Saturday, August 31, 2013

Highly sensitive

I posted on a foster parenting board about SuperD’s total preoccupation with any cut, bump, bruise, etc. The tiniest scratch is a HUGE deal to him. I was wondering if it was age-appropriate behavior or trauma related, and I got some really good responses that led me to believe it’s both. A couple of people brought up the possibility of sensory processing issues. While I don’t believe SuperD has Sensory Processing Disorder, I do believe he has enough traits to categorize him as a highly sensitive child.

I stumbled across this link: I checked 12 of them that apply to my little guy. When we go to do his pre-adoptive psychological eval next month, I’m going to make sure to mention this to the doctor, as well as to his therapist. This doesn’t change anything about how we parent, really, but there may be things we can do differently or adjustments we can make at home to better help SuperD navigate the world. I’m also going to read the book The Highly Sensitive Child.

I vividly remember having tactile sensory issues as a kid. I had to go to occupational therapy for it because  I couldn’t have my hair brushed, wear socks right side in, have tags left on my clothes, etc. Thankfully, SuperD doesn’t have tactile issues. But he is a very sensitive and intuitive child, and I feel that hubby and I should alter some of our expectations to honor SuperD’s differences.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Love note

Monkey is at hubby’s favorite age. She’ll be one in a few days. She tries to mimic words, She talks all. the.time. She mimics actions, too. If I point at her, she puts her finger out and touches mine. If I put my hands on my head, she does too and then laughs and laughs. Seeing her smiling face is my absolute favorite part about waking up every day. This morning she’d taken her pants off! She’s always standing in the corner of her crib, chewing on the side rail (covered in a rubber teething protector).

Monkey has made huge strides in the eating department. We’ve learned that this baby LOVES chicken, applesauce, beans and black olives. She will take a whole handful of olives and cram them into her mouth. When she’s done eating, though, she lets us know by deliberately looking at us, picking up her food and delicately dropping it on the floor. She’s not taking a sippy cup, but I admit I’ve been slow to introduce it. She’s likely the last foster care placement we’ll take (unless we get a miracle call for an adoptable baby who needs a home in the next six month) and I’m savoring the sweet moments of feeding her. It’s time, though, and I’m going to be more deliberate about giving it to her every day. She'll figure it out in her own time.

I know this post is kind of disorganized and there is no real point. It’s just a love note for my sweet girl.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Therapeutic Roots

The going has been rough around here lately. We’ve got a variety of stressors going on from all areas of our life. Monkey’s mishandled case and SuperD’s disregulated behavior are at the top of a very long list of challenges right now.

Since I can’t get a handle on Monkey’s case and am basically limited to being a spectator as incompetent attorneys sit by and refuse to advocate, I am instead devoting myself to dealing with SuperD’s messy little mind. I admit, we’ve fallen out of the habit of being therapeutic all the time. More times than I care to confess recently, we have defaulted to taking away toys (putting them in time out), using time out for SuperD (we call it quiet time) and even sending him to his room (which he HATES because it is on a different floor than the rest of us). I’m pretty ashamed to have fallen so far from my therapeutic beliefs and given in to frustration so often.

While sitting in court for 5 ½ hours last week waiting for Moneky’s case to be called, I went ahead and reread The Connected Child. Since we can’t have any kind of electronics, including cell phones, in court the book was a good way to distract me from the 13 or so other people who were also waiting 5 ½ hours for the case to be called. You can only talk for so long. I’m glad I spent the time refreshing my memory on therapeutic techniques.

I’ve made a concerted effort to use affectionate touch more with SuperD, to praise for EVERYthing he does well/right and to use a more authoritative but emotionless voice when correcting him. I’ve never put a lot of effort into getting him to maintain eye contact until the last few days and I’ve been surprised to find how difficult it is for him. When he’s disregulated, he also flinches away from touch (overstimulating?) and is hypersensitive to sound and temperature.
Hubby and I had moved away from referring to each other as mom and dad to SuperD, as it seemed to be causing him some anxiety. We went back to it this weekend, though. I realized that for the rest of his childhood, people would be referring to us that way. And we need him to see us as his parents, not his temporary caregivers. He still can’t bring himself to call us mom and dad, and I’m trying to be okay with that. I want to hear him call me mom, but it has to be on his comfort level.

Things that worked for us this weekend were: lots of lap time, snuggling, reading together; getting on SuperD’s level and mirroring his movements (sitting cross-legged, putting my hand on my head, etc.); long family walks; SuperD/hubby TV time, one of the few times the boys really snuggle up to each other; staying close to home and limiting SuperD’s exposure to very stimulating situations. That meant missing a birthday party, which was disappointing, but I’d rather have my kiddo feeling safe and secure than spend 2 hours at a party. It’s nice to be getting back to my therapeutic roots.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


We had a rough day at court yesterday. Monkey’s case is going in an unexpected direction and I’m mentally preparing for an outcome that is going to break my heart. It’s hard and it feels like the case is moving backwards due entirely to attorney who are choosing not to do their jobs. I had convinced myself that after the heartbreak of saying goodbye to A & N, I had better protected myself this time. Or at least I was more prepared. Ha! I’ve been totally fooling myself. At least I know hubby and I can get through anything, but it certainly won’t be any easier the second time around.

Things with SuperD are going okay. We'd started having conversations about calling us mommy and daddy, and that totally disregulated him so we're backing off of that. I also found out we have to get a psych eval done for the adoption paperwork. I'm very much looking forward to completing that and getting the results.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Waiting game

We are still living in a land of uncertainty over here. I am about to start (another) new job, and hubby is still waiting to hear from one he just interviewed for. While we’re on the road to adopting SuperD, we’ve yet to be assigned an adoption worker and only half of our family (my half) has been told. We have an important court date for Monkey next week and I have no clue what the outcome will be. I’m a walking ball of anxiety these days! It’s a good thing these kids are so cute!

I've been doing a lot of therapeutic work with SuperD the last few days. He's been talking about his first dad nonstop and it continues to be so heartbreaking.
Questions from my 4 yo this week:

  • When am I going to see my other dad?
  • Before I came to live with you, what kids lived here?
  • When am I going to get on a plane and live somewhere else? (He came to us from out of state)

It's been rough, but I'm hopeful that as we move into fall, which will mark his second fall season with us, he'll begin to feel more secure again. I’m trying to convince hubby that we should take a last minute beach vacation over Labor Day weekend. I could really use the break!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Tough question

SuperD asked tonight when his real dad was coming to get him. We talked a little about first mommy and daddy not being able to take care of him and keep him safe. I tried to link it to what we always tell him, that it is our job to take care of him and Monkey and keep them safe. I'm going to check with his caseworker, but I think it's just about time to tell him the whole truth.

I told my parents about the adoption this week. They were beyond excited. My mom immediately got online and started buying books about adoption that are geared towards friends and family of the adoptive couple. She and my brother have also asked about coming out for adoption day, which is so far in the future I can't even begin to plan it right now. I cannot wait until the first time SuperD calls them grandma and grandpa (as far as I know, he's never had any relationship with bio-grandparents, so they get to be his first!).

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Controlling the story

We have an opportunity in a few weeks to go to a local camp for foster/adoptive families. It is put on by our state’s foster parent advocacy organization. My first reaction was that we’d totally go! Three days with other foster families, time for just the grown-ups while kids have their own sessions. And it’s almost free, plus food and housing is provided. What’s not to love?

But the more I think about it, the more I’m hesitant. Not for hubby or myself. I love the idea of connecting with lots of other foster families. We know hardly any local ones. But I hesitate for SuperD. I’m not sure it’s the right environment for him at this time.

You see, he has no idea he’s a “foster kid.” In SuperD’s innocent little 4 yo mind, his first parents couldn’t keep him safe so – YAY!, he came to live with us, and we were so excited and happy and lucky! He doesn’t have a caseworker, a CASA and a therapist. He has Miss M, Miss S and Miss C, who love to visit and play with him. In fact, he’s pretty sure that everyone who comes to our house is here to see him. I don’t think he understands that all  kids don’t have a team of women rallying around them. And I kind of like it that way. His life is his normal, and I don’t ever want him to feel different from other kids for having been in foster care.

We’ve never intentionally hidden anything from him. It just never came up. I fully intend to tell him the truth and be 100% open about his life story and adoption. We’ll probably even have contact with his first parents in the future (the distant future). But I’m not sure now is the time to put him in with a lot of other foster/adopted children, when I can’t control the messages he hears about foster care and adoption. I’ll have to talk to hubby about it and see what he thinks. But my gut is telling me that, this year, this might not be the camp for us.