Normal…… um Does That Exist???

Not in my home!! I am not a firm believer in normal, or any sense of the word, but especially when it comes to our household.

We live with thievery, verbal abuse, and unfortunately a heightened level of fear. Yeah, you read that right…..and I am not just talking about the kid’s in the home either!!

As adoptive parents of traumatized children I have some pretty extreme fears about doing things that most family’s count as normal. For example, going to a school function with all the “normal” families, that have children dressed nice, hair looks good, and while they can be a little louder than usual, they are not being sexually inappropriate or seeking out free items from teachers or other parents due to their foster history or just flat out stealing from those in the classroom.

Another example that is in my face right now is camping. Most families can pull this off with little effort from all involved, right! Well here we are with one kid unable to function because he is excited,  one kid unable to communicate or even think through making his cereal for breakfast because he is excited, and one kid taking this opportunity to steal items she has been eyeing because everyone is focused on something else at the moment!! Um yeah so this is our normal!

She has found a heart!!

While in my heart of hearts, I long for a clean house with laughter and festive decorations. I find myself barried in a house of messiness that is never anyone’s fault, or doing, so they are unable to clean anything unless they are actively partaking in the mess alone.  So while others are decorating their house for the holidays I am still fighting with every fiber of my existence to find my kitchen counters and walk on a floor that is not sticky!!

I guess this is our normal, and it is what we have signed up for as we look to each day!! I truly feel as though we are stuck in a horrid, “Ground Hog Day” film with these guys. Honestly, it is overwhelming to think that it will not improve any time soon! I know our ultimate goal is the long term. Where these children are adults and able to handle the stress of day to day life, but right now it is nothing short of overwhelming.

Now, I don’t want to scare anyone away from being foster or adoptive parents, but I do feel the need to be brutally honest. This way, if you do choose to walk this path with a kid that is struggling to find their footing and you are thinking it will be all picture perfect moments. This is a challenging life, but it is also a VERY blessed life! We have helped children experience life events that are taken for granted by many. For example, we have walked with kids through the first time things like birthday parties, participating in Halloween, and even getting to open a Christmas present. Working to keep the other kids from making comments of “the wrapping paper doesn’t matter just rip it off” when the child is cherishing every feeling, smell, and thought of the moment. Sure, every parent gets to experience this with their newborns, but we are talking with 8, 12, and even 15 year-olds. This is heartbreaking and rewarding all at one time.

We love them all and this moment has definitely gotten me through this crazy year!!

The pictures that are covered are kid’s that are currently in the system, and are experiencing a true family Christmas for the first time….ever! They had received presents, but had not done activities such as reading the Christmas story, making cookies or gingerbread houses, and looking at Christmas lights. Would you look at those smiles!!! These, my friends, are the reasons we walk this crazy path! This is our normal. I guess I need to take more time to step back and look at where we are, and where we have been. This is what we live for each and every one of those smiles!!

The Adventures of Homeschooling

What was I  thinking!! Our circus of Flying Monkeys are going every direction but the one I need them too!! So here we are on week three and we typically start the week out crushing school, however, by Wednesday the fighting begins!!

So we have a few kids that love school and they will always get going, this is our two girls. Go figure!! Where we struggle the most is the boys. We have two that have attention spans of nats and two that just want to plow through about an hour and then feel they should be done. So how do you tackle this?

No really!!! I am open to suggestions!!

I am also struggling with my choice of curriculum.  I have some that are doing great with the curriculum and others that are hating it!! This has really opened my eyes to what the school’s go through and just how much my kids needs can’t be meet in the classroom setting. Not for lack of trying!

So here I am stuck in the middle of fighting the curriculum and fighting the kids to work the curriculum! My homeschooling heart tells me to focus on the kid, but my master level student brain says that is not going to make a difference on their future where focusing on school will make their future brighter!! I think I am having multiple personalities. I think I have cracked!!

These kiddos need a curriculum that combines school topics with self bettering skills. They need to learn the basics of being nice even when no one is looking!! We have kids that have learned to survive by cheating, stealing and being untruthful. How do we fix this damage?

How do we show our kids that just because we love them and accept them for who they are that doesn’t mean society will? When we have discussed some of the rioting issues it has been completely shocking, apoling, and beyond disheartening to hear our kids voice that they would love to just go smash a window and get items they want or that people deserve to be treated horribly because they have more. How do we make a change in this when it feels like it is a part of their DNA??

What can we do to make a difference? We have had our kids for varying amounts of time from 12 years to 1 year and I have heard “be consistent”, “lead by living your life as an example”, and my favorite “they will feel the love you are pouring out and it will change their DNA” (um, science major here, that would be environmental changes, but not making a huge difference).

In my feeling heart, this is not working!! In my logical brain, you know it takes a lot of repetitiveness to make a difference! In the trenches of every day, what have I gotten myself into!! Here I sit in a no win situation. If I focus on their hearts and accountability they will be good humans with no skills that allow them to survive in the world outside of our home. If I focus on the skills I will have kids that have street skills, but steal and riot when they see an opportunity. Which way do I turn???

I never had to think of this with my bio kids as they knew what was right and wrong and how to be a caring individual in all circumstances. This allowed me to simply just focus on teaching school and relating it back to daily life. Oh what I would give to be back there now!!😳

I guess the moral of this story is that morals are hard to teach an older child with mental health issues and while we are constantly feeling like we are not enough we need to remember that God is in control and he is MORE than enough!! HE CAN TACKEL THIS PROBLEM!!! It all comes back to putting it in His hands and being willing to take that step! And the next one! And the next one!!

The Aftermath!!

So we are 4 days after mom’s little meltdown and where are we now……right back at the beginning!! We have the explosive disorder child once again screaming that he hates his life and wants to kill himself until someone new asks him why and he answers “oh I don’t want to hurt myself!”, we have one of our PTSD kid’s growling and hissing like a cat, and our sociopath stands back watching for his next victim or opportunity to escalate the house.

In other words life goes on! Yep that sums it up perfectly! The meltdowns continue, the heightened observation of those in the home continues, the abundantly clear mark of trauma is everywhere we look. As I step over the ear muffs, the weight head cushion, and very soft sensory blanket I am reminded that yes I can have my emotions build up to the point of exploding, yes I can become frustrated or overwhelmed, and yes I am human!!

So where do we go from here???? Well I can tell you my cycle of, “I am a horrible adoptive mother to these traumatized children”, response which is to seek answers!

You read that right! Now I spend every spare moment seeking out new skills, seeking out new forms of treatment, and looking for emotional support from my close network! I have turned to God and He has taken the overwhelmed feeling away, He has shown me grace for the 5 millionth time and now I am seeking his will in our lives by doing my part to improve our situation!!

I don’t know exactly what it is that I am trying to find, well yeah I do…..Where is Hermione and her never ending knowledge of how to fix things with her swish and flick of a wand???? Really this is what I am seeking. However, I know in my heart of hearts, that God has not given anyone the power to wisk away my worries, heartache, and sometimes pain as I work with these kids that deserve SSOO much more than they have been given.

I know that my Voldemort comes in several intangible forms, with the biggest one being trauma!! Yeah that means I live with the trauma of having to hold my children as they flail like I am killing them, cower like I have beaten them before, and screaming as though I am ripping their flesh off! Yeah it is traumatic, for me mostly! The child is exhibiting his or her ingrained defense mechanisms, but for those of us that have opened our hearts and homes to these kids it is traumatic!

The difference is that we know how to handle our trauma in a healthy way! We know that the child is not behaving this way because of our actions, but when they feel the emotions of embarrassment, frustration, anxiety, they go back to what they know. They become consumed with these feelings and their fight or flight response is telling them they are in danger.

This is the tricky part…..if a stranger is going after my child I want them to behave this way!!! I want them to kick and scream and flail and what ever it takes to draw attention to get them help!! Right?? Well how do we help them to learn that it is not okay to behave this way with mom and dad when their emotions are the exact same!!!!

This is where we have worked to bring God into their lives in a very tangible way! Sounds weird I know, but God is in control and He is directing our lives! God has protected them to this point and brought them to our lives to be a part of their world to protect them, to love them through the meltdowns, and to help them to make new neuropathways. We have to remain calm and loving even through the trauma!!

This is only an achievable goal with God’s provision! I will not be able to reach this goal on my own strength! I do not have all this strength and understanding to be able to help this kids. I have to work through their trauma and healing!!

This is very challenging and makes a huge impact on me. I look at life from a different angle than most. I see all the hurt, anxiety, and pressure that most have experienced. I see the automatic response! I see the emotional side of life. I see the frustration of not being able to control it all! Maybe that is the real issue!! I am not in control, God is!!