Sunday, May 31, 2009

One Day at a Time, Sweet Jesus...

After a long day of moodiness, nauseau, exhaustion, etc., Salinda and I were able to have a decent conversation. I am purposefully not blogging a lot of details about the decisions she needs to make, because it involves her boyfriends family who could easily find the blog and it would cause a lot of issues. Let's just say that one of the things I did not think about was how much a pregnancy ties two families together. I have a feeling that, as with many girls, this experience may be the death of a dream or a fantasy. I'll leave it at that. But she has a lot to decide and a lot to deal with and she hates decisions.

This morning it was difficult to get her out of bed for church -- the first thing I have had to require since we found out because she has spent much of the last couple weeks up at his house. I tried to do it without a huge argument and left the final decision to her and I think she is up. We're leaving in a few minutes.

And then we'll take this one day at a time as well...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Annoyed

Husbands are supposed to take care of their wives when they get them pregnant. That's how it's supposed to go. When they are crabby and demanding and having cravings, they are supposed to be the ones who have to run to the store and placate them. After all, it was their few minutes of pleasure that caused it.

I didn't have a few minutes of pleasure in regards to this situation. And so as I attempt to be as kind as possible while the hormones on steroids whirl around me in a level unprecidented, I can't help but feel a touch of resentment. It's difficult not to.

But I'll blog it and then get past it and hopefully just keep on moving on......

Friday, May 29, 2009

Those Moments that Remind Us





It's been quite a day. It started very early this morning when we got up and made it to the convention center by 7 a.m. As I mentioned, it was a great morning. If you'd like to see a lot of pictures of the event you can click here. The service, from the beginning to the end, had moments of tears for me. A powerful song from a choir of Minnesotans originally from Zimbabwe that spoke of their desire for the healing of their land brought the congregation to their feet; my husband telling our story from day one to present, him reading a note from his late grandmother that was in a book she gave him before she died... lots of emotional moments.

On the way back from St. Cloud, i heard a song that is now "Leon's song." Each of my children has a song that I determine, at some point in our journey, is "theirs." I don't decide until I know for sure it is the right one. Today I found Leon's and tonight I made it into a slide show for him. More tears.

Eighth grade graduation tonight (a reception, not a ceremony) for the three boys involved Tony pretty much avoiding us, Ricky walking around being cool but stopping by a couple times, and Leon sitting with us and having a wonderful conversation. The way Ricky and Leon are maturing delights me. They are amazing. You can see more pictures here.

And finally, tonight, Sadie had a Mother's Day Gift prepared for me. She has been mentioning it since mother's day -- saying that she had something special for me but that she was going to have to wait a while to give it to me. I had no idea what she was talking about and figured that it was just her needing time to get someone to take her shopping. But tonight she brought me a gift bag with a ceramic holder she had made at school. There was what appeared to be a note inside, but when I opened it to read it it was her first check from her first job. She only worked 8 hours but I didn't want to take it. She insisted that she wanted me to have it. I offered to just keep the stub, but she wouldn't budge. So our hug ended in more tears.

So even though i had a troubling conversation with John from jail and had to referee an argument between Salinda and her boyfriend who went with us to the conference, I have had powerful parenting moments today. Even though Dominyk's special needs were in high gear today and Tony nearly pushed me over the edge several times in the last two days, I have had those moments that made me very sure that we're doing the right thing. I love my kids. I love being part of their lives.

The Bishop asked the question this week from the story of the Good Samaritan, "Why did the United Methodist Cross the Road?" I'm not sure what her conclusion was, but today is a very clear answer to why THIS person named me crossed the road. Because there were children on the other side who needed me, but as my husband often says, "I adopted children because I wanted to save them. But in reality, they have saved me."

Today I know that to be true more than ever before. I'm so glad I crossed the road.

He Was Amazing

As I'm sure those of you who have heard him speak or read what he writes know, my husband did a great job preaching this morning. The theme was "Who is Our Neighbor" and his sermon was called "Closer Than You Think". He told a lot of our story and you know a speaker is good when he can make me cry and it was the story of my life. It was quite touching -- although he did tell people I was pushy. Liar. (smile)

We got to see the three different District Superintendents who have baptized our children over the years along with lots of old friends and people who had known us in different settings. It was a great morning.

Characteristically, Dominyk was in the bathroom when Bart introduced the family and that fact was announced in front of hundreds of people. Leon, Salinda and Mercedes did a great job with their parts in the service....

Dominyk of course stood and interrupted every conversation with "can we go yet" like he has done since he was 3, except it was a lot cuter then....

Time to check out and head home.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Road Trip

Eight kids and I, in two vehicles, with Rand driving one and me the other, drove to pick up Salinda nad her boyfriend, and to come to St. Cloud where Bart has been all week. He was selected to be the conference preacher (they draw names out of a hat) at our church's annual conference. So tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m., Leon and the girls each have a part in the service and Bart will be preaching. It should be a wonderful opportunity for him and I look forward to watching him excel.

But today has been a long day. Getting everyone here was a trial... but we're here and soon will be asleep...and tomorrow, the day we've been waiting here for a year, will be here. We have to be there at 7, so i doubt I'll blog before then......

So good night and good morning, blogosphere...

Every Day is a New Day

I don't have time to go into detail, but this morning i was reminded again of why FASD is so incredibly frustrating to parent. I figure it must be frustrating to have when the people who have it are able to focus long enough to let it bother them (and no, I'm not being sarcastic or rude here). But it is definitely very difficult to live around every day.

Part of the problem is that every day is a new day. And while that can be a good thing, I can also be very frustrating. The challenge is that was they learned yesterday may or may not appear in their memory today. And I'm sure that when I get impatient and frustrated at having to repeat myself over and over again, they are hearing things as new information and wondering why I'm so crabby.

This morning I had an argument with a child after a very filthy song was blaring from his room at full volume as he slept. I confiscated said music to which he responded, "I never listen to it!" i then tried to explain that if it was just blaring from his room so that we all had to listen to it that I would just take it away whether he listened to it or not because attempting to explain to him why his response made no sense would have taken most of my morning. It's just like when Rand stated one morning before heading to his job at the GROCERY STORE DELI, "But I won't be around food mom." I tried to argue that one and got nowhere.

John called last night sobbing and asking me to bail him out which I kindly, and then not so kindly refused. I explained to him that a month ago I begged him to not leave the group home and that he told me he was old enough to make his own decision. I told him that now he was old enough to live with the consequences of his decisions. Often I tell my children, "I did my very best to convince you NOT to make this decision and you ignored me, but now that you have the consequences of the decision you want me to bail you out." I've never said it literally -- until last night.

Apparently he had called earlier to get Mike's phone number. Very not wise decision. And he says he has a place to go when he gets out (if I were to bail him out) but wouldn't tell me where. He wants a visit ... we'll think about it -- he's three hours from here but I think he is getting bad legal advice so I may need to get some research and go over there.

To try and convince him to do the right thing once again. Even though he won't.

Oh good grief! I guess I'm just as bad as my kids with FASD! I don't learn from the past either! ;-)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wireless at the Library

I'm at the library following the perm appointment which was enjoyable because I so hate having my hair done by strangers. Small talk is not me. I either want to talk about stuff that matters or I want the person to SHUT THE .. well, to shut up ... and so I endure their chatter until it's time to leave. Well, when my friend cuts my hair we can talk bout things that matter and since she just spent the last six months helping her daughter take care of her new daughter so her daughter could graduate from High School -- and yes, you are supposed to be able to figure that out even though it has a lot of unidentified daughters -- we had plenty to talk about. And I know that was a run on sentence so there.

And Yondalla -- I will get back to responding to your rant. I actually was glad to piss you off because I figure you're famous and so making you mad might bring me more readership -- but then I realized that was just plain sick. So I am not really glad to make you mad, but I think that when I do explain myself in regards to the impermanency of permanent foster care, we might actually agree more than you think. And then things will calm down and people stop reading my blog again. ;-)

sorry, i'm in a weird mood. Consider this Claudia unabridged, or unabashed, or uncensored -- well, kind of uncensored.

I am all proud of myself because I'm in the library working while I wait for the plane to land with the new kids going to the family here. And I was cranking through email like crazy -- until I realized that suddenly nothing is sending. So now I'm a bit frustrated and therefore am blogging.

Time is ticking away -- if the plane doesn't land soon I won't make it to my meeting in time to make it to my meeting in time to make it to my meeting. ANd I need to make it to my meeting.

OK, enough is enough. Tell me to shut up now.

Long Day Ahead

If you have ever had the luxury of having the same person cut your hair for years, you'll know how once you leave that person you never really get a good haircut again. Fortunately, I have a family 15 miles from the town where we used to live so today I am heading over there to be a part of placing children in their home. And I get a PERM! I have been waiting for weeks for this and my hair is way too long. I haven't had a perm in forever and haven't had a good cut since the last time I drove "back home" to get one.

Just a quick aside. Pat O'Brien, from You Gotta Believe, often asks women about Perm. He said, "Have you ever had a Perm?" and then asks, "How long did it last?" He then points out that it really shouldn't be called a Permanent but a Temporary. He then talks about the stupidity (though he might use a nicer word) of calling something "Permanent Foster Care." The only thing permanent is a family.

So I will drive, get my perm, try to find someone to have lunch with as the person I was planning to eat with cancelled, and then head to the placement. On the way home I have a post placement visit and then will be arriving home in time for an evening meeting.

The past couple weeks we have been really busy. Our schedules have been full and Bart has been out of town. Amazingly, our kids have been SO good. With Rand's help with transportation and a PCA working, they've been able to handle me being in and out. They have helped fix meals, done their chores and gotten along fairly well....

Hopefully I didn't jinx them....

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Beginning a Short but Busy Week

In a few minutes I will begin waking up those who need waking and directing those who need directing, reminding those who need reminding, scolding those who need scolding, hugging those willing to be hugged, and enduring those who insist on being endured. We're off to the start of another week.

This week will be a busy one. I have a meeting tonight and then go pretty much straight through tomorrow from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. with few breaks. WIth the help of PCAs we'll make it through another couple days until we leave on Thursday afternoon to meet Bart (who is leaving today) and the annual meeting of our denomination. He is the conference preacher this year, so the whole family is going up to spend the night Thursday night and then attend the service Friday morning before heading back home. The kids are excited to miss a day of school swim in a hotel pool.

Today I have to focus on the work at my desk as tomorrow, though the day is almost all work related, is going to be packed with travelling and visits. I'm hoping for a ton of motivation....

I'm off to awaken the angels...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Friends





I know I post a lot about Mike and Kari and it isn't to make you jealous, really it isn't. But everyone who is raising tough kids should have friends like ours.

We officially began summer tonight in their backyard and as always had a great time. The food was incredible and of course, we had some good laughs as our kids both got along fabulously and tortured each other (Anna and Dominyk are quite a pair). I have decided to start selling stock photography and was attempting to get some good pictures. I didn't get very many good ones, but we had fun trying.

Check out Anna's outfit.....

I have had very little motivation today....... Hopefully tomorrow will be much better.

Jinx

Apparently if you blog something super positive it jinxes things. Sadie had this whopper of a meltdown today, complete with the nastiest looks and attitude I've seen coming of her in over a year. I'm fed up with the nastiness.

Then there is the whole "the easy ones go and hard ones stay." Bart and I have been too tired to do much this weekend -- just recovering from the last week of emotional bombardment. But the kids who are fairly "normal", whatever that means, can find fun things to do. They don't want to take the hard kids with them because they need a break from them, so they leave them here. And then unless we give them exactly what they want, they torture us with their obsessive demanding oppositional behavior until we can't take it any more.

That happened this afternoon. Four or five of the boys took off to go to the park and play baseball, leaving Tony and Dominyk here to do their thing. Fortunately, Dominyk fell asleep for a while, but Tony of course, refused to do what he was told. What should have been a quiet afternoon of rest turned into me being pushed to the end of myself.

I recognized a year or so ago that this is going to be the pattern for us. The "healthy, normal" children will go off and have a life. Having little need for us, they will contact us when they feel like. The ones who can't make it on their own will STAY FOREVER.

Sad but true. And if I sound bitter, resentful, and angry, it's because I am. For this moment. But I won't be in an hour or two. It just comes.... and goes.. with the territory.

It's a Long Way to Indiana (Sung to the tune of "It's a Long Way to Tipperary "


Before 5 a.m. this morning I had a dream that I was in the airport. I was going to speak at an adoption conference but I wasn't sure where it was. My brother was supposed to be travelling with me and he wasn't at the airport yet. I was busy during this portion of the dream frantically searching on my Iphone to discover what the name of the conference was and where it was located. I was unsuccessful.

I woke up and went to the bathroom about five and then went back to bed.

In this segment of the dream, or should we say, Episode 2, Season 1, I discovered that where I was heading was Indianapolis. My brother still was not at the airport (because he was having an argument with our PCA, who he has never met since my brother lives in San Francisco) about how my brother had wrecked the PCAs car. He was on his way to the airport, but told me to check in. I had to ride a shuttle to get rid of my luggage and then took the shuttle back to the airport.

I woke up and went to the bathroom about six thirty and then went back to bed.

Much to my surprise, in Episode 3 of Season 1, I discovered I had left my laptop sitting at the gate area where we had returned after we had taken the shuttle to drop off the luggage. I was very upset with myself. I wandered around a while and finally found the gate where I was supposed to be sitting. I kept calling my mother for help (which, considering how much she hates traveling, is hilariously ironic, and she was trying to help me find my brother. He finally showed up complaining that his knee was hurting from all the walking (since his knee was injured when he was in his early 20s, I think I was getting my decades mixed up.

I woke up and Bart was already up (about 7:15) and I told him -- I know I should be getting up, but I just have to get to Indiana. I went back to sleep.

Finally, in Episode 4 of Season 1, I found the gate where I thought I was supposed to sit. I got on my laptop and started doing email and blogging, etc, when I realized that it was long past time for the plane to leave. By this time Sadie had joined me and we were standing in line to tell the guy behind the counter that my brother had somehow made it on the flight but I had not but since I was the SPEAKER, I really needed to get there. I explained the whole story to find out that he didn't even work at the airport. I was waiting for a real airline employee to come and help me decide if I should fly to Chicago and drive or drive all night long. Because after all, i was the SPEAKER. ;-)

And I woke up at 8:40 and realized that I really needed to just get up and not go to Indiana.

But there is a bright side -- at least I ended up not going to Indiana instead of Hawaii, or the Bahamas, or the Rocky Mountains, or well, or any other place really. (I've been to Indiana. There is really no compelling reason to return).

(Just kidding, Sheri .... and any one else from Indiana).

And at least this dream didn't involve a juvenile probation chimichanga-breeding work farm.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I Hated It

Well, based on the love that many fellow adoptive moms I have met have for gardening, I decided this was the summer that I was going to grow something. A couple months ago we started some seeds and it was my plan to do something manageable -- a salsa garden. Let's just say it didn't go well....

Most of the plants died. We started so many of them. It was pretty sad. It seemed like everything I got near died.

But we bought some plants and I decided today that I was going to transplant them. I went outside, leaving my computer which is oh so fun to touch, and I headed into the heat. The garden patch we were going to use had since sprung up some nasty weeds that were very very prickly and even with gloves on they hurt my hands.

So I moved to another patch and planted a few things and I hated every single minute of it. I hate to say that -- I feel as though I have some character deficit, but I was hot and sweaty. And I didn't enjoy the dirt on my hands or under my nails. I couldn't get anything to fit in the ground correctly. The soil was too dry and then I watered it and it was too wet.

I made it about 45 minutes, with Sadie, Wilson and DOminyk helping me and then I just couldn't take it any more. I hated it. Seriously hated it. Have i mentioned that I hated it?

So I am not a super woman gardener. I figure per hour, everything else pays more.

I'm spending my time in front of the computer instead. Sorry ladies.

Perspective and Gratitude

After waking up from some mighty odd dreams, I read Cindy's blog and then thought out about meal with Mike and Kari last night, and I"m realizing that a little perspective never hurt anyone. Even though we are dealing with a couple of major situations here, our stress level is really low as far as day to day living is concerned. The nine children at home now might collectively have a couple meltdowns a day, and they aren't severe. Only one is aggressive. So for the most part we all do fairly well on a daily basis, even on the bad days. We've had our share of suspensions and problems at school, but only once have I had to go to the school (well, actually the police station) and pick up a child because they couldn't hold it together.

We've reached a new stage where problems seem bigger, but less stressful on a daily basis. It is nice to get to this point. And it's nice to have friends who make me realize that our crazy lives are NEARLY as crazy as SOME people's. ;-)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Why Ain'tcha Bloggin?

I just got an email from Cindy and that is all that it said. Those three words.

Answer? I haven't had time! I pulled the kids out of bed at 7:30 and made them help me outside. We worked until about 11 at which point I had had enough. The kids who would work were doing great-- which was actually most of them, but Tony, who would not work, and Dominyk who had to have a complete meltdown every hour when working, finally wore me out. I went drain shopping with Mike (of Mike and Kari) and then came home, had lunch and left to get Bart from the airport. We got home and soon left for a wild meal with Mike and Kari and now we are back and I am finally sitting down for more than 15 minutes....

I took Dominyk, Jimmy, and Wilson with me to get Bart and we had an interesting ride on the way back. Jimmy's lack of intellect is sometimes so entertaining. Today, Dominyk was telling us about his trip to the Capitol and told us that there are several hidden Ms in the place. The conversation went like this.

Dominyk: There are hidden Ms all over the capitol.

Bart: Does it stand for Maryland?

Dominyk: Minnesota

Bart: Massachusetts?

Dominyk: Minnesota!!

Bart: Michigan?

Dominyk: Minnesota!!!!

Bart: Montana?

Dominyk? MINNESOTA!!!!

Jimmy: Atlanta?

***********************************************************************************

Jimmy also explained to Bart how Rand probably had his tums. "He had heartburns. He always gets anxiety and then he gets a heartburn.

*********************************************************

And finally, I repeated a story to Bart from the trip up when Jimmy said, "Mom, thanks for doing such a great job of picking a Dad for us. He is the best Dad I've ever seen.

And Wilson piped in, "You coulda saved that for Father's Day."

Friday, May 22, 2009

Persistence, Determination, Optimism and Hope


I have a daughter who is very much like me. And no, it isn't Salinda. ;-)

She is one of those people who has tons of faith, believes in herself, and demonstrates character. She thinks there is nothing she can't do and won't listen to reason. In a lot of ways, she's like me. But even more so.

This was proven in many ways when she prayed for an orange formal gown.

But most recently she asked me if they hired 14 year olds at McDonald's. I told her no (because that is what I had heard). I told her that Rand and Jimmy and John and Mike had all tried to get a job there and, unlike my perosnality, I just told her not to bother to apply until she was over.

But she told me she was goign to do everything I told her to do -- because the boys don't listen to me -- and she was going to get a job. So she asked me what to do first and i told her to fill out the online applicatoin. I warned her it was difficult (I had helped others with it) but she did it anyway. She sat in our room and answered all the questions with just a little help from us in deciphering them.

When she finished she asked me what to do. I told her to wait a week and call. Exactly one week later she called. Much to my surprise they told her to come in for an interview. I mentioned that they probably forgot to look up her birthday.... but I took her to the interview. Then she asked me what to do next. I told her to wait a week and call back.

She did and they told her to come in for an orientation and the rest is history. She started tonight and did great.

And I was taught a huge lesson about not ever telling someone something can't be done. Might be wrong. ;-)

I'm SO proud of her!

Celebrate the Child

I wonder how long it takes most people. I'm feeling pretty proud of us as a family. It really only took Bart and I about 4 or 5 days to celebrate the child. It took our kids less time.

I am hoping that the response of most parents in our position is immediate celebration of the baby to come. But I am guessing that for most folks it is a grieving process in the midst of the joy, as it has been for us. It's the loss of our daughters future as we had all envisioned it and the what ifs and the concerns for the future are all so overwhelming.

When Salinda first talked to me I said all the right things. I said that it was not the baby's fault and that we would be happy about the baby. That there was nothing we could do about the past, but that the baby was a gift - that the act that created the baby was over could not be undone.

But inside I was grieving and frustrated and upset and well -- all those emotions that run through the mind of anyone else in this situation.

Within the last few days though, the song "Celebrate the Child" has been going through my head consistently. You should click and listen to it, because it has a catchy tune and you'll see why it has been in my head, but if you are too lazy or too busy to click over, the lyrics say:


Celebrate the Child who is the Light
Now the darkness is over
No more wandering in the night
Celebrate the Child who is the Light

You know this is no fable
Godhead and manhood became one
We see He's more than able
And so we live to God the Son

First born of creation
Lamb and Lion, God and Man
The Author of Salvation
Almighty rapped in swaddling bands


It is obviously a Christmas song, but I can't help remembering that the Christmas story began with a teenage pregnancy.

And we have arrived now at a point, in the midst of grieving about losses involved, that we can celebrate the child. And knowing that God is more than able... we can move forward.

And I'm thinking that getting here in about five days is pretty good. I'm going to grade myself high on this one. ;-)

ODD, Conduct Disorder, and Expectations

Lindy's comment yesterday said this:

I mean this very kindly, You might want to rethink the no responsibility tact.Your daughter should not be exempt from all her responsibilities because she is pregnant. In a round about way you are rewarding her. Once the baby is here, her responsibilities are going to increase 100 fold. Every decision she makes can no longer be just about her. If she cannot handle the responsibilities of school and household chores,how will she be able to care for her child? This is something you need to find out before the baby gets here so good decisions can be made for the baby. Remember, her sister is watching. You do not want it to seem like having a baby makes your life easier. Parenting teens is always a tightrope walk. Parenting our teens is a tightrope walk in a hurricane. Hang in there.


I would have written a comment just like this a few years ago. Maybe even in January. In fact, I remember clearly (much to my embarrassment) my arrogant response to the Guidance Counselor at Salinda's previous high school when he cautioned us that most kids do not make it in online high school. I said something to the effect of, "Well, most kids don't have me for a mother."

And then I began the worst 5 months ever trying to force my daughter to get on the computer and do her work. I tried everything. I went from completely completely obsessed, to respecting her wishes and pretending to ignore it completely, to the point that I was losing sleep. Nothing I did made any difference.

We had one final argument about it going up to the Cities on Tuesday when I mentioned school to her again and went through, for about the 10th time since we found out she was pregnant, the whole reasons why every class you don't pass will affect you and the baby in the future, etc. etc. and maybe I should come up with some consequences to get her to do her school work and pass the most number of classes she could. I suggested something about her cell phone being turned off or some item that I could use to coerce her.

SHe looked at me, furious, but almost with a look that said, "How can you be so incredibly stupid." This is not the typical, "you're dumb, mom" look that I get every day, but one of real shock. She said, "EVERYTHING you just said, I already KNOW. I've heard it a hundred times. And I am going to do my school work WHEN I am good and ready, NOT because you or anyone else forces me to do it."

Conduct Disorder and ODD are really difficult to parent because you absolutely, regardless of what you try as a parent, can get a teenager to do something. You can consequence, threaten, get into a power struggle every single day, beat your head against the wall, and the result is going to be the same unless the teenager makes the choice to do it.

So even though my first thoughts were exactly those of Lindy when I found out that she was pregnant, I have had to take into consideration her personality. I am not going to be able to force her to do anything now because I literally have not been able to get her to do anything she doesn't want to do for the past 3 years. The harder I push, the more determined she is to push back. This has led her into legal trouble and a myriad of situations that I have never even blogged about.

As far as the other children are concerned, I began in the same spot last week as well. WE are NOT setting this up so that the other kids see that it is a reward to get pregnant. Well, I have since noticed a few things.

The last week has been a huge wake up call to all my teenagers. All the things they learned about in health class are happening before their eyes. Their brother is in jail because he had sex and their sister is pregnant because she did. And all the sudden those choices are having huge repurcussions.

All of our kids know that we spent years warning all of them not to go down this road and why they shouldn't. Now they are witnessing it first hand. So my guess is that listening to Salinda vomit in the bathroom in the morning or hearing about how John is sobbing in jail probably isn't going to make them say "Wow, I wish I could be like them."

Secondly, I am going to explain to the other children very carefully why I am making the choices I have. Last night Sadie and I talked for about 45 minutes. We talked about Salinda's personality and how she has never been able to be forced to do anything. We talked about the next generation having all of us -- something that her generation did not have. And we talked about focusing on the baby because all of us know we can't MAKE Salinda make good choices. And she gets it.

The interesting piece of all of this is that when the responsibilities have been forced upon her -- someone (a tiny baby the size of a nail head this week according to the book) -- is the motivation, not me. And for some reason, that someone is doing a much better job than I ever have. Here are some ways that has happened:

1) I had last weeks appointment set up because I was worried Salinda had an eating disorder. She was missing something in her diet causing her to bruise easily and I was getting concerned. Since Monday when we went to the doctor she has taken it upon herself to take her vitamins and eat at least three meals a day. She has forced herself to eat something when she doesn't feel well and she has even cooked herself things that taste good -- something she's been too lazy to do.

2) Yesterday morning I came home to find Salinda at the computer, focusing on school work. I have not mentioned it to her since Tuesday because she told me she did NOT want me to say another word. I agree and I have kept my promise.

3) She has been very motivated all week to work around here for money. Yesterday, especially, she had a great day - getting more accomplished than she has in months.

4) She has been more tender hearted toward her siblings. Last night Wilson earned the right to do Salinda's dishes, possibly through miscommunication. I'm worried that his cute little self is really going overboard on the innocent "I didn't KNOW" line of defense so I am coming down pretty hard on him sometimes. I explained to Salinda that she didn't have to help Wilson because he hadn't gotten his dishes done before dinner (the rule is that if you don't get your dishes done before the meal where it's the next person's turn, you do theirs too) that he had to do hers as well. I told her to leave them until he got home from practice, but reminded her that she could help if she wanted to. She got busy and got all of them done. In fact, she did a better job on her dishes than she has done in the last four months when she didn't even have to do them.

5) She did her chore without being asked this week after refusing to do it after being reminded at least 75% of the time for the last 2 years. (Chores here = allowance, so I don't make them huge battles. If they want to go without the cash, I can find someone else who will do the chore for extra cash.)

So the issue really isn't whether or not my daughter is responsible. She proved yesterday that she is very capable of doing all the things she needs to do and more. She lived yesterday proving that she is able to do what is necessary.

The difference in the scenario is that now the motivation is internal. And it is going to have to remain there. If I slip up and begin to remind her and nag her about things she already knows, she is going to start resisting again and we're back to the same old battles.

By the way, this response to Lindy's comment really isn't about Lindy at all. It's about me having a 180 degree turn in my attitude and philosophy and having to defend myself to me.

But so far the "no stress, optimism, not my job to make her be responsible" philosophy has had big pay offs...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Making Me Work For It

So you aren't going to call me and tell me you have a kid that wants to be in a video? Well, I'll call you then I guess. Making me work for it. Good grief. ;-)

Salinda did school work today without being told too. She also ate healthy today, even though she threw up this morning. I guess this blog can be a Journal of her pregnancy as well. Or maybe I should start yet other one for that so you don't have to follow it all? What do you think?

I figured something out today. The book said that pregnant women who have less stress and are optimistic have healthier babies. So in my desire to focus on a healthy baby, I have to alleviate stress. And guess who is the cause of most of her stress when she is home? You got it, me.

So in my desire to make the next generation be the healthiest and happiest it can be, I am going to have to cause her less stress. So I have decided that I need to just consider her only important job for the next eight months to take care of the baby inside. That means if she fails her classes and has no stress, it's OK. That means if she never does her chore, doesn't do her dishes, and watches too much TV, that's OK. If I can get her to eat right, take her vitamins, and live a less stressful life that is my job.

So I am back to the old saying -- I need to control only the person I can control -- which is me. I can't MAKE her pass her classes, but I can make myself shut up and let her sleep when I want to wake her up and remind her that she does NOT want to have to repeat all these classes when she is more pregnant or tying to parent.

In a strange way, the unborn baby has made me let go of her choices -- something I would have been much happier doing months ago.

And if anyone is wondering about online high school: Unless you are NOT NOT NOT a control freak and unless you have a very responsible teen, don't go there. Success stories to contradict me are welcome on the blog, but we made a very bad decision when we chose online school for Salinda. She will fail at least 2 classes and maybe more. And the amount of stress it caused me and the hours of my time I lost....

BUT, that part was my own stupid fault. I made myself work for her grades when she didn't care about them. I'm an idiot.

But you knew that. ;-)

Seeking Enthusiastic Adopted Children for AdoptUsKids Video

I just got off the phone with a guy who is doing a video for AdoptUsKids and wants to interview some kids who would be enthusiastic about telling their story in front of a camera. He is coming to Minnesota -- probably the Mankato area and possibly the Twin Cities, June 1-4.

I know this is short notice, but talk to your kids. If you think they would be good at this and would be interested, please email me as soon as possible. I have thought about a lot of you and your kids off the top of my head and I think this is a great opportunity to support future adoptive families.

Email me!

The Morning -- Scratch that, Hour -- at my desk

I had a whole morning at my desk...

until one of the families on my caseload called and needs me over there this morning.

So I get an hour. I did get one project done, but I'm running out of time and the to do list just keeps growing....

To Go, or Not to Go, That is the Question

John has court tomorrow. Apparently last night he called the group home manager sobbing. He asked her to call his girlfriend (the vicitm's) mom for him. She said she couldn't do that -- that that was his lawyers job. She urged him to call me. He hasn't.

I briefly debated clearing my schedule to go to court and trying to help him in some way, but I knew that I would be tempted to bring him home if he had no place to go. His violence is not really that much of an issue with us any more but the last few times that he was here he took back the other boys stuff with him without asking. He also refuses to comply with our non-smoking policy and for some reason this is a huge issue for Dominyk. When he sees cigarette butts on our property he is convinced that some stranger has been smoking and even when we tell him it must have been John he won't believe it and is alarmed. Finally, there are items missing from the last time he was home that everyone is convinced he took.

With Mike everyone had pretty much wrote him off, knowing that he was a thief and a liar and that there stuff was not safe with him. They began to distance themselves and not get overly invested in him and all the stuff he was doing. They have learned to say know to him. But John is much more sophisticated and they all trust him and look up to him, which is why when he steals from them it is so much more painful.

So after talking with Bart he said that in all the times he has dealt with Mike he has never gone to court unless he was asked. Since John has not even called, showing up in court, while demonstrating love and grace, just doesn't seem like a good idea, even on my optimistic days.

So I'm not going. Apparently he is very scared and very sad -- sobbing almost -- to the group home manager. I know that he doesn't want to disappoint me and knows that I will be frustrated because I did all I could to prevent this, but isn't that the response of every parent?

Why does it bother me so much that these attachment disordered kids NEVER come to me when they are in crisis even though Bart and I are the ONLY ones who really care enough to do anything....

Support Group

You are all the best, most easily accessible support group in the world. It has been amazing to see how you have followed our story and hung in there with me this past week. Your comments, prayers, emails and calls have helped me make it through one of the most interesting weeks of parenting in our lives.

We will still have many many days ahead that are challenging, but through it all we are starting to see that maybe the next generation might offer some hope.

ANd talking to several of you who have been there done that has been so helpful.

More updates about John later this morning.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Simplicity

Dominyk came home tonight after school and time with his PCA and said, "Do you think Salinda would mind if I said congratulations?"

And I told him that would be nice.

And he said, as he skipped off to find her. "I'm just trying not to think about any of the bad parts of this and only thinl about the good things."

And it brought tears to my eyes. It may very well be that Dominyk, a 13 year old boy with a myriad of special needs, will be the first, if not the only one to simply say, "Congratulations."

Things Just Aren't Right in the World

Still in a fog, Kari went with me to Barnes and Noble. I was kind of walking around in a daze looking for a Pregnancy book for Salinda and not really wanting to ask about it.

I realized that there are things not quite right with the world when I noticed this book in the BIble section: " The Position Sex Bible: More Positions Than You Could Possibly Imagine Trying " Come ON people. It was tucked in there between the NRSV and the NIV.... Can you REALLY be that stupid?

And then I couldn't find the section and so I had to ask where the "What to Expect When You're Expecting" book and felt compelled to mention that I was NOT expecting.... and not expecting to be expecting a grandchild either. I just can't keep my mouth shut sometimes especially when I'm in this mood.

At least Kari was cracking up as we strolled through the store, me muttering in a daze...

Chaos Inside and Out or I really need to slow down

My inner life is in turmoil -- head spinning consistently, and now the world outside my head is getting the same way. I can't find anything. My office is a disaster. I lost my phone this morning, took me forever to find it. I forgot to wake up Wilson. Clothes aren't put away at all and nobody can find anything. I ended up deciding Dunn Brothers would be the place for me to calm down and sort things out, plus Kari asked me to come. But now I don't have my cord and I'm doubting God is interested in extending my battery life -- bigger things on His plate. So I have about 45 minutes and then I"ll be heading home to get the cord before I leave for a visit....

I really need to get my act together.

I told Dominyk and Wilson this morning since they were not at supper last night. Wilson said, "Cool!" And Dominyk said, "That IS cool. I've never been an uncle before. ... have I?"

The Way Things are SUPPOSED to be

One of the reasons that I think this whole issue -- teenage pregnancy -- is difficult is because nothing is happening the way it is supposed to happen. The news of our first grandchild is supposed to be a wonderful revelation (and the child part of it is, but...) I'm supposed to hear about it FIRST, not because my daughter told her boyfriend's mom's sister who finally told his mom and then forced my daughter to tell me. My daughter is supposed to be married, with a college degree, in the midst of a successful career with a job that offers maternity leave. When she gets sick in the morning her husband is supposed to be dealing with that, as well as her moods. We're supposed to be discussing whether she'll choose to stay at home with the baby or return to work after maternity leave, not which alternative high schools offer childcare (her plan not mine).

But just like so many of the other scenarios in the world of older child adoption, things aren't the way they are supposed to be. Babies aren't supposed to be born into families where they are wanted, attached to, and cared for. They are never supposed to be abused or neglected. In a perfect world are supposed to grow up with the people who gave them birth and spend their lives looking like their parents. They are not supposed to be born with brain damage already because they had a birthmom who drank or did drugs. They aren't supposed to watch a sibling or parent die at the hands of someone else. They aren't supposed to move from home to home to institution. But it's not a perfect world.

So just like every other situation we have dealt with, we have to once again alter our expectations. Our bright and beautiful daughter suddenly has completely altered her future and limited her options. History rears it's ugly head and taunts her -- begging her to follow the path and repeat the cycle.

And we, as well seasoned parents, know that the choice is hers. We can offer her alternatives and show her the way, but she will be the one to decide which path she will follow.

And for the next 18 and a half years, we will watch the story unfold, attempting to be at least one constant in the life of this child. And even though it may not start the way it is supposed to, even though it is starting out much like the generation before it, maybe our presence will be the one thing that will guide things in a different direction. That's our hope, that's our prayer, that's our goal, and that's our purpose.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

When the Cat's away

he blogs.

This is the first time...

I really haven't felt like blogging about something. The situations are just so real, and so personal, and have so many repercussions for years to come that I hate to even think about it, much less report it.

I took Salinda to the Cities today -- to take a test for school. We did fine until I mentioned school at which point she acted just like she always does -- mean, nasty, telling me to shut up and get out of her life. But we worked through it and moved on.

I made her tell her brothers at supper. She didn't want to. When she finished telling them, she looked at me and said, "There. Are you HAPPY?" I said, "Happy about what? That a child is going to be born? Yes. Happy about the way you're handling this at the moment, no."

John's girlfriend's mom called today. Let's just say she learned a lot of things she didn't know. And so did I. And I won't be paying bail. And she probably won't be either.

I just kept thinking all day, "I DID NOT SIGN UP FOR THIS." Neither of these situations were my choice. In fact, I worked hard to make sure neither happened. I worked for years to prevent all this. Their choices are not only messing up their lives but mine too.

And I don't like it one bit.

For those of you who know us IRL (in real life)

Since this blog is designed for other adoptive parents, I sometimes forget that there are plenty of you who know us "In Real Life." If that is the case, please be discreet as to who you tell. I know you figure "Hey, it's on their blogs, it's public information" but some of our kids still don't know and we would like to tell a few people personally.

Now, that just sounds really really stupid, but sometimes blogging is therapuetic and I forget who reads it. So if you are one of those lurkers, who never post here but know us, I just hope you'll be respectful. I have been sharing MY story, but this is really Salinda's story and I'm sure many of you don't understand why I blogged it. For her sake though, I'm hoping that you'll be respectful.

Oh My Goodness. This isn't coming out right. We obviously have nothing to hide. But I think you get what I'm trying to say.

Feeling Like I'm Living in a Movie

Nothing seems real. In fact, this situation is the first one I really haven't wanted to blog about. It's cranking up my readership though. You sickos. ;-) My life is going smoothly and you don't show up. Now since Black Friday I'm having over 100 more visitors PER DAY. LIke I said, you're a bunch of sickos. ;-)

Yesterday we had to wait an hour for the results. We sat in the waiting room and actually had a good conversation, but the waiting was driving Salinda nuts. She was so anxious she was shivering -- cold enough to wear MY jacket -- an old one that is too big for me -- and if you know how much she cares about how she looks, you'd realize she had to be very cold to do that. They finally called us in from the waiting room to the doctor's office to let us sit there. I was telling Salinda it was like a reality TV show and that the camera's would be zooming in on her face, my face, the camera picking up our nervous glances, the audio tuning in on our sighs. And then, as soon as the doctor knocked on the door and turned the knob, the camera would go to the door and as it slowly opened.... they'd go to commercial. She thinks I'm a dork when I talk about stuff like this, but it made her laugh a bit.

After the appointment we were sent to buy vitamins by the doctor and she waned to have Subway. We were standing in line and everything felt so surreal. I asked her if she ever felt like she was living in a dream or was in a movie and it wasn't really happening and she said she had all week. I ordered my sandwich and she couldn't even figure out what she wanted to eat. I chose something for her. While we sat eating I pointed out the irony -- here she was, facing major decisions about her life and the life of a child -- and she really can't even decide what to have for lunch.

Decisions are one of the hardest things for her, small or large. She prefers to let others make them for her. But I'm committed to making sure this one she will make .... I just wish the others involved were wanting that as well. So far she seems to be strong and not being influenced by the plans of others, but knowing her, the baby will be born before she even admits to herself it really exists.

She has to take a test in the Cities today, so we're off to spend the day together (while my work sits screaming that it is not done). Guess I'll be working tonight....

Monday, May 18, 2009

From Atlanta

my husband has blogged.

Confirmed

The news that I haven't bothered to actually type out is confirmed as per a doctor this morning. But since Bart blogged it already, I suppose I shouldn't be afraid of writing the words. Thing is, every time I say it it just makes it more real. And I am not sure I want it to be real.

However, the good news is that it wasn't a bad day in regards to my relationship with my daughter. i had feared she would return with decisions already made and, to her credit, she spent the weekend insisting that her parents would be involved in her decision making process. I was so proud of her for that piece.

Anyway, we have decided not to go too far ahead in our thinking and just make one decision at a time. Today we chose the OB/GYN and bought vitamins. I told her that she needed to focus on three things:

1) Passing as many classes as possible;

2) Eating right (she has been losing weight and shouldn't be);

3) Work on improving her relationship with her parents since she was going to be needing us quite a bit over the next few weeks.

So far she is working up the courage to tell the rest of her siblings. I insisted she tell her sister on Friday so she texted her (don't get me started) but I think that she hates saying it because it makes it more real.

John had court and all they did was set bail. Apparently his girlfriend texted Salinda to ask me if we would pay half if her mom paid the other half.

I don't think so for let's see.

30 reasons...

good grief.

Choices, Choices

This morning my husband is flying to Atlanta for a week. Today is a day where I have to make a choice. Not many parents have these kinds of opportunities facing them all in the same day.

I can choose to attend a court hearing for Criminal Sexual Conduct charges with my 18 year old son or attend a doctor's appointment with my 16 year old daughter to determine whether or not I am a grandmother.

What a smorgasbord of opportunity! I will go with my daughter because even though she didn't tell me her news first, she is speaking to me and reaching out at least a tiny bit. My son had one phone call -- he called the manager of the group home that he walked away from instead of me. He left and moved in with the 15 year old girl against my wishes, begging, and pleading. And even though my daughter has been having "the talk" frequently for 9 years and was bought two "promise" rings (she lost the first one) by her parents as she committed to no sex before marriage, we're still in this position.

But having to choose over one who is speaking to me and one who isn't -- I'll go with the one who is speaking to me.

Besides, court is two hours from here and the doctor's appointment is right here in town.

:-)

We Did Not Walk Away

Cindy linked to this blog this morning where the mom of a large adoptive family writes these significant words after discussing the difficult things we sometimes face as adoptive parents:


We saw a problem, and we didn't walk away.


The post also includes a powerful video worth watching.

So during the months to come, with the repercussions of Black Friday hanging over the heads of us and our kids, I hope that a few people will get it. Maybe just maybe the preacher and his wife aren't bad parents. Maybe their children's choices aren't a result of their poor parenting. Maybe, just maybe, they are people who saw something hard, messy, ugly, tough .... and they chose to do something about it instead of walk away.

Maybe.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

JOY

All Music Sunday was amazing today. It was about light -- and we ended with the song "Go Light Your World"

Carry Your Candle, run to the Darkness
Seek out the helpless, deceived and poor
Hold out your candle, for all to see it
Take your candle, and go light your world


We left that service full of energy and walked outside to the most gorgeous, warm spring day and it was impossible to not experience joy..... Enough to make it worth getting up again each day no matter what crap.

And I came home to awesome hugs from Leon, Ricardo, Jimmy, Sadie..... and I just know that life is truly going to give us enough joy to make up for the pain.

This was part of the service:

Four candles slowly burned. The ambiance was so soft one could almost hear them talking. The first candle said, "I am Peace. The world is full of anger and fighting. Nobody can keep me lit." Then the flame of Peace went out completely.

The the second candle said, "I am Faith. I am no longer indispensable. It doesn't make sense that I should stay lit another moment." Just then a breeze softly blew out Faith's flame. Sadly the third candle began to speak:

"I am Love! People don't understand my importance so they simply put me aside. They even forget to love those who are nearest to them. I haven' thte strength to stay lit." And waiting no longer, Love's flame went out.

But there was a fouth candle who questioned the other three: "Why aren't you burning? YOu're supposed to stay lit til the end? Don't be afraid. I am Hope. While I am still burning other candles can be relit." THen the candle of Hope shared its flame and relit the other candles.


It is very difficult now for me to be my optimistic hopeful self, but I am determined to keep my hope candle burning. Nobody can take that away....

Up Way Too Early

It's Sunday morning and we have a long day ahead of us. First there is All Music Sunday at church afterwhich I am going to be recruiting volunteers for our Sunday evening worship in the park this summer. The whole morning will involve a lot of emotoinal energy that I'm not sure I have.

This afternoon I have promised that we will grocery shop for meals this week as Bart is leaving town tonight for a week. Since the kids and i will be responsible for all the cooking, I promised to take those most involved in that endeavor with me to get groceries. By 3;15 we need to leave for a soccer game with Ricardo two hours from here and then take Bart to the hotel. We will need to take our most disruptive children with us so that they won't be left here to kill each other.

Although, I must post that last night Bart and I were able to sneak away for a very nice meal and a chance to talk. The topics were not pleasant ones, but we needed to plow through the "what are we going to do nexts" of several situations. Our kids did great while we were gone. The fact that Tony slept through our absence helped.

So, we will drive to the game, take Bart to the hotel, and then drive back home in time for bed. Supposedly Salinda will be returning tonight. She has a doctor's appointment in the morning, so she needs to be home.

I need energy for all this but I woke up at 5:30 and the thoughts began to churn in my head over and over again. Since we were up talking until 12:30, I only got 5 hours of sleep. I need more than that.

But I can't go back to sleep and the day lies ahead of me. This is my day today... and I'll get through it somehow. I've had much worse. LIke .... two days ago?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Morning After the Day Before

Yesterday I was too exhausted and numb to process the news we received. I was almost like a robot -- talking things over with Bart as each thing happened, calling Kari and Cindy and my mother (who doesn't touch computers, much less have a blog). I kept ingesting the news and trying to live with it, but since I had already cried my eyes out in frustration during the morning, I had nothing left. I only sob like that about once a year, so I was done with that....

But this morning I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a mac truck emotionally. I have very little strength to face some of these situations. I figure I better give you some hints so that you aren't speculating so much (or calling Cindy or Kari for the scoop ;-)

One is minor and routine and involves Mike. The police were at our house yesterday, Rand was the only one home and apparently they insisted on coming into the house to look for him. We're not sure why except that they left saying that if Rand saw MIke he should tell him that if he was on High School property (the school our kids attend) one more time, that he would be arrested.

Salinda's news is hers. Our other kids don't even know yet so I won't share it here. Most of you will figure it out. She has decisions to make, but will be heavily influenced to choose a road which involves her escaping our home.

And finally John was apparently arrested yesterday. The girlfriend he moved in with apparently is quite a bit younger and her parents are divorced. When her dad discovered that his ex-wife had allowed an adult male to move in with them, apparently he called the police and they took him away. We are reading between the lines. Of course the girlfriend called Salinda and said" He didn't do anything wrong. I don't know why he's being arrested." Apparently court is Monday according to the grapevine, but we don't know if any of this is even true.

So there you have it in no detail. I have a busy day ahead with multiple responsibilities, and i'm not sure how I'll get through it, but you know, I always do...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Black Friday

By noon today I was completely spent. The morning was fraught with tension from Salinda that resulted in her calling Mike for a ride since I said I couldn't take her. I reluctantly and in tears agreed to take her so she wouldn't run off with him -- unlicensed and with some friend he probably met in prison.

After hat I found out three pieces of news I'm not yet ready to blog.

Two of them are really life-altering for two of our kids.

I'm sorry I can't go into more detail yet. I did call Cindy who does this too us all the time ....

THis day will be remembered as black friday from now on

Maybe tomorrow I'll illude to more.

Here we Go Again

Reading Julie's comment yesterday about her daughter and goals, I decided to do a little intervention I asked myself what I did when I was in a slump .... I buy a new journal or planner and new pen and I start some goals. Or, most recently, I download some new software -- but anyway....

I took her to lunch and we talked about the slump she was in and how I she needed to have some success. I mentioned how when I get in a slump I only set a goal to do one thing a day and I get it done. And then I congratulate myself for getting that ONE thing done. After a couple days I try to do two things and then three, and eventually I am back on track.

So after lunch we headed to the office supply place and she half-heartedly chose a small diary. I don't know that she will use it. At one point I told her, "I have an idea -- would you like to hear it, or do you want me to keep my mouth shut." She said, "you can tell me if you want, but I'm probably not going to do it." I complimented her on her self awareness.

For 28 hours she managed to do what she was supposed to do and treat me decently. With that huge amount of equity built up (do you hear the sarcasm dripping) she asked me for a ride which she had been told repeatedly I was not going to provide. I told her the things she would need to do to get me to consider it which she wasn't excited about. I explained to her that I had no reason to say yes to her based on the last week. I left it hanging.

Since then I have been reminded that Bart is going to be out of town tonight and I got three phone calls saying that I would not have PCAs tonight. I am going to have to tell her that it is next to impossible for me to do what I had suggested I might be able to do. More than likely we're heading back down the same path as every time I say no..... I dread it.

Tony made it until 10:00 p.m. last night without being mean to me or disobedient. I congratulated him, but as he pointed out, "Mom, I haven't been HOME."

Everyone else this week has been very cooperative. I spent time helping Leon finish a project for English last until past my bedtime. I mentioned to him that those were the nights when all the things he does for me pay off. I said, "You may not realize it, but I never mind doing something for you -- I'm never resentful even when it is inconvenient. So all those times when you don't think it is fair that the kids with special needs get more attention -- remember nights like this." The nice thing about him is he completely understood it all. Every idea and nuance.

The last two days I have been cranking out the work. It's been amazing how much I've gotten done. I came back from the Y with Kari this morning ready to go again.... hope I don't fade fast. Sometimes that happens but have way too much to for it to happen today. ;-)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Around and Around and Around

I get annoyed by the cycles of life. The routine ones -- laundry gets worn, laundry gets thrown on the floor, laundry gets put in front of the washer, laundry gets washed, laundry gets dried, laundry gets folded, laundry sits around in baskets for too long, laundry gets put away or sometimes not put away and thrown back down the laundry chute clean (but let's not get me started on THAT), laundry gets washed, etc. etc.).

Or dishes get taken out of the cupboard, dishes get put on the table, dishes get food on them, dishes get dirty, dishes get taken to the sink, dishes get rinsed, dishes get put in the dishwasher, dishes get washed, dishes get put away, dishes get put on the table, dishes get food on them, over and over again, day after day, after day, after day.....

Or Tony gets woken up. Tony says something mean to me. Tony can't find clean clothes. Tony yells at me even when the laundry is caught up because his dirty clothes never made it to the laundry. Tony goes to the shower. Tony forgets to take a towel. Tony yells for someone to bring him a towel..... you get the idea.

Or Salinda can't get her way. Salinda gets very mad. Salinda doesn't speak to anyone in the family for a week. Salinda is mean to her mother. Salinda's mother gets more and more anxious. Salinda's mother finally can't take it. Salinda's mother let's her have it. Salinda shapes up until she asks for something else she can't have and can't have her way. Then Salinda gets very mad.

I could give you examples of these things from the life of every kid. Each has their own pattern that they repeat again and again. Some of them are daily, some of them are weekly.

But I suppose I have my own as well. Claudia writes a decent blog entry. Claudia gets nice traffic to her blog. Claudia feels good about that. Claudia then writes drivel. Claudia then starts to whine in her blog. Claudia posts meaningless things. Claudia loses readers. Then out of the blue Claudia writes a decent blog entry. Claudia gets nice traffic to her blog. Claudia feels good about that.......

I think this goes in the meaningless drivel category -- because even though I hate the cycles, I really don't have any answers. I guess life is just like that.

Even at the Fletchers.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sometimes i Forget

I didn't sleep well last night. I woke up to go to the bathroom and had a brief conversation with Salinda who was nasty and rude and then I couldn't go back to sleep. I woke up too early and had one of my personal mini anxiety attacks that I inherited from my mother and then got up to go to the Y with Kari.

After my workout though i felt much better, so even though i will be tired later today, I feel energized. On the way out of the Y I was explaining that the best moments of my day were at that very moment -- the hour between when I finish working out and when the kids get up. I always feel so good during those times. I need to not forget how good I feel after I exercise so that I'll be motivated to keep doing it.

Salinda's therapist is convinced that she is very attachment disordered that I may get nothing at all from her over the next few years. If this is the case, it is certainly something we never would have guessed when she was younger as she appeared to be very attached to us. When the teenage years hit, she completely lost it. John was the same way ... and people thought it was attachment issues ... but i'm not sure that was it. He hit age 11 and it went downhill for years, but he always acted as though he had some attachment to us. Maybe it was just manipulation. Who knows.

The Adoption Counselor attended a seminar with Russell Barkley (authority on ADHD) and had this to say

Another interesting thing he said was that genetics take over by adolescence, and that parenting doesn’t have any influence on teens and also that that parenting has no impact on adhd related behaviours at any point in life.. . Despite his being very negative about the impact of parenting he had a phrase which I loved. He said *parents are not the engineers, parents are the shephards*. In other words, we aren’t the creators of the children or their behaviours, but we are their guides. And, as he said, shephards get to pick the pastures.


While I hate to admit that he might be right, I am realizing that parenting does have very little influence on teens. The key, as I mention often when I speak to parents, is surviving them -- as controlling or changing them is impossible without their cooperation. Emotionally handling the frustration of children who are NOT going to be changing any time soon but refuse to do what is best for them is very difficult. Watching Salinda, for example, refuse to do her online school work and insist on failing some classes when she is very bright is beyond annoying. I can barely stand to be in the house when she is refusing to comply. Her life is pathetic and she won't do anything about it nor will she let me do anything to help her.

I know that Cindy totally gets what I'm saying -- that horribly trapped feeling you have stuck in a house with someone who is completely refusing to do what they need to do. It sucks the life out of you. At least in my case I can go to the coffee shop and escape.

Today I will make a feeble attempt to connect with her -- and go through the whole thing one more time, giving her a little lecture on how to treat people, seeing if she can grasp it this time but if not, at least making me feel like I've put forth some effort. Maybe in listening to her I'll gain some insight into what might work. But I won't order much. Sometimes she's so mean to me that my stomach is in knots and I can't eat.

Oh the joys....

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sometimes We Could Use Another Parent



Last night was one of those nights where it would have been nice to be two places at one time -- or to have a third parent. Fortunately, we do have PCAs, so that is kind of like having another parent. But really, I would prefer to be multiple people.

It was the Code of Honor at Boy Scouts last night and there was also an away track meet and an away soccer meet. Plus, there were several children not involved in anything. So Bart headed to the Cities with Ricardo (the soccer player) Rand and Wilson, while Dominyk's PCA headed to the Boy Scout picnic early so that I could join them, with Sadie and JImmy, a few minutes late. Tony's PCA stayed here with him and of course, Leon went to his track meet on the bus as he was supposed to do, and Salinda, of course, avoided the rest of us like we we had the swine flu -- though she did do her chore and earn a few dollars working in the yard, which is more than she did for most of last week.

We had an enjoyable evening -- it was beautiful outside and even though we weren't all together, most of us had a good night. This morning is "late start" so the kids are still asleep, giving me a little extra time to get work done before I take everyone to school.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Anyone living within 20 minutes of MSP north suburbs need to hire a male PCA this summer?

Our 22 year old son is a 3rd grade teacher (or was last year -- may not be rehired because of budget cuts). He's looking for a summer job.

Email me privately if you'd like me to put you in touch with him.

The Sun is Shining Outside


and it's a beautiful day to be alive.....

I've been to the YMCA already this morning.... and i'm home already with a half hour before I have to wake anyone up for school. I have a court hearing this morning and then several details to sort out today as well as being back up to 175 emails. I had actually worked my way down to 100 before the busy weekend started.

Lately life has been speeding along at a horribly fast pace. Days rush by and each one has so much to pack into it. Most of the kids are doing quite well, though, and so it's just a matter of getting people where they need to be. We are now in a place with a couple of the kids that have to events at the same time and we have to prioritize.

I'm feeling the residual effects of Tylenol PM that I took last night and I'm groggy...... Not a good way to begin such a busy day.

The girls took this picture on their phone yesterday at the game. Even though Salinda had very little to say, it was nice to have her along.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Death of a Dream

I grew up envisioning and idyllic life, similar to the one in which I was raised. Not in regards to money or fame, but in regards to faith, obedience, intelligence, sameness. I would get married, give birth to a few children, and teach them to grow up to serve Jesus. Children, most likely blonde ones, would look up at me with their blue eyes, waiting for their father to lead them in daily devotions, hanging on his every word. And life would be similar to the hymn we sang in church this morning:


Happy the home when God is there,
And love fills every breast;
When one their wish, and one their prayer,
And one their heav’nly rest.

Happy the home where Jesus’ Name
Is sweet to every ear;
Where children early speak His fame,
And parents hold Him dear.

Happy the home where prayer is heard,
And praise each day does rise;
Where parents love the sacred Word
And all its wisdom prize.

Lord, let us in our homes agree
This bless├Ęd peace to gain;
Unite our hearts in love to Thee,
And love to all will reign.




As I was finding the lyrics to this song to be almost gag-worthy this morning, I realized it was because that dream has had to die. It isn't that am bothered so much about where my life has ended up, but it has been a process of letting go of what I had always planned.

Our closing hymn was much more like our lives:


How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.


In comparing the two, I think I've concluded that while the first hymn describes something many of my friends were able to start with -- when their children were small -- very few people end up there when raising teens. The ones who do are fortunate. But I am content knowing that the things I have gone through have produced character in me that I might not have gained otherwise.

And my years as an adoptive parent of some very challenging kids have resulted in me knowing that my soul, this soul -- though all hell should endeavor to shake -- God has never, will never, no never forsake"

Grateful



It was a good day. Really it was. Better than anticipated with only a few crabby moments.

I have "talked" to all of my 12 children today. John texted me this morning, Mike just called tonight to tell me he loved me. Mentioned something about at tatoo he was going to send me. It was a very short call,. Kyle joined us for a late lunch after Ricardo's game.

All of the kids tried hard to be decent today, even Salinda. And I appreciated their efforts.



And then we got to spend some time with our best friends in Mankato -- Mike and Kari, who I refer to now as "Geeks Bearing Gifts". They invited us over to pie and greeted us in these outfits. This is a shot of them doing some work to keep the price of the house next door going down. They figure if they stand on their porch like this with Anna shrieking in the background it just might do the trick.

So it was a good day. Tomorrow morning we're back to the YMCA and I'm hoping to get back on track...

Mother's Day Prior to Church

I've been up thirty minutes and received a Dunn Brother's gift card from Rand -- very insightful, appropriate, and a complete surprise because he went and got it without direction or assistance. I know he's 20 but with FAS, that's still an accomplishment...

And Wilson gave me the cutest gift in school -- a Time Magazine announcing me as "mother of the year" It has lots and lots of writing that he did and if I have time I'll copy some of it into here later on.

John texted me at 12:02 to be the first to wish me a Happy Mother's Day.

Tony after being reminded by others, muttered Happy Mother's Day and then has been doing his best to make sure it isn't one.

Kyle will be 30 minutes from us today but it's looking like he and his girfriend will be too busy to join us even though they have nothing scheduled -- they must have saved all of their work to do today....

Sadie said, "Happy Mother's Day" very sweetly, but then had to say "Salinda sure is cranky." I mentioned that i could have done fine not having that piece of information yet and that hopefully she would pull herself together before we had to leave so that I could pretend she was enjoying herself while she did her best to fake it. She has agreed to go along with us today, even though I gave her a choice. I'm hoping she can at least be silent if not nice.

I am trying to make this a low key day -- have it be more about soccer than Mother's Day. We'll see how that goes for me.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Finally Sitting Down to Blog

I am finally sitting down and blogging after being gone all day. We were out the door by 8:15 -- drove to Ricky's first soccer game, watched it, had some quick lunch, saw a movie, watched his second game, drove home, stopping to get supper on the way. RIcardo was one of the children who chose to go on this trip (yes, that was said tongue in cheek, and I know he has to go if it's his game). Leon, Sadie and Dominyk also chose to come along and other than a couple of tense moments with Dominyk we had a good day.

Ricardo played goalie, which I don't like -- very stressful -- but he did fairly well. I have tons of pictures, but I don't have the doohicky thing to upload them and it's downstairs and I"m too lazy to go get it. I'll try to do that tomorrow night....

Got home around 7:30 and now we're trying to organize tomorrow. Two church services, two games, two vehicles, 11 people all heading up to watch and have a late dinner for Mother's Day. When we are together, especially to celebrate something, we don't often have a good time, but there's always a first time for everything.

I saw a movie today -- Almost 17 -- that had a plot I like -- the one where someone has a chance to do it over again. And I realized that if I had a choice, I'd do it again. I guess I can't imagine my life without any of these kids..... and certainly not without the man that I love -- the one who has put up with me for nearly 13 years.

And maybe Mother's Day will be a nice one after all..... I guess we can always home anyway.

Friday, May 08, 2009

I just had to take this picture on my phone last night



That's an awful lotta poop for such a little dog.

Happy Frickin Mother's Day

This is one of the things that' I've understood from the beginning. Adoption involves joy, but it also involves pain. I don't think there can be an adoption story that doesn't have, as some part of it, pain for someone. In fact, all members of the adoption triad experience their own kind of pain.

While I've made some mistakes in regards to my expectations about parenting my children -- thinking that they would be grateful, for example, or that Christmas was going to be a fun day, I at least predicted Mother's Day would be a tough one for older kids.

In the past we have had some horrific Mother's Days and I felt sorry for myself. Last year was the best one we have ever had. But as the kids grew older I started to think about what it might be like to be one of my kids and what I would be thinking about as a teenager who had been adopted.... And so I'm writing this from their perspective.

----------------------------------------------

Happy Frickin Mother's Day

I was just a toddler. You had a choice -- me or the guy who knocked you unconscious on a regular basis. You chose him and moved across the country. Happy Frickin' Mother's Day.

I was a new baby. You were too busy with your "night job" to take care of me so you gave me away to a friend. Twenty months later they found me in a cardboard box during a drug raid. I was sick and dirty and had cigarette burns on my face. By the time I got to the orphanage i was so messed up that nobody wanted to adopt me for 9 years after that. Happy Frickin' Mother's Day.

You dropped us off on the side of the road and said "You boys are too horrible. I can't parent you any more" and then you never did what you were supposed to do to get us back. Happy Frickin' Mother's Day.

You had a choice -- drugs or us. You chose drugs. Happy Frickin' Mother's Day.

I thought you were going to adopt me. I called you Mom. I took your last name. I finally convinced myself to trust you. But then you changed your mind and before I knew it I was back in the system. Happy Frickin' Mother's Day.

I know it's Mother's Day. I know I'm supposed to be nice to you because you chose me -- because you have given me a home and because you love me. But today I'm not thinking about you. So not only do I have to feel bad because the mom that gave me life didn't want me, I have to feel bad for ruining your day too.

But why can't I be like everyone else? Why can't I have a Mom who looks like me? Why can't I have a Mom who kept me? Why can't I be with my blood relatives living with people of my own culture? Why do I have to walk around being different every day?

There must be something wrong with me if the person who gave me birth didn't want me.

So as hard as you try to make this a good day, it won't be a good day for me. If I'm really strong I might be able to fake it. Or maybe I can make myself remember all the good things about you. But no matter how much I love you, appreciate you even, today might not be the day to ask me to say something.

Because Mother's Day is supposed to be about her and I'm supposed to be with her. And this day I feel more different than I do on any other day of the year. So don't be unhappy.... just remember I didn't choose this. I don't want to be angry or sad today -- I want to be like my friends. But I'm not.

So Happy Frickin' Mother's Day to Me. I know it's supposed to be about you, but today..... it's about her. And it's about me. And I'm not quite mature enough yet to work all this out. So for another year, just let me be me. The pressure of pretending sometimes gets to be too much. I'll do the best I can but it probably won't be good enough. Please know, that even if I don't say it, I do love you and I'm sorry I can't do better. It's not your fault this stuff happened to me, but it's not my fault either.

Someday when I'm all grown up and have it figured out, maybe then we'll have some good Mother's Days. But someday isn't here yet, so please, Mom, hang in there with me one more time.

-----------------------------------------------

So, as an adoptive mom, I ask God for strength to prepare for Sunday, the day that is supposed to be about me. I'll ask him to remind me to be patient with the children who have not yet been able to deal with the pain and to remember how hard it is for them. And I'll soak up every moment of joy from the ones who are emotionally healthy enough to express their love. Because on the one day when most women are allowed to be selfish, it's my job to be the most selfless of all.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Haven't Stopped Moving Since I Jumped Out of Bed

(started this last night and never finished it so I'll finish it now)

I could go through and tell you everything I have done since I woke up this morning but I don't think that you probably care much. It's just details and errands and emails (Yes, I did make it to under 100 by the end of the day -- spent a full 4 hours on it this morning without stopping) and then some more this afternoon.

I have also had a great deal of emotional management to do because of the queen of drama who seems to create it. If she spent as much time focusing on anything but getting out of this house for the weekend she could be very successful -- like school for example, or possibly getting a JOB, or maybe even helping out around here. But the entire week has been dedicated to one quest -- getting away from me for Mother's Day Weekend.

But you see, I have just a little bit of dignity. And while I will not forbid her from leaving, I dont' feel like providing a ride to she can spend Mother's Day with someone else's mom.

So now I'm being punished with a vengeance. She is defying all the small rules and really being mean to me.

My next post is going to be called "Happy Frickin' Mother's Day." I'll write it from the coffee shop where I will go to hide from her venom....

The Accidental Gentleman


If you are on my facebook you saw this status update:

Claudia Flye Fletcher suggests that if you're going to add your mom as a friend on facebook you might not want to do that at 12:42 a.m if your bedtime is at ten even if she is out of town
.

The offender was Ricardo and it turns out it has happened more than once. He was very crafty and has attempted to cover his tracks, but the bottom line is that his mamma is too smart.

So after some exploring and wading through several lies (which is unusual for him). As everyone left the vehicle this morning I asked him to stick around and explained that until his attitude changed and we could have a conversation he was grounded.

He glared at me, but then, out of habit said, "Thank You" and then the look of horror on his face was priceless. He had accidentally and by habit been nice to me. Without saying a word he slammed the door quite hard to make sure I knew the thank you was insincere.

You just have to get through them

Occasionally I whine about my inbox. Since a lot of my work centers around email and online connections I often have quite a bit. Usually I start to get edgy when I have 100 that need attention and this morning I'm starting the day with 204. What is the next step up from edgy?

Often when I am on trips I can make a lot of progress with my email, but the first night I got in late and was more tired than usual and then I didn't sleep well, so the second night I was even more tired. So even though I worked on it, I didn't make as much progress as I had hoped.

Today I must tackle it between two conference calls and a doctor's appointment for Leon.

I wish I could close my eyes and have everything there dealt with. I wish I could will it away. I wish that my lot in life could be different some days. But I just have to get through them.

I think my inbox is a great metaphor for some of the things in my life. I wish I could freeze a couple of my kids like Mel Gibson in Forever Young and just wake them up after they were no longer my legal responsibility. I wish I could will them to change -- to force them to be different.

But just like each email in my inbox, I have to live through each day one at a time. There is very little I can change and I can't skip anything.

A couple of situations (Salinda of course, being one of them) are bothering me and I just want to be in a fairy tale where I can wish them away. I want to fix everything with a blink of an eye. I want magic.

But sometimes you just have to get through them. So fortunately, for me, I have a God big enough to give me the strength to go through these days one at a time.

I'll have enough grace, I'll have enough strength, I'll have what it takes, not only to get through my email, but to get through this day, and the day after that, and the day after than.

So inbox, kids, life --- bring it on!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Calling It a Night Early

I don't think i have the energy to blog about the pleasant and unpleasant interchanges of my evening. I can tell you that I'm overloaded with work and am not feeling up to par after getting so little sleep last night. The kids did very very well while I was gone -- just a couple minor things but overall they were amazing.......

It's nice not to come back to major problems.....