Friday, April 16, 2010

Would you do it all over again?

I get that question a lot.

The quick answer? Yes.

I absolutely, positively do not speak for everyone, and I am not special or better or ANYTHING. It's just how it is playing out for me. I say "yes," while simultaneously thinking, "I really am a complete idiot."

We invited Reactive Attachment Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder into our home. You can read/learn/listen til your eyes pop out, but nothing - zero - zilch - can prepare you for what it is like to fight for attachment when a child is doing everything in their power, night and day, to stop it from happening.

It's awful.

It's hell.

It's gross.

It's sometimes unbearable.

It's painful.

It's terrifying.

It's defeating.

But ... it's possible. Healing is possible. Their potential CAN be reached, and it looks different for every single kid.

Today marks two years since we brought R and M into our home. I will not kid you. It feels WAY longer. The past two years have been a very purposeful, therapeutic intensive. We planned it that way and built our lives around it. We are just now loosening up those boundaries and allowing more freedoms and choices every day ... sometimes realizing they aren't developmentally ready and we have to back up.

I would totally do it again. I don't know if we will. I don't know how, exactly, we need to be using this knowledge and skill set. Not like you apply for a regular job and receive any special nods for, "Well, if someone becomes violent I can restrain them in a safe basket hold, singing 80's love songs in their ear til they calm or get the giggles while holding my pee the entire time," or "I can be spat upon, rub it in, thank the spitter and NOT dry heave until out of the room."

What I do know is that there are children out there who missed something vital, and we know how to give it to them. I know there are parents out there who are willing to try, but also want to jump off a cliff, and need intensive support. I know that one of our children entered our home two years ago having never attached to another human. That child is now attached. That child trusts. Not like the rest of us, but it is there. That child tries. That child has interests. They have uncovered who they were born to be because they no longer spend every waking minute in fear and trying to manipulate every aspect of their world. They can go farther, but they have already climbed mountains.

Another of our children has been freed from a continuous flow of nightmares and daily flashbacks of terror. They are there, but we can count them on one hand now. Still a part of their life, but no longer their ENTIRE life. They do normal, tooty, teenage things. It took 22 months, but they now allow me to kiss them good-night on their cheek, instead of the top of their head. Twenty-two months ... just to allow me to move that six inches. All on their own. They asked to make that change.

I would do it again, because they all so desperately need what my kids have received. We will do SOMETHING. We have not been released from it, by any means. We are meshed with all this attachment stuff. It will forever be a part of our lives. We'll see how it plays out. Adoption? Fostering? Parent coaching? Dragging on this blog for decades?

In the meantime, I continue to be amazed at the bravery and accomplishments of my children.

The only thing harder than parenting them is being them.

29 comments:

Gretchen Magruder said...

beautifully written. Thanks for the reminder that intentional parenting through the struggles, though difficult, is amazingly rewarding!

Jen said...

I have watched (from afar) family members parent an internationally adopted child with RAD. it seems like one of the most challenging, difficult, and heartbreaking things a parent could ever do. thank you for your beautiful perspective, and thank you for sharing your experience on your blog. I can only imagine how many you're helping walk through a similar journey.

Lynn said...

Thanks for answering my question!!

We're parenting an adopted child that we were privileged enough to be able to bring home at birth. (He's 6 years old now.) He wasn't a drug baby. He hadn't been abused in any way. But, he suffered trauma - as I believe all adopted kids do. He had already bonded for 9 months (in-utero) with someone else. He was taken away from that. So, as much as I wanted to believe it wasn't true when we brought him home, he suffered trauma.

We see it in some of his behaviors. We see it loud and clear in how he responds to separation issues. That's why your blog has been so helpful. Even though he's fully attached, he still displays behaviors you talk about with your RAD kids.

And now we're starting out the process of getting our foster parent license again. There are days that I think I must be absolutely nuts to CHOOSE to do this. There won't be a kid that comes into our house that won't have suffered incredibly serious trauma!! And we are going to choose to parent them. We're not ruling adoption of more kids out either!!

So thank you for all that you do. I'm counting on your blog and this online community to be my education and support. I'm gonna need all I can get!!!

GB's Mom said...

the only thing harder than parenting them is being them- this is what everybody who works with our kids needs to remember- and sometimes it is really hard to remember. I, too, would do / am doing it all again.

Anonymous said...

I am new to your blog, but I feel like someone may just have thrown me a lifeline of sorts. I stumbled across your videos first, and it was the first time I've ever heard someone describe my son's behavior to a tee. You see, after three years of running in place, last year we finally threw in the towel and started taking our son to an attachment therapist. The attachment therapist is great at helping us understand the "Why", but really is unable to show us how to implement the theory into actual parenting. Your videos has been great, but we need more. If you coach parents, count us in- first in line. In the meantime, can you recommend any seminars, etc that shaped your parenting skills for RAD?

Leslie R. said...

That's beautiful.

whtmtnmom said...

Yes! Parent coaching, please please please. How many times can I watch the same few videos on your blog!?!? You are giving so many of us hope. Thanks and congrats on the two year mark!

Heather and Brad said...

I was just talking to hubby last night about adopting again. I've had my (4) adopted kids for nearly 3 years but only found the parenting tools less than a year ago.

It's been way harder than anything I've ever done before. But seeing them heal and begin to learn to love and to feel love is WAY more rewarding than anything I've ever done.

I feel like I have so much support reading blogs like yours. Thank you for writing!

Jennifer said...

The picture of Mar just breaks my heart and makes me cry. Congratulations on your fabulous parenting and bringing them to a healing place. I can't imagine going through what our children have endured and they are true survivors.

BT said...

Those pictures, along with your words, bring tears to my eyes. Yes, we MUST remember that it's actually harder being them than parenting them.

Celebrate their accomplishment of how far they've come!!

beckyww said...

Good post, Mom.

Anonymous said...

Would I do it again for "my" kids???

Yes! In a heartbeat!!!!!!!!!!!
(Even though hubby and I are still recovering from their recent abuses against us now that they are adults!)

As you have said the only thing harder than parenting them is being them.

Would I consider taking in more?

Not now.
(I'm not saying "never" just not now!)

For now, we need to heal!

Thank you for being a part of our healing process.

Sharing your experiences, your hopes and frustrations validates all we have invested.

Max in AZ said...

Christine...well put.
Your kiddos are so blessed as I know you are by them too.
As mentioned above, your blog is incredible & so helpful for so many. The replys are also helpful so it just snowballs into such a great resource of info & support.
It is very helpful for my husband to hear that besides the classes & books we do there are "real" people out there making it all happen ~ like we are trying to do.
Another (+)note, I found myself anxious this am to read your next blog...8-) It's a great way to start the day.
Have a Great Friday
we are going to a social tonight with other foster/adopt families & their kiddos, so we can get to know other families going thru the same thing..it helps not to feel alone in this healing process. I would recommend it to everyone if there isn't one locally, start one with the people you meet at your trainings. It's great. Hugs to all!

Brenda said...

Well said friend. I do have to admit to moments of regret, times of wondering what the heck I have done, but over all I am absolutely thankful to be mom to each of my kids.

Cammie said...

WOW!

"The only thing harder than parenting them is being them!" Such a good quote to ingest. As hard as it is, those babies have it even worse!

You know I stinkin' love you!

Congratulations on 2 years!

Karen in Missouri said...

I just...wow, I just love the heck out of you!

Kathleen said...

Thank you for the honesty of this post. It is so affirming for the rest of us. My son has been with us two years. He is nine. I love him dearly. Only in the past 5 months has he allowed me to hug him goodnight. Kisses are still out. Sometimes he will even spontaneously hug me now. It has been a difficult road, but I am so glad we took it.

Radical Melody said...

Wow. It is inspiring to see that people can get to this point. Right now, it is pretty unfathomable to me. Thanks.

The Waggoners said...

Bless you....thank you.......amazing parenting and amazing kids..........THIS BLOG BETTER STILL BE IN THE FUTURE! I need it!!!!

Cathy Givans said...

I am still trying to find words thru my tears....you are my hero!!! So crazy that the first pic is Mar...you have such a big heart. I don't know how Texas holds it...REALLY!!!

Jeri said...

I'm going to say no, I would not adopt my son if I had known what I know now. If I could have foreseen how battered and wounded our whole family is now, no. Just like, if I had known our first bio daughter was going to be born with Spina Bifida and die thirteen years later would I have been in such a rush to get pregnant....no, I wouldn't have. But, you see, I would not have known them...I would have missed hearing my sweet son finishing his prayers with,"Ayla-men" I would have missed the incredible experience of being mom to my girl, who happened to use a wheelchair, and who went by the moniker of The Happy Hugger. When you look at the syndrome and not the child, for me, the answer would have been no. When you look at the beauty in the child who happens to have the physical or emotional challenge, then no is not an easy answer. I spent quite a while angry with God because I prayed specifically for two and a half years,"Please guide us to a child who is normal physically, mentally AND emotionally." But, my son's prayers,"Please guide a family to me and get me out of this horrible, abusive place" was a bigger prayer and He had to answer it. Today, I spoke to the nurse at the big, maximum security psych hospital my son is in. He has low stomach pains and thinks he will go to the hospital...she thinks he's getting ready to have some liquid sit time as a tummy bug is going around and adolescent boys don't get the bit about washing their hands. She told me something that brought tears to my eyes,"Your son is beautiful. He has such a beautiful heart." Yes, he does and thank God I couldn't predict the future nine years ago.

Amy said...

Wow, that's amazing. We are parenting an older adopted child who is not RAD and that is hard enough. I know your kids are from Haiti but you have mentioned multiple placements for them. May I ask how that happened? It may be none of my business and that's fine, just curious.
Amy

Over Yonder said...

OH that picture on the concrete floor! :(

My son is not RAD as we got him at 4 months and he is very bonded but he has a lot of the same issues due to his SN'S. My dh takes care of a 21 yr old with RAD,Bipolar, autism, etc etc...and he is also a part of our family. I so identify with your posts.

I would do it all again and GULP plan to get recertified for foster care this summer.

What a roll model you are for moms like me!!

J. said...

yep me to, in a heartbeat would I do it all over again. In fact that was my post yesterday but it is a question I am so often asked.

Ilove your line about harder thatn parenting them is being them, that is so true!

Thanks for being so great!

Chris Q said...

As the husband of a woman being Mom to a child with complex trauma, i honor her and all of the rest of you mom's, your job is hard.

Christine, you have taught us both more than you can imagine. Your heart, humor and spirit has help me as a Rad dad understand my wife's struggle more, and helped us gain new skills that have really made a huge difference in our family. Thank you!

Chris Q

Kristie, the Chapter Two Manmi said...

Bel, anpil bel!

Heather said...

All I know is that at my last therpay appt for my little RAD dude the therapist asked if I knew anyone else parenting a child like this. I said, only in blogland, but I learn so much from these women. I told her about your videos that I watch over again when I need to remember why I am doing this. So, just for me personally I say thank you. And I would do it again too, but honestly if you had asked me a year ago I probably would've said no. The lows are sooooooo low, but the healing is exhilerating (I think I spelled that wrong.)! We actually ARE doing it again as we are likely adopting our foster daughter...

johnsonweider said...

This is such a relevant question for me right now. And the short answer is: absolutely I would adopt the 2 we have now again, knowing what I know now - and as for the future, I still feel young and I'm still not convinced that we're "done". Especially, as you say - having all of this knowledge and all of these techniques now - seems a shame to let it all just go! Definitely we'll get these 2 set solid on their feet first - and then we'll see... Thank you for being here for all of us Christine!

Annie said...

You are amazing. I love you. God is good. You actually made me LAUGH about the restraint and the spitting.

And to think I was feeling a sort of shame that only I knew that sort of experience.