“Might I,” quavered Mary, “might I have a bit of earth?”...“Earth!” he repeated. “What do you mean?”“To plant seeds in–to make things grow–to see them come alive,” Mary faltered. He gazed at her a moment and then passed his hand quickly over his eyes...“A bit of earth,” he said to himself, and Mary thought that somehow she must have reminded him of something. When he stopped and spoke to her his dark eyes looked almost soft and kind. “You can have as much earth as you want,” he said. “You remind me of some one else who loved the earth and things that grow. When you see a bit of earth you want," with something like a smile, “take it, child, and make it come alive.” “May I take it from anywhere–if it’s not wanted?”

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Dear Friend,

This post/letter was written as a result of some hurt feelings. I had some friends who felt like I was not reciprocating friendship well. I just had to get some of my thoughts and feelings written down so I could process...

Dear Friend,

I am writing this letter because you in some way have reached out to me or offered to help me with my son. If you have reached this point, you likely already know that all is not always well with Branden. You may even know some of his history, trauma, and even diagnoses. But one thing I can be pretty confident in, is that you have no idea what it is like to raise him.

If you have a child of your own, you may understand what it is to dedicate you entire existence to your child's existence. But see, in the situation with my family, I was not given the opportunity to hold Branden in my arms as a baby and start fresh with loving this little boy that is totally dependent on me. Instead I have a 50lb explosive 10 year old who actually is more like a toddler. It does not mean that I love my son less than if he were my biological child. It just means the process of loving him is much different. Love is an emotion, but also a choice. And most days, I have to make the choice to love my son when I don't feel it. I have learned from my son that love is something you do.

Please know that when you look at my family, things are not always as they seem. We may put on a good face and look like things are going beautifully. That is the nature of his disorders. But once we are back in our home...we struggle through a living hell, filled with manipulation and aggression. I am not asking for your pity. I chose him. And because of that I choose to love him.

Branden's issues, although mostly psychological, eat him alive. When he makes progress and begins to heal, immediately he takes a few steps back. It is as if he has a worm in his soul that devours all the good things that are placed in Branden's soul. Some days, it is as if the worm eats everything. There are multiple times every day when I am Branden's sole lifeline...the only thing holding him together. If your child had a deadly physical illness, you would spend every single waking moment doing whatever you could to help him. And, quite honestly, if someone walked in and asked you to switch your attention, you would resent the person for even thinking of it.

Every single day Branden wakes up to face the demons of his past. And every single day, he throws them at the only person he even has to trust...even if he isn't always confident of that trust...me. Therefore, I fight the demons of his past as well. It is easy to tell me to how to parent him, what to worry about and what not to worry about, that I am overreacting. But Branden is not normal. Our life is not normal. And when you say those things unsolicited, it's like a slap in the face. Maybe my feelings are overreactions, but they are my feelings just the same. Regardless of intent of words...the same hurt is left over every time.

In my family, every day is either survived in crisis mode, recovering from being in crisis mode, or preparing for the next crisis. Most days of the week I am barely holding on myself. There are many times that just one phone call may undo the very fragile balance in my brain and soul. So I hit ignore and keep trudging on. I say all this to say that I will likely be a terrible friend. You may text or call me and I may not get back to you for a week...or forget completely. You may not hear from me for a while and suddenly I may call you very composed and ask for help. Please know that if I am asking for help, I likely desperately need the help. Asking is not something I do often. Our friendship may seem very one-sided and you may feel like you are doing all the work. I probably will not go out with you or come over to visit much. Please don't take all this personally. It is just the nature of the job I have taken upon myself.

If you have made it this far and still want to be my friend and help out, then you are a saint. Thank you. If on the other hand, you have decided that this is too much for you, then you are still a saint. That may sound strange, I know, but I appreciate your honesty. I appreciate you not wasting the precious and short time I have with my child to help him heal. I appreciate that you see your limits and are not coming into this with unrealistic expectations of me, because I will be unable to reciprocate. So whichever category you fall into, thanks for taking the time...and please pray for us.


Saturday, August 4, 2012


...just a few cute things B has said recently.

At gymnastics as the class began to fill up with girls, B whispers, "Sometimes I get nervous and forget girls' names."

"Mom, what's skinny dipping?" "Well, honey, it's when people swim naked, but I wouldn't know much about it because I would have to go chunky dunkin'" He dissolved into giggles.

Oh, and his mispronunciations:
navers for neighbors
jinastics for gymnastics

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Spoiled Brat

Well, today our caseworker called my son a spoiled brat. Same caseworker who, each time I mention something he has done and try to discuss consequences, she says, "But you have to remember all he's been through." The same caseworker who has been interfering with my attempts to raise this child for the last 18 months.

SHE told me my child is a spoiled brat...and used this gem of information to try to convince me to take another referral so he would have a sibling and "learn a lesson".

I am so beyond furious right now.

Friday, July 6, 2012

My 10-year-old's tat...

We had our last therapy visit last week. The therapist was actually B's psychiatrist as well. He so graciously offered to do therapy with B because he was as frustrated as we were at finding a good therapist for B. We went to therapy with B sporting a stick drawing of me in marker on his belly. Yup, my kid will be with one who has "mom" tattooed on his body...at least I hope he graduates from a stick drawing by the time he decides to make it permanent.

Good thing came from the visit...the psychiatrist decided that all the wonky behavior we have been seeing is actually mania due to the anxiety meds B has been on. We changed up the meds...added Risperdal and decreased the Celexa (to eventually wean off of it completely) and gave me the option of eliminating the Concerta (which I did). He is doing SO much better! We are actually now experiencing almost normal 10-year-old days. Such a blessing!

The end is in sight...

We are almost there! Our adoption paperwork has been delivered to the court. Now we are waiting for the official word that Lil' Man is mine! We are both very excited!

We have had a rough several weeks here. Lil' Man's behavior has been off.the.wall. It was like when he first came to me, but worse. Aggression has again reared its ugly head...indiscriminate aggression: kicking, hitting, scratching, pinching, biting, screaming. Anyone in his way suffered his wrath. The scariest part was his running away. Last Sunday evening around 10 PM he refused to get in the car at a friend's house. He insisted on walking home...in the dark. This is a child who typically fears the dark and refuses to be out of my sight if he can help it. It was tempting to let him go ahead and walk home, but it would require him crossing a highway several times and he simply was not being rational enough at the time to do so safely. So, I tried following him in the car, hoping he would calm down. He didn't by the time it was all over I had called some friends to help me chase him down and get him in the car, complete with child locks. They then followed me home with blinkers on to make sure we got there safely. Meanwhile, he was in the back seat in fetal position screaming and wailing.

But that was just the beginning. We got to the house where he continued to rage and damage people and things...for 2 more hours. The scary part of it was, he would calm down for 5 minutes and then come back out of his room and try starting a new fight by demanding something he knew he was not going to get or even  attacking one of the adults in the house again. By the end of the night when he finally calmed down and stayed in his room (thanks to a phone call to his Uncle Gus) I was the one crying and wailing in fetal position.

My friend kept telling me to call 911 and get him to a hospital. I knew that was what he needed, but here is the sticky part to that. The very sticky stuff that I have been whining about here for several weeks. You see, I am a foster parent through a treatment agency. Basically, this agency does more "hard to place" children. By "hard to place" they can be any of the following: part of a sibling group, failed placements in regular foster care, special needs, minority. We also have an in home counselor whom we see twice a week. Both agaency have an on-call number. During an emergency such as the evening in question, I new I wold be required to call both on-call numbers and keep them updated throughout the night. Not to mention deal with the police officers at the house, a likely ambulance transport to the hospital and then HOURS at the ER waiting to be evaluated by whatever Community Service Board psychiatrist got there to handle our case. In addition, during that long wait, Lil' Man would turn on his charm and glean snacks and treats from the nurses and anybody else who comes through. By the time of his evaluation, he would seem completely sweet and lucid and would be sent home hyped up on gingerale and honey grahams while I would continue to be distraught and exhausted. This completely beat mother would then be faced with vistis and constant phone calls and emails throughout the next day with all of the above mentioned people, but add to that the psychiatrist's office and pediatrician's office and be on call to drive an hour to the psychiatrist's office in the even they are able to make an appointment.

Was my discision not to call 911 selfish on my part? Absolutely. And I am okay with that. I have learned that sometimes my own self-preservation is the only thing that will keep us both surviving. I knew that I could not possibly keep track of all those phone calls and hours at the ER in my state of mind that night. So we slept it off.

On Monday, he tried running away again. I was specifically told by the in home counselor that if he tried it again, I needed to immediately call 911. This time I caught him in his room trying to figure out how to get out his window. When he saw me reach for the phone, he took off out the front door. By the time the police officer got here, he was wielding a baseball bat. A scrawny 10-year-old weilding a bat at two officers, yeah, like THAT doesn't look crazy. He calmed down when he saw that the vehicle said K-9 on it. This was the best display of RAD behavior I have ever seen in my life. He told the officers of how horrible I am to him (for instance I banged his head off the ground and threw him in the car the night before and wouldn't let him go outside today so he had to run away), then he started telling them how much he knew about K-9's and how he was going to be a police officer one day. He also wanted to know if the officers were going to "set loose the dog" on him. Anyway, of course, once he calmed down they had no reason to send him to the ER in an ambulance or even a squad car (he was quite proud of his last squad car ride). I was devasted, in all honesty. I had lost my confidence that I could keep him safe. So I called the psychiatrist's office for the 4th time that day and asked them what to do. They told me to drive him to the nearest ER. So I did. Eight hours later,at midnight, the on-call psychiatrist sent him home.

SO, I had to make it through another night of his sleeplessness, door alarms turned on, and frustration until the next day when I would have to awake early, clean up the house and prepare for visits from the in-home counselor and later the caseworker and adoption worker. Needless to say I was in no mood to deal with any of them. We made it through that day with the only major issue being a fit of rage that resulted in two full glass water pitchers broken and spilled on the kitchen floor. Funny. It happened just an hour before the caseworker and adoption worker arrived. Naturally, I had enough. I made him clean up his mess. And, believe it or not, the two individuals on earth who think I am WAY too hard on the sweet, cute, charming, little boy they couldn't find any other home for (aside from a residential treatment facility) when they placed him with me...those two...the two who think I am harsh and punitive and not aware of ALL HE's BEEN THROUGH...yup...they actually agreed with my decision to make him clean up the mess he's created, AND gave me permission to have him pay for the window blind, curtain rod, and pitchers that he broke in his fit of rage.

So, today, my child spent $30 at Walmart fixing his mess-ups. Pity. There was not enough left for a new Lego set. And you know what? He ended the shopping trip by saying, "Boy, THAT fit sure wasn't worth it!" Hmm...that's a first. maybe they should have let me do it my way a long time ago. Snarky and smug today? Guilty as charged.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


I haven't posted in a while and I really did not want this blog to a place to complain...but I do need to vent a bit.

I simply cannot wait for this adoption to finalize. I desperately need all of these "professionals" to go away and leave my son and I alone! I am truly tired of them calling all the shots without truly thinking of Lil' Man first. Oh, you see, they THINK they are putting his best interests first, but they are doing so without putting his best interests in the context of his forever family. They are still in the "protect him from" mode when they really need to "protect him to" his family.

I am tired of my family's love and dedication to Lil' Man being used as blackmail each time they want me to NOT question them, their tactics, or their desire to medicate him unsuccessfully. If I hesitate or question, I am reminded in these words, "He is not really yours. You are not his legal guardian." Well, I may not be his legal guardian, but I AM his mom. When they make sudden decisions and create upheaval in his life, I am left to pick up the pieces and somehow try to put them back together. I am the only stability he has.

In truth, I am weary. My love for him does not waver...nor does my dedication. But as things keep falling apart and people keep slacking on their jobs, I become bitter and angry. I hate that sometimes I resent him for it. I feel like I have no options. I know what he needs therapeutically, but I am not permitted to do it...because of "them". And truly, he is the one who suffers the most. In truth, I have been praying all day that God softens my heart toward my son so that I can be the mom he needs me to be.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Me and the terrible, horrible, no good, very

bad day.

There are days that I am sure I can foster no longer. And it is not the children who are the problem. It's the adults that are so busy "protecting" the children, that they deny the children the experience of normal family and normal parenting.

Today, I just want to hide.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Yeah, that was my kid being dragged out of the car trunk at the library

No he was not dead. Although he was about to be dead meat. All over library books.

B and I went to the pool tonight. He found a toy torpedo. He said, "It's no one's. I found it, so it mine now." I reminded him, "Finders are not really keepers. It belongs to somebody else even if they aren't looking for it yet." On the way back from the pool I remembered that we had a bag of overdue library books in the car. So we swung by the library.

See, B and I discussed it, "Today we are returning all the books without renewing any." Well, he was having none of it. I sent him into the library because he at least was wearing a shirt with his swimming trunks. He took the books in and tried to sneak back into the car with two of the books that he decided to renew on his own. I sent him back to put them in the drop box. That's when he began to fly mad.

I learned the hard way to not let him in the car when he gets like that. I will blame it one the MickeyD's bag full of trash that he smacked the side of my face with repeatedly while I was trying to drive one night. So I told him to go sit on a nearby bench until he had himself together then he could get in the car and we could go home.

No, he climbed in the trunk of the car (the latch is broken). So I had to climb out of the car and drag him out of said trunk. Remember, I am still in only my black bathing suit. I have very pale skin and I have never claimed to be a small woman. Let me make it more clear:

The scene looked like a shrieking hairless orangutan wearing yellow shorts being dragged out a the trunk of a Nissan Sentra by pissed off Shamu in front of the public library. Yeah. Not cute. I really hope it doesn't end up on YouTube.

Not our best moment.

For the record, the meltdown lasted for 2 hours. I hate RAD. I really, really do.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Angry Birds Stickers and Bedtime

Oh to have a place big enough for a playroom. B does not handle having toys in his room very well. When he goes to bed he often plays until he crashes...despite melatonin.

The other night I could hear him in his room talking and playing. So I whipped open the door and sternly said, "In bed!" He sheepishly turned from his desk where he was standing and said, "I'm not supposed to put these here, huh?" That's when I noticed the angry birds stickers on his nipples.

It's right up there with the time he came home from school with my name written across his belly. I will never know how he managed to get a pen and do it at school with no one catching him.

Mantra: "Just because it's not what you had in mind...

doesn't mean it's a bad thing."

I think I say this to B one hundred times a day. You see, with all his crazy diagnoses (we are now solidly sporting: RAD, PSTD, FAS, ADHD, ODD) there are some autistic-like behaviors that have been quite obvious. Both the neurologist and the geneticist blamed those behaviors on FAS. Anyway, B panics when things are not how he imagined them to be.

For instance, today the fam went to a restaurant for lunch, and then we went for a drive. B expected that we would eat and then go home so that he could play with his toys. Now, nobody mentioned this as a viable plan. This was simply what he thought should happen. When it did not, the anxiety started, manifested by chewing on his shirt, fingers and lips; heaving breathing; whining; and compulsive scratching. It took aromatherapy oils, deep pressure, deep breathing, snuggling, and the mantra to regulate him. I constantly ask him, "Are you going to die if it does not happen the way you expected? Are you going to be seriously hurt? Are you going to be without what you need? Are you in a safe place with safe people? Then, in the grand scheme of things, it's no big deal, right?" He realizes that I am not discounting what he is feeling, just helping him put it in perspective.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A lot of my "letters" are rantings from my journal. This here is what I wrote the day after Mother's Day:

I started out yesterday mourning you for him--thinking I should somehow help him honor you. We went out for breakfast with Memaw (that's my mom--his new grandmother). We then went home and did some cleaning. Afterward, I took him to the park to let him play. That's when I got angry -- at you.

When we are at home, I don't always notice his deficits -- and I forget that he is 10 and not 5. But, when I take him out around other kids and see his difficulty and unwillingness to interact with his peers, I get angry and frustrated. When I see his fear of simple things...like monkey bars and swings, it makes me sick to my stomach. When I see him struggle to perform simple physical tasks, I struggle with hating you.

What you have done to him will stay with him forever. Sure, he will heal, but he will always have effects of the alcohol you drank when he was in your womb. He will make it, but he will always be haunted by the things you have personally done to him, allowed to be done to him, and simply failed to do for him. I am sorry for sounding harsh and unforgiving, but these are the feelings I struggle with. What I find so heart wrenching is that your inability to stop producing children you couldn't care for has damaged his ability to give and receive love--one of the most innate abilities we have as humans. It's unacceptable. It's inhumane. It's the worst form of abuse he has endured.

I truly hope that someday B is able to forgive you. I have made the choice to forgive you--although my feelings don't always follow my choices right away.

Even though I know you'll never read this: B is safe, he is loved, he is cared for and has a loving family. Most of all, he is happy.
Letters to his first mom...

Dear Kris,

Mother's Day was this past weekend and you have been on my mind a lot lately. Most of the time when I think about you, it is with disgust. I guess I am having a change of heart. I am beginning realize how much I owe. I can legitimately say this year that Branden is my son. I signed the adoption paperwork on April 9th. So it was over a month ago now.

I used to think that you didn't deserve a Mother's Day...a day in which we honor moms for their love and support. But, you see, no matter how I look at it, without you, I wouldn't have my son. He was inside you. You carried him there for 9 months. Your sustenance was his sustenance. You labored to bring him into this world. You sustained him for six years. I understand that because of your own limitations, you were unable to parent him properly. And although I will not pretend that you did the best you could, I do believe you did the best you knew how. You could have had him aborted...you could have purposely taken drugs and alcohol in an attempt to "naturally" abort him, he could be much more disabled than he already is.  Thank you for giving my son life. Thank you for giving him a chance to be a part of this world, and eventually a part of my family. I am sorry for you that your baby was taken away. I am sorry for him that he has to sustain that loss for the rest of his life. But, I am so so very happy for me that he is mine.

I often forget t hat Mother's Day is bittersweet for B. This year was a Mother's Day of gain...and of loss. Because of that, I often struggle with hating you. I know he does, too. You used to be "my-birth-mother-who-I-love-more-than-I-love-you". You used to be "mommy". Then you were "my-birth-mother-who-didn't-mean-to-put-me-in-a-cage." Now he calls you "my-birth-mother-I-wish-she-was-dead." I hate that he has to chose. I hate that you caused this. I hate that I cannot protect him from it. I constantly tell myself that you are sick--that you couldn't help it. I even try to tell myself that maybe you are simply a product of your own childhood. Because of that, I refuse right now to let him have a relationship with your parents.

I pray constantly that he can recover from what you did and di not do. I have very high expectations and lofty dreams for him. I believe he will make it. He will shock people. And I believe he will inspire people. Despite where he came from, he WILL make it. If you instilled anything in him, it is how to survive.

Anyway, thank you for my little boy.


Big Mama