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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Child Abuse and Adoption

I was sickened and horrified to read about yet another child abuse/murder case of an adopted child/children.  It is just too much.....

We are all capable of much sin, I know this...... and I also know there are stresses out there with parenting that can bring you to the brink...... but honestly, it SEEMS that abuse is just over the top and out of control!  I don't know if it is just that there is more reporting of it, but what I came across today really disturbed me to my core.

I was reading about the recent case in Florida where the children were tied up regularly. The twins were adopted, and the family had numerous issues with CPS.  But it all came to an end, with a child dead and another clinging to life with severe burns.  I wanted to find a local update from Florida so I googled adopted children abused... and came across this. The case of Cassandra Killpack, a 4 year old girl, adopted... not sure where from.....but murdered at the hands of her parents.  The first article I read was about how the mom wanted out of prison so she could raise her biological children. They missed her.  There was much blame placed upon her 4 year old who was said to have RAD.  This family was from Utah and went to therapy at a Utah clinic in Orem.  They claimed that they were told to do what they did. The clinic denied it.
However, I wonder......
Frankly, I have read some things that I find downright dangerous and abusive..... placed into the hands of a stressed out mother, I could easily see how things could spiral out of control..... it is the human factor. 
I don't know why it is harder to do something out of a place of love and control than anger and hostility..... but it seems to be, even though the results of kindness and self control go FAR with a child who has RAD.
Why oh WHY would a RAD child WANT to attach to a scary, angry person? 
 There is the recent case of the angry mother who gave her child cold showers and hot sauce, there is the awful case of the little girls from Liberia who were both systematically BEATEN with plumbers pipeline until one of them died and the other was in critical condition..... and the list goes ON.....and ON!
What is sad, is the kids are being blamed.
THAT, I DO NOT get.  I DO get that children can have very difficult behaviors. I DO get that it can cause a parent to be frazzled..... but I DO NOT get, how you can come to the conclusion that extreme punishments, exercises, holding positions, forced rages, forcing a child to ask for each and every direction, including if they can have a sip of water or go to the bathroom...... etc. etc. all done in the name of "THERAPY" have EVER made it out of a person's mind, into a book or article and somehow became "professional therapy"..... Where did these people go to school? Auschwitz?

I feel sad for people who have been caught up into these types of child torture, only to find their children harder to reach and further down the path of destruction, because now they can't even trust the one who claims to love them.

There are MANY great resources available for parents who are struggling.... but honestly..... as parents, we need to take responsibility for our OWN actions, our OWN control issues, our OWN temper fits..... and stop blaming our children.

It does not mean anything is easy.. ..... but GREAT things come from GREAT struggle, IF you are struggling in the right direction TOGETHER on the SAME TEAM.....

If you are caught up into some "therapies" that do not feel right, or you are not having success;
or, if you are parenting, not necessarily seeking help, and you are finding yourself frustrated and things are not working.... ask yourself, "How long do I do the same thing and expect a different result?"  1 year, 2 years?  "If what I am doing isn't working, WHY am I still doing it?"

If my children have figured out how to press my buttons, why do I have my buttons exposed?
What do I need to deal with before I can help my own children?
It does seem sort of silly to try to help a child not have temper tantrums, when the adults in his/her life are throwing fits themselves.

We are the ADULTS.... WE  ARE responsible!  TAKE CONTROL! Be Empowered and Energized!

And if you are thinking about adopting, EDUCATE yourself......do your homework, research and investigate.... and PRAY.  Sometimes Life can throw us some real curve balls.... sometimes life is hard for a season..... but keep it in perspective. Our children come to us broken and hurt....they didn't get that way overnight and they will not heal overnight.  It is a process.... a LONG process.

Excellent resources:
Scripture: all about love, all about self control, all about relationship......
Heather Forbes - Dare to Love, Beyond Consequences Logic and Control volumes 1 and 2
Karyn Purvis- The Connected Child,  and her website.   
Clay and Sally Clarkson- Heartfelt Discipline
and Sally's Blog  is full of wonderful advice for moms.



Happymom4 aka Hope Anne said...

Good post, Christie. I too was went to bed last night sad and wondering HOW on earth this could have gone on . . . I wonder if abuse stems from the same bottom issue as rape--the desire to feel in control and to have power??? I do knwo when we first adopted our Dd and her issues were so huge that it took daily praying and asking God to help me LOVE to get through it. It's very hard to love someone who is emotionally and physically traumatizing you and your family again and again. But we got through it with God's help and couldn't ask for a nicer, more loving child now! I'm glad we could love her with God's love until she learned what love was like and all the "cozy feelings" could come and flow freely between us all . . . until that happened, love was a daily choice.

eliz said...

This breaks my heart too. Adoption and abuse............these two words are not compatible. I just don't understand. :..o(

Annie said...

The same sorts of abuse go on with biological chldren every day; but I think that te media skews our thinking. They try to find "related" articles ...and that really so often gives a lopsided picture. The more things appear in the paper, the more common they seem.

You are so right though....and I wonder if part of the problem is that so much of what is offered as "good discipline techniques" don't work well with RAD children. Even something so popular as "Love and Logic" (which is promoted wildly by our local county agencies) can make things go terribly wrong when used for RAD chldren. But that's what I was TOLD to use! They INSISTED I take that training! I'm glad I trust my instincts more than I trust the experts. If stressed out parents use these wonderful techniques, which actually trigger their child's fear and negative behaviors - yet believe they are doing what they should be doing - of course they are going to think the child is irredeemable.

Christie M said...

Thank you all for your comments.....

Annie, I can't imagine an agency telling you to use love and logic!
There is a huge trend in the south for people to take classes called "Baby Wise, or Growing Kids Gods Way", both are put out by the Ezzos...
But the "God's Way" part baffles me, when it comes to how they deal with behavior.

In our area BCLC is being pushed in the agencies. Not the one we used, but our social worker thought we had had it and introduced it to us when Bryan Post and Heather Forbes were still working in the same seminars.
We took Pride Classes through the social services system, which were VERY good, and also took classes through our international agency.
They were "scratch the surface" sort of classes..... The pride classes were what really began to teach us about RAD. I felt they prepared us for our Anna.

But NOTHING can really prepare you until you are in the trenches. Sort of like, being prepared as a soldier in a classroom, vs. being in the trenches of a war. 2 different things. But the TRAINING DOES HELP! :)

Diana said...

Whooo, boy. This one hits home with me. These stories are horrific and tragic…and yet I know exactly how they happen, too. Sadly, I know exactly what it feels like to know I’m a millisecond away from losing control enough to becoming the lead story on the 10:00 news. This is what motivates me to keep blogging and also what gave me the drive to write the “Hot Sauce Mom” series. Though I never did anything as horrific as what these people have done, I still did plenty of stuff I regret. I let my anger and frustration and overwhelm show in ways I’m not proud of and that weren’t ok. Oddly enough, none of the things I regret most were things I was actually reported for. I didn’t even realize at the time that it was my own hot buttons that were being triggered and I certainly couldn’t have just shut them off at will at the time even if I had wanted to.

I get the overwhelm these parents face. I get it in a way that curdles my blood! We did go through training. We went WAY above and beyond anything that was required of us, too. We read everything we could get our hands on before we were adopted. We went through training classes just because we could. We read literally hundreds of blogs. Unfortunately, they all either talked about the happy stuff or the crazy and humorous stuff that goes on in country. Even our adoption agency prepped us for our time in Ukraine to be more like a vacation than anything. We were told we’d have a certain facilitator and translator with us the entire time and there would be other families around that we’d be able to get to know and that everything would be taken care of, etc.

HA! We ended up in the far reaches of western Ukraine in a region that hadn’t seen an adoption in over 2 years and many believe never even made it home. They still believe the last kid out before we adopted our boys was left at an orphanage in Kiev and the parents returned to the USA without the kid. We were also left with a highly inexperienced facilitator and were very often left with no translator. We had precious little internet access and NO ONE spoke English. We were blatantly lied to about our children’s background and their issues. We were in a small town and everyone knew their story, but when we tried to ask questions and get details, we were silenced and so was anyone who was willing to talk. Reality was our children are FAR, FAR more traumatized than what was ever disclosed to us. We were also dropped like a rock by our agency when the problems started to surface. We begged for help, even in Ukraine and we very nearly lost our kids because of it.

I even called the social worker who did our homestudy from Ukraine pleading for help. I had a very strong 7 year old child who had already beat me up to the point I had large bruises all over my body and was now sitting on my shoulders very literally trying to break my neck. Yes, he was deliberately trying to snap my head off my neck. All she could offer me was “tell him to go hit a pillow instead of you.” Seriously? That’s all you’ve got? #1 – the kid doesn’t speak English. #2 – he’s a maniac and he’s trying to kill me. LITERALLY! And you want me to tell him to go hit a pillow? And what am I supposed to do when he screams inconsolably like I’m trying to kill him every night before bed and the hotel staff are calling the police? What am I supposed to do when they corner him and ask him questions about his family and he tells stories about the old one? We never did get an answer on that one. We also knew before we ever had custody or left Ukraine that our little one was going to be an even bigger challenge than our older one.


Diana said...

I will be eternally grateful for the prompting from the Holy Spirit to throw Daniel Hughes book “Building the Bonds of Attachment” into my luggage at the last minute. I had ordered it online and it arrived the day before we left. Had I not had that one lifeline with me, we would have crumbled. I would have left my kids in Ukraine and it would have been the worst mistake of my life. Reading that book AFTER I had custody of my son and could see what was really going on and that help and hope and healing could be found was what saved our adoption.

Even then, we absolutely weren’t prepared to come home from Ukraine literally traumatized ourselves because of the hellish experience we’d had. Nor were we even remotely prepared to bring home a child that RAGED violently for 8 hours straight every single day for the first 3 months we were home and smeared poop on the walls and spit in my face and head banged hard enough to hurt himself. I likewise wasn’t prepared for the older one to constantly run away or to pull a knife on my daughter or tried to strangle her every time I turned my back.

I was desperate for help and grasped at any straws I could find. I even went through a DCFS deposition just so I could join the adoptive family support group. Even though the group was amazing and helped immensely to pull us through those first wickedly hard first months, we still couldn’t get a case worker or in-home therapist to come and help us. We had our community 0-3 program come in and try to help us. They gave some good ideas, but we knew really quickly that the help we needed was WAY beyond their scope and ability, even for their most experienced case worker who was always assigned to the hardest cases. Gratefully, they were able to get Matthew started in special ed preschool the day after he turned 3 and I was able to get at least a couple hours of break time in there.

Even just less than 4 years ago when we adopted our kids, no one was talking openly about RAD. NO one was talking about the realities of how over the top difficult or terrifying these kids can be to live with or how beyond stressful Ukraine can really be. What was even worse is that NO ONE, not any books, not any agencies, not even any social workers EVER mentioned PTSD.

Whatever I know about RAD and PTSD, I had to research and find on my own. I took advantage of every single resource I could find. I found my way out because of it. Not everyone can or will do that on their own. I believe that is why there are so many cases of abuse and so, so, SO many disruptions. Parents aren’t trained, have no idea where to turn for help or that help is even available, and get in WAY over their heads. And, as we all know, the traditional behavior modification methods that everyone (including the 0-3 program and the center that “specialized” in treating traumatized children that I drove 45 minutes each way to get to) preached either didn’t help or made things worse. It’s also what motivates me to keep blogging, too.

still more...

Diana said...

That Killpack case is especially well known here in Utah. The therapy agency in question actually was found negligent in this case, was shut down, and I believe the owners did face legal charges and were run out of town on a rail. Because of this case, laws here in Utah were significantly tightened and practices such as holding and rebirthing and water and stuff like that are now illegal here. THANKFULLY! Because yes, I’ve been in that place where I was an over the top, can’t think straight, can’t even see straight, have no idea what to do to stop this insanity, how in the blazes did I get to this place stressed out and literally traumatized mom myself. I was so desperate for help I WOULD have tried this stuff had a professional recommended it. I likely would have had the presence of mind to stop before it got dangerous, though. But still, I’m glad that it’s now illegal here to preach that kind of stuff. Unfortunately, it isn’t in other places. I still know of plenty who swear by the Keck methods of holding therapy and what not.

Christie M said...

Diana, I'm sure 2 traumatized children at the same time would have sent anybody into a tailspin! What you have written about your boys does make one wonder if the boys were in any where prepared at all for a new family.....
I am sorry how difficult things have been. I am SO GLAD that center was shut down.

We have been fortunate in other ways through life experiences that prepared us for what was to come, and what didn't make sense, made MUCH sense when put in perspective. :)
The Lord has definitely been by our side! I do not underestimate at all that there are many children who are EXTREME in behaviors, and it is NOT easy at all..... nor can life be wrapped in a neat little package. :) This stuff takes time to unravel and I'm so glad that there are parents willing to work HARD and push through the issues and can see the light coming.....
At the same time, what if nothing changes? What if our kids remain hurt forever? That is a possibility for some, not all. But it doesn't mean the effort and work were for a loss or not worth the time. The results are up to God. Our obedience to fulfill our parental duties, however, bring much more fruit that cannot be seen with the eye. :)
Keep on Keeping on! There is much fruit to be harvested!

Christie M said...

We are off to Out On a Limb Camp Family Retreat! :)
See you all on Monday! Our friends are coming over and will take care of all the animals....THANK YOU FRIENDS!

Diana said...

Christie - No, my boys didn't have a clue! We actually had custody of Joseph for 3 weeks in Ukraine (he moved in the day we went to court.) We never saw his stuff coming. Neither of our boys were prepared for being adopted. Joseph was a bit because we did it and made our translator translate exactly what we said. Actually, I believe that was the ONLY conversation that was translated with any degree of accuracy the entire 6 weeks we were there.

If anything, Joseph was told by the workers we'd hurt him. With Matthew, we finally had to get a little fiesty with both our facilitator and the workers and pretty much told them we weren't leaving until they told Matthew what was up. We were there when they told him we'd be his new family and he'd be coming to America with us. He looked at us in horror and said "NO!!" Nice...the adoption was already final and we were slated to leave the area in 3 days! When we finally did get to spring him, he walked out of there as fast as he could with abosolutely zero emotion and never looked back. Not even once. Even now he can't stand to look at the pictures of his orphanage.

And no...I'd never adopt 2 at the same time again.

Have fun at camp!!

You Are Still Holy