Saturday, July 09, 2011

I've Lost my Posty MoJo

Ugh. Since I got home I have absolutely STUNK at parenting my kids the way I want to parent my kids. I've been living outside of my "window of tolerance" (for stress) which means that I'm parenting them in a way that causes them more stress. At one point last weekend Taevy started bawling and said, "Mom, I miss Post parenting. Why did you stop doing that?" Ugh. *I* knew we were off track, but I didn't realize that even my kids realized we were so off track.

I really do try to keep it real on this blog, and I'm telling ya'll, Bright is a mess right now. He was making some progress before I left for Ghana, but since getting back home it's like he's taken 16 steps backwards (way worse that he was even before we started doing Post stuff a few months ago). I'm guessing that he feels totally betrayed--like we dangled a better way of parenting in front of him for a while, and then ripped it right out from under him when I left for Ghana. I'm guessing he feels lied to, and is extremely anxiety-ridden because he doesn't feel the trust he needs to feel.

My sweet son has taken the next step on the trauma-induced-behavior ladder. He's started stealing. Really, he's been stealing for a long time (our own pantry foods, when he gets up in the middle of the night/early morning), but it's at a higher level now. Every time I turn my head away from him he is stuffing some sweet food down his throat as fast as he can, or drinking my vitamin water (instead of his drinks). Tonight he said he was going to get more water from the kitchen and instead got a bag of gummy worms (a Kendi bday present) and started stuffing them in. It was pre-meditated. He knew he would lie about getting the water, and then stuff gummy worms instead. It's not even like he can get enjoyment from eating these things. He's just stuffing them in as fast as he can. The other day in Target we noticed a packet of gum had made it into the basket when we were checking out. That happens. Little kids throw things in sometimes. We took the packet out and put it back, not realizing it was open. When we got out to the car we realized Bright was chewing a piece of gum he had stolen from the packet. Ugh.

It's other things too... He gets some sort of positive feedback from pouring/squirting things out. My soaps and lotions are constantly being squirted into the sink until empty. He eats the entire tube of toothepaste. He squirted a liquid medication all over everything today. He seems to find a time almost every day to empty the salt shaker (or glitter, if he finds it) somewhere in the kitchen. For some reason, he also takes my ear plugs from my night stand every day and hides them somewhere (I never find them).

In the moment he steals or wastes, I just want to scream at him. It infuriates me! However, this is MY stress response to his behavior, because it scares the crap out of me! Deep down, I am scared to death for my sweet son. He is not a "bad" boy. I wish everybody readin this knew him. He is full of love and joy and sweetness when stress isn't controling him. He is not stealing to be sinful and disobedient. I'm sorry. I just don't believe that. I know all people sin. I know my children sin. But sometimes, I believe kids do "bad" things as an expression of the trauma they've been through and the stress they are feeling at that moment. Stealing gives Bright a (momentary) high--just like the high of a drug addict. This stealing behavior soothes the stress he's feeling.

Honestly ya'll....I'm tired. I am so behind in work. There seems to be no time to catch up because the needs of the families I work with don't stop for even a day. I meet their needs each day, but am unable to make progress on the emails that came in over two weeks when I was gone. And my kids are super needy right now (especially Bright). I am in one of those seasons in my life where I am doing a lot of things in a sub-par way. There is too much on my plate, and half of the stuff on it is falling off as a result. My son is hurting BAD and I am not in the right frame of mind to help him at the moment. The other kids are distressed because they just can't understand why we try to respond to Bright's behaviors with love and understanding rather than yelling and punishment.

This is what it is. Life isn't perfect. It doesn't always come out in nice easy chunks. The truth is, sometimes the needs of my kids, or my husband, or my "clients" are not met, and people hurt because of that. Bright needs intervention beyond what I feel Eric and I can give him even on our best parenting days. But I feel like there's not enough left over right now to research where to take him and what to do, and then start going to...wherever...however many times a week we need to go.

I would appreciate prayers for the healing of my family. And in this case, I guess I would appreciate prayers for me, because I think that they have a hard time getting to a good place if I'm not in a good place. I need to get my stress/anxiety in check so that I can parent my kids the way they deserve to be parented--with mercy and patience!



lishoprah 10:25 PM  

Hey Anita, I've been reading of your struggles with Bright, and it did sound like special needs of some kind to me for a while, but this last post makes me think RAD. Taking food he doesn't need and purposely destroying YOUR things (not Eric's, not the other kids) are a huge indicator of RAD. I know you are an adoption professional, but I had no idea of your experience with RAD, maybe you've already thought of this or already dismissed it. If you want to run Bright's issues by a large group of mom's parenting RAD kids, google "storing up treasures blog" -- she is a Christian mom parenting a few with RAD and has started an invitation only group with a lot of like mamas. I have a good friend with 4 from Liberia, 2 with RAD, so I've seen this type of behavior in person.

CarrieT 1:31 AM  

I'll say a prayer for your family, Anita. I know what you mean about feeling guilty about not meeting your children's needs and not having the energy to parent them the way they need. We have a daughter with serious special needs, including behavioral ones, and so often we react to her with impatience and anger rather than helping model and teach her the right way to behave.

Plus our 3 sons keep us hopping even though they are basically "typcial" kids, whatever that means!!

Thanks for being honest with us. I appreciate reading that other moms/dads struggle too. Parenting is such a hard, humbling job and I fall flat on my face so often. I pray the Lord will step in and be the perfect parent to my children since I am clearly NOT perfect!! I need help from Him every day, every hour!

Carrie T. - mom to 4 from Korea

Renee 12:29 PM  

Praying Sweet Anita!

I know you are doing so many things that are good and pleasing. Don't listen to the enemy's whispers that you are failing. You are NOT. You are so faithful and that what is what pleases God..not success but faithfulness. Take a moment and jsut rest in Him and then breathe and "do the next thing" a little there a little.

You are such a good Mama and I thank God you and Bright have each other. Something that really helps me when one of our little ones are struggling with wrong choices is to pray over them aloud thanking God for them and asking God to give them strength in the face of temptation and praising God for the strong qualities that God has blessed them with. God is so good and faithful to answer these prayers and it helps to knit my heart and our child's hearts even more. We ALL struggle with sin and when I acknowledge to them that truth and that God can and will give the victory they have begun to go to Him in the moments they are being tempted.

Praying for you! You are amazing.

Amy 12:48 PM  
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A. Gillispie 1:47 PM  

Hi Lishoprah. Thanks for your comment! My daughter Taevy had struggled with attachment her whole life, although her issues are not severe. Attachment is something I feel pretty well versed in, and I don't feel Bright's issues are attachment-related, although I know some of the behaviors could fall into that side of things.

What we're learning is the extent to which Bright was traumatized by his early life. He almost died from starvation (kwashiorkor and marasmus), and was about 8 pounds at 1 year old. He wasn't able to suckle (a huge need for baby) from the age of 6 weeks forward. He wasn't carried on the back of a woman like most Ghanaian kids (grandma was too weak). He was left in a hut to cry because the rest of the family had to work in order to put food on the table. Bright lived (barely) on rice water. Trauma, trauma, trauma.

Whe didn't know how much he may be affected (physically or mentally) when we brought him home. We just had to wait and see. We think he's got some educational things going on, but at the base of his issues, we believe, is severe anxiety. He lives every day so very scared.

Despite the possibilities, he's attached well to my husband and I. The things he destroys aren't based around me, as much as the type of thing (things that poor, smush, gel, or are sweet). Just so happens that most of the things in the house like that are mine! =-)

Since I have one attachment-challenged child, when we first started going through this with Bright, I immediately thought attachment. Lots of the behaviors are in line with that, except for the fact that they aren't in response to a lack of attachment! Instead, they are from a lack of security in the world. The world has betrayed him. He is distrustful of the world. Thankfully, he doesn't blame me or his dad for that distrust.


A. Gillispie 1:50 PM  

Just reread my comment, and continue to think about why I think his behaviors aren't attachment-related. The times when Bright is happy in the world and not scared...those are the times when he is safe in my (or my husband's) arms.

lishoprah 9:28 PM  

Hi again :). I forgot to mention that our 10 year old daughter is also from Liberia (besides having the friends with two with RAD). Our daughter Maya was very malnourished since she was 2 in 2003 when Charles Taylor was kicked out of Liberia and she survived on corn meal mixed with water in an orphage. She was below the charts by many pounds when she got here, but nowhere near the point Bright was. We don't feel she has any attachment problems either, but she has an unknown learning disability caused by the malnutrition. I explain it to myself that her brain is like swiss cheese -- some places it connects and some places it doesn't. We have another friend with an 8 year old from Liberia with a severe learning disability that they've only been able to pinpoint to malnutrition. They have found that doing attachment type therapies that families with RAD kids learned from a neurologist actually help rebuild those brain cells. So, even if there is no attachment problem, maybe some of the therapies would help. (The one I remember was crawling on their stomach using only their arms, kind of wriggling like a snake -- it was amazing how difficult it was for their then 6 year old to use her muscles in the right way.)

I hope some of this helps, I felt like I was supposed to write to you and I rarely post on anyone's blog :), probably the last time was to help you with Kendi's hair :).


A. Gillispie 9:37 PM  

Melissa, thanks for posting! I really appreciate it! I totally agree with you that doing some RADish excercises could be beneficial for Bright. Seems like lots of times attachment-challenged kiddos also have sensory issues. My daughter (10) did/does (much better now). Doing a sensory diet was a HUGE factor in helping her sensory stuff and her attachment stuff! Weird how it all combines.

I think malnutrition is a sometimes unidentified source for a lot of behaviors that we adoptive parents initially thing are attachment related. I love the swiss-cheese analogy! Exactly! That is exactly how the learning stuff is with Bright (and social stuff, to a large extent). He can memorize like nobody's business, but has a very difficult time with concepts like "back" and "front" (at almost 6).

Unknown 5:00 PM  

Hey Anita, When I read your post I did not think RAD, I thought about sensory processing issues, the squirting and even the stuffing food might just be related to sensory issues. Have you had an OT or neuro eval? My daughter had some strange issues and when we got her evaluated it turned out she needed some pretty intense OT. Now many of the behaviors that were so annoying and seemed to be intentional I realize were realted to her motor skill and sensory processing issues. Just a thought and AMAZING results with the OT. I still don't really understand how it all works, but it really has made all our lives much better than if I had continued to believe it was a mental health or parenting related issue!

A. Gillispie 5:11 PM  

Thanks "unknown." Funny how sometimes we can be so close to something that we don't see it. I truly do believe Bright's main core issue is anxiety, but now that you and Melissa have mentioned it, I can see I should be doing more sensory stuff with him! Taevy had sensory issues, but they looked different than Bright's behaviors. I need to remember it can show in different ways! This week we're going to be doing lots more "in bound" activities that are messey and squishy and extreme!