Monday, April 30, 2007

Contemplating Another Career

Way back in the day, I mean way way back, like 13 years ago now, I had a very successful career. From the time I was 21 until I was 32 I was a College Student Development Professional. I started as a Hall Director, then became a Women's Residence Life Coordinator, then the Director of Student Development, then the Dean of Student Development by the time I was 24...

I loved it. It was an awesome job.

I spent some time today contemplating returning to that arena after seeing some local job opportunities.

But I talked myself out of it.

It's just that sometimes working in "the system" is really, really hard.

Motivating Myself with A Bathroom Break

Today nothing could motivate me.

I finally had to tell myself that I couldn't go to the bathroom before a finished a project.

Desperate, I know.

This is Why

This morning I decided I would be very motivated and make an hour by hour plan for myself. If I finished things before the hour was up, I could do something fun for the rest of my hour (work on a page of Rand's Scrapbook, play a quick computer game, work on the movie from yesterday, whatever).

I had 4 things from my 9-10 hour on the list. One of them was to deal with ONE email. That email, with me working as fast as I could, has taken me 58 minutes. I didn't even start the other three things.

I am using my 2 free minutes to blog this. And pee.

Please Don't Do That Again!

My newest "BFF" Sue (we pretend we're 12 sometimes) was talking to me at 9:30 last night and said, "Well, I wish you an uneventful rest of the night."

Apparently, she jinxed us.

Rand, at 9:40, asked me to come downstairs and smell the small room where we have our water heater, water softener, etc. He had smelled something at 3:30, but waited until it was time for bed to tell us about it. Since the door to the basement, is closed, we could smell nothing in the rest of the house. Sure enough, the smell of gas gave me an instant headache.

So, while I was attempting to settle the kids down, Bart called the gas company. They told him to not touch anything -- no switches, nothing electric, and get everyone out of the house. Bart stayed in the yard to meet the gas guy.

So at bedtime, we all had to leave. We of course, it started out horribly. Dominyk and Tony were just sure that Bart and the dog and all their belongings were going to get blown up. But after lots of reassurance, a snack, and an adventure (cartwheels and tag in front of the closed music store) we got the call that things were fine. The kids had been painting a room in the basement and apparently sometimes the fumes can mix with other things in the vents and it can smell like gas.

So, we came home and tried to settle the kids down. Dominy, finally not obsessing about the house blowing up any more, was traumitized by Tony pulling 13 ticks off the dog. Bart decided at 10:50 that the dog had to have a bath and a tick treatment.

So, at 11:30, two hours after I decided I was too tired to be up any longer, we went to sleep.

Another uneventful night at the Fletchers...

Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Few Seconds of this Morning's Performance

Blessed with a Burden

I watched the Freedom Writers on DVD yesterday and today and found it powerful and inspiring. Plot, very quickly, is about a young teacher who sees potential in her class of gang members. She motivates them to learn to write . . . well, you need to see it.

A couple of things that stood out to me, though, are these;

1) In order to follow her passion, she had to sacrifice her marriage. I am SO grateful that I have a husband who allows me to be consumed with what I do, be very good at it, and not be threatened or feel neglected.

2) The teacher's father says one line in the movie that is just powerful. He says to her, "You have been blessed with a burden. And for that, I envy you."

I finished the movie grateful that people like Erin exist (it's a true story) and very glad I have been blessed with an all-consuming burden.

Never Been Prouder

I don't think I've ever been more proud of my little kids (the four youngest) than I was this morning. They did their spring musical, "Donkey Tales" at church today and did awesome! I was amazed.

I don't think people realize just how much effort it takes some of my kids to be "normal." Dominyk hasn't been able to make it through an entire practice once this year (he usually comes running to wear I'm there to supervise him yelling "I can't take it any more!!!)" But this morning, in spite of exhaustion from yet another med change and strep throat, pulled himself together and made it through both performances.

I'm working on video to post here sometime today, but I wanted to declare my pride and love for them. What requires a little additional effort on a "normal kids" part, is like climbing Mt. Everest for mine. Battling mental illness, second language issues, medication problems, and multiple diagnosis, for 2 hours this morning they managed to look and act just like everyone else.

Something that nobody else probably even knew was such a feat brought tears to their mother's eyes.

Overheard while Dominyk was getting dressed...

He somehow bit or hurt his lower lip this morning.

So I overhear him while he is getting dressed:

Lip hurts, lip hurts, it hurts, hurts hurt. Lip hurts, the lip hurts.

Hurts like an angry animal.

You Know You're An Adoptive Parent When...

the facts surrounding adoption invade your psychy and infest your dreams.

Last night, I was in a different world -- a fantasy world. I had been given the responsibility of caring for Snow White and her dwarfs, but there weren't 7, there were 30. The fantasy world was a fairly cruel one, and Snow wanted me to bring her back with me and care for her in my own world.

I agreed to her plan but the dwarfs were devastated. "Who will take care of us? Can't we please come too?"

Their little sad faces, their pleading eyes, got to me. And in my dream I thought, "I know I can care for this many. Cindy does it. But there's no way they're coming with a subsidy."

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Shopping with a Teenage Girl

I don't have the emotional energy to relive the last hour, but it was typical of attempting to shop with a teenage girl. I hate shopping. Period. But I try my best to be pleasant when I have to do it with the kids.

I always manage to do something to to set off the equilibrium. And the sad thing is that up until this point, she had had a horrible day.

I'm not even going to mention the fact that it is impossible to buy anything cheap or modest these days, two things I value. Nor will I point out our distinctly different personalities.

I'll just conclude by saying that it wasn't fun, her good mood is OVER and GONE and it's my fault.... well, at least she thinks so. I would suggest we share the blame.

Beginning a Project

Rand is graduating this year so this morning, between trips everywhere, I started working on the scrapbook I want to make for the "show off" table.

I am using pictures from a book that his birthmom made for him on the day her rights were terminated. She did a really good job of making the book for him and wrote a letter indicating how nothing was his fault. The letter also gives all of the places where he lived as a baby and toddler and the details of his early years. He treasures the book and looks at it often.

Here's the first page.

This is How I Feel This Morning

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

Busy Day Ahead

Bart made it home and we slept well, but he was called at 6:20 a.m. to head to the home of a parishioner who died during the night. He is such a calming, non-anxious presence that I am more than willing to feel good about ministering to people in these situations.

Today we have a soccer practice, practice for the musical tomorrow for four kids and I'm going to take whoever would like to go with me up to Shakopee to watch Jimmy play tennis...

Speaking of Jimmy, here is a conversation he had with Bart last night.

Bart: I visited the grave of our 11th president, James Polk, while I was gone.

JImmy: Is he still alive?

Friday, April 27, 2007

I can see the finish Line from Here

Whenever Bart is out of town I feel like I am running a very long Marathon. He called about 1 hour and 15 minutes ago saying he had just gotten in the car at the airport to head home. I just called him and he's 20 minutes away.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

20 minutes and the race is over.

20 minutes and I made it. And it hasn't even been a bad week.

The Child Protection System

I started to blog my theory about who needs to be protected by Child Protection, but decided it fit better on the everything adoption blog.

And straight from Nashville

Bart blogs again.

Slumps and the Land of Abnormal

Sometimes I get into a slump. I don't have motivation. This entire week I've been working steadily, but don't seem to be making a great deal of progress. I am annoyed by my work instead of motivated by it and I have to force myself to do it.

It also is apparent in my lackluster blogging, which I'm sure has been annoying to you.

The strange thing is, things are going well at my jobs. I'm matching a lot of kids with families, recruiting new families and training them, and there is a lot of energy in what I'm doing. Maybe it has something to do with my seasonal rhythm or something.

I was reminded last night when the Kari's had us and her parents over for supper of something that happened a week or so ago that I had neglected to blog.

Dominyk was it one of his highly emotional, highly frustrated states and he stood outside the closed window and yelled through it to us and some unsuspecting house guests, "Sadie is riding my F****** bike."

Proving to me, once and for all that we have entered a new stage of abnormal, Pastor Bart simply replied, "Your bike can DO THAT?"

Thursday, April 26, 2007

We Are Not Normal

I noticed it a lot last night.

We just really aren't normal people. Last night there was the next to last practice for the musical the kids are doing at church. I watched a group of first through 3rd graders stand still and rehearse for 75 minutes. Dominyk couldn't make it through 5 minutes without having to come running to me to explain that he "couldn't take it any more."

Then this morning, at the doctor's office. Tony and Dominyk were just horrible. Dominyk was making consistent obnoxious noises and he couldn't stop, and Tony could not handle the fact that he was making them. They interrupted nearly ever sentence I spoke. Luckily it was one of the doctor's tasks for the morning to recommend PCA services. it was obvious the boys needed them.

The funny thing is, our "normal" really isn't that irritating to me, until I see normal and have something to compare it to!

Another Calm Night

Wow, I could get used to this. Last night was very calm as well. Tony is on new medication and is very mellow. Dominyk's new medications are working well also. The rest of the kids have just been very mellow.

Tony and Dom have doctor's appointments this morning and I need to head down to the Social Security Office sometime today to try to start the ball rolling on getting services.

I'm getting caught up on a few things, step by step, which is a good feeling.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Chuck E Cheese's Pictures

From our Trip on Sunday...

Empty Email Box Again

Always have to celebrate that fact...

and tempt those of you who can't stand it when it is empty to send me something to fill it up again.

On the way home from the salad luncheon....

I saw Mike walking up the street. Hoodie over his head, hiding his face, but I knew from the way he walked and the skateboard he was carrying -- the one we bought him just weeks ago when we dropped him off at the halfway house.

Respecting his wishes to have no contact with him, I did not honk or wave. I couldn't see his face.

He was heading up the long hill toward our home, but I'm telling myself he isn't coming here. We've asked him not to. I hope that he can respect that one request.

But it's an odd feeling to see your child who you have invested so much emotion in over 9 years, walking down the road, completely removed from you, now an "adult" by society's standards -- not in school, no job, nowhere really to go and pushing away the ONLY people who really care about him.

It makes me . . . well, for lack of a better word, it makes me sigh.

He Has a Future

Last night I talked to Ricardo's coach after soccer practice. Up to this point in time, we have had Ricardo in rec league type soccer playing with kids in his own grade who are 2 years younger than he. We knew that he was a star, but didn't know how he would do when playing on a competitive team with kids who were his own age.

We have him signed up for a 13 year olds competitive team and practice started last week. His coach, who is from Ecuador, asked Ricardo if he could talk to me last night. Much to Ricardo's dismay, I started talking to him in Spanish. I explained that Ricardo understood Spanish perfectly well, but would not speak it.

The coach let me know that Ricardo is a GREAT soccer player with a future in soccer. He reminded Ricardo to keep up his grades (something we've been saying non-stop for months).

It's great to hear good things about our kids and I am really hoping that this young man will be a great role model for Ricardo so that he will begin to see the need to improve his academics.

I'm looking forward to watching these guys play!

Is the Writing Really on the Wall?

Several months ago I read the book Damaged Angels and was amazed at the large number of kids with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder go nuts at 18 and totally mess up their lives. As soon as they can, it seems, they work hard to undo whatever good their parents have been able to do during the years they were in their home.

Mike has done exactly that. Even though we hung in there with him and had him set up in a setting where he could succeed, finish high school, get a job, and transition into adulthood successfully, he walked away from all that and right now is most likely stealing and dealing in order to meet his basic needs. We let him know he could have contact with us, but he is not interested because he knows that we will not enable his lifestlye and all that is important to him is financial support, not any other kind of support.

So, sometimes I ask myself, "Was the writing on the wall from the very beginning? Were we foolish to ever believe that anything we did was going to make a difference?"

I'm not asking this question with a sense of emotional failure or devastation -- I have those moments too, but this is not one of them. It is just a cognitive processing question.

I would love to hear "success stories" of adults with FASD with avergae IQs who have transitioned succesesfully to adulthood, especially those who have attachment disorder as well. It might help me to see that it doesn't have to be this way for everyone.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Calm Night

We had friends over for beans, Dominyk went to bed early, the other kids are fairly calm, Bart, who blogged tonight is happy, and I'm getting ready to go to bed fairly early.

It hasn't been a bad day, and I'm glad.

Only 3 more and Bart will be home again.

I Think I'm Alone Now

Bart has left for a church-related business trip to Nashville and all the kids are gone to school. I have a whole day at my desk, which I actually look forward to these days because it happens so infrequently. I wish I had more motivation though.

Dominyk's psychiatrist switched his meds so he didn't sleep hardly at all last night. I've sent him to school. Am not sure how long that will last.

When I am this swamped, decent blog entries are few and far between.... sorry!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Neglecting the Blog

So many things have happened today that are work related and confidential that I can't blog any of them, leaving me little blog fodder.

The trip to Chuck E. Cheese's was a lot more fun than I anticipated. I had a nice time with Salinda and the boys were very cute. I'll post photos later.

I sent a message to Mike's My Space indicating that we did not want him to come to the house. It riles up the children so much. They are so worried that he is going to come break in and steal their stuff.

He sent me back some sarcastic, borderline rude, comment but I'm excusing him, figuring he must have been high when he wrote it.

Just a few annoying tidbits of my day.

Late Night, Busy Morning

I was up late last night (may or may not blog why) and now we have two psychiatrist appointments this morning. Hopefully I'll have time to blog more later.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

One of THOSE mornings

This morning was . . . ugh. I don't even want to relive it by telling you about it. Basically it was a meltdown by one of the kids who hardly ever meltsdown and my not-so-flattering response to it. But it's over, and we've been through morning worship, 2 kids playing handbells, one kid in dance, a senior recognition service for Rand and his other friends, and a Senior Recognition Luncheon.

In a half hour I am leaving with Dominyk and his buddies to visit Chuck E. Cheese. I didn't realize until it was too late that the only kids he invited were the ones from his EBD classroom. So, it's me, the 4th grade EBD room, and Chuck E. Cheese. Kari mentioned that it might be a new level of Dante's inferno.

Salinda has offered to go along and help and keep me company. Don't know why, but I'll take it.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Dominyk's 11

No Social Skills

Last night was a whirlwind. If you don't want to read this paragraph feel free to jump ahead. At 3 I picked up Salinda and her friends from school (2 friends) and was home by 3:30 because I had to take one of the kids by his house to get a cell phone charger. I then returned home where I worked on cleaning up email until 5:10 when I had to leave to take Sadie to the mall, stopping at the bank on the way. I had invited Kari and her family and our friends and Sue and Tim to dinner (more on that later) so I was in a hurry to get back. I tidied up a little (don't want to overdo that you know) and then the families arrived. The guys went out to grill hotdogs and brauts (or however you spell it) but they weren't done in time for one of Salinda's friends to eat, so I had to take him home. On the way back I thought I would swing past the school to see if Jimmy's tennis match was over, which it wasn't. I arrived home, and literally sat down for 2 minutes and the phone rang and it was Jimmy. I went back to get him. The meat was done just as the propane ran out.. so we sat down and ate. 40 minutes later I had to take Jimmy and the girls to the lockin, picking up another girl on the way. An hour later I had to run and get Sadie at the mall.

Here's the great part. I have no social skills but I still have friends. Basically, to sum up last night, I had friends who were willing to buy the food for supper, bring it to my house, prepare it, and then clean up, while I ran here and there and walked around dazed in a fog of stress. Eventually, my stress was relieved and I was able to relax and have fun. Not sure how much fun they had though. See? No social skills.

Interesting things to ponder from last night:

Anna told us that the police come to her house every day and she needs to go to the basement and hide from them. . .

Kari jumped on the tramp -- Salinda has pictures on her camera. Adam is thrilled that finally it will be his mother who will be embarrassed by a blog.

Anna no longer needs "speech werapy." One would think that if you call it speech werapy, you might still need it.

And on a more serious note, Sadie saw Mike at the mall last night. Not only did she see him but she talked to him. He told her that he had been kicked out of the program and that he was staying with friends in Mankato. Told her not to tell us.

I apologized to her for not telling her -- we were hoping that the kids were not going to know for a while so they wouldn't have to lose sleep wondering if he was going to break into the house and still their stuff. I also told her I was proud of her for telling us even when he told her not to, and that we had known he was in town since the day he arrived -- that she was the 5th person to tell me he was here.

Today is another long one. Starting in 5 minutes, I have to medicate Dominyk and take Ricardo to soccer practice. 90 minutes later I will take JImmy to leave for his away tennis match and pick up Ricardo from practice (those two points being as far apart as humanly possible in a town of 50,000.

This afternoon we will go shopping for Dom's birthday and then I'm cooking. Fortunately he's choosing something I know how to make and is EASY....

Tonight we'll do his home birthday party.

At least I'm never bored.

Friday, April 20, 2007

My Situation

Right now my house is full of children. Soon it will be fuller. I am surrounding myself with my friends because it makes me feel safer. Tonight I will spend a great deal of time being a taxi -- but will have two other families here, so hopefully the 5 of us adults (Bart is out of town) will be able to parent the 12 children who will be here until 8 p.m. (4 of them are going to a lock in at that time).

Tomorrow is going to be quite the day -- we have some shopping that has to be done (Dominyk's birthday will be celebrated tomorrow). Salinda also has some clothes shopping she thinks she needs to do and Bart will be gone all day. Ricardo has soccer practice . . . it will be a day of running.

On Monday morning my inbox was empty. Tonight I am behind by 76. The big project I found out about on Tuesday that I need to get done ASAP still isn't done.

Yesterday, I willed something else to happen. I closed my eyes, before John walked into the building, and hoped that he had given up on this hairstyle

I opened, my eyes, he walked in, and this is what I saw.

See . . . I have psychic powers.

And it Happened Again

Bart Blogged Again.

It Happened, And I Couldn't Even Tell You

Since I was gone all day yesterday, I didn't even know until this morning that Bart blogged about Dominyk's birthday and I wasn't even here to report it to you.

Once Again, You'll Have to Fill in the Blanks

Apparently Mike has run away and reports at school are that he has returned to our town. We haven’t seen him yet. I’m sure he realizes that we’ll turn him in if he shows up here, which means if he shows up here, it will be in the middle of the night and probably with intent to steal.

I’m not going to go into detail about how the whole situation makes me feel because Mike has been online lately and if he is reading the blog, I would rather not have him find out how I feel by reading it here, so you’ll have to fill the blanks.

I’m not even sure how much I want to blog with that in mind about anything going on here.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Happy Birthday, Dear Dominyk...

This morning Bart got Dominyk up early to take him out to breakfast for his birthday. This is making my morning much easier...

I was hugging him this morning and telling him about the first day I met him. He was 9 months old and HUGE ... he weighed almost 35 pounds. Bart had gone over to the social service building to meet him and bring him home.

I was sitting in the recliner in the living room and Bart brought him over and plopped him on my lap. He was wearing a pink snowsuit -- a hand me down from his older birth sister. Who would have known the journey we had begun.

And now he's 11 and it's been quite a ride. I'm sure the next ten will be even crazier...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Planning Dominyk's Birthday

Tomorrow my baby will turn 11. That's scary. 11 is the age that our oldest son came to us as. It seems odd that our 9 month old is suddenly 11.

I am planning a Chuck E. Cheese party for him and he overheard me telling his PCA yesterday, "By the time the event is over, I'll be drooling and wearing diapers."

He said, "It's OK mom. They have bathrooms there."

Heavy Sigh

Well, we got the call we were hoping we wouldn't get. Mike has managed to get himself kicked out of the halway house. They have nowhere to put him. He is spending the night in a homeless shelter, but we don't know where. They have one option, but it is a long shot. He wants foster care, but he doesn't understand that he isn't going to be able to go into foster care because he is 18. His Probation Officer doesn't know what to do, but she doesn't want him returning to Mankato.

You can imagine all the thoughts that are running through our minds tonight. They aren't pleasant ones. They are very troubling. Knowing the story you could all probably write my blog post.

Willing Things to Happen and Other Stuff

Do you think we have the power to will things to happen?

Jimmy has to do an hour of chores every time he gets into trouble enough at school so that I get a phone call or email. We've found that this works well because it is over quicker than grounding and he's a great cleaner, so I get some things done that need to be done. The last three times I that I have thought to myself, "Wow, this really need to be cleaned. Maybe Jimmy will get in trouble at school today" I have gotten an email from the school within the hour. Today things were really dirty and I got two. Makes me chuckle. Won't make him chuckle.

I got a long apology letter from the "I don't trust you" teenager, which was nice. Maybe we're making some progress. Thanks to those who responded. I think the most significant piece of this is for me to remind her that her not trusting me is hurting her a lot more than it is hurting me.

I'm still working on the same work project. I'm very mad at me for getting so far behind.

Do Teenagers Trust Their Parents?

I am having a long extended, interrupted by hours or days of negative behavior, conversation with one of my children who continues to point out that she doesn't trust Bart and I. I explained to her last night that trusting is a choice that the one who trust makes. The person wanting to be trusted can be completely trustworthy, but until the other person decides to trust, nobody can force them to.

I'm thinking that the issue is about control, rather than actual trust, but I'm not sure what the root issue is. I think that she thinks we will be hurt by that remark -- and that maybe she's just trying to push buttons.

I usually ask rhetorical questions, but I need to hear from those of you with "normal" birth teenagers (if there is such a thing as a normal teenager). Is this "I don't trust you" thing an attachment, adoption issue, or do most teenagers feel like they can only trust their friends, not their parents?

I'm off to therapy for a couple kids this morning. I'm actually taking my laptop so I can work on yesterday's project while I sit in the waiting room. I don't want to lose those hours as I have so much to do today.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Dumbest Day Ever

I'm crabby. I have nobody to blame but myself.

I have to maintain utmost confidentiality, so let's just say this: I cut corners on a project and today I had to pay. In fact, I spent 6.5 hours trying to catch up and I still probably have another 5 hours of work to do on it and my boss wanted it at 9 a.m. I'm very mad at myself.

And in addition, it's finally spring and some of the kids are just driving me nuts. It's like they forget there are any limits at all and they are wanting to run wild.

I really want to crawl into bed with a good book, but instead I'll be at my computer tonight because I screwed up. I hate it when there is nobody to blame but me.

One of THOSE kinda days

I'm approaching my day with a list a mile long and I just do not have the desire, motivation, or drive to do anything on my list. Everything on it makes me feel tired.

Most days I am energetic about my work, but today I just feel drained. And no, I can't take the day off as I have way too much to do.

What a whiner I'm being today! STOP IT!

No Assessments after 9 p.m.

Last night I was going to blog some more, but decided not to do so. I realized that trying to summarize a day when I'm very tired probably leads to some pretty negative blogging and that it may not even make sense.

Mornings are always better for me, though this morning I'm not feeling as encouraged as some. I have a monstrous project I have to do for work and several other things that need to be done, including heading down to Social Security to try to qualify one of our sons for services. I do not look forward to that adventure.

I'm also being plagued by my unhealthy lifestyle again (sometimes it doesn't bother me so much) but thinking about doing something about it paralyzes me as it is the one thing I have consistently failed at. But all this belongs on my other blog.

Guess it's time to wake up the troops.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Read the Rant

Bart went off on a little rant about the educational system and kids with special needs so now I don't have to.

Save the Date

Save the Date
Sunday April 22, 2007
You Gotta Believe! The Adopting Teens and Tweens Radio broadcast is hosting another great Radio Support Group show.

Sunday April 22, 2007 Marilyn Panichi the Executive Director, of Adoption Unlimited, out of Chicago, III will be interviewed on the radio show. She is also the Director of the family Connections Project, a federal Grant that helps older children, mostly teens stay connected to their birth families, while placing these same children for adoption. Her program created a 15 minute DVD entitled "Family Connections" this DVD highlight the issue of how important it is for teenagers being adopted to maintain ties and family connections to their birth families including siblings, grandparents,and even their birth parents themselves when deemed safe to do so.

Please also note that we will be airing "Family Connections" on our cable access television show on Thursday April 26th at noon and 8pm and all can watch at click television #2 under the words "Watch BCAT live."

You Don't want to miss the Adopting Teens and Tweens Radio broadcast !

Whenever There Are Imperfect People...

then life is messy. And since all people are imperfect, life can get messy.

Working in the adoption world means working with lots of people. And often it's messy.

I finally figured that this morning I could handle the varying issues of my children -- felt like at least for this moment, I was OK with everything happening with each of them -- not pleased, not sure everything was perfect, but feeling like I had a handle on things at least.

And then a couple situations at work put me into a new state of stress and craziness. As with every messy situation, there are lots of questions, and not very many answers.

So I am back into a life of stress reeling about me -- but at least it's my job at this moment.

Ready for Another Coaster Ride

Before bed last night, I went another round with Salinda, making the peace to a certain extent and getting things to a place where I could stop thinking about that issue for a while. She seems to go around the teen attachment cycle often these days.

I woke up to find the words “Claudia is a whore” written on the chalkboard in the little boys room. I would be more bothered by it if it weren’t so hilarious. I am more annoyed by the use of my first name than the whore part, although, “mom is a whore” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. But a whore is definitely not something that describes me, in any way shape or form. If I were one, we’d be one broke family.

So, I’m ready for another ride today. Woke up feeling pretty good. The declaration of my whoredom threw me off but for a minute, but now Dominyk is obsessing about how he is not going to shower and he is NOT, and he means NOT, going to school today.

He’s supposed to be ready in 12 minutes. Heavy sigh.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Bart the Cheery Guy

Kari is sitting in our living room with Bart and I. Mike, her husband, is outside putting up a basketball hoop for us. We had pizza and we're eating floats.

Here is our conversation:

Kari: There should be a study about whether or not stress brings on Alzheimers or Dimentia. It can't be good for us.

Me: I think that it has more to do with how we handle our stress. And the way I'm handling it, I'm going to die young.

Bart: If you died today, you wouldn't die young, so don't worry about that.

Kari: You're such a cheery guy.

I'm Losing My Mind

We had a change in routine as some of Bart's family is here visiting. Thus, the kids are out of wack and some of them are being just awful... and the kids know that we're not going to be too harsh while there's company, so they are taking it as far as they can go. My very own viper girl has been subtly horrible ... an undercurrent of disrespect, nastiness, and sucking others in to her bad mood that came because I said no. Today she will apologize and I always wonder to what extent I should consequence moodiness.

I have a fairly stressful day ahead. Until the venom is finished being spewed out, it will not be a pleasant day. We also have lunch out, which is always annoying to Bart because the kids act out and it is hard for him to bear. And then I have the Daughter's Tea at church. We're hoping that Kari and her family can come over for a while.

So today was not the day that I needed to be a dork.

My routine in the morning is to grab my keys, cell phone, and any cash or credit cards that I have on my dresser and put them in my tennis shoes. Then I head downstairs to shower there, open the office, unlock the desk drawer where the medications are, bring them upstairs and wake up Dominyk for his very necessary meds.

This morning, since it is Sunday, I'm not wearing my tennis shoes, so I thought I was doing everything I needed to do, minus the tennis shoes.

I got down to the bathroom and was emptying my bladder and thought, "Oh no, my keys." Not wanting Bart to leave me locked out of everything, I went upstairs to look for them. Spent five minutes having a serious, yet somewhat quiet meltdown, I looked everywhere for them. I even got Bart's keys and took them downstairs to open the office to see if I might have possibly left the desk drawer open. No luck.

I finally gave up and decided to shower and when I got there, low and behold, they were on the sink in the bathroom, obviously where I had put them. I forgot that I had remembered them and that, because there were no shoes to put them in, I had set them on the sink instead.

Like i needed to add more stress to my day.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

What is Normal?

Tonight I was feeling pretty beaten up. I came back from training to a relatively calm house until one of my children, who had agreed to stay home this weekend because we were having company, asked to go somewhere anyway, and got evil nasty when I said no -- to the point of throwing something at me. I was nauseaus from the stress of the encounter and wondering if this was normal. Do parents of "normal kids" get threatened and shoved and have things thrown at them for saying no to a request?

And I was wondering why I would even want to continue to do this. Like Cindy, I was fantasizing about a simpler life, and her post tonight was exactly what I needed..

Thanks Cindy, for the reminder that even when it isn't what I'd chose during the more difficult moments, it is definitely my lifetime choice. It's what I've been called to do, regardless of how hard it is sometimes.

Other than the fact that...

Sadie insisted on sleeping horizontally on the double bed we shared while I was attempting to sleep vertically, we had a pretty good night.... I woke up every hour and half to move her little body over to her side of the bed.
We’re heading for breakfast and training starts at 10:00

Friday, April 13, 2007

Sadie's Night with the Ladies

Sadie and I did the Mall of America. She loved it. I hate shopping, but it was fun to be with her. She found a few things she couldn't live without. I was amazed that there was nothing there that I wanted -- the biggest mall in the U.S. and I didn't find anything I wanted.

Had supper with Paula and one of the staff from AAN and it was SO good -- coconut shrimp. And I've come back to the hotel and am cleaning out my inbox. It's empty again -- But it took me a while to get it there.

Hoping we'll be able to settle down fairly early tonight as I'm tired...

We made it

Sadie and I have arrived. Nice ride up. WE're going to rest and then hit the Mall of America before meetings begin. She's such a great kid!

Now, Quickly, Before It's Too Late

My inbox is empty. For the first time in months. I better push publish before a new email comes in.

Ready for Another Long One

Almost time to get the kids up and it's going to be another long day. All morning at my desk getting organized and continuing to work on email.... lunch with Bart and Rand . .. then picking up Sadie to head to the Cities for a quick trip to the Mall of America and then time for AAN training with some great friends . . . I recruited all of them as new specialists, so now I get to go be part of training. That lasts until tomorrow afternoon when I will come home to Bart's mom and aunt's visit.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Long Day

I had a long day. Working, meetings with the county, and then training tonight. I'm ready for bed -- but yet there are issues to resolve.

I continue to be haunted by dreams of Mike very night -- I so didn't want things to be like this, but I certainly can't control them.

And I'm fed up with the dishonesty and sneaking and conniving of some of our kids and their determination to make other people cover for them.

Sometimes I struggle between saying too much or not being able to say enough to make anything make sense. Tonight I'm trying to be vague and it is resulting in a meaningless post.

So I think I'll quit trying to blog and just go to bed.

Where Do I Begin . . .

to tell a long long story that isn’t my own?
Bart and I have a friend. We met him in college. We have known him for almost 25 years.

Several years ago I decided his life was boring. I told him he should adopt and it would get more exciting. I was right.

Six or seven years ago he was matched and placed with an 11 year old boy with multiple diagnosis who has proven to be VERY VERY hard. He has hung in there with him through thick and thin -- psych hospitalizations, multiple arrests, drug use, juvenile detention, residential treatment. He (the dad) has been a victim of physical abuse at some points in time. But he has never stopped loving his son and never considered disrupting.

Last summer he decided to adopt again. I had him matched very quickly with what seemed like a perfect situation. The social worker was very excited. When our friend agreed to take his younger sibling as well, we were all thrilled. But there were a couple others who did not want the child matched with a single dad (even though the child had been legally free for many years and no one else was interested, especially not in both boys together, as the younger was much more difficult).

Yesterday, after our friend had met the child last month and was ready to get him, the people who were not interested in the children going to a single dad got a hold of an old police report. I will leave out the details, but in an altercation where an ambulance was called for the Dad, a few of the kids’ friends reported that during the scuffle, the dad had kicked the son.

That’s all it took. The placement is not going to happen.

I don’t have the emotional energy to describe exactly how wrong this is. The boys will now most likely be split (they have already been separated from two of their siblings). They will have yet another loss in their lives as the oldest had already begun to bond with our friend.

But even more troubling to me is the fact that an adoptive parent is being punished for sticking with a very tough kid. Had our friend disrupted the placement two or three years ago, he could get matched easily right now. But he has hung in there, loving this horribly damaged, mentally ill child through thick and thin. And his reward for sticking with a tough kid? He won’t be allowed to hang in there for another two who he was willing to parent.

I can’t keep writing about it. It makes me too angry, too frustrated, too jaded.

Another New Day

I didn't have much time to blog last night -- between being a perpetual taxi and Wednesday night activities, I wasn't home much, and then I had a blog entry I needed to write about someone else's life and I didn't have emotional energy to do so. I'm still not sure I do.

Today I get to spend several uninterrupted hours at my desk, for which I am grateful. I have lots going on...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Shopping with Rand is Fun

Rand is so good natured and so directable that it is fun to be with him. He doesn't beg, he doesn't argue, and he isn't demanding. He's easy going and calm almost all of the time.

We had his conference and his school wants to clone him. He's right on target to graduate...

We also got some very good deals on clothes today (not garage sale good, but still good). I'm hiding them upstairs until next winter -- I got jackets for $12 and Hoodies for $7.00.

Now I'm back to tackle my day...

I wrote a Meaningless Post From my Bedroom this morning...

And then my computer battery died and I lost it.

It was dumb anyway.

I’m off to take kids to school, go to Rand’s conference, and then shop for a while. I“ll post more later this morning.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Still Drained and Not Able to Shake It

I decided to see how long it would take me to empty my inbox. I started with 80 emails. I've been going at it for 5 hours and I still have 12.

I'm still so drained from this weekend that I can hardly believe it. I am just dragging and the conversation with Mike and what it is going to mean for his and our future just keeps spinning around in my head.

I'm going to rest for a while this afternoon. I think I need a new perspective.

As I Always Do

I’m alerting you, that after over a month, Bart has blogged again.

Disney Movie

A worker who reads my blogs suggested I posted this. It was forwarded to me and I'm unsure of who wrote it.

We feel that it is important to warn you about a Disney movie called "Meet the Robinsons" that is now playing at many local cinemas. The advertising for this animated feature makes it sound like a great movie for any young child. Fortunately, one of our adoptive parents alerted us about the negative adoption messages in the story and the very unhappy experience she had with both of her children who were very greatly disturbed by the messages conveyed in this film. As a result, I went to see the film to decide if it warranted putting out an alert to our adoptive parent community. Indeed, I thought that the concerns raised were completely valid.

The movie is filled with extraordinarily inappropriate messages about adoption. The basic story is about an adorable baby whose birthmother leaves him on the doorstep of an orphanage. Portrayed as loving, sweet, extremely smart and overly appealing, he spends the next 12 years of his life wanting a family and being turned down by one family after another - in all, 114 couples refuse to adopt him. One scene shows a prospective dad losing interest in adoption because this very smart little boy is more interested in science than sports. The prospective parents leave the disappointed child in a huff when he accidentally splatters them with some liquid from his science project. This is supposed to be funny.

Since no one else wants him, the child invents a time machine in order to go back in time to find his birth mother. The "bad guy" in his time travel journey turns out to be his best buddy from childhood, once his orphanage roommate. Now an emotional wreck resulting from being left behind when the orphanage was closed and shut down, the once-cute orphan is now mean and devious. Another chuckle. Various monsters attack the child as he continues his birthmother search. You get the picture !

I found "Meet the Robinsons" to be both tasteless and totally insensitive regarding adoption issues. Please think very carefully before taking your child to see it, whether adopted or not. I will write the Disney Corporation to let them know about my concerns about their flippant way of dealing with issues that are extremely important and not funny for millions of adoptees and their families in this country and around the world.

Feel free to share this message with anyone who you feel might
benefit from knowing about this warning.

Parental Relationships Defined by Genetic Connection?

Spurred on by an article Bart found and his commentary, I quickly added this article to the Everything Adoption blog.

Thanks, I Needed That

Still feeling emotionally exhausted by Mike’s unbridled anger and fury against me specifically, I really needed to read Cindy's Older Child Adoption Blog Entry this morning. Her faith keeps me going when mine can’t.

Endearing Conversations

Since the conversation we had before bedtime last night was certainly not blogworthy, I thought I'd recall a couple conversations Bart and I have had in the past few weeks. I think his sense of humor is so hilarious, especially when it has a rude edge.

Bart (while we were riding in the car): "You know, you have the kind of profile that belongs on a postage stamp."

"Yeah, right. I look just like Queen Elizabeth."

"Actually I was thinking more of George Washington or Benjamin Franklin."

A few days later we were getting ready to go to sleep and Bart said some other funny/rude thing to me and I said, "And now you're going to say I look like Benjamin Franklin?"

to which he replied, 'No, Franklin had less hair on his face."

Monday, April 09, 2007

Easter 2007

Ever Lost Everything on Your Hard Drive?

It’s happened to me before, and to Bart, and it recently happened to a friend of mine. It is the absolute WORST feeling that a person can ever have. I can’t even describe the intense emotional despair that it causes.

One of the most common mistakes a lot of people make is not having virus protection. Viruses can cause all kinds of damage in your computer, and going without protection means you are taking a big risk, especially if you running Windows.

Google and Norton have teamed up to provide free Antivirus protection . You can download it from the website or you can view screenshots or read reviews.

Check out the website... it might just save you a great deal of pain.


I just got off the phone from talking with Mike's P.O. She is stepping in and has called the halfway house and told them that he is not calling the shots. He is not allowed to have contact with us period. So, when he changes his mind, decides to try one more time, he will not be allowed to. She says there is no way we should be mistreated by him like that again and that she has no plans to allow him even to come back into our community as long as he is on probation (which is until he turns 19).

It's nice to be validated, and it will be nice to have a break. I appreciate all the support we have received. There is not one person who is suggesting I should have handed him a $20 yesterday to keep him quiet. Everyone I've talked to thinks we've done the right thing.

Feeling Pretty Stinkin' Good

My day with Rand (and hour and a half with John) was fun. Rand and I did a lot of planning, decided a lot of things, and had a good time. John was thrilled to see us and very surprised. We had a great lunch together and I think he is convinced that staying where he is is the best option (which we believe is true). If he can hold it togehter there and keep on working and going to school and getting good grades until he graduates, we hope to transition him into a local adult group home that specializes in people with Bipolar so that he will be taking his meds.

It was a good trip and a good day, though I'm not thrilled with his plan for dredlocks...

Feeling it This Morning

When we returned last night, I was feeling victorious. I am an extrovert, so I process pain by talking about it. So I had already told Bart, Kyle, John and two friends about Mike’s outburst on the phone and the kids in the car and I had talked about it at length. (They were pretending to by my therapists, and having all been in therapy, it was pretty funny for each of them to take a turn and ask the kinds of questions their therapists have asked them).

So by the time I got home from our long day, I was feeling pretty good. I felt I had survived a long five days without school, a very busy Easter, several hours on the road, and 30 minutes of intense emotional interchange and had come out the other side.

This morning, my entire being is telling me that I am WORN OUT. I am just dragging today... and still rethinking each of Mike’s stabbing words and phrases, trying to remind myself that he wants me to feel horrible and accept responsibility when it is not mine.

But I can’t take time to be exhausted...I have one more child to take care of for Easter -- and I’m going to do so, even though it will mean six hours on the road...

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Marathon is Over

I made it through the day and I’m still alive. Although Mike was totally predictable, Kyle was not.

Mike waiting until the last penny was spent. Instead of being grateful, he asked for money in an indirect way and when I said no, he started in on me. I will not go into detail, even though I want to recount the whole thing, but he was trying his hardest to make me feel guilty. He did exactly what the people in treatment said he would do... it was almost as though he had been there and heard what they said he would do, and did it word for word.

And, as predicted, Mike made sure we knew that our day today -- the dinner out (they lied and the restaurant did only have an Easter buffet, but at least it was very good), and the movie we took him too, and picking up Kyle and the sacrifice we made to get there when Bart was exhausted -- meant absolutely NOTHING to him.

He found some very clever ways to make me feel guilty, and it was working for a while, until I realized that a lot of what he was doing was manipulative and tricky. I basically concluded that if he was so convinced that all of his problems were my fault, and if I was such a horrible parent, then his best bet would be for him to walk away, move on, and build his life apart from me.

He will accept our money and anything positive we will say, but he doesn’t want our suggestions, criticisms or confrontation. He remembers what he wants to remember, and he sucks me into a bad place of guilt if I let him. I was very disappointed that he chose to act the way he did in front of 3 of his younger, impressionable siblings. Sadie was so upset about the way he was treating me that she was in tears.

Fortunately, he concluded on his own that he wants no further contact from us. At least, for now, that will keep me from having to make that decision.

The surprise came after I dropped Mike off and called Kyle and instead of allying himself with his birth brother as he historically has, he was very supportive of Bart and I. He also spent the day interacting appropriately with all of his siblings, listening to their questions and answering them, laughing at their jokes, being a good role model. And he didn’t get sucked into Mike’s negativity. I was proud of him.

I’m going to surprise John with a visit tomorrow. Sadie made Easter Basket’s for the three boys with help from Salinda and help from our pocketbooks, and I am going to deliver John’s in person. Kyle was repeatedly grateful to Sadie, Mike grudgingly thanked her when I pointed out it was the least he could do.

I am sad for Mike, but everything I read about addiction shows that this is the pattern addicts have and that the only way we can help him is to do stay firm and keep trying to make him accept accountability for his actions.

Just Have to Take a Moment

We've finished sunrise service, breakfast, and first service. We're heading to the Cities.

Everyone did so well in church... the last five minutes, Dominyk's tie HAD to come off because it was choking him to death. I tried to convince him that a clip on tie can't choke you, but I gave up.

I must say that this has been our best Easter Morning ever. I feel great.

Wanted that in writing before something changes.

He is Risen Indeed!

In five minutes I will begin the task of getting everyone ready for church. The youngest is 10 days away from 11, so you'd think it would be easier every year. It probably will be.

We made it throught the evening. Our tradition is that on Easter all the Fletcher boys wear ties, so I helped Bart out by doing the ironing. Everyone had a tough time settling down and now we have to be at church at 7 a.m. But I'm hoping to take lots of deep breathes and remain as calm as possible this morning.

I love Easter. What a powerful, powerful thing -- that we serve a Savior who is alive again. From the movie last night, John Newton, the author of Amazing Grace, who was a slave ship owner, talked about how he was haunted by the souls of 20,000 slaves who had died on his ships. At 82 he said:

My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things, that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour.

I am praying that I will remember the point of Easter today and not get caught up in all the demonstration of their issues that my children will undoubtedly display.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Holiday Hell

I won't detail it all, but the holiday stress has begun. I was surprised that it stayed at bay as long as it did. I should blame it on Kari who asked me at 3:55 this afternoon if the kids were all wacked out because of Easter. I said they hadn’t been, and then the games began.

Dominyk had a “I want Ben to come over” meltdown. It lasted a very long time until I finally got his mind off of it by singing the entire "Veggie Tales" Cheeseburger song complete with an accent just like Mr. Lund's.

Jimmy and Tony have had a huge fistfight. Salinda asked to have friends here and I agreed against my better judgment as there is always stress. Bart has tomorrow to worry about. Rand has worked a LOT this week (GO RAND) but he’s tired and irritable and when he is his behavior is sort of toddleresque.

Jimmy had a complete defiant spurt today that lasted a very long time and exhausted me.

We’ve opted not to eat a special Easter Brunch tomorrow as it will cost over $18.00 each and, according to the new definition of children, we don’t have any. So we’re having Easter Dinner at a Sports Bar. I think Jesus will understand us not wanting to pay $18.00 a piece for our kids to complain. We are really spoiled and Bart always makes the best holiday meals -- but Mike’s unsupportive family is giving that all up to spend the day on the road to eat out with him.

Do I sound resentful and bitter? I’m really not. Just tired and frustrated that our Holiday Mess had to begin when everyone was doing so well.

Thinking Alike

Should I be scared that Cindy and I were thinking alike and though, on opposite sides of the country, headed to the cheap theatre with our families today?

Bart and I saw Amazing Grace an awesome movie about abolitionist William Wilberforce in England. It was one of those great, inspiring, true stories of a person more than willing to do what God had asked him to do, in spite of how hard it was and how long it took. it was a story about the power of one man (with a great woman beside him, by the way) who took on evil and fought until he won.

In fact, John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, penned his last letter from his death bed to Wilberforce. Found here, part of it states

Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be fore you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing! Go on, in the name of God and in the power of his might...

How well that applies to our mission in parenting our children!

Boys in Pink Socks

Boys wearing my socks make my socks crusty. So, in an effort to keep boys from stealing and wearing my socks, I started buying socks with pastel accents.

Now I just have boys in pink socks.

I'm Amazed

I looked through my To Do list that I published for you yesterday and I got ALL of it done and even a few other things that I wasn't expecting to accomplish. Still had time for dinner with the family and church and time with friends afterwards.

I also talked to Mike's counselor at his halfway house yesterday. He has spent his entire week talking about how unsupportive we are to whoever will listen. She said, "I can't believe he has such a sense of entitlement!" I pointed out to her that in the past month his unsupportive family had given up 3 full days of work a piece for his transition, spent twice the amount we usually spend on birthdays for him (giving him the benefit of the doubt that he meant what he said during Family Week), handed him cash, called him almost daily, and were planning a complicated visit for Easter. She encouraged us to stop all financial support and agreed that he will only get a job if he realizes he needs one. He suggested that she knew this would be difficult. I laughed, and then explained that after what we've been through, it won't be that difficult.

He's frustrated by his counselors not interested in hearing about how his life is now in his own hands and that he is an adult and is 18. He gets angry when people point out that he is no longer our responsibility. He is refusing to get a job and basically is just being himself, but without the support of the Child Protection System. All the sudden there is nobody there to buy him things when he won't work for them and it's troubling.

I am not sure how the future will be for him. We certainly didn't adopt him to make him homeless when he turned 18 (and he is far from homeless now) but when no matter what we do it isn't enough, maybe we are enabling him in some way.

I look at the difference between he and John. I know they are unique, but John has lived outside of our home for as long as Mike has. John has NEVER ONCE blamed us for his circumstances. He always says positive things about our family and us as parents whenever he is interviewed. He knows that he cannot return home and yet he accepts responsibility for his actions and doesn't ask us for anything. He is 18 months younger than Mike, yet he has been working 30 hours a week for the past couple months. He has paid us back for the damage he did to our house and is paying his brother back for the car mishap that I blogged about here. If he gets one call a week, he is grateful. If he gets one call a month he is grateful. And he never mistreats us when we call.

The kids have to be cleared by their therapists to see John, otherwise justice would say it would be John who would be getting the visit on Easter. But instead, Mike's unsupportive parents will be making sure that he and Kyle are together with us for Easter dinner.

I am tempted, though I'm sure many of you would not agree, to take a few months to show Mike what unsupportive looks like. At least he'd be truthful when he complained.

Friday, April 06, 2007


I wonder if I might be healing. I wonder if the horrible history of CHIPS petitions and disagreements with county workers and accusations and court hearings might be becoming a part of the past. And I wonder if the pain they brought might be dissipating and I could possibly be healing.

As I mentioned earlier, I needed to go through paperwork today to gather information to obtain services for some of the kids. I tackled the two teens who were in out of home placement first and instead of things filed by year, I divided them into education, legal documents and social services case plans, treatment facility reports, and miscellaneous (things like letters from them, athletic award certificates, birthday cards they asked me to keep for them).

I didn't read throuugh the paperwork this time...I know very well what it says. And I didn't feel the same anger as before. I simply felt relief and a sense of empowerment. It is as if as I filed each paper I was thinking, "Thank God we made it through that. and that. and oh yeah, that."

There were still a couple nerves touched, like seeing a name and being reminded that a person here in Mankato is not allowed to spend time with my children in our home because a relative in Luverne called and "warned them about us." I don't know everything she said, but the things that I know they did say are not true.

But for the most part I just skimmed, and filed, and felt peace for the first time ever. I'm sure there will be times when I look back and still feel pangs of anger, resentment and bitterness, but for today it is OK. John is in a good place. Mike is 18. We survived, emotionally, not because of, but in spite of, all the court involvement. And we survived financially because we were willing to have our reputations smudged in order to get our kids help.

And we're OK.

To any of you who are in the midst of these kinds of battles with your schools, counties, or social service agencies, hang in their. This too will pass. And someday, you'll be OK too.

Checking in

My two phone calls with my families are done and went well. Right now there are only 8 kids here, not ten. I am going through paperwork. I have yet to muster the courage to call the IRS...

Up Early when I Don't Have to Be

I have a day ahead. One of those days where there is so much crammed in that it may seem impossible to get it done. Fortunatley, I woke up, enthusiastic about getting started to the point of not being able to go back to sleep. Not because they are exciting.

To give you a little flavor..

1) Spend time on the phone with the IRS. To read the saga, if you are interested, I explain it here and then I explain it further here, and then rant a little here. talk about the length of phone calls here. add another day of IRS issue news here and finally, on February 24 of 2007 report that our 2005 tax issues are finally resolved. This year we decided to have our 2006 taxes done professionally. They are completed and she did an awesome job. But now they are saying that TWO of our children’s social security numbers don’t match up.

2) I have a county worker enthusiastic about getting lots of services for our family. But she needs paperwork on all five of the kids. It is filed by year -- each kid has a file by year with everything in it. But she needs it in a different format, so I have come up with a new system and I have to rearrange it.

3) I have 10 children to supervise today -- 7 of ours and 3 guests.

4) I have 2 or 3 frustrated families on my caseload that are having holds put on their cases or second thoughts right before placement. I need to spend time on the phone with them.

5) I need to finish Financial Aid for both Kyle and Rand for next year.

Too much information? yeah, I thought so, but wish me luck (and now I have my to-do list I can check on my blog all day if necessary. Maybe I’ll even let you in on my progress.

You Gotta Believe Radio Show This Weekend

Save the Date
Sunday April 8, 2007
You Gotta Believe! The Adopting Teens and Tweens Radio broadcast is hosting another great Radio Support Group show.

Sunday April 8, 2007 is Easter Sunday and The Adopting Teens and Tweens radio show will re- air an interview with the Allen Family instead of having a live broadcast. Zola and Craig Allen met their son Teddy, 18, through their work with the Beats N Blessings youth ministry at the New Life Fellowship Church. Zola is the Youth Pastor at the Church and Craig is the Director of the Beats and Blessings ministry. Zola and Craig Allen are interviewed about the unique way the two of them met in the first half hour of this program and then their son Teddy, 18, joins the discussion in the second half hour. Its a great story and we hope you all listen in. There will also be a number of musical holy hip-hop selections played that were written and performed by Beats N Blessings artists including songs by Teddy, known as Young Fresh, and Craig Allen.

The April 15, 2007 radio broadcast will be our support group. Pat Dudley will host the show along with Chester Jackson. Parents of teens plan on calling this live broadcast to discuss issues of concern you might have with your teen.

You Don't want to miss the Adopting Teens and Tweens Radio broadcast!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Maundy Thursday Service with a Special Needs Child

Tonight's service was intended to be especially meaningful. We sat around tables and shared in handwashing communion. Everyone else in the whole church, from age 3 to 103, was appropriate and Dominyk was doing a fairly good job of holding it together. But toward the end of the service he got very angry. It sort of progressed so let me detail that progression for you.

It began with him complaining that we were sitting at tables. That it was dark. That we shouldn't be downstairs but upstairs. Then he started touching everything on the table. There was a basin of water. There was a plate. There were paper towels. There was a cup. He had to touch it all.

Then he started to cross his eyes, trying to get them stuck that way. And that led to some giggles. Then the bell choir finished and we were all clapping. He said a word, very loudly, that sounded a lot like boooooo, but he declared it was mooooo. I didn't even try to figure out why he said moo.

We had a hand washing. I hadn't checked his hands, and they were filthy, nearly changing the color of the water. We had communion. The bread was unleavened, so it was flat and looked different and he loudly asked me "Why are we having damn tortillas?" He said it the bread tasted like crap after grabbing a piece five times bigger than anyone elses.

He then concluded that God was stupid because he was wasting his time. He began to get very agitated and restless. He tried to spell F*** You, God with his torn up paper towels. He started muttering about how Jesus needed to be cursed and sent to hell.

On the way home I tried to explain to him that Jesus still loved him, that Jesus still had died for him, just like Jesus loved the people who killed him years ago. He came home and had a meltdown, cursing God and damning Jesus. After some time in his room, he eventually apologized to me, and I helped him pray to ask Jesus to forgive him for the things he had said.

But tonight his behavior has moved me to tears -- not because I'm sad about what Dominyk did, but because all of us are so much like him. We're all just confused, tired little boys with filthy hands who ocassionally feel like God is wasting our time. We are all those, who with our actions, curse Jesus to hell.

And yet, just as Jesus can overlook Dominyk's sin and love him through it, He can forgive ours as well. Isn't human behavior, never perfect, and always lacking, the very reason that two thousand years ago He allowed those around him to curse Him and kill Him?

Tonight, Jesus, I come to you with dirty hands and an imperfect heart. Caught up in my own world, I often feel like You are wasting my time. See me through your eyes of grace and love, the way I know You did Dominyk tonight, because even though on the outside I am so much more sophisticated, inside I'm so much like him. Wash my hands, purify my heart, forgive my sin, and make me like You I pray. Amen.

A Picture my Brother Took, Me, and 10 minutes in Photoshop

A surprisingly fun shopping trip

Salinda found an outfit she likes -- it’s long shorts and a blazerish thing that probably has a better name, not a dress, but I let it go because we couldn’t find any dresses that weren’t completely slutty. She and Salinda got some very impractical shoes, I found some sweatshirts that I thought some of the boys might like that were marked down from 50 to $8.00, and I even bought myself a couple outfits.

I NEVER buy myself clothes (spent $19.20 on clothes, not counting a pair of tennis shoes or underwear, in 2006) but I bought these outfits. Brought them home to try on and sang a LOVELY rendition of “Dont’ you wish your girlfriend was HOT like me” which I am sure was greatly appreciated by all who heard it.

Kyle has agreed, much to our surprise, to have dinner with us on Sunday, and everyone at this moment is in fairly good spirits. I had a conversation with John quickly this afternoon and he seems to be doing better. I still need to call Mike. Guess I shouldn’t put that off. Though it might drastically altar my mood.

From the Therapists Office

I haven’t figured out how to bypass security and log onto the wireless network here, so I’m not online but I am writing this to publish later.

The therapist reports that Salinda is not participating wholeheartedly and therefore is not getting to the bottom of her issues. She still has a lot more “work” to do in order to be cleared to spend time with John. The rest of the kids are ready.
When I broke it to her that if she did not get going everyone would see him BUT her, it did not go well. I think she just assumed if she came, put in her time, and sat through the sessions I would take everyone to see him. But she has to have it cleared with the therapist and it isn’t fair to John to make him wait to see everyone else while she is refusing to participate in therapy.

She refused to even sit in the waiting room with me while Sadie finishes and has gone to the van. I am sure that this information is making her more angry than ever . . . and we need to go Easter dress shopping.
Definitely does not sound fun to me.

Sometimes It's Not About Anyone in Particular

And that's the hard part. We have a nearly impossible weekend to manuever. Bart has so much responsibility at church. We have services tonight, tomorrow night and then sunrise service on Sunday in addition to him preaching twice.

Then there is the fact that PCAs like to go visit their families for Easter weekend so they can't work.

And a couple work related things for me that I can't get out of in addition to an inbox that is growing.

Then there is MIke who, since he can't get a home pass, is screaming "YOU DON'T SUPPORT ME" and the staff there is going on and on about this being a MAJOR holiday and, well, you get the picture. WE're trying to pull off a family meal together, but some people here don't want to go and I can't imagine Kyle agreeing to join us when there isn't anything in it for him.

ANd then there's Rand's work schedule -- this is a very busy time of year for his company.

And of course, Salinda has to spend a minimum of 8-12 hours with each of a couple of friends this weekend and they have to come here this time and her siblings are just SO embarrassing.

And, on top of all that, all of the clothing/shoes, etc. for Easter have to be either found or purchased and then washed and ironed.

So it can't be about anyone in particular, and nobody but Bart and I understand that.

The Song "Family" is going to be the next background for a family slideshow. It's from the movie Dreamgirls.

It's more than you, it is more than me
No matter what we are, we are a family
This dream is for all of us, this one can be real,
and you cant stop us now because of how you feel.
It's more than you, It is more than me
Whatever dreams we have, there for the family,
we're not alone anymore now there are others there,
and that dreams big enough for all of us to share,
so dont think that your going,
your not going anywhere, your staying and taking your share, and if
you get afraid again, I'll be there..,
We are a family like a giant tree branching out towards the sky, we are a family we
are so much more than just you and I we are a family like a giant tree,
growing stronger, growing wiser, we are growing free..we need you..we are a family..

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Talk to the Feet

I was helping Salinda and her friend study for a test last night.

And this was all I could see.

Another Conversation with Dominyk

My stomach hurts.

I'm sorry that your stomach hurts, honey.

But it HURTS.

Well, I don't understand you. You talk me into buying you all kind of junk to put in your stomach and then you cry because it hurts and you want me to feel sorry for you.

Yes, I want you to feel sorry for me. I want you to feel VERY sorry for you.

Conversation Over Lunch

Sadie: Mom, when you and Dad get old, I will buy your house from you so you can live in an apartment.

Dominyk: Nope, I'm going to buy the house and let them LIVE WITH ME.

Sadie: No, I'll buy the house, let them live with me and buy them each a car.

Dominyk: I'll buy the house, let them live with me, buy them each a car and a lot of fine jewelry.

Sadie: I'll give them a million bucks.

Dominyk: I'll give them EVERYTHING I HAVE.

and then Sadie was silent, because how can you give more than everything you have?

Fortunately or Unfortunately...

Well, all of my stress yesterday was for naught ... Mike’s PO isn’t going to approve a home pass until he completes the first phase of his program.

I’m sure he won’t be happy, but since Bart is handling it he’ll have to be the one to pass on the news. I just wish I could have reached her yesterday and saved myself some stress.

Check Out Kari's Success Secrets

Kari wrote down her success secrets here. Did anyone else participate?

So Which Is It?

So, on school days, do they wake up at 6:40 and say, "I don't have to get up for a half hour, so I'm going back to sleep" and then be so dead to the world at 7 that I can't pry them out of bed and then on no-school days wake up at 6:40 and bound out of bed with enthusiasm?

Or, is there an internal alarm that whispers -- no school today, get up and jump around at 6:40 on no-school days?

And why is it that our school district never seems to have school?

We're going to have some fun today -- a few of us are taking yet another road trip to put up posters. I think it is going to be fun. We'll sing a little, tell stories, watch a DVD maybe (well, they will watch, I will listen) and stop somewhere unique, possibly, for lunch.

Bart will take Tony to therapy and keep him a while with him. The rest have school today.

ANd I'll squeeze in any attempts at work I can manage...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Not Feeling All That Positive

The kid who doesn't want me involved in his life, who has already hooked up by computer with his drug using friends, the kid who is not speaking to me, asked his Dad for a home pass this weekend. The halfway house apparently grants them for holidays.

I don't think he's ready to come home, but I also don't want to send the message that we don't want him home, so it's a decision we're struggling with. Do we say no and send him the message that we don't care about him or love him and that we aren't being supportive?

Do we give him expectations that we know he won't fulfill and thus allow ourselves to become angry because he couldn't do what he said he would even though we know he can't when we ask him too?

Or, do we let him have the home pass without expectations knowing he may come home and use us for a bed and a few meals, hook up with all his using friends in town, and hope that he doesn't start using again already?

Do we give him enough rope to hang himself or do we attempt to protect him only making him more angry at us?

For some reason this decision we have to make, that I wasn't anticipating, is making me crabby. I dont' like either alternative. I don't want to let him come, but I'm trying to evaluate if I'm only thinking of myself and being selfish. I don't know that my husband and I are on the same page yet. If our guts say different things, I usually go with his, because he is more intuitive than I.

Most of my decisions are clear cut. I don't waiver. But this one i'm not sure there is a good answer for. Either way won't be pretty. It's these cunundrums that are most difficult. And this time having to make it is making me crabby.

I'm going to call his Probation Officer. Maybe she'll tell us he can't and then we won't have to decide.

If I Only Had a Taperecorder

Oh wait... I guess I could have hooked up my IMicrophone...

Listening toa 25 minute rant because one of the kids had a plan unapproved by me that he wanted to do before he competed his chores and other responsibilities.

He is so funny when he gets like this . . . he just doesn't make any sense. He talks in circles . . . first he's doing everything but the dishes, then he's only doing the dishes, then he's doing the clothes, but only the clothes and then, you guessed it, he'll do everything but the clothes.

This is his way of melting down. Endless circular arguments that lead nowhere. Fortunately for him, I have gotten to the point where I can multitask and do these arguments almost in my sleep because they are so routine.

I have had lots of people tell me they don't want children with low intelligence and I wonder why. The smarter kids are the ones that take all the emotional energy and zap you -- because they require higher intelligence to outsmart them.

Feeling Good

I just had a very good lunch in a very cold restaurant with my very wonderful husband.


Days Like This Are Few and Far Between

I only have one appointment during the day today (three conferences tonight) and it is here. It's amazing how seldom I have a whole day at my desk any more. I have so much to do and never enough time to do it.

Dominyk continues to crack me up. Last night he had a headache (as I mentioned, the kind that can only be helped by a beer, a cigar, or an energy drink) and I had given him LOTS of TLC. We had spent a long time together in the van, he played a new educational computer game that he thinks is really fun, then he sat with me in my chair for a while before going to bed. But apparently that wasn't enough.

When he heard the door to the outside open and Bart walk in he called out, "Dad. DAAAAD. Come give me some attention. I need it BAD!"

Monday, April 02, 2007

Pretty Much As Planned

My day went pretty much as planned. My morning visit was great, and the afternoon meeting was great. A county worker, who is also an adoptive parent, has come up with lots of ideas of services for our kids that we didn't know about. A great meeting.

Tonight after supper Dom went with me to deliver paperwork and then to hang up a few more posters... Tony's been at Boy Scouts with Bart, Rand's been at work, Jimmy at the YMCA. All is calm and good.

Dominyk absolutely cracks me up with some of the things he comes up with. Tonight he got obsessed with the thought that the only thing that would help his sinus headache was an energy drink, a cigar or a beer.

Needless to say, I didn't buy him any of the above.

Broken Link Might Have Messed You UP

On this post this weekend this link was messed up. So maybe that is why nobody else is doing the Group Writing Challenge about success.

or maybe it's just cuz you think it's dumb.

Waiting to be Discovered?

I just love the technology. It has completely changed the way we live. Things that we dreamed of doing even 20 years ago are now all possible (making our own digital videos, editing and developing and printing our own photos, creating radio programs (podcasts) and even composing, recording, and producing our own music.

Industrial Artists is a site for those who have been able to digitally produce their own music but have yet to be discovered. Not only can they upload their music and wait for the right person to hear it, but we can even get a sampling of it. For me, the many pages of Christian music artists and samples of their music providing me both with encouragement and ideas of what kind of music is out there. It allows me to be the "American Idol" judge and just like on that show, it is interesting to see who thinks they have what kind of talent.

I have the technology to record my own music. I even know how to use it. I have kids with that talent. Now I just need time and one day you'll possibly see some Fletchers on

Great Night and Gone Most of the Day

We had fun last night. After losing the first card game, I was convinced the game was nothing but luck, but when I won the last game, I knew it was pure skill...

I will be driving to a home visit this morning and then this afternoon I have an appointment with a county worker here to determine our best options in getting services for some of our kids.

In the moments I am here, my desk is covered -- both of them are covered.

Time to wake up the sleeping angels. It will be interesting to see how long they remain angels once they are awake.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Cell Phone Addiction

I didn't enjoy my afternoon much. Why? Because I forgot to bring my cell phone. And I worried the whole time that someone might be trying to call, that their might be an emergency.

And then I reminded myself that 9 years ago when Kyle was 12, we would leave him home alone and nobody had a cell phone and we're all still alive.

Turns out, nobody called. Not even MIke who can only call once a week. He didn't call. I'm wondering what that means, but sort of relieved that we didn't have to listen to whatever he wanted to yell at us about.

We got a bunch of posters put up. I hope lots of people will see them and be spurred on to adopt.

We're heading out for supper with friends...

A Brief Unplanned Respite

One of the women in our church is very good to our family. Today she offered to take Tony and Dominyk with her to deliver palms to shut ins and then take them to lunch. The house is so calm and quiet right now I could just kiss her.

We have a relationship-rich day planned. I'm going to deliver posters with several kids. Then shopping for what we didn't find yesterday. Then supper with friends from church -- maybe even some cards afterwards. From right now, things are looking good.

Happy Feet and It's Sunday Morning Again

Last night after a great time with the the Kari's as Dominyk calls them, I sat down with the two youngest boys to watch Happy Feet. It was the first time I'd seen it and the "if you're different, it's OK, you can still save the world" theme isn't a bad one for kids like ours to have drummed into their heads.

By the time bedtime came, everyone had decided it wasn't worth it to keep hating me with such intensity, so we had a good close to the day.

It's about time to wake them up today and begin another day of the forgiveness cycle with my teens and preteens...