair everywhere, no more ponytail of hair in food dishes, hair taking on a life of it's own in drains, tubs, on the floors.

I did tell Kat that it grows back so if she didn't like it then at least it will grow back.  BUT 8 1/2 YEARS of never cutting the hair!!!  I'm really glad she likes it:)

Paisley too, looking quite snazzy and older with her new "do."

Chloe wasn't ready to get her hair cut, it's almost long enough to donate but she had to be at work and we really didn't have time to do another cut.

I did take Paisley and Kat to a salon since I wanted to be sure they were getting enough cut off donate and it was fun to have them get a salon cut.

 Usually I do the snipping, I did Phoebe and Camden's but they were just trims and I never really have claimed to be a hairdresser:) Just a thrifty mom who has saved a ton on haircuts for many children over the years.

Last evening I had supper with my oldest son, soon to be 30, Derrik.  After our nice meal, just dad, him and I, when I was dropping him off at his home, he told me that he doesn't say this but that he wanted me and dad to know he appreciated how we raised him, that he was grateful to us and was glad dad and I were together. Ummm. I asked him if he was dying?

He assured me he is not. I asked if he was sure. He said yes and laughed, hugged me and went on his way.  He said he just wanted us to know it:) 

WOW. I guess age is creeping up on him, because usually we don't hear too much of that "grateful stuff" and figure it's par for the course of raising kids/teens.

 Of which we have many.  Just typical that they tend to be self centered, even when they are great kids.  (Don't call mom and tell me that wasn't nice to blog)

So that's what's happening in this part of the cold, snowy, world. Less hair and more snow. Somehow that just seems..... wrong. 

Don't worry, no one is freezing here:) Even with much, much, less hair.  And Spring does eventually HAVE to come.  No matter what that groundhog said. 

Just gotta hang on a few more weeks/snowstorms.......


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Trip

Plane tickets have been purchased. Yes they have.

To WHERE?  Not gonna say YET, but it's a senior project of a lifetime, I would have to say. (It's not China)

Chloe girl approached us months ago about this, making her senior trip with her BFF a MISSION TRIP.  Sounded like a really neat but somewhat complicated ordeal.

But with friends in many far places, we have (hopefully) as safe a place as possible, as safe plan of travel as possible, and a very excited daughter.

Since she started working she has saved all her pay toward this trip. She's very thrifty and hasn't spent money hoping this could all work out. We are helping out with some of the costs so her way will be paid.

She also has to get a new passport since she was on a child passport (only good for 5 years) and it's gonna be 5 years soon since we got the boys (can you believe that? I can't!) and she got her first American passport.

They will be going with a responsible adult (not me, not that I am not responsible (ha ha), I can't take off that much work) who can take work time off to go with them and the opportunity to donate will be presented later for any who wish to help with supplies they are trying to take for this trip.

We feel so proud of our Chloe.  But also scared, I won't lie about that.  Because the last time she did a mission trip she had been home just 2 years and it was very hard on ME. I missed her terribly.

I will say she has gotten so much more independent since then, so I am hoping that gets me through when this trip comes up which will be in a few months (summertime) and I am sure will be here before I am ever ready for it:)

I posted an old picture of her--- because she's hardly able to stand still for me to catch her in a picture and she just looks so grown up here. And she is. Growing up so much. 

She is gifted, smart, caring, kind and someone we are very pleased and amazed that for almost 6 years now we have called her our daughter.

More details to come later:) 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

A new dress

Yes, we have one new dress for Chloe girl:)  And she looks just smashing in it. At least we think so!

 We have not made it out for a bigger shopping trip yet due to SNOW, SNOW and more SNOW......

Another storm hit us today!  We have plenty of the white stuff:)

 Already a delay for tomorrow's school day, which depending on when the white stuff turns to ICE will probably follow along the lines of the last 3 weeks of Mondays--- school cancelled.

Between work and trying to get out for groceries, it's been slim pickings for a day to go dress shopping.

 But mostly we can count on not being able to locally find anything modest for our girls in the way of dresses. So imagine my surprise when I spotted this and found 1 left in Chloe's size and had her with me to have her try it on.

God sent, even a dress which I was starting to stress not being able to get to the stores for her because I never want her to think it's not important when she needs something.

But she is aware it's tough to work around weather, her work, my work, and dad's work so she's been very patient.

We are watching the Super Bowl, of course. Who isn't?  Chance. He's not really in to football?  Paisley. Another one not really interested. Chloe. Kat. Same thing. I like the commercials more than I'm really in to the football:)

Mal was supposed to come but again, SNOW prevented her from being able to come yell, I mean, root for the football game. Neither team a favorite of the football lovers here, so not as exciting a game as it COULD be.

I HAD to include the picture of Chloe with her pj's tucked in to her socks.... it so reminds me of China and not one inch of skin is supposed to show on your little ones-- or you get scolded by the "clothing police" aka China mommies and grandmas who come right up and cover up our new "babies" for us when on adoption trips.

She said it's to keep the air out of her legs, she's right, it does. Just looks funny to us because we don't do such measures, except for legs going outside and are down in boots where you don't see it.

We got report cards this past week-- everyone got their "report card money" for making honor roll:)  Way to go kids! 

School is going along smoothly for now.  I heard Chloe asking Chance about a "junior paper" they have to do. She was typically stressing about getting it done, Chance had not even started it yet nor was he the least bit concerned..... that's our Chance.  He doesn't stress too awful much, especially school work.  He's a "hands on" learner for sure and dislikes any and all book work or writing. 

Someone who is doing well in her reading is Phoebe, she's really taking off with learning and she actually used her "filter" this morning at church. Yep, she usually blurts out anything and everything when around people, we've discussed this a number of times. So she told me she needed to tell me something while waiting in the snack line but she thought it might be "inappropriate" to say right then. 

It kinda was--- it ended up being a question about her outfit, a longer "tunic" type top and pants. She seemed to think the top was actually a dress and was concerned it was too short for her to be wearing:)  I explained it was a long top and not a dress, which is why she had pants on with it. 

But we were just thrilled she used common sense/ thought about something before she just blurted it out wherever. Even if it really wasn't a big deal if she had said it around people:) 

We are going round and round about Kat's hair AGAIN---- ahhhhh, I think it may just be time it gets cut.  Seriously, it's a total pain, but I'll let you know what the final verdict is..........