Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Different Kind of Halloween

After Salinda and Mike disappeared to hang out with friends (with permission) we decided to take everyone else and see a movie. Bart took the younger kids to Monster House while I saw Taladega Nights with Rand and Jimmy. The movie I saw was pretty much worthless and crude -- geared toward a pathetic teenage boy audience. I should have known what it was like when Kyle said it was really funny. It was more than borderline offensive in many spots, but fortunately I think a lot of the crude humor was above Rand and JImmy’s heads. Don’t go see it if you have any moral fiber though ... you’ll be disappointed.

I was going to attempt to find something worthwhile to blog about from the movie, but there really isn’t anything blogworthy about it, there is no lesson to be learned, nothing to gain from it. It kept my mind occupied for 90 minutes and a few scenes made me chuckle because they were so outlandish, but otherwise, I probably would have been better off making everyone see Monster House and been able to at least hold hands with my husband as he dozed.

We then went out to eat, but by this point Dominyk was so hyper and Tony so whiny that we didn’t have a very nice dining experience at Arby’s. And now it is that time of night where I really want to go to bed, but nobody else does.

Halloween Scrooge

As I mentioned earlier, I am the scrooge of Halloween. I don’t like it, and it doesn’t like me. I always feel like a bad parent because I find the day annoying and can’t EVER get into the spirit.

However, in 2001 I went to a Halloween party and was reminded of this today. We had just finished supper and I had been sitting between Tony and Dominyk.

I didn’t change my shirt and was able to go to the Halloween party dressed up as a napkin.

Their House Must Be Chaos

Probably lots of people think that. But it isn’t, really it isn’t. I mean we have our moments, but generally I think you’d find that our house is calmer than you would expect it to be for a family who adopted “10 kids with special needs.”

However, I heard from someone that they heard that someone heard someone at Dominyk’s school make this statement and it has been gnawing at my psyche since then. The reason it gnaws at my psyche is that they inferred that his special needs were a result of the chaos.

Now I am not going to take time to explain to you how incredibly frustrating it is for that inference to be made, because you know everything I’m going to say anyway. But the fact is, he can’t get a worksheet done in school without a full-time paraprofessional sitting next to him, and I’m assuming that their classroom is not chaotic, so maybe it isn’t the chaos anywhere causing the special needs. Maybe he just has severe ADHD, ADHD, ODD, the possibility of anti-social personality disorder, rightfully and directly inherited by a birthparent, and more than likely, FASD, though we’ll never get a diagnosis because she won’t admit to drinking while pregnant.

But I suppose, if they must link it all to our chaotic home, all I can do is try hard not to appear chaotic, which leads to this post.

I had planned to pick up Dominyk today. His PCA has the day off, and I was going to do the friendly check in with the teacher, help him pack his backpack, check to see if he has homework thing and appear so non-chaotic that they had to rethink their statement.

Until I locked my keys in my bedroom after a much needed rest time. Bart was doing a visit in the hospital and I couldn’t reach him. So, I had to quick call Rand to see if he could get Dominyk and call Dominyk’s school to let them know he should wait for Rand. But you guessed it... I did NOT tell them that I locked my keys in my own bedroom. I just said “something came up” that I couldn’t make it.

Maybe it would be safer to have said that I locked the keys in the bedroom considering whatever they might conclude “suddenly came up” at the house of chaos....

Sunday Night's Radio Program (Nov 5)

Save the Date
Sunday November 5, 2006

You Gotta Believe!
Is hosting a great weekly live call in parent support group broadcast. The Adopting Teens and Tweens radio show can be heard this Sunday from 8:00pm until 9:00pm (Eastern time). People who live in Nassau County most of Queens, Western Suffolk& Parts of Brooklyn can tune into WGBB 1240 on your am dial. If you reside outside of these areas you may listen on line to a live stream by logging onto www.am1240wgbb.com

If you thought you missed the show on commitment you didn't Sunday October 29, 2006 was our teen talk show, and it was a great show. The show focused on two young adults Angela and Aileen who are in the process of being adopted. They talked candidly about their fears and hopes as they are approaching their adoption day.

This weeks radio topic will focus on commitment. One of our listeners emailed the show for support. Her issue is not uncommon, and because of that this weeks radio broadcast will focus on the importance of commitment, and how to remain commit ed in the most challenging situations.

Heather from Nebraska is a listener from another State. She has been a foster mother of a teen for the past year. She and her child are being challenged as they struggle to form a relationship. Other professionals in the field, have given her advice contrary to the importance of commitment. We will have a panel of supportive adoptive professionals.

Chester Jackson, and Pat O'Brien are the weekly host that will be on air along with Arelis Rosario our studio guest a former child in care who now has permanency. The three will provide supportive suggestions for this particular show and they will help Heather from Nebraska work through this challenge.

If you have questions or concerns or you just need HELP! Please call us during this live broadcast at (631)888-8811

You don't want to miss this weeks Adopting Teens and Tweens radio support group!

Powerful Once Again

I may very well be my husband’s biggest fan, but he has others. And those of you who enjoy reading what he writes will once again be moved by today’s entry.


Maybe you all like whiny. I had more visitors to my blog yesterday than I did all last month and all I did was whine and moan all day long.

I tried to figure out last night just why yesterday was such a low for me. I think it is another round of “adoptive parents have no say, get no respect, are assumed to be the problem.” If we were foster parents willing to foster 6 tough teens, we would be heroes. But since we have adopted them and are committed to them for life, since they legally belong to us, now whenever they do something we somehow are viewed, either overtly with words or covertly with glances, whispers and “between the lines” criticisms in writing.

I used to view the Child Protection System much differently than I do now. I used to assume that every time a child was removed from their birth parents and didn’t get them back that the parents were certainly to blame. I mean who could allow a system to terminate the rights of their children? But having “fought” that system, in an attempt to get some help, I have realized that it is possible that many birth parents are people in dire circumstances who made a mistake. And once that child is viewed as one that needs protection, it is very difficult to prove otherwise. If Bart and I, both master’s level educated, have articulated again and again our concerns in parenting a mentally ill child and have not been able to get people in the system to listen, then how can people in poverty who are uneducated, some probably illiterate, expect a chance. Eventually, as we have been tempted to, I think they just give up and say, “Whatever you want to do, go ahead, because there is nothing I can do to stop you.”

So another blow, another reminder that we are powerless and that our opinions do not matter, on top of the exhausting week last week, put me in quite a funk.

I have a headache this morning, but am feeling somewhat better. I am definitely the scrooge of Halloween, if there is such a thing, but this picture of Sadie in her costume for the party Sunday night is so cute I just had to post it.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Weird Habits and Feeling Used

For the past several months, Dominyk has slept with all of his clothes on, sometimes even his shoes. Tony has joined him tonight. And neither of them wants to sleep on their beds. Dominyk prefers under the bed, and Tony under the desk. I figure these are weird things, but not that big of a deal, so I just let them go.

Tonight, though, they're not getting along well so neither will go to sleep. I have the laptop up in the recliner and am wishing they would settle down. Dominyk is in here obsessing about he just can't take it anymore, he has to have his own room, he doesn't care if it is the closet or the attic, but he must be away from Tony. He will find many creative ways to express the same thing over the next several minutes until either I can't take it any more or he gets obsessed with something else.

I just got up and went out to give Salinda yet another ride. I have probably spent 4 hours of the last week giving rides to her and her friends (is it just coincidence that none of her friends parents seem to have transportation, or is it part of the conspiracy to annoy me?)

I don't mind giving the rides, and I enjoy interracting with her friends. I just wish the words thank you could come out of her mouth once and a while. She used to be one of our most grateful kids, and now she seldom says thank you, regardless of how much I do for her.

Parents get used... that is expected. It's our role. But in our family historically the ones who give the least demand the most and are the least grateful. It's a shame.

Bart is feeling more encouraged -- now it's my turn to feel better. hopefully tomorrow.


I'm going to go upstairs and watch television. I seldom watch TV.... I don't ever have time.

But the emotional upheaval of the morning and the stress of our lives right now are shutting me down, so I will sit and play gin on my laptop and watch a couple sappy movies or something in my bedroom. Sadie and some of the other kids will probably join me and eventually Bart will come home and we can call this a day.

Hopefully by morning I'll have shaken this malais and be ready to tackle life again.

I married the right guy

I cannot explain to you how much I hate to cook. If I had a choice between making dinner or working out at the YMCA I would choose exercise. That’s seriously how bad it is.

At 6:00 I am supposed to have dinner on the table. Yesterday Bart made a pot roast in the crock pot and I peeled potatoes to mash. The roast didn’t get done so we went out for dinner. Tonight I have to go upstairs, in about fifteen minutes, and heat up and mash the potatoes and attempt to make gravy. I cannot even begin to tell you how much self control it is going to require for me to make myself do this.

I realize it is completely pathetic on my part, but I just get so annoyed with cooking. Maybe I’m just pathetic period lately.


Well, I guess it wasn’t that bad. I worked for a half hour to make a dinner that took them 7 minutes to consume. But they said it was good and everyone was grateful.

I’m VERY thankful to be married to a guy who cooks and likes it. Otherwise, we’d really have some stressful days around here -- or else eat out a lot!

Don't Know Why I Even Bother

Last night I spent a considerable amount of time preparing a two page explanation to read in court. I articulated all of the reasons why it would not be best for John to be placed in Mankato. I had fooled myself into believing that it was a well presented argument. Our attorney even thought so.

But of course it didn’t matter. I read the whole thing. And without blinking an eye, the judge went along with the recommendation of the county. John once again feels like he is victorious because he was able to manipulate a new group of people into giving him what he wanted. He is moving into his foster home today.

Who knows, maybe he’ll be able to succeed and all will be well. If so, that’s great. If not, then everyone moves on, except for John’s siblings who can have their lives irrevocably altered by something he does or says during the next few months.

This is NOT about Child Protection. This is a mental health issue and should never have been a CHIPS petition. And it is very interesting that the only child who is worthy of protection in this case is the one that the County has custody of. The rest of them are insignificant.

Too bad there isn’t a “Parents in Need of Protection” petition that can be filed against a child who is aggressive and threatening the safety of his or her parents. But now I’m starting to step out of line and someone is going to start leaving comments if I’m not careful.

It’s just so frustrating to see all kinds of logic and present it well and have it dismissed as if nothing I think or say matters. I’ve tried chocolate and it hasn’t seemed to help. Maybe I’ll just have to be forced to take a nap...

Daylight Savings Time

Yesterday morning I needed another hour of sleep. I felt rested when I woke up and I wasn’t that tired last night. Daylight Savings Time was working in my favor.

But for our kids, it’s not a good plan. Monday mornings are never easy and today has been especially hard. Last night kids fell asleep at weird times and therefore this morning we have 8 showers instead of six to fit in. The kids are confused and out of sorts wondering why it’s so light out. Kari linked to a post about Circadian systems being affected by FASD. It sure seems that my kids have had a hard time the past week and I wonder if that is one of the issues.

This morning I have to give everyone a ride to school (usually I only take 3) and I have to take Bart’s computer in once again to be fixed. I need to fight with company as well about replacing it or something as it has given us nothing but problems since he got it. Then, because he has meetings, I have to go to court alone.

But at least, when court is over, I will experience relief and have a whole week off before we have to go to court again. And somewhere in there we will have to go to court for Mike’s new charges as well. I really do dread court and there are so many bad memories from it that I can’t help but think something bad is going to happen every time I enter a court room.

So we’re back in the trenches -- but yesterday was a good day and there will be others.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


When Sadie heard that Kari blogged this that linked to these pictures of her she declared them bad pictures and made me take these ones.

Just to end the day blogging on a positive note, Mike showed up to refuel and change clothes. Even went to the Halloween party with us, but then demanded a ride somewhere afterwards with Salinda and her friend. It was a crazy situation and I could tell that at first neither Salinda nor Mike were happy with me. But by the time it was all over and Salinda was safely home and Mike had taken off yet again, Salinda told me that she had explained to Mike why I was frustrated with him. That's helpful.

I also gave Mike a reminder talk -- if you go to court for the shoplifting citation and anyone asks us if you are following the rules at home and doing what you're supposed to do, we aren't going to lie. We're going to explain to them that you are totally disregarding all of our family rules and living life however you want to... and that we can't get you to do even the most simple thing.

One of the things that I think is a little hilarious is that Mike really thinks he is rebelling by going to a different church than ours every Sunday. The funny thing is that the denominations he is choosing are much more conservative, evangelical and push people more to live a holy life than our denomination does as a whole.

But tonight, everyone is home. Salinda is in good spirits some of the kids are already asleep, and all is well.

Now, if I can just get through court tomorrow.

Adam and Sadie

sitting in a tree....

See, Kari had to go blog about it and now Sadie found out and now I have to blog that Sadie knows that Kari blogged that she likes Adam. Am I going to be a double Nork now that I have them caught on camera in front of a romantic fire together?

Blogging When I'm Feeling Good

Quickly, now, in this moment, because it could all change quickly.

Church was just what we all needed. The first service had more people in it than the average of both services last year. Bart’s sermon was really good. My Sunday School class was enjoyable. We had a nice meal out. Everyone, even Salinda, is speaking to me, and we have had a minimal amount of conflict.

I wish that the psychiatrist could have been with us in church today so that she could see that DECREASING Dominyk’s medications was not a good idea. We ended up getting there 5 minutes before church started because I could not get Dominyk to coopearte this morning and the only pew open was the front one. So, we walked all the way up to the front. Dominyk became obsessed with the goal of getting a paper airplane into the inside of the grand piano. I kept grabbing papers away from him and he kept getting more. I swear there were adults feeding him additional ammunition from behind us. As he was forming his first plane, I leaned over and said to him, “Please don’t do anything to embarrass your Dad.” He looked up at me and as honestly and matter of factly as can be said, “Too Late.”

He then became obsessed with repeating the word Mom. He probably said it 250 times like a mantra, too loudly, but not horribly loudly. After that the obsession became him thinking that Bart referred to a guy named “Pastor Damn” instead of “Pastor Dan” and he kept repeating that over and over again. He was really out of control, but the people around us were pretty good natured, I didn’t have to lose it or take him out, and the grand piano was rescued from all the attempted air force attacks.

When I got back from purchasing stuff for our Halloween gathering this afternoon, there was a very kind and encouraging email in my inbox. It is a gorgeous warm day outside, and life is good. Just as always, when you get to the bottom, there is only one way to go...

Anybody Else Having Trouble with Blogger?

It's driving me nuts.

How Many Hand Towels

does it take to dry off a body this big? Only 3, but I didn’t get quite as dry as usual.

I have hardly blogged about laundry since we moved because I have done a much better job of keeping up. The laundry area is right outside my office door and so it makes it easier to remember to change it, especially when I have the beeping alert thing driving me nuts. I am getting it done, but it always doesn’t get put away right away, which is why this morning, I found myself drying off with hand towels.

Things in this house are generally much tidier. WE have people over more often, and the kids are chipping in to work more than before (well, most of them). But we are far from perfect.

I woke up today well rested, only minimal cramps (which kept me doubled over part of yesterday), and a better attitude about things. We’re going to early church today and we’re 25 minutes from departure.

Days like yesterday for me don’t happen very often, but this blog has taught me that they get over quickly. I’m ready to spend today getting my attitude back to positive, a different clothes plan for Tony and Dominyk, some sorting and cleaning before we go to the Fall Event church.

We haven’t seen Mike since Friday morning. When he goes to court, he better pray that the judge doesn’t ask me how things are going at home, because i will let him know exactly how few of our expectations Mike is complying with. Thanks to the blog, I may be able to go back and construct a calendar of which nights he’s even been where he was supposed to be.

I need a good sermon and some music that will boost my faith. I’m glad we’re heading to church!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

I've Almost Made It to the End of this Day

It's 10:30 p.m. Salinda, choosing the no overnights for a month instead of the grounded for a week option for her latest unblogged episode, is at an "overnight" that I'm picking her up from at 11:00. We haven't seen Mike since he left for school yesterday morning. I did hear him trying to wake up Salinda by throwing rocks at her window at 4:40 this morning, but she was VERY much asleep and didn't hear him. I however, did, and welcomed him into the house, but he ran away.

At any rate, I'm way beyond tired tonight. As soon as I get home from picking up Salinda, I am taking Tylenol PM and reporting to Bart that I've already dealt with the police twice this week, and that if they call tonight it is his turn. However, knowing that he has to preach in the morning, I already know that if they call, even if I've announced that, I will go.

I'm hoping that we have it the bottom of this valley, and that we're heading to higher ground soon. Thanks to all who have sent kind emails, thoughts, and prayers our way.

More Tech Difficulties

Blogger wouldn't let me post this morning.... Bart's computer still won't turn on. I can't get our airport extender to work. My printer won't work to print in color. I'm trying to get one of those things to happen, and so far it isn't.

Hopefully, when I pubglish this, this mornings whines will upload.

Must be One of Those Days

Yesterday morning, after I had blogged about Dominyk’s future, I went to wake him up. I looked at his face, and the memories of the past and the fears of the future came pouring in and I started to cry. I was singing a song to him, “Have I told you lately that I love you. have I told you there’s no one else above you.... and he looked so peaceful, and lovable, and calm. And I thought about my blog entry, and his history, and his future, and I cried.

Then I checked out Kari’s blog to find that she had been crying in her coffee yesterday too.

This morning things aren’t better, but worse. I’m feeling quite hopeless. Last night involved a 2:00 a.m. encounter with the same police officers, along with firemen and EMTs ... but not for Mike, for someone else who would be very unhappy if I blogged details. If you want to email me for them I can provide them.

The unnamed person this morning is trying to pin last nights actions somehow on me and there is very little oxygen to breathe in our home today. Meanwhile, Dominyk and Tony are not responding well to med changes, I found out about a deliberate act of disobedience on the part of Sadie, Rand had the worst meltdown I’ve seen him have in a long time last night, and Bart and I are both tired, anxious and not feeling all that positive about much of anything. I have court to dread on Monday, and based on what has happened this past week this is the absolute worse timing possible for John to be moving back to our town, so I probably will be forced to speak up, even if it doesn’t help.

When I decided that this blog was going to be ”gut level honest“, I never realized that we were going to have such a lousy couple of years. I am often tempted not to write when I feel this low, but then it wouldn’t be a clear picture of what things are like.

Today I am emotionally and physically exhausted and don’t see light at the end of the tunnel. But as you can see from reading the history of this blog, this too shall pass... one way or another.

Friday, October 27, 2006

I'd Do It Again

My blog has been a tad bit discouraging lately, I suppose. Lots of stuff to report that isn’t good.

But I’d still do it all again and I need to remind you that it can be done. Pat O’Brien, of You Gotta Believe defines a parent as “who makes a unilateral commitment to unconditionally commit to a child for a lifetime."

When a person makes that commitment to being a parent, whether by giving birth or through adoption, the deed is done. And then the rest is just riding the waves and being there, all the time, no matter what, forever.

Here is why I would do it again:

1) In the midst of all of the trauma, heartache, pain, stress, and uncomfortable memories, there are very good memories as well. Things like the first time I got a real hug from Kyle (not until his 16th birthday), or when Rand ”graduated“ from EBD services at school. The sheepish grin on tiny 8 year old Mike’s face the first time we met them, or John jumping into our arms when we surprised them with our arrival in New Mexico. Jimmy’s continual hilarious phrases or Salinda playing social director to 3 kids younger than herself when she was six, constantly planning things for them to do. Ricardo’s face bursting into a beautiful smile when I tease him and he says, ”Knock it off, mom!“ Sadie’s drama queen antics, cheerleading and dance moves, and sweet disposition. Tony lying on the floor at the gate of the airport waiting for a diaper change because Bart promised it ”as soon as we get off the plane“ and the never ending comic relief that Dominyk provides.

2) I have become a different person. I’m wiser, more empathetic, stronger, maybe even smarter. I look at the world in a new way. I am no longer protected from the pain that is usually only reserved for those in society who live under the radar -- the downtrodden, disenfranchised, and mentally ill. I have lived with the aftermath of poverty, substance abuse, domestic violence, without having been responsible for any of it. My perspective is forever changed.

3) My life is so much richer because of the people I have met. I would not know the majority of my friends that I have now if we had never adopted. I have met fascinating people in the adoption community that I had nothing else in common with until we adopted, people whose lives would never have intersected mine if we hadn’t made the decision to parent these kids.

4) My marriage is stronger. I know Bart better because of the challenges we’ve been through together. We’ve learned how to work as a team, We have faced tough things together and come out on top, if only to take a deep breath to go down under again.

and finally 5) God has become more real to me. Not only has my faith been the only thing to get me through, but I have learned about what it must feel like to be God. To invest myself so completely into a person who is too stubborn to change, to love unconditionally without being loved in return, to forgive again and again and again, and to care about someone more than they care about themselves -- that is God’s love for us. And I have learned, by loving my children, what it means to be loved by God.

Who would I be if we had never adopted? I don’t know. But I can’t imagine my life without these kids, as much heartache as they have given me. Would I do it again? Yes. Would I do it differently if I was starting over, knowing what I didn’t know then? Sure. Would I want to relive it? Certainly not.

And would I encourage others to do it, even though it is so very hard? Yes, I do so every day. Because life is not always about what is easiest, what makes us most happy, or what pays the best. It’s about doing the right thing and trusting God with the results.

And in the very end, I hope that there is some success. But even if every single child makes choices that lead them down the wrong path, I will still say, ”I’d Do It Again.“

Drugged Up Lawbreakin' Mama

Last night I decided to take a Tylenol PM because I had a slight headache, but more importantly because I haven’t been able to sleep. Even though MIke and some new kid he met on the street (he probably has a new “friend” every day did have supper here (not with us, but after us) he wasn’t home by 9:30.

The Tylenol PM did the trick. By 10 I was snoring away... only to be awakened at 10:30 by the phone ringing. It was my friendly neighborhood police officer. Mike had been picked up for shoplifting at a large grocery store. I was really out of it and could not make a decision. I asked him if I had to come get him. He said no, but if I didn’t he would go to the New Ulm Detention Center. He hates it there. I truthfully did not know what to do, and Bart was sleeping soundly in Nashville, so I didn’t have a chance to get a second opinion. I told the officer I would come down to the Law Enforcement Center and get him.

Apparently he and a guy I had never heard of were stealing Robitussin. I told him he did not have our permission to be out, that he had only been living with us for about 5 weeks since his discharge from Thistledew, and that he was disregarding most of our family rules, but since he was almost 18 it was tough to do much about it.

Then they asked me for ,my driver’s license. It has been missing for 2 weeks -- don’t know if I misplaced it or of someone took it just to create chaos. I’ve been meaning to go down and get another one, but haven’t done it. So I had to admit to the officer than I didn’t know where my license was even though I had just driven there. ANd there was a reflection of me when I was standing there that horrified me ... in my Tylenol PM stupor I hadn’t thought at all about anything -- my hair was sticking everywhere and (dont’ tell anyone) I didn’t even have a bra on.

When we got into the van I said, “Now, if I don’t talk to you I will be ‘punishing you with silence.’ If I do talk, you say I’m ‘yelling at you.’ What would you prefer tonight?”

He appropriately asked me for a chance to explain. He met this guy for the first time skateboarding. They ended up at Cub and Mike followed him in. The guy grabbed the Robitussin and ask Mike to cover for him. “That was my mistake,” Mike said. He went on to say that he hadn’t taken it himself, but there was no way to prove it, so he would probably just plead guilty.

I felt sorry for MIke because this is exactly how his life is going to go. I explained to him that his disability kept him from remembering the past or thinking about the future, but that if he would listen to us we could keep him safe. I told him that I almost didn’t come get him and he said, “I wouldn’t have blamed you.”

He then brought up the fact that the social worker had called me to let me know that Mike had been tatoo-ing his friends again (this had happened at supper time, and I hadn’t had time to blog it yet). Apparently some parents were pretty mad. He explained that he had the parents permission. I explained to him that that wasn’t what they were telling the school. I let him know that I had told the school to please pass on to the parents that Mike did not have permission to be anywhere where there was not adult supervision and if they felt so led they could press charges.

Kids with FASD are a classic case of “if you give them enough rope, they’ll hang themselves.” The problem is that the older they get the more they refuse a short rope and fight against it, making life miserable for everyone.

So I guess we have yet another pending court hearing to dread. It’s been less than five weeks since he said, “I’ll never break the law again” and he’s already done it twice. I'm sorry, Kari, that you have to know us sometimes, because we're living your future, and it's no wonder your scared. Hopefully we'll be there for you then like you are being for us now.

So anyway, I made my appearance at the police station, without a license, high on Tylenol pm.

And there are people in this world who have boring lives.

This is the One that Could Truly Break My Heart

After his behavior in school over the past week and his behavior at the Psychiatrist’s office, I am wondering if Dominyk’s future has much hope. His birthmom was diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder, and he is showing signs. I was hoping it wasn’t hereditary, but more and more people are pointing to that as a possibility.

We have had him since he was nine months old and have worked VERY hard with professionals and psychiatrists to medicate him properly and have gotten services through the county to work with him. He has no guile and he is truly a tender hearted kid. But when his SEVERE ADHD and his OCD kick in, along with increased anxiety, he is about as socially inappropriate as you can imagine.

Today there was a magnetic writing board in the office that you can erase and he drew many pictures for the psychiatrist of male body parts. Fortunately, his proportions were way off so she couldn’t tell what they were. He was disruptive throughout the visit. Medication and therapy don’t seem to be doing the trick.

if a child comes at 8, or 10, or 11 and you pour your life into them, I guess you don’t expect to be able to undo all those years of neglect or abuse.

But if a kid has a very loving, nurturing environment from the age of 9 months on, you somehow believe that environment will win over heredity. And this time, it may not. And that one, the last one, the youngest one, the one who came the youngest, if we can’t make a difference for him, then that may be the heartbreaker.

My heart goes out to those who think that “younger is better” because they can “fix them.” It just makes the pain all the much greater when you realize you can’t.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Say a Little Prayer for Him

Bart just called to tell me that his computer won't turn on again. He has had so much trouble with that computer since he got it... makes me feel bad for him. He really needs it.

I am sitting in front of a nice fire. We are so uncuth that we had Kari and her family over for dinner to have leftovers of what we served them on Sunday night. But I figured Bart wasn't here, and if I was going to cook, why should she have to. Mike built an awesome fire and I heard some stories I'd never heard before that are quite unbloggable.

Now everyone but Mike is home. (We found out today that he has been tatoo-ing minors without their parents permission again). Everyone is watching TV, Salinda is doing dishes without complaining, and I am hoping to get some sleep tonight.

But you can pray for Bart and for healing for his computer. . .

Toenails, Cud-Chewing Cows, Boa Constrictors, and Sleepless Nights

I haven’t slept well lately. Mostly because I have had not-so-decent interactions with Mike and Salinda right before bed. I don’t even want to go into details because it’s long and exhausting to relive them, and for the most part I visibly kept my cool. With Salinda a lot of it I feel is typical teenage girl testing and attitude, but last night it included her slamming a door in my face after turning out the light when I followed her out of her room. My adrenaline gets to pumping at 10 p.m. and it’s hard for me to settle down.


Yesterday afternoon I talked to my Dad. He’s the greatest. He’s 84 and still as hilarious as he has ever been. His body is slowly wearing out, but his mind is as alert as ever. While he can’t remember if he got the crossword puzzle done this morning, he can remember things he learned in 1930 in grade school. Last night he shared this with me:

“Girls Chewing Gum
and Cows Chewing Cud
are alike, but different somehow
O, yes, I know now,
it’s the contented look on the face of the cow.”

We then had a conversation like this:

Me: Sorry I haven’t called for a while, my life is a blur.“

Dad: Well at least it’s not a boa constrictor.


Me: Uh,,, OK. You know, they tell us that when the elderly start to lose it, you’re supposed to just go along and pretend like you understand what they are saying. How am I doing?

Dad: (laughs) Well, you said your life was a bore.

Me: No, I said it was a blur.

Dad: Well, I thought you said bore.

Me: (Finally figuring it out): Oh, it’s that Maine accent of yours (he hasn’t lived in the northeast for probably 60 years).
Better a boa constrictor than a bo-ah.

Dad: Yeah (obviously perking up).

Me: Well, dad, the rest of us don’t say bo-ah when we mean bore, so I didn’t get it. Wow, for a minute I thought you were going senile.

Dad: Hey, now, that’s something I’ve always wanted to do -- go to Egypt and see Nile.


Last night we had Wednesday night supper at the church. Dominyk was really wild yesterday and so he was having a rough time settling down. We were sitting with the Chair of the Staff-Parish Relations Committee and his wife, who are retired and in their late sixtees, maybe early seventies. All the sudden Dominyk asked them if they had a toenail clipper and I immediately knew I was headed straight for utter and complete humiliation and there was very little I was going to be able to do to stop him.

Sure enough, right there in the fellowship, all of us adults in the middle of a bite of lasagna, the shoe comes off, the sock comes off, and Dominyk’s prize toenail that he is growing out (left foot, 4th toe) was being held up for them to see.
I was way too tired to be that embarrassed, but they handled it well. They are awesome people. The guy, who spent his younger years in the military simply smiled at me and said, ”I“ve seen worse.”

This morning I get to start my day by emailing Dominyk’s teacher to find out why she had to “call law enforcement” Tuesday. First I heard about it was last night....

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Bart and I had a long Instant message conversation this morning as I relayed to him my conversation with the social worker. The decision that we had to make was whether or not we should present our case in court for what we think is best or simply tell the social worker that we have thoroughly explained our position and that if he still, knowing all of our concerns, chose to put John in foster care in our community, then we would not protest.

The conclusion of our conversation, just so I don’t leave you hanging, was for me to call the worker and let him know that we would not say anything further in court other than that we had already expressed our concerns to the worker about John being placed in this community.

The most troubling part of this for me is that I have a wonderful husband who, in my estimation (and not only in mine) is an excellent pastor and a wonderful spiritual leader. But the conclusion that he has made is that having John back in the community will make it very difficult to pastor here. John will be going to school with lots of kids that go to our church and may spread many untruths about us.

Often Bart mentions these verses from I Timothy 3 to me often in regards to our family situation and his duties as a pastor.

Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.

Bart comes to these conclusions: He is a pastor. He is supposed to be a spiritual leader. How can he stand up every Sunday and tell other people how to live their lives “when ours are in shambles.” Aren’t people going to say, “What does he know? He has a kid who is in foster care because they won’t let him live at home.” He talks about how he may be forced to find other employment.

I reassure him again and again that people are not going to draw those conclusion. That there has to be a special "between the lines" clause that if your kids are adopted as older children and are mentally ill that it doesn’t apply.

It is my firm belief that what is needed in the church is authenticity and vulnerability. Church is not somewhere where people should go and “put on their best face” pretending that things are going well when they aren’t. The body of Christ should be a place where people can come and lay it all out there and find love, encouragement, support, the benefit of the doubt, and forgiveness. I want our church to be like that, and I feel like our hurting kids and the pain they cause us are an opportunity for us to be examples of that kind of vulnerability.

And so I feel like Bart is MORE effective because he authentically invites his congregations to live through our pain with us. He has never been anything but honest in all three of the parishes we have served since our marriage. When are kids aren’t doing well, we honestly report that. We ask them to pray for us, we admit that we struggle.

So as Bart fears that this will harm his credibility, I only see it as an opportunity for God to use our pain to reach others in pain. Perfect pastors with perfect families intimidate the rest of us who are living through less than perfect situations. I wrote this brilliant conclusion to him in an IM today that I believe sums up the issue of credibility for pastors: Credibility doesn't come through perfection, it comes through honest interpretation of an imperfect life.

And I close with words to a Jason Gray song that I used for another video from FASD camp. I'm playing it now and it is the crux of where we are. Are we strong enough to recognize our weakness and realize that our imperfections is what God uses to do God's best work?

Words: Jason Gray Music: JG & Nate Sabin

I was afraid to be weak
Afraid to be me
I was afraid
Because I didn’t want them to see
What’s broken in me

But I guess I was wrong
I should’ve known all along
When I’m weak You are strong in me

You make up what I lack
You shine through the cracks
Where I was shattered
Because You pour out Your grace
Through my broken places


So I won’t be afraid to cry
To confess or question why
I won’t hide the pain I feel
Now I know these wounds are how you heal
No I won’t be afraid to cry
I don’t want to live a lie
They will see Your love is real
When I let You use my wounds to heal
These wounds are how You heal
You can use these wounds to heal

If they’re afraid I stand too tall
They’ll tear down the bridges and build a wall
But if they see I stumble the walls may crumble down

I was wrong
I don’t have to be strong
I didn’t want to believe
But now I finally see
My deepest point of need
Is the better part of me
`Cause when I’m weak You are strong in me

For All of You Who View My Life as a Gory Accident to Stare at, Here's Something you'll Love

Last Spring, in this blog entry I reported that Kari had said, “Your blog is like a serious car accident. You know you shouldn’t look, but you just can’t help yourself.”

If you're one of those fans, this post should introduce the possibility of enough drama in the future to keep you reading for months.

I got all the kids off to school this morning and I was feeling good. I was coming home from the drop off thinking about all the fun stuff I was going to blog. I had a relatively stress free day planned and was looking forward to getting stuff done at my desk, taking a nap after lunch (didn’t sleep well at all last night and now my sleep cycle is all wacked), and having some fun at church tonight. Putting off the cares of the world until I had to deal with them.

Then I arrive home to a phone message from John’s social worker that we needed to talk about the upcoming court hearing (that Bart is not going to be able to attend because of important meetings). I had to call him back, and oh how my day has changed.

We had a long, honest conversation and are totally in disagreement. He wants to put John in a foster home here in our town and make his plan permanent foster care, not reunification. I don’t know that I am in disagreement with the plan, as I don’t think he can live here, but having him here in town with us having as much trouble with Mike and Salinda scares me to no end.

I reiterated my point again and again and he still wants to “give John a chance.” I made it pretty clear that giving John a chance did not have to mean giving him a chance here in our town. I told him flat out, “If you are right and I am wrong, that’s great for everyone. John holds it together, our other kids don’t go further downhill, and life is good for everyone and you move on to the next case. However, if you are wrong, and I am right, that this is too big of a risk for our family, then John moves somewhere else, our family reels in the damage that has been done for years, and you move on to the next case.”

I also let him know that we realized that we were the ones without the power and that we had PTSD in regards to the court system.

The other piece of this that really stinks is that Bart is going to be out of town all week and again during court. I have to break this news to him. And last time I told him this was a possibility, he intimated maybe we’d have to move. I know realistically that we can’t do that, but that’s how nervous we are about the plan. Even though I am 98% sure John would be appropriate, it is the sense of safety and security that we have tried over the last 2 1/2 months to reconstruct for the younger kids that would be threatened once again.

To his credit, the worker has some valid points. We as a family do need to work through all this at some point, and we can’t put it off forever. John does need to develop skills to live outside of an institution if he is going to be able to function as an adult. And the worker has assured us that if he messes up at all, he will only have one chance. You’ve read it here folks, documented in blogland, as the saga progresses. So instead of gearing up for a big fight, I'm trying to find ways to make this work since we likely won't get what we want anyway and just waste a lot of emotion losing an argument in court.

The hardest part for me to deal with in this whole thing is that I really LIKE this social worker. He appears honest and upfront, expects me to do the same, and is It’s so hard to hate someone who is dead wrong when they are so likeable.

One Liners that Just Push me OVER the EDGE but I have to pretend that they don't

John had a one liner that just sent me reeling. I absolutely hated it. When he would be doing something completely inappropriate, I would ask him to stop, and if he was agitated or feeling aggressive, he would get right in my face and say, “Yeah? Whatcha gonna do about it? and before I had a chance to respond he would grin and say, ”That’s what I thought.“

I hated that. It was degrading, intimidating, and made me feel helpless.

Mike has one too, that he used yesterday afternoon. After the Holiday Inn conversation, the second one we’ve had, I made it clear that he was not getting rides until he did what he was supposed to do for 2 weeks. So yesterday he says, ”I know you don’t want me to ask, but can I get a ride.“ To which I responded no, tried to calmly remind him of our previous conversation, and then explained that he was not going to be getting a ride. ”Oh, he smugly said, “I see how it is.”

That statement is loaded. It isn’t simply a statement of fact. It means, “I see that you are an unloving parent, randomly withholding things from poor innocent children that any parent who is not abusive would give them.” The tone is as irritating to to me as if Edward Scissorhands was having a fight with a chalkboard.

First Things First

I have moved my "Scripture as I See It" Blog to Blogger so that it would fit in and I decided to go there and update that before blogging here. I still need to go back and transfer all my posts, which I'll do gradually over time when I have nothing else to do.

Scripture as I See It

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Another Dominykism

Last night I was talking to Rand about an internet issue that he was having while doing homework (no, we don't have internet back for anything else).

I said to him, "maybe you should try using Explorer instead of Safari."

Hearing only the words explorer and safari, Dominyk called out from the other room, very intrigued, "Did you shoot any animals?"

Tough Love Stinks Sometimes

Even I, mean old mom, tough as nails parent, want to rescue my kids sometimes. Here's an example. Salinda took a $20.00 bill to the football game with her last weekend. She only had $6.00 on the allowance chart, but we didn't have correct change. When she came home that night, she forgot to give me the change back and put it on her dresser. By mid-afternoon the next day when she realized she had forgotten to give it to me, it was missing.

But I gave her a $20.00. She forgot to give me the change. She knows, as we all do, that she has siblings that will pocket money if they see it. And it isn't my responsibility to take the loss.

Fortunately, for her sake, she took it well and responded without a fit. I may even offer a deal to loan her some for the football game today just becuase she didn't have a fit. Sometimes I do like to reward people for taking what's coming to them without being defensive, angry or blaming someone else.

But she'll have to pay it back. Bummer for her. She should have remembered to give it back when she got home.

Sunday NIght's Radio Program

Save the Date
Sunday October 29,2006

You Gotta Believe!
Is hosting a great weekly live call in parent support group broadcast. The Adopting Teens and Tweens radio show can be heard this Sunday from 8:00pm until 9:00pm (Eastern time). People who live in Nassau County most of Queens, Western Suffolk& Parts of Brooklyn can tune into WGBB 1240 on your am dial. If you reside outside of these areas you may listen on line to a live stream by logging onto www.am1240wgbb.com

This weeks radio topic will focus on commitment. One of our listeners has emailed the show for support. Her issue is not uncommon, and because of that this weeks radio broadcast will focus on the importance of commitment, and how to remain commit ed in the most challenging situations.

Heather from Nebraska is a listener from another State. She has been a foster mother of a teen for the past year. She and her child are being challenged as they struggle to form a relationship. Other professionals in the field, have given her advice contrary to the importance of commitment. We will have a panel of supportive adoptive professionals.

Chester Jackson, and Pat O'Brien are the weekly host that will be on air along with Arelis Rosario our studio guest a former child in care who now has permanency. The three will provide supportive suggestions for this particular show and they will help Heather from Nebraska work through this challenge.

If you have questions or concerns or you just need HELP! Please call us during this live broadcast at (631)888-8811

You don't want to miss this weeks Adopting Teens and Tweens radio support group!

Technical Difficulties

I wrote a post first thing this morning like always, and blogger would not let me post it. I've been trying for hours.

Finally I gave up. Then later I decided to see if maybe on my laptop it would work better, and lo and beyond, I can blog from here.

But I'm not going to reconstruct the post that is on my other computer.

In fact, I'm going to take a nap. I love afternoon naps right before the kids get done with school. For some reason it is one of those special little non-food-item treats I give myself when I've been really good.

I've been trying not to work so many hours as it gets overwhelming. The last few nights we've built a fire and I've either read in there. Today I decided I was only going to do what I absolutely HAD to do... and now it's 1:30 and I've done nothing but work.

So I'm going to rest until the kids come home. And I'm going to like it.

He's Leaving on a Jet Plane

I just got back from taking Bart to the shuttle to go to Nashville for a conference this week. it’s always hard for me to see him go -- not because it is impossible around here without him, because we do OK, but because I miss him when he is gone. Just his being here always makes things seem better, even if he is across town at church or in his recliner in our bedroom.

Last night was another feeble attempt on the part of Salinda to keep me from parenting her. I won’t go into all of the details, but it ain’t happenin’. I watch her friends manipulate their parents all day long and their parents give in because of the pressure. While i sometimes will compromise, there are certain things I won’t compromise. I am not going to let her ride her bike through one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the area alone in the dark. Last night she tried, “I hate the way you’re acting right now ... telling me what to do.”

I tried hard not to laugh out loud while I calmly (OK, so not THAT calmly) that I didn’t much care for the way she was acting and that I was GOING to tell her what to do as long as she was living under our roof. Not negotiable. And I pointed out to her once again that her nasty attitude and her punishing me for punishing her was NOT going to work. I was determined to do everything I could to keep her safe and from making bad choices.

So I am facing a day alone at my desk and trying to cut back on working so much -- everyone (even my boss) is telling me to. But I like working. That’s what they don’t get.

Monday, October 23, 2006


I love school. I know that it doesn’t sound nice to say it, but I love it that my kids are somewhere safe, where they are learning and getting the services they need, and where they have TONS of structure and things are the same almost every day. They really need this kind of structure and it’s hard to provide it at home.

So when we have a few days off, we really need to get back into the routine. I worked hard this weekend not to work and to relax, which is very hard for me. I know that sounds weird, but I was fairly successful.

Now, though, I have to jump back in with lots of energy to kick things into gear and I’m not all that thrilled about it.

MIke did come home about 4:00 yesterday afternoon. I calmly explained that his “holiday inn” shuttle services were going to be discontinued. I explained that Holiday Inns didn’t buy clothing and that the only senior pictures they might purchase were the ones that they wanted for their own walls. I gave him two weeks to change his behavior and if he did, shuttle service would be reinstated, we’d go buy the hoodie he’s been asking for (even though he has 3 or four already, and has lost five or six in the past year that were of high quality). I told him we’d order senior pictures at that time.

As is obvious I am feeling less than enthusiastic which makes my blog less than interesting. But I’m feeling contemplative today so something thought provoking and well written might actually appear here again soon.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

See Why I'm Paranoid

How could I have massively offended over 100 people that quickly? These are my site meter statistics for the last month.


And that’s something I don’t need at this moment, since I seem to be having trouble with my social skills lately as it is.

It’s Sunday morning and Mike is missing again. I took him to a girl’s house at 7:00 last night and he promised he would call before 10 if he needed a ride. We haven’t heard from him again.

As you may remember, last Sunday we had the Holiday Inn Conversation. Apparently some of it hit home, because this week he has started to steal from us again. I can’t prove it, but lots of things are missing that have historically never been missing when he is not living here.

So we’ve moved further down that line just like I figured we would. All week long his friends have been “giving him stuff.” He has new shoes, a new hat, a new sweatshirt. Ironic, isn’t it, that this would all start happening the week that we’re missing assorted items and a lot of cash around here.

Today (or the next time I see him, wherever that may be), I am going to inform him that the Holiday Inn Shuttle Service is no longer available to him except for school, church, and work. He’ll just get rides from friends, but at least I won’t feel like an accomplice to him spending the night at a girls’ house and skipping church. And I’ll even tell him that in two weeks he can requalify for shuttle service is he is home when he says he will be and doesn’t skip church.

I need to put the counter to his 18th birthday permanently on my blog. Because at that point, at least when he steals from us, we can choose to press charges.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

For those of you with Little Kids

I've managed to stay away from work today, but when I do that I often get caught up in other things. LIke check out Rate My Baby Pics. So many pictures of babies and little kids in every category imaginable -- you can look at other peoples babies, rate them, upload your own photos. You can even blog from there. The sight is quite deep and you can get lost in there for a long time. Lots of cute pictures and many ways to connect with other parents of small children.

I spent quite a bit of time looking at all the cute pictures and I encourage you to check it out!

Planning an Unusual Day

I got 8 hours of sleep last night, insignificant, boring fact to you, significant and good thing for me.

I decided as I was lying awake for a few minutes in bed this morning, that I was going to try to spend a day without doing anything work-related. Not clock in a single hour. That is highly unusual for me because matching kids is a huge passion and there is always so much work to do. There is always one more study that can be sent, one more potential match to try and make, one more email to write, one more website to check.

This is my goal. I have a bunch of paperwork on my desk that is family related that I need to deal with and file, a trip to the Salvation Army needs to be made to drop off clothes, I could work on my blogs or do a CD of the FASD retreat... all ideas of things I might do while spending some time with the kids, cleaning up around here a little (though we did have the 2 hour cleaning frenzy last night before company came).

So, that’s my plan. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Normal People

We had normal people over for supper. I am sure that they would be insulted by the label normal, because they really aren’t -- but I mean normal in the fact that they don’t have kids like ours... maybe some day, but right now they are just contemplating the idea of children, period.

We had a good time, and the children were fairly appropriate. THere were no meltdowns and they went to bed fairly quietly without too much commotion BEFORE our guests left.

I have had a work situation driving me nuts for 3 days now, so I was pretty upset when they arrived, but by the time they left I was feeling pretty good (it’s always fun to have stories to tell to people who have never heard them, or even read them on the blog).

It’s 10:22 on a Friday night and all the children are here and accounted for. Now if we can just get them to stay here all night...

Brilliant Responses

Having learned to de-escalate once and a while by now, I now say, “I’m done talking to you” and then I do stop talking.

Today, it struck me the odd response to that question that I often get from Jimmy.

Here is the conversation I had for the 100th time with him.

“OK, JImmy, I’m done talking to you.”

“Shut up.”

The Final School Day of Block Break

I actually was able to sleep in this morning, which was nice. Once again I am trying to get things done with multiple interruptions. I’m getting pretty good at multitasking.

We had another night by the fire last night and even Mike and his new friend (who is 13, showing you about where Mike is developmentally at the chronological age of almost 18) sat with us for a while before we went to bed.

We are having company for supper -- another pastor and her husband. Which reminds of last night’s Jimmy-ism.

We were riding through the campus of the local Lutheran college that reminds me in many ways of Bartlesville Wesleyan College (now called something else) where I attended and worked for several years. I told JImmy, “Oh I miss this. I loved working on campus. I was important, I made a lot of money, I had a lot of fun. And then I gave it all up to become a parent.”

“And a pastor’s husband,” Jimmy said.

Yup, Jimmy, a pastor’s husband.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What a Cool Idea

I came across this today -- a Voice Quilt. Instead of memories of different people sewn together to form a cloth quilt, we have voices recorded together to form a collection of memories you can hear.

You can find out all kinds of information about it at VoiceQuilt. I bet there are grandparents out there who would think this was an ever so cool Christmas gift -- to hear the voices of their grandchildren. Apparently people from all over the place can call in and leave their messages, so it would be a great way to coordinate a gift for families spread everywhere, especially those of us with large families. Memories of Christmases past would be so cool to record.

I usually do a calendar for my parents each year . . maybe this music box would be a great idea for this year instead.

Last Night's Visit to Yesteryear

Last night we built the fire and turned down the lights (apparently the flash on my camera works very well). The kids were sitting at our feet in front of the fire. It was warm and toasty. The adults were enjoying the moment.

Bart and Anna played with puppets.

Anna and Rand sang “Little Bunny Foo Foo.”

The children knitted and weaved. Doesn’t it sound so 1920s?

But then I threatened to kiss Ben and the REAL Fletcher household erupted back into normalcy. Yarn was thrown, shoes were thrown, kids screamed, parents scolded. And we all felt strangely calmed by the chaos which had interrupted the eerie serene scene we had previously experienced.

Great Morning but Something is Really Wrong

Like I need another stressor.

We have actually had a good morning here, but I have only had 38 visitors to my blog as of 12:40 today. That is so weird. Usually it is over 100 by now.

My obsessive compulsive nature has really got me worried. Is it a computer glitch or did I really just lose 60 readers just like that?

Sharp Decline

Yesterday my blog readership dropped by nearly 100 readers in one day. One of you has indicated that there were some problems with some of the ads redirecting people to advertisements so I am going to remove some of them.

But could I have majorly offended a huge number of readers all of the sudden? I am perplexed.

Last night Salinda’s group of middle schoolers did not have much fun together. I found a bunch of them having a loud argument in the family room and Salinda upstairs watching TV alone avoiding the whole situation. The particular group of friends she is selecting are not ones that are going to take her any place very positive, but I know better than to make a stink about it.

I tried to sleep in, and did end up in bed longer than usual. This morning everyone but Dominyk is still asleep (no school today -- Teachers Inservices in MN -- and he is happy as a clam because I am not making him shower before he watches TV. I figured that I would let the middle school girls sleep as long as possible. Sleeping dogs who bite should not be awakened.

Going to see if I can fit a few hours of work around parenting today. Last night there were 19 people, including our family, “hanging out here” for a while.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Might As Well Work

i don’t like to kill time. I have so little free time that I hate to waste any time. So It’s 9:48 and I am in my office and plan to be here until 11:30, something very unusual for me.

Here’s the retelling of the events of the day, for anyone interested. After I wrote my whining pose I decided to take a nap I was just exhausted. When I finished I had the delightful privilege of taking Salinda shopping for a hooded sweatshirt like I had promised. All of hers from last year were too small. So i took her, but I forced her to resolve last night before I pulled out the checkbook. It’s my attempt to teach her good people skills -- if you want to have a relationship with someone, things can’t get left up in the air indefinitely.

It took her almost 90 minutes to break. Stone cold silence, dirty looks, etc. But I finally got through to her, and the rest of our time was enjoyable. She has been appropriate, but has friends here. I figure we need take a turn at this as she is at others’ homes often. So there is a gaggle of middle schoolers in our family room being quite noisy. The boys are staying until 11:30 and the girls are spending the night.

Tonight we had a great time with Kari and the fam. Mike (as in Kari’s husband, not as in my son) lit us a great fire and almost everyone sat with us. Ricardo was a little reluctant, and Salinda and MIke were gone, but the rest of the kids sat with us and visited. The kids were knitting and we were talking. It was picturesque. Tomorrow I will have to remember to post some pictures.

Bart made a super great dinner... it was awesome. So there were good elements to the day.

Now, though I have to stay awake for the next 90 minutes. I figured I could kill time, or work, and it’s too noisy for me to enjoy killing time, so I’m at the computer, getting ready to see how many emails I can whittle things down to.

I Predicted That One

Wow, giving that social history was exhausting. Month after month of reporting and living through the whole nightmare again. And the conclusions and plans for the future for him are at this point undetermined, but some of what they are suggesting is too disturbing for me to even put in writing.

And I came home to a work-related stupid situation that I’m trying to figure out, which resulted in 2 long phone calls with Tony trying to get in to interrupt me. He wouldn’t leave my office, so I left him, but he followed later on.

I feel like I’ve been awake for three days instead of 6 hours. And I am going to have a conversation with Salinda in 2 hours that I am not looking forward to.

Whine whine whine.

Some Days You Don't Have a Lot to Look Forward To

I have to make it until 5:30. That’s the next thing I have to look forward to. We’re going to christen our fireplace, something we’ve never had before, with Kari and her family. We’ll have supper together and it will be relaxing (I can’t believe I just wrote it. Note to self: Remember that your definition of relaxing probably wouldn’t be relaxing to anyone else). There is no school tomorrow so we won’t be in a rush to be done. Several of our kids are looking forward to it and the ones who aren’t will probably disappear.

But this morning Bart is already gone to work. I will get 5 kids up and out the door and to school. At 8:30 I have to give a social history of John’s life to his probation officer, something that makes me relive the whole sad story again (I’ve only had to do this about 8 times). Then I will come home to face relentless Tony who lately is breaking into either heaving sobs or screaming tears about 8-10 times an hour. Next week we are seeing the psychiatrist -- I think that he needs a medication adjustment. He seems worse than ever.

And in the midst of “homeschooling” him for the day, I will try to work. Yesterday I only managed to get about 3 hours in, which, if you know my routine, is quite atypical.

So now I’m beginning what, with Salinda’s mood in full swing, will prove to be an interesting 45 minutes.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Rediculous Requests and Learned Behavior

Salinda asked tonight to go to a sleepover with both boys and girls as a 13 year old -- and I’m not talking about a church lockin.

She freaked out when I told her no. To the point of pretending to run away. Fortunately, she’s smart enough that she came back within a few minutes, but the argument that preceded was pretty crazy. The things she was saying were so off base.

I hate it that she has learned the “I’ll run away” trick from her older brothers. I hated, for those 15 minutes, having to think once again about whether or not to call law enforcement, follow her, call her friends, what.

But she’s back now, so in an hour or so when my adrenaline stops pounding through my veins at top speed, I may be able to go to sleep.

Now tell me, please, I’m not off base saying no to this request am I?

Why We Don't Homeschool: Part 3

By this time on a normal school day I would have put in 4.5 hours of work. Today I have managed to squeak out 1. We had conferences that took until 10 and then I put in an hour before Mike needed me to do something and then Tony and then Rand. When I finally got back and it was time for Tony to start working and he is pitching a complete fit.

He’s so far behind and so oppositional that trying to make any progress at all is horrible. He literally has done no more than right his name on his paper in 40 minutes.

I know that my style probably isn’t best for him, but he is so invested in NOT doing the work that he can’t make any progress.

Rand on the other hand is happily working away in the other room and getting a lot done. Mike, of course, is out skateboarding. I can’t imagine trying to make him do anything.

Of course, while Tony is struggling to write 250 words about their experience yesterday, Bart blogs this articulate account of the visit.

Sunday's Radio Program

Save the Date
Sunday October 22,2006
You Gotta Believe!
Is hosting a great weekly live call in parent support group broadcast.  The Adopting Teens and Tweens radio show can be heard this Sunday from 8:00pm until 9:00pm (Eastern time).  People who live in Nassau County most of Queens, Western Suffolk& Parts of Brooklyn can tune into WGBB 1240 on your am dial.  If you reside outside of these areas you may listen on line to a live stream by logging onto www.am1240.com .
This weeks radio broadcast will feature  Angels in the studio.   Mr. Ed Lacinski and his wife Juliette Lacinski along with their 15 year old daughter Kema will be our guest for the Sunday evening broadcast. 
 Mr. and Mrs Lacinski were the 2006 recipients of the Angels in Adoption award. This prestigious award is highly recognized. The Lacinski's are the perfect match for this award.
 They are advocates for adopting older children, and they will share their story of how they came to be adoptive parents.  Mr. and Mrs. Lacinski will share how adopting their daughter has proven to be one of their  most rewarding experiences.
  The family will offer support to waiting families, answer questions  and their daughter   Kema will be a part of the broadcast as well.  She will explain what adoption has meant to her.
 If you have questions or concerns or you just need HELP!  Please call us during this live broadcast at (631)888-8811
You don't want to miss this weeks Adopting Teens and Tweens radio support group!

Taking the Simple Things for Granted

Too Sexy For My Biceps

Last night everyone was home when we went to bed. Nobody had a meltdown, almost everyone went to bed without a fight. And that is a thing to celebrate.

Last night Dominyk and Tony played together for 19 minutes without yelling, hitting or screaming. And that is a thing to celebrate.

Last night Sadie wanted to be with me when I ran errands and when I watched TV for the first time in 6 months, she still wanted to sit on my lap at the age of almost 12. And that is a thing to celebrate.

Last night, Bart had time to read a book, cover to cover, though not a horribly long one, and wasn’t interrupted too many times to make that impossible. And that is a thing to celebrate.

Last night, our van and later our bedroom were filled with laughter as Dominyk made up a song about how the girls liked Ricardo because of his sexy hair, and sexy chest, and sexy face, and sexy biceps.... and later, I turned it into a feeble rendition of “you’re too sexy for your shirt, to sexy for your biceps” etc, and Ricardo responded in his deep low voice, “shut up, mom.” And that is a thing to celebrate.

Last night Salinda, during the hour she was home, did not express any disgust because I am alive. And that, because it is so unusual, is a thing to celebrate.

Last night Mike did what he was supposed to do and slept in his own bed (to my knowledge) and that is a thing to celebrate.

I could go on, but the point is this: Sometimes the little things are big things and we need to not take them for granted.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Surrounded by Pain

it just hit me tonight in the middle of posting kids and trying to whittle down my ever growing inbox (I worked steadily all day and could not get it below 70. A couple of times it got down to 69, but the next time I looked at it it was up to 75 again. I seemed to hover there around 70 most of the day. I’ve got it down to 50 now, but only because I’m working after supper when nobody else is at work trying hard to fill it back up.

Here’s what hit me: I am emotionally exhausted because I am surrounded by pain. Not only am I responsible for parenting 10 children who had traumatic pasts, filled with pain, but I am constantly reading case records and profiles of children who have experienced abuse and neglect. Most of the time I can step back and focus on the big picture, and process the information without letting it sink in.

It hit me though, a couple minutes ago, as I was zipping through another posting of a child that I was seeing the words “sexually abused” and having it mean nothing more to me than if I were to read the words “baking soda” on a recipe. I have gotten so conditioned to all the pain, that I don’t internalize it. The experiences and diagnosis of a child have almost become like ingredients in a recipe that make parents decide whether or not to parent a child.

FASD, Bi-Polar, RAD, sexual abuse are all big scarlet letters in the profile that make pre-adoptive parents say “thanks, but no thanks.” The diagnosis are secondary only to age (over 11, forget it) in making people decide they can’t parent a child.

And so, like tonight, every once and a while, something hits me like a ton of bricks. Either my emotional resistance is down, or I’m tired, or I have a minute to digest things, and then all of the sudden the child isn’t just the 32nd situation I have posted today, or Case #MB1409, but it’s a child. And then all of the horror, the injustice, the shame, the grief, and the pain come rushing in.

And so to all of the children out there who wait I want to say this:

I am sorry that your birth parents could not care for you;
I am sorry that you were beaten;
I am sorry you were sexually abused;
I am sorry that you were neglected;
I am sorry that you witnessed things that no child should ever witness when you were very young, that you were watching an NC-17 film while standing in your bedroom doorway;
I am sorry that your birthparents neighbors, friends, or fellow church goers did not step in and do something to help your birthparents before they were caught in a cycle from which they could not escape;
I am sorry that someone came and took you away from the only people you knew, even if it was in your best interest;
I am sorry that you had to go from home to home to home;
I am sorry that there are things wrong with your brain or your body and that the medicines you take aren’t quite working;
I am sorry that you have been placed into families before that couldn’t meet your needs;
I am sorry that the group homes and mental hospitals and residential treatment centers have not had programs that matched your disability, so they made things worse instead of better;
I am sorry that now nobody wants to adopt you.

But mostly, I am sorry that we as a society have failed you on so many levels.
I am sorry that we haven’t done better for you sooner.
I am sorry that we didn’t step forward long ago to do more before it came to this point.

And I’m sorry that the future for you is bleak, whether or not you are adopted, but ever more so if you are not.

And I’m sorry that in the midst of things you became simply a case, a number, a record, a file.

I wish I could do more for you, waiting children, but right now my house is full, my background checks may no longer be clean because of the battles we’ve fought for the children already here, and I can’t convince people to do something as hard as what parenting you might be.

But that doesn’t mean that I’ll stop trying, and it doesn’t mean that you aren’t worth fighting for. And it certainly doesn’t mean that any of this is your fault.

And next time, when I see your picture, I will pray for you and I will remake my commitment to worker harder, smarter, faster, with all that I have in me to recruit, train and support a family who just might, some day, be willing to be there for you and love you, no matter what the future holds.

The Holiday Inn Conversation

As is typical, Bart articulately blogs about Mike. He blogged and then he took Tony and Rand on a field trip, making me very happy indeed... although I was the one left to confront Mike about his choices last night.

I talked with him very calmly about where his choices were leading him. I had what I refer to as the “holiday inn” conversation.

I told him that right now he was treating us like a Holiday Inn. He came and went, ate when he was here, slept in his bed. But he was giving nothing more to the family. I told him that I was willing to stay out of his face, since it is 5 months away from his 18th birthday, and not get after him when he wasn’t following the rules, if he was willing to stay out of my face when he asked for stuff and I said no.

Now, before some of you head to the comment button to ask about our strict rules, here are the ones we expect from him:

We want a general idea of where you are and when you’ll be home;
we want you to attend church on Sundays and youth events when they are held.

The other rules of our family, like chores, etc., I haven’t even asked him to do as it historically has led to major battles.

So, I explained to him one more time that there were things he was going to want, that his friends were not going to want to pay for everything for him forever, and that when that time came, he needed to realize that the Holiday Inn does not provide you with an allowance nor cash when you ask them for it. In fact, you pay them.... which I told him when he turns 18, rent might be required if he couldn’t simply tell us where he was.

He handled it maturely and the conversation was uneventful. But the bottom line is that he is only thinking about the moment, and conversations only get us so far.

Why We Don't Homeschool: Part Two

Well, I have survived the first three hours of block break. And for 2.5 of them, Tony did OK. He sat in my office at my laptop doing research for project but his mouth literally ran nonstop most of that time. Asking me questions, telling me stuff he was learning. I managed to multitask, but I’m feeling a little bit on the stressed side.

Then he hit is limit and then literally for 20 minutes stood within 7 inches of my elbow and breathed down my neck asking me one question after another about everything he could see on my desk, on my screen. AAAGHHH.

And MIke is still asleep. Rand worked for about 2 hours today on a project.

Fortunately Bart is rescuing me and taking the boys on a “Field trip.”

By then I’ll be too emotionally exhausted to work.

I can’t wait for someone to comment about how i should enjoy this time with my children or be more patient, but either you have a different temperament than I or you don’t have a relentless kid like Tony.

But relentless or not, he’s pretty cute.

Why We Don't Homeschool: Part One

This week our sons, Rand, Mike and Tony have “block break” where they are supposed to stay home from their charter school and use the time to work on their projects. Mike, I am sure, will do absolutely nothing. In fact, I don’t know if we’ll even see him. Up until a few minutes ago I didn’t even know he came home last night, but Rand reports he was in his bed when he woke up this morning.

Rand will be somewhat directable. He’s already made great strides at school -- finished all his math for the whole year in the first 6 weeks of school. He has put in several hours on his senior project, and he has a few other projects approved to work on. I think if I help him, he will get a lot done this week.

But Tony is the reason I don’t homeschool. We have been “working” for 15 minutes. I have been cussed at, told I’m going to be stabbed, yelled at, argued with, etc. it is going to be a very long week. And those of you who homeschool deserve large medals.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

And Today's Final Post of the Saga that Never Ends

Mike didn’t come home by 4:20, but he did call at 4:20 and ask for a ride. He went to the youth event, making everyone late. Bart said he stood off to the side for the first several minutes, a good 30 feet away from the rest of the group. Then he joined them but several minutes later came up to Bart and said, “Can I get a ride to ______ sometime this week (a town about 3 hours from here).

Bart simply said no. We were discussing tonight whether or not he really is as clueless as he appears. I mean why would a person who just went missing for 15 hours and skipped church and then made everyone late expect special privileges.

Then he came home from the event and I caught him on the phone he took from my office (that the kids aren’t supposed to use). I heard the door shut. Apparently he has disappeared again. But you will remember this:


And we will survive. He doesn’t have school all this week, so we’ll be surprised if we see him. But we have less than 5 months and then we’ll be able to look at things differently.

To her credit, Salinda has done exactly what she is supposed to do, including coming down just now to tell me that she was going to bed early and offer me a hug (something that hasn’t happened in a while). She even told me she loved me.

I hope to get some sleep, even with Mike missing. I just need to ask myself what the worst is that could happen and realize that I can probably live through whatever it is.

Not Including It Here...

but if you’d like to check out the video I made of our concert at FASD Retreat.

Click here to watch it (if you make the window smaller the picture is clearer.

The Santa Clause Spangled Banner

Andrew is one of the neatest kids I've ever met. His special needs are multiple, but he has such a pure heart and he loves life so much.

Andrew loves Christmas, in fact, every day is Christmas for him. When I first heard his rendition of "Oh Christmas Tree" I was so disappointed that I didn't have a video camera along because he morphs it into a patriotic theme. This weekend, he sang it again for me, and sure enough, he was soon singing, "oh say does Santa Clause Spangled Banner yet wave..."

There were several of us listening to his video, but as parents with kids with special needs, we didn't realize how much background noise was there. I guess we tune it out.

I hope that when you hear Andrew's song, you will celebrate life with him and celebrate all children whose brains have been damaged by prenatal exposure to alcohol.

I Don't Think I Can Go On

Dominyk was playing “Extreme Stunts” and licked the wheel of his bicycle while the bike was moving.

He is wailing at my feet. “I need a new tongue. I can’t go on like this, Mom. (He’s got a cloth and is holding on to his tongue with the cloth.)

”I can’t go anywhere with my tongue like this. It hurts too bad. I will just yell wherever I go. I need a new tongue. OW! Mom, that’s all I need right now. I need a new tongue.“

“you can’t get a new tongue!”

“Someone can donate one to me.”

“LIke an organ donor?“


”I don’t think it works that way.“

”I need a new brain.“

”A new brain?“ (I ask as it is quite difficult to ascertain what he is saying while he is holding his tongue with a cloth and talking at the same time)

”Yes, because I’m so darn stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid. OOOOOOW! OOOOOOW! AAAGH! I think I’m going to have to talk like this, he mumbles, with his tongue sticking out.“

”I have some good news and some bad news. My tongue stopped bleeding. That’s the good news. The bad news is my tongue is still hurting.“

”well, I’m sure it will start feeling better.“

”It’s already feeling better. In fact, my tastebuds have already grown back and I have regular spit. But my tongue is going to keep making me yell, off and on.“

And then the whole thing is over and he’s disappeared out of the office door.

FASD Support Camp Video

A video of our time at Camp Omega, featuring our wonderful kids who, though the world may see as losers, are actually the most blessed and the most likely to inherit the earth.

Note to Teenage Girls Everywhere:

Don’t tell your mom (using your friend’s cell phone) that you’re in your friend’s backyard when she is driving right past you three blocks away.

I actually saw her talking on the phone to me telling me she was somewhere she wasn’t.

As you can imagine, consequences are high, and consequences will sky rocket (possibly double) if her attitude plummets.

Since then, however, Mike was given permission to go skateboarding with Tony, who ended up at a strangers house, lost, as Mike hopped in the car with friends. He’s supposed to be back here by 4:20, but I’m dubious.

i hate parenting him, but it would have to be worse to be him -- never making a decision based on the past or future, entirely impulsive, careening here and there like a pinball game ball, bouncing from one thing to another with no self-regulation.

And all we as parents are right now are flippers, saving him from going down the chute and losing the game, but flipping him back out into the game to be bounced around some more.

Wow, sometimes I think I’m a flippin’ genius. That’s a perfect analogy.

Arriving Safe and Apparently Completely Unaware

Mike shows up at 1 p.m. He didn’t know what time he was supposed to be home. He went to church this morning, just not our church. He heard from Salinda that we wouldn’t be home until late last night so even though he had both of our cell phone numbers, he didn’t bother to call and check and see if he needed to come home.

Sometimes I have a really hard time believing that he’s that clueless, but with the FASD, maybe he is.

This is Not Hilarious

Salinda is not home. She didn’t show up at church either. And Mike, of course, never bothered to show up.

I’m waiting until Bart gets home to strategize about what to do, but I’m really feeling like parenting teens sucks. Bart is not feeling well, so by the time church was over, I was really dreading my day. I hate having to clean the whole house for the meet and greet without him. I had to do it once when he didn’t feel well and it was more than hard and annoying.

But apparently the invitations are done going out and at least for tonight there will be no meet and greet, so at least that burden is lifted. Now if I just knew where all of my children were.

This is Hilarious!

It’s being marketed as a stress reliever, and I can certainly see why. It’s funny that this is marketed as a preschool toy, because I can definitely see how stressed out parents could benefit from the thing. Sometimes what we all really need is a good laugh and there is nothing that can make us laugh more than seeing someone (something?) laugh first.

Only in our culture would we have a toy called “Tickle Me Elmo EXTREME.” But apparently we now do and it’s hilarious. Quoting from the the website, “Tickle him once, and he starts laughing hysterically, slaps his leg twice, falls down into a sitting position, then rocks himself back up. When you tickle him a second time, he repeats all the movements he did before, plus he falls backwards, and starts kicking his feet while laughing even harder.”

You gotta check this out ... even if you can’t rationalize the purchase, just viewing the video on the website should relieve a little stress.

Check it out at elmo tmx.

Back from FASD Camp

Since we would have had to come back first thing this morning anyway, I decided we’d come home. I needed a good night’s sleep in a warm, comfortable bed. There is a reason why I don’t camp.

I won’t ever be able to do “Alcohol Camp”, as Kari's son Ben calls it, justice by trying to describe it. But I will give it a shot. On Friday night we had a concert with Jason Gray. It was short, actually just right time wise. He sang a lot of fun and silly songs for the kids and they loved him -- things like “I gotta Boogie ... on my finger” and “you can’t put your finger in your nose”. BUt he sang this incredible song that was so appropriate for people with FASD. I made a movie out of it and I just might post it here if nobody thinks Jason would care.

Here are the lyrics:

All the lovely losers
Who never thought you’d hear your name
Always on the outside
Empty at the wishing well
But time will tell

Blessed be
The ones who know that they are weak
They shall see
The Kingdom come to the broken ones
Blessed be

Like you’re drinking from a salt sea
But one day you’ll be satisfied
For the taste of mercy
If only you could have your fill
One day you will


Not for the strong, the beautiful, the brave
Not for the ones who think they’ve got it made
It’s for the poor, the broken, and the meek
It’s for the ones who look a lot like you and me

Powerful to hear those words and then see pictures behind them of children that I have come to love and enjoy -- kids who the world may see as “losers”, who have organic brain damage that is no fault of their own. Kids who are charming, and funny, and affectionate and kind, but who “just don’t get it” most of the time, living in a world that “just doesn’t get them.”

The feeling at the concert was so freeing. All those kids doing what they do -- jumping and running and dancing, free to be who they were. And not a single adult in the room tying their behaviors to poor parenting. All of us seeing the uniqueness of each other’s children and being able to celebrate them.

There were other great parts of the weekend, like time for just moms to hang out while the dads showed the kids a movie, having all kinds of other people’s kids on my lap, fun interactions as a family (well, 8 of us anyway), hearing my kids talk about how much fun it was and how they can’t wait until next year, and being able to eat good food without Bart or I having to fix it.

Hopefully later I’ll have some time to post the video or some pictures.

Not to end this on a down note, but that is the reality of our lives. Mike was supposed to be home last night. It’s 45 minutes before 2nd service time, and he is not yet home. Salinda is not home either, but at least had permission to remain another night. I still have trouble sleeping when I don’t know where one of my kids is, but maybe I’ll get used to it. He’ll be an “adult” in less than 5 months.