Many people adopt because they’re unable to have their own biological children; however, that was not the case for my husband and I. Our hearts broke knowing there are children in the foster care system who age out of the system without knowing the permanency of family.
Andrew and I wished to provide a home for a child (or two, as it so happened) in the system.
Admittedly, it was partly selfish, too. I hated being pregnant. I had a rare condition called cholestasis, and a very difficult delivery (almost 48 hours of labor, four hours of pushing), and had no desire to go through that EVER again.
People say you forget all about the pain and discomfort after it’s over.
In my defense, though, we made this choice before I got pregnant.
As cheesy as it sounds, I always wanted to make a difference in the world. It was the motivation behind every career I dreamed of as a child: nun, psychologist, occupational therapist.
And now, writer.
Many adoptees get upset because they don’t want to be viewed as a charity case. I don’t look at my daughters, or any other adopted person, as a charity case.
I look at it as being practical. Why would I go through the hell of pregnancy, labor and delivery again when there are children in the foster care system who need homes?
I am taking part in a Book Blogger Love-A-Thon. I don’t know much about it aside from it runs February 21 through February 22. The first thing is a About Me type questionnaire.
1. What’s your name?
My name is Lynn.
2. Where in the world are you blogging from?
I’m in Carmichael, a suburb of Sacramento. I’m typing away at the antique piano desk in my Writing Room
3. How did you get into blogging in the first place?
I created this blog to accompany my memoir: Born in My Heart: A Bittersweet Adoption Blessing. At a writer’s conference last week I learned this is called a platform. 🙂
4. How did you come up with your blog name?
It was originally the same title as my book; however, I wanted to blog about more than my book so I changed it. Written Reflections seemed a more accurate description and it flowed nicely, so I went with it!
5. What genre do you read and review the most on your blog? As of yet, I haven’t reviewed any books on my blog. I enjoy reading chick lit by British authors and memoirs. When I read a book that I love, I often “binge” on that author until I’ve read them all.
6. What other types of posts do you do on your blog, apart from reviews? I blog about my experiences as a foster-adopt mother, which includes foster child adoption advocation. I blog about day-to-day experiences with a creative twist. I blog thoughts and feelings and general musings.
7. Best blogging experience so far? I had some great comments on a blog about my memoir. I’ve only been blogging about a month so I’m still a newbie.
8. Favorite thing about the blogging community? Getting to know other people from all around the world, their differences and similarities.
9. Name the 5 books you’re most excited for this 2015!
1. The Melody Lingers On by Mary Higgins Clark
2. Host by Robin Cook
3. None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
4. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (I know it’s not a new book but it was recommended by my book club.)
5. The stories in my writer’s group
10. What’s an underrated book or series that you think everyone should read?
Hmmmm, have to think about that one…
11. Which book boy or girl would be your book BFF?
I always thought CC Bloom from Beaches by Iris Rainer Dart would be an awesome best friend.
12. Apart from reading, what are your other hobbies or interests?
I love to write and am currently trying my hand at poetry that isn’t inspired by teenage angst. I love jigsaw puzzles and Sudoko. I like to bake with my kids. Travel is a passion of mine but is on hold until the kiddos are older.
13. Apart from book shopping, what else do you like shopping for?
Honestly, I don’t do much book shopping – I am a library lover! What I do love to purchase, however, are clothes from consignment shops, especially local, charity-driven ones. I always get great deals!
14. At a party, the DJ suddenly changes the song – and it’s your song. What song would be playing? You Spin Me Around by Dead or Alive. Honestly, any 80s music would have me shaking my tail feathers.
15. Pick out either a book you want turned into a film/TV show, or a film/TV show you want turned into a book. I love reading books that were made into movies, even though they generally are not nearly as good. At this point I can only think of books that were made into movies and I really wish they hadn’t been.
My youngest daughter, Paige was exposed to high amounts of drugs in utero.
I know she was exposed to meth and prescription drugs, and perhaps other illegal ones.
Her biological mother had a prescription for Klonopin, a very strong medication used to treat anxiety and seizures. Even when this drug is used for seizures, patients should not continue use during pregnancy unless absolutely necessary.
She abused other prescription medications, such as Vicodin and morphine.
My daughter spent three weeks in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) suffering withdrawal. She experienced:
When she moved in with us at five months, she experienced:
failure to thrive (inability to gain weight)
GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux)
Bouts of constipation alternating with diarrhea. She went days without a bowel movement and when it came, she screamed because it was so rock hard. Her bouts of diarrhea caused horrendous rashes no matter how much we kept on top of diaper changes and Buttpaste.
The tremors were the worst. If we hadn’t been told they weren’t seizures, we would have raced to the ER with that presumption. It was heartbreaking.
Paige would tense up and after a moment would begin to shake uncontrollably. The tremors themselves generally didn’t last more than a minute. However, they were always followed by high-pitched screaming and inconsolable crying. Her intensity often lead to hyperventilation. NOTHING soothed her… I could only walk her up and down the hallway singing, and hope she knew I was there and I loved her.
We MUST educate society about this, especially our impressionable youth. Schools need to show teens a video like the one above. If we teach our children the negative consequences of using drugs, perhaps we can prevent them from making these mistakes.
When I decided to be the birth coach for a stranger, little did I know it would result in two daughters….
The following is the synopsis of my memoir, Born in My Heart: A Bittersweet Adoption Blessing.
Six years ago I was asked to be the birth coach for a woman (Ruth*) I didn’t know. Her husband (David) was in prison and her daughter, Payton in CPS custody. Ruth was an addict and she had no one for support.
I chose to help out and witnessed the birth of a baby girl, Paige. I cut her umbilical cord, held her… and fell completely in love!
Ruth had nowhere to recover from her C-section so my husband and I let her stay with us for almost a week. I learned about the person under the addiction during that time; I came to understand firsthand “hate the sin, not the sinner.”
Paige was placed in foster care because of severe drug withdrawal. Ruth decided to place her for adoption as she knew taking care of only one child on her own would be difficult enough. Ruth gave us her blessing to adopt Paige.
I attended all the court hearings and got to know Ruth even more during the legal process. I directly witnessed the conflicting emotions a biological mother** feels when she selflessly does what is in her child’s best interest.
A year later Payton reunified with Ruth. She was removed again six months later when Ruth and David stopped meeting county requirements. This time Payton was removed permanently. We took Payton into our home just before she turned three, and adopted her a year later.
This is the story of my girls’ adoption with their unique needs, my unusual relationship with Ruth, and the good, the bad and the ugly of it all from my uncensored point of view.
I believe people need to be educated about the dire need for foster and foster-adopt homes. I believe people need to learn about addiction and how it affects both the addict and the people in the addict’s life. That is why I am taking steps to publish my story the traditional route.
Agents and publishers research potential clients’ social media following so the more publicity the better. Please support my journey by following/liking and commenting on my blog. Please also follow/like and comment on my Facebook page and Twitter account. Thank you!
In my previous blog titled NEVER Say These Things to the Parent of a Kid w/ RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) I talked about key things to keep to yourself when talking with the parent of a kid with RAD. My good friend, whose daughter also has RAD, thought it helpful to share what to say and/or do.
1. SIMPLY LISTEN: Just sit there and listen with an occasional “uh huh” and sympathetic “mmmm.” Raising children is a difficult job. What makes it worthwhile? You know your child appreciates it on some level when she* hugs you and says “I love you” (unless they’re teenagers!). RAD kids don’t do that, or if they do it is detached. This makes raising a child with RAD not just difficult and selfless, but also a thankless job.** We are thankful when someone takes the time to show us they appreciate us and care by listening.
2. DON’T JUDGE: Parenting techniques used with RAD kids are counterintuitive to typical parenting techniques. They appear cold, indifferent and too strict. The truth is they are necessary. Children with RAD need a calm, stable, even-keel parent who doesn’t make a big deal out of anything, even if it IS a big deal, to feel safe. A strict routine is also necessary for a kid with RAD to feel safe. We may appear heartless but we are really helping the child and averting a crisis.
3. UNDERSTAND YOU WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND: It is difficult if not downright impossible to understand what is involved in raising a child with RAD. My daughter, thankfully, has made much progress. However, it is difficult for others to understand how tenuous that progress is and regression may happen for no apparent reason.
4. ASK BEFORE ACTING: Please ask the parent before doing something or offering something to the child. For example, please ask the parent before offering a treat. Mention a play date or sleepover to the parent before the child. Do not directly give the child an invitation to a birthday party; hand it to the parent or mail it. And please do these things in private; if the child overhears, it is likely to cause disruption and potentially regression if the answer is “no.” Teachers should give goodies from classroom celebrations directly to the parents. This was a constant problem at my daughter’s preschool and resulted in numerous car rides home filled with crying because she wasn’t allowed to have the candy immediately.
5. RESPECT OUR BOUNDARIES: When it gets to the point where we can disrupt our RAD kid’s routine and have a play date or afternoon at the park, please follow our seemingly silly requests. If we ask you not to give her sweets, such as hot chocolate on a rainy day, please honor our request. If she asks for a second piece of birthday cake, deny her that seemingly innocent second piece of cake. If she asks to stay at your place for just one more hour, tell her ‘no’ flat out.
THINGS TO SAY:
“This must be really hard for you,” or something along that line. When my sister-in-law and I got close, she said that when I confided in her about my struggles. It was so nice to hear someone empathize with ME. The child rightfully deserves empathy but so do the parents who struggle each and every day to heal the wounds.
“I can’t even begin to understand.” Because that statement is entirely true, we feel validated when you acknowledge it instead of trying to help.
“Is there anything I can do to help?” Often the only thing you can do is lend an ear but we appreciate the offer. A close friend of mine offered to look after the kids anytime I needed a break. Although I could not take her up on that offer because it would be too disruptive to my daughter’s schedule, I nonetheless appreciated her willingness to help.
I cannot emphasize enough how difficult it is to raise a child with RAD. Things parents take for granted, such as the child making eye contact during a conversation, are all accomplishments for us.
*As noted in my prior blog, I use “she” because my daughter has RAD.
** I know parents are not always appreciated by their children but at some point they have thanked you through their affection.
RAD stands for Reactive Attachment Disorder. You often hear about it with overseas adoptions as these children generally lived in orphanages and had to fend for themselves. Put simply, the child hasn’t learned how to attach, and as a result is not attached to anyone. These children have an excessive need for control and are either detached or will go off with anyone (or both). Repeated abuse, neglect and inconsistent parenting causes it.
The following are things you NEVER say to a parent who has a kid with RAD:
1. “My kid does that too” or “that sounds normal.” THIS IS DIFFERENT
Every child wants control, true. But a child with RAD needs constant control and will act out (tantrum, show aggression, etc.) if she* doesn’t have it. She doesn’t act this way on a temporary regular basis, like a phase, but rather is the way she lives. She is hyper-vigalent, removed physically and mentally, and always observing.
Example: When my daughter was newly potty trained, we would remind her to use the bathroom otherwise she often had an accident. This resulted in a tantrum and tears EVERY TIME we told her.
2. “I understand how you feel.” NO YOU DON’T
And, please don’t act like you do. Because at the end of the day, no matter how bad the day, you know your child loves you and she knows you love her back. Because RAD kids haven’t learned to attach, they do not know how to feel and process love. Affection, if they show it, is detached. It often happens only because it is part of a routine.
Example: My daughter says “good night, I love you too” even if I haven’t said good night yet. Example: My daughter shows spontaneous affection only when she wants people to notice her; it is an act for attention. Example: My daughter holds her arms up as though shielding herself when I pull her in for a hug. Example: “Hi mom, I thought I’d say ‘good morning,'” but all the while she is looking at the cat sleeping on the bed as though I don’t exist.
3. “You’re too hard on her.” SHE NEEDS UNCONVENTIONAL PARENTING
First of all, if you say this, your unspoken words are “it’s your fault your kid acts out.”
RAD kids don’t like surprises and need routine to feel safe. Any deviation from that routine causes one of two problems:
If you give her an inch, she takes a mile and then gets angry when you won’t let her go two.
If you deviate from the routine, she acts out and regresses when things go back to routine later on.
Example: When she went back to school after Christmas Break, she had issues every day for a week: She cried because I told her to hang up her clothes; she was blatantly disobedient, sneering at me; she cried hysterically, as though she lost her favorite toy, when her sister broke a piece of her chalk; she had a kicking, stomping, screaming tantrum because I told her to read the directions on her homework.
4. “She doesn’t act that way with me” or “I’ve never seen her do that.” OF COURSE NOT
You are new and fun and don’t require anything of the relationship. Your relationship doesn’t require intimacy and you don’t ask anything of her. If you lived with us a couple weeks, she would act “that way” because you would no longer be novel.
Example: My mother stayed with us a couple weeks when I was having problems with my heart. The first week she was Grandma, the second week she turned into “Mean” Grandma (had to enforce rules, etc). My previously affectionate daughter started acting less affectionate and more disobedient towards her.
My daughter’s therapist said this is something you cannot truly understand until you have a kid with RAD or you are frequently around a kid with RAD. So even if not your intention, these four phrases are dismissive and demeaning. They also imply you don’t believe a word of these struggles. Please, simply listen and offer empathy.
There are millions of blogs out there; everyone has something important to say. So do I. But what makes my blog worthy of your time? Why is what I have to say important for you to read?
I created this blog so people could learn about foster care adoption. My two daughters were adopted through foster care. But that isn’t the reason you should follow my blog; the reason is for the children. Not my daughters, but the thousands of children in foster care each year, many of whom age out, or leave the system at 18 without ever having been adopted.
Imagine for a moment never having a family, or the only family you remember having was so unhealthy the government decided it wasn’t safe for you to stay. Imagine being shuttled around from home to home. (There are wonderful people who became foster parents for the right reasons, such as my youngest daughter’s foster mom. There are also people who should never have become foster parents and we all question why they did. Money may be a factor but it just barely covers the cost of the an extra person in the household.) Because things are so uncertain – “will I ever see my parents again?” because despite the traumatic childhood they are still your parents; “can I trust these people?” because most of the adults in your life thus far have proven untrustworthy; “how long will I stay in this home?” because you can’t trust adults and risk getting close, so you do things to push people away; “is this a safe home?” because some foster homes are no safer or healthy than the homes you’ve been removed from; but most important, “Why doesn’t anyone care about? I must’ve done something wrong to make this happen. I am unloveable.”
And that, my friends, is what it is like being a foster child.*
When foster children come to a home that wishes to adopt them, it is the foster-adopt parents left with cleaning up the mess left by their biological family, the system, and those who became foster parents for the wrong reasons. It is their job to heal wounds; some of which are surface wounds and easily healed, others have been torn open so often an infection eats away and it’s just a matter of time before the extent of it surfaces.
Actually, sharing my experiences as a foster-adopt mother with all its joys and challenges is not the only reason I started this blog. Also, the reason is not just to get on my soapbox about the foster care epidemic and the fact these children are as homeless as those living on the street. I also created this blog to talk about the story I wrote, my daughters’ story – Born in My Heart: A Bittersweet Adoption Blessing and why its publication is necessary to read.
*Disclaimer: I have never been a foster child myself but have friends who were.