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“I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God- it changes me.”
― C. S. Lewis


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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Disruption Revisited

Once again, and on more than one front, we have been made aware of adoptions of children that are not doing well, and the result is disruption or removal.

I have tears of sadness as I write this because I feel that there has GOT to be a better way, a better answer, a success!

Many families come upon difficult times in communicating with each other, and it is much more complicated when a child who has experienced trauma, is changing culture, language, etc. The building blocks for trust and nurture are not there. EVERYTHING related to family life is foreign to them. It is like landing on a foreign planet that you have heard about, but the experience is something so different from the book.

Parents can educate themselves for the upcoming event of adoption, but the experience can be vastly different than what they think they have been prepared for.

I remember our parent training classes were wonderful, and there was a small section about orphanage behaviors etc. But they were not expanded upon nearly as much as I would have liked. I really think that experienced parents of older adopted children and infant adopted children should actually teach these classes.

I just wonder, if one solution to try and keep families who REALLY want to try to stay together would be to have a group of parent counselors who would be willing to be on an available list to volunteer to observe, and offer help to a struggling family?

There are just dynamics when dealing with IA(internationally adopted)kids that many do not understand or get.
People who are not familiar with PI (post institutional) behaviors may try to offer help and advice that can be detrimental to the family and the children in turmoil, and then cause the family to feel even more distraught.

We all offer our judgments but few of us offer our hearts and helping hands or helpful knowledge.

If you live in an area and know other IA parents in your area, maybe ya'll can band together and form a support group specifically designed to help those coming after.

I am very fortunate to have had a wonderful relationship with our social worker, to have a counselor who lives 5 doors down and is also an IA parent and to have other friends close by who are IA parents. I couldn't imagine how hard it would be to be all alone and not know anybody. When there is a group of parents, information flows and ideas flow and it can be very helpful. We all offer ideas, books, and other various forms of help to each other and it is a supportive atmosphere.
I'm wondering if we should form an official group to support those in our area....


I just want to see people succeed, and especially see kids lives changed for the better.


Keri said...

Beautiful post, Christie! ( Did you get my comment a few weeks ago that I found your blog?) I'm going to do just what you suggested. I read Christine's blog today and ended up in tears because of the same thing...

Christie M said...

Hey there! Yes I did. (I thought I responded, but you know what? I have been crazy around here, so I may have thought I did something I didn't do!)LOL
Glad to hear from you. :) Thanks.

Diana said...

This is a subject that has weighed heavily on my mind for quite some time now, too. It is so heartbreaking, especially when you see it happening over and over again with people you have come to love and care about.

I agree, though - there HAS to be a better way. Unfortunately, though, too many of us (like myself) are left completely on our own to deal with the problems that we were never educated about and not even close to being prepared for, even though we thought we were.

I also see too many families both unwilling to change themselves to accomodate the child or willing to look past the behavior to see the tremendous load of hurt this child is carrying. When that incredibly heavy load gets to be too much, they end up caving in to the demands of fear and exhaustion.

I've also seen too many families try to do it all themselves. For some families, that will work. Horray for those that it does work for. And that is sincere - especially since I know you're one of them.

I am seriously concerned, though, that DIY doesn't work for the vast majority of adoptive parents. The issues our kids face are too big and too much and most of us can't even begin to wrap our brains around the types of horrors our kids have not only lived through, but survived. Yet somehow families get the idea that therapists are "bad" and don't do anything that the parent can't do for the child themselves. While this may be the case with the "wrong" therapist, it most certainly isn't with the "right" one.

It is no secret to anyone even remotely familiar with our story that our adoption is one that most would consider at extremely high risk for disruption. I will also be the first to admit that I couldn't do it myself. Without some good professional help all the way around for every single member of our family, as well as carving out my own support network of other adoptive families I follow and regularly corrospond with, it would have been curtains for us a long time ago.

Most parents, however, don't have it in them to create their own support network by the time they realize that they really need it. They're just done. Unfortunately, I've heard that same tragic story of disruption time and time again on blogs, on public chat boards, and also from countless therapists who've told me that far too often, the only call they get from an adoptive family is the last - and what help they could have offered earlier is now coming as too little, and too late for the family.

If anyone is interested in reading about the steps I took in order to make sure I found the right help for our family, you can read about it at this post on our blog.


:)De said...

I so agree...there just has to be a better way. I want to be included in any group formed to offer support to families where the placement is unstable. There is a need for a warrior-like task force. When a parent is in the middle of a behavior crises, someone they can call, no matter the time of day or night. If location allows, physical visits to the home from supportive others during a crises. No more hiding, shame, embarrassment, loneliness. Back to a "village-like" community where every parent is a parent stands in as needed. I know that God has a place for each of these children and I believe that the body of Christ must help. Sorry for rambling again on your blog...this is very heavy on my heart.


Lorraine Fuller said...

I agree, I don't know what would have happened to us if I had not had an on-line support group of people who have experienced similar things. I also worry about first time parents presented with these troubled children. My son's troubles were mild compared to some others I have met. However, they were difficult enough. I was an experienced parent, I had read every book I could find on adopting older children, adopting PI children, etc. However it still felt like a punch to the stomach. I was ashamed to share that I was failing as a parent. That my new son hated me. It's easy to say "get therapy" and I think good therapy can help, we have had good and bad. However, it's not as easy as it sounds. The nearest qualified attachment therapist to me is three hours one way. We were told that not only would we have to take our son one day a week, but we would have to attend a parenting group once a week. That means two days a week taking seven hours. That means taking my son out of school, OK we were willing. That means though that I can't get my other kids after school so they all (and at the time two neices that were living with me) have to leave school early. The hour I am in therapy with him, I would have had to figure out what to do with the other five children in the waiting room. Plus the resentment of the kids for not getting to do thier after school activities. The cost was not covered by our insurance and was high. We thought about selling the house and other things to pay for it. We were that desperate. After thinking it through and trying to come up with ways, we were informed that it didnt matter since they had no openings. My son is now healing. I can't really say therapy helped, but time has. It's been two years, and he is not there yet, I expect it to be more years. I personally would not consider giving up, but then my other children were not in danger. I have friends whose younger children have been raped and beaten by thier siblings. These people live with locks and alarms on doors. To make dinner they must unlock the knives first. Thier homes are like prisons, not only for the troubled child but for the other children as well. No one can have friends over, and the family cannot go very many places. Therapy has made money very, very tight. If the friend I am thinking of told me she was giving up, I could not fault her. I do know though that people who have not seen what her families life is like would judge her harshly though and that would break my heart.

Christie M said...

De you can ramble on my blog anytime you like. :)

Lorraine, Thank you so much for pointing out why I think localized parent support is so necessary, as well as online support such as FRUA.
And the adoption group you are with. (I can't remember the name, could you post it here? pretty please?) :)

I think you are doing awesome with Marceli.

I'm beginning to see why possibly trained parents could be of great help. I know BCLC offers training. I am going to a seminar this weekend.
One of the reasons I like "peer support" is that it is very easy for a therapist to offer all kinds of ideas, but they are not a parent living a situation. The parent who has been in the trenches with their child will have very practical experience that therapist could never have. (Unless you are Heather Forbes and are an adoptive parent)

As a parent I have been in situations where I have offered counsel to other parents of children with Cerebral Palsey, limb loss, general handicaps, learning disabilities etc. Much of what I learned was from experience. A doctor never told me to not try to put the shoes on my son in a rush. I figured it out on my own. When we rushed, his muscles tensed up and no force of nature could get his shoes on. When he was relaxed and we were on time, his shoes went right on. (I use this as an example)

Peer Counseling is FREE, you could call 24 7 like De suggested, and in a support type situation you could look at what is working AND what is not.
Some specific techniques that are suggested may work well DEPENDING upon how they are implemented. (such as: A child who may need to be nurtured and babied much younger than their age could be rocked and cuddled in a very natural way, but if they aren't ready for something like that and would be UNCOMFORTABLE with it, it could actually cause damage to them because it would cause humiliation)

Lorraine, I think you are so right about TIME! It takes time to heal and time to learn new patterns of behavior. To be loved through those difficult times unconditionally is probably the most powerful thing a parent can do.

Also, with the reading of books, listening to speakers or taking classes, there is much discernment needed to keep the good and throw out the junk.
If we do not use discernment as parents and hold up and scrutinize what we read to truth in scripture
we will fail our children.
If we surround ourselves with wise counsel, prayer and discernment, we will continue to move forward and there can be great joy in the journey. The end result is up to the Lord.

Anonymous said...

Children who have experienced trauma, early neglect, loss, and or alcohol exposure have a "gift" for touching past pain of parents, don't they?! Attempting to forget our own unresolved pain and move on, and/or parenting these children while ignoring their trauma-related needs can be mutually destructive.

Parenting our Russian-born son has been both a joy and a challenge, with the difference being the degree to which I rely on God's help, wisdom and strength. Iron sharpens iron much more smoothly with the oil of the Spirit, with the end result reflecting Christ.

God has been teaching me about being a living sacrifice, laying down my life for my son,.... Through this process I am learning that God's yoke is easy and His burden is light...WHEN WE LET HIM carry the load. Thankfully God doesn't give up on us!

May this family find victory in Jesus!!!!

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