Summer is rapidly coming to an end now for all of us and we are all about to go full speed ahead into the school year. I feel like I lost so much 'professional time' this summer. I had intended to revamp packs and beef them up...get this new blog going....start a blog on adoption just for my own therapy....and maybe even work in a vacation for a bit.
In truth, none of that happened as my family experienced trauma after trauma this summer.
Simply put, I am an abused mom and this may be the most important post I ever write. I hope that it helps other RAD moms, dad's, and families understand that they are not alone. Just in the last few weeks, several of you have sent messages of support with stories of family members that have been challenged by RAD. It is not an easy battle, but I commend them. Many times they recognize the symptoms and behaviors, but did not even know RAD exists. But, it is affecting over 1.5 million children...and most parents have no idea what they are dealing with.
|In the judges chambers being officially adopted. Our awesome casework is in the back!|
This story began in October 2008 with us welcoming our 2 wonderful kids into our home for good on Halloween. However, Angel's behavior problems started on the drive home that very afternoon with her having a 'tantrum' (we later learned these are called rages) and kicking the back of the driver's seat as we drove down the Interstate. Just months after we formed our little family my husband and I would joke, "Is this a trick or a treat?". We had waited so long for kids due to infertility problems that we were determined to make this work. We are STILL determined to make this work.
|Taken shortly after we brought them home--on our way to church!|
Angel has always been hard to handle, but she has had her loving moments when she wanted to take a nap with mom <me> or cuddle on the couch to watch TV. But for the most part, she set herself apart and tried to become the alpha female. In her mind, it is a disloyalty to her birth mother to bond with me. I never put much stock in all the alpha female stuff, but we could see that Angel was slowly trying to control our family. And she did in small ways and we never even noticed. Kids diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder, or RAD, must have control to feel safe. They are afraid to follow directions because it shows a sense of weakness. She is afraid to be loved because she doesn't want to be rejected again like all of the other times.
|At the playground at school, playing with Dad. One of my favorite pics.|
She and I have most often butted heads when it came to her biological half-brother....she tried to mother him and would often undermine me and would even challenge me when it came to time-outs or taking away a toy or 2 to teach him a life lesson. She has told him, "She isn't your mother. You can call her Jennifer." We have explained the adoption to him and he realizes he isn't our biological son, but he has accepted us fully. Our son has often felt like he was being pulled from two different sides during the years.
We often went round and round when it came to chores getting done or her simply being told 'no' when she wanted to do something that wasn't in her best interest. Most RAD kids are diagnosed with ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder) in the beginning and it is typical for diagnoses to change.
My husband and I will soon be married for 14 years. He is my lifeline. My best friend. My partner in crime. But for the last few years we have barely gotten to talk...barely remember to kiss goodnight...rarely have our schedules in sync. Why? Because we are exhausted with trying to balance our family's dynamics and we are victims of trauma.
We are always waiting for the next rage to develop. Angel's rages can last from an hour to five hours long and during that time, we have to lock all of the doors in the house to keep her inside and often have to physically restrain her. Often, we depend on the police to come to our house so that she can be transported to the children's mental hospital so that we know that she is safe. After getting her admitted, we go home to find that we are bruised from being hit and kicked, have bite marks, and suffer from back pain. I often suffer from depression because of it, after all, I am the mom, right? I am supposed to be able to 'control' her, help her, teach her, fix her, and hug and kiss her boo-boos. But I can't do that if I can't get close to her. And with RAD children, the mom is the #1 victim because she is the one responsible for caring for the kids.
|5th Grade Graduation. Notice the silver 'heels' Beautiful!|
Angel has had plenty of trauma in her life and I wish I could have been there when horrible videos were put on while foster moms were away, or the time when broccoli was shoved down her throat as punishment, or the night she was taken by Child and Family Services and her biological mom never woke up to notice that she was gone. I can't truly comprehend all that she has gone through. But I can comprehend that the RAD developed because the removal from her biological home caused so much damage to her neurological bonds that we may never a way for her to heal. We know that her healing will be a challenge because of her age. She essentially has brain trauma and some would even go as far to say that it is brain damage. There is a lot of guilt from our parental view because we thought we needed to treat her for her bipolar disorder. Those three little initials, RAD, were tacked on at the very end of our adoption paperwork and never really discussed with us. We never knew that those three little initials would shape and almost ruin all of our lives.
|Coming home after being in residential care for 6 months.|
Angel spent 6 months in a residential school last year and this summer was not a good time. She was in the juvenile detention center for almost 3 weeks because she had been on the computer all night long one Saturday night and decided to run away after we corrected her. My husband thought I had the computer. I thought he had the computer. She said it had gotten lost and she didn't know where it was. This is typical RAD 'divide and conquer' behavior which occurs after you wear mom and dad out and they can't think straight. It was actually in the bottom of her closet, covered with shoes, blankets, and discarded clothing. When I told her that if I went to her room to search that the computer would be put up for the rest of the summer it magically appeared. I sealed my fate as a person she needed to hate when I told her that she could not have access to the computer for a while. Confronted with punishment, she grabbed her purse full of books, her stuffed duck from her sister, and hopped on her bicycle and rode away. We thought she was just riding down the street to let off some steam. We never dreamed my husband would find her a few miles away, driving in and out of both lanes of traffic, trying to balance her duck and her purse as she pedaled away into what she thought would be her new future. It took a search for her by my husband and the police to get her home and the next day we had to file papers with a probation officer. Angel sealed her own fate when she was disrespectful. It earned her a night 'back in the back' and a hearing scheduled for the next day. At the hearing the next day, the judge asked me if I could be able to ensure her safety if she was released to us. I had to answer that in all honesty, no, I could not. With that, she was sent 'back to the back' again until her next hearing and I once again sealed my fate as someone that she cannot love or trust.
|Finally relaxed during her first full pedicure.|
But, enter in pathwayforhealing.org and a little-known boarding school for girls with RAD in North Carolina. My husband forced, and yes, I say FORCED me to go to a mother's retreat in North Carolina near the school. My new friend, Jennie, assured me that she would take care of me if I went. Two days before we went I told her I just couldn't go. I couldn't handle the anxiety and needed to be in MY bed at MY house. I needed what little control I had maintained in my home. The night before we left I actually threw up and refused to pack. I thought I could actually get my husband to forget I was scheduled to leave....or that he would give me a reprieve. But it didn't happen. He made me go. And it was the best thing I ever did. During that weekend, I learned that I was not going crazy or even already crazy. I learned that all of the moms there were victims of abuse from their children just like I was. I learned that just about everyone was on an intense amount of medicine. I learned that I wasn't the only one that was exhausted. I wasn't the only mom going to work each day and going through the motions and trying to do the best that I could. I learned that I wasn't the only mother that thought at times that her child was possessed by some evil entity. I learned most of all, that I wasn't the only one that had wanted to give up but had kept on trucking only because of God's Grace. I can't tell you how many times I wanted to just go sit somewhere and fade away. I learned that I have been abused so much that it may take me years to work through things because of the way it has affected my life.
When you have a child with RAD, your priorities change. My 'I Can Do It All And Be A Mom, Too' mindset changed....I wasn't going to be an administrator despite earning an ED.S. right before the kids came to live with us...over the years my name has faded away in my district and I'm not even called on anymore to train other staffs...I have reconciled myself to being an unknown in my district.....my own principal begged me not to adopt the kids because she said that it would affect my career negatively. And it has. I'm not the same teacher I was six years ago and I won't ever be that same person again.
I have lost friends and my close-knit tie with my family because of my kids. Our families supported us with our decision to go through with our adoption even though things were tough, but they all begged us not to go through with it. We are rarely invited to join other families after church on Sundays for lunch. My own sister won't babysit my kids for me because it is such a challenge. My mom fears that she will get a phone call telling her that I have been injured because she doesn't know what Angel will do next. Friends have even said that they won't come to my house anymore if my daughter is home. It is almost too much for me to fathom. This isn't the life we set out to live. So, the conclusion is that she MUST get the therapy that is needed so that she can heal....so that we all can heal.
If you keep on reading you will see a wide variety of packs that have been donated so that my family can raise the funds needed to help Angel get therapy. The therapy we seek for the boarding school and at Turning Point camp in October has an 85% success rate....we plan to soak up every second of it, but it can't be done on our own. At this time, her therapy needs are in excess of $10,000. Insurance will not cover it because it does not involve their typical view of therapy.
I have never met any of the teachers that donated these packets. I 'know' them from online and have worked with some for years through blogging. The response to my call for help has been amazing and has brought me to tears many times. These teachers want to see Angel be successful. I don't have words adequate to thank them. All that I know to do is to be the best mom that I can be and to try to rehabilitate my broken daughter so that she can be successful. I have faith that she will be rehabilitated and will one day be able to say, "I love you, mom" and truly mean it. One day. Hopefully soon.
I sincerely want to thank you for coming by to hear my daughter's story. Here's to a happy ending for all! For those of you thinking about purchasing, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. 100% of what is raised will go to her therapy.
If any of you have a similar story or know someone with a similar story feel free to connect them with us. Or, send them a link to attachment.org. Or both. We would love to help anyone we can.
And now, on to the good stuff! Here is what you will find!
There will be 2 different zip files for Kindergarten and first grade that can be downloaded. I got really creative and labeled them bundle #1 and bundle #2. =) You can find them in my store on TpT. I encourage you to backtrack a bit and be sure to follow not only my store but the stores of each of the teachers that were gracious enough to give up their own profits to help my daughter.
As soon as I can get them up, there will be files for 2nd and 3rd grade as well. With school starting, therapy, and family I am burning my candle at both ends.