Sunday, June 27, 2010

Attachment and Time

I went to a workshop on parenting adopted kids on Friday. It was very good. Of course I think that largely because the psychologist was teaching what I had already come to believe. You know: behavior mod sucks; kids learn and grow through attachment; any parenting that attempts to coerce attachment will, at best, produce a submissive child; genuine attachment depends upon empathy.

It made me think about how much I have changed as a parent, and it made me think a lot about David. Have you read his Story? It starts here. Those of you who have read it knows that his time living with us ends with us moving him out. It was after his 18th birthday and we finally packed up his belongings and took them to the social worker's office so he could take them to wherever he was living. It seemed to us at the time, and still does, that David was planning on pushing us until we kicked him out. My own reflections on how his placement ended are here.

Of all my kids (excepting Ann who was never a permanent placement), David had the most attachment issues. He wasn't RAD, but he also didn't attach. He was forever the four-year-old boy who divided the world into "good people who give me what I need want" and "bad people who don't" and finally, "people who might give me what I need/want when the people I'm with throw me away." His attention was forever on the third category. Even while he lived with us I knew he needed a light hand. He had been in a pre-adoption placement and it had failed. He didn't want to be adopted. He didn't want to trust.

Though I think, or like to think, that I would have handled things differently if I were parenting him now, I don't think the end would have been significantly different. He had expected to leave us at 18. He wanted to leave. He wanted to be "independent" even though that meant, for a couple of years, that he was just finding new people take care of him.

The best thing we did was not to give up on having a relationship with him. We did very little in the way of commenting on how he was living his life. We certainly had no expectations that we would influence any of his choices. I just didn't want to lose him completely. He had a piece of my heart and I knew that I would miss him forever if I didn't stay in touch. So we reached out every now and then. We dropped by once we knew where he lived. We invited him home for the holidays. We hugged him and let him see how happy we were to see him when we did run into him. I don't want to make us sound heroic here. We went months without contacting him. I licked my wounds and cried and wondered why he rejected me. Every now and then though, I would force myself to reach out again. The first two years were the hardest.

And now?

Well, now he has been in the same loving relationship for almost two years. Now he wants to be adopted and he wants our last name. Now he doesn't just accept what he needs/wants from people. Now he enters into relationships. He lets himself be cared about and he cares for others.

I suspect he will always be a person who protects his heart. He may still sabotage relationships. But also know he is getting stronger and we are part of that journey.

And it isn't over. Parenting never stops.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Proceding slowly

Andrew got back from college a bit over a week ago. He had his finger printing done last Friday. Soon H&W should have the report. They will then send it to the private adoption agency to whom they farmed out the home study. THEN we should be ready to ask for a court date.

In the meantime, my mother who is 72, is having surgery. I've decided not to talk about her specific health issues on the Internet. Her surgery is scheduled for July 2. I am flying back to her house on July 4 (which turns out to be a relatively inexpensive day to fly in the US, unlike the days just before and after). I will return July 28. I'll be able to visit her while she is still in the hospital and talk to the medical people about what sort of home care she will need. I do appreciate that she decided to have this health crisis in the summer when I could give her three weeks or so.

Did I ever mention that my mother does not have Internet? She doesn't own a computer or a cell phone. She does live a few blocks from the library. It is a very small town, but presumably I can check in there every few days. I rather doubt there is anything like a coffee shop with internet access in town.

It is a very small town.

In other news, we are all well. The boys are not looking as hard as I think they should for jobs, but they are staying reasonably busy. Gary is taking two on-line courses and reports that he is getting the work done. He is taking Government 1 & 2. It sounds to me like so far "getting the work done" means BS'ing on the discussion board without actually reading the material assigned. Still, I've gotten good at the whole boundaries thing. I certainly can't make him work any harder or better. He has the skills. He gets to make the decisions. At least this on-line school has an actual teacher and weekly due dates.

We are not going to my father's cottages this year, to everyone's relief. I had decided that before I knew about Mom. With Gary's class we wouldn't be able to go for very long anyway. Dad could only get there during August, which is a miserable time to go. My biggest hesitancy about it was that I was concerned for my sister. Would she be able to handle things if I wasn't there? Finally it occurred to me that I could have boundaries with my sister too. She's in her mid-forties. If she has never rented a car before she is capable of figuring it out now. She decided not to go either. Dad seems relieved too. He likes people to be there for a couple of weeks. Flying back from China for a long weekend wasn't that appealing for him either.

So now I am mother-henning my husband and kids. I may take a page from my mother-in-law's "How to be a Obsessive Compulsive Mother" book. I am getting each of the three boys to give me a list of 3 or 4 things they are willing and able to cook. If I was actually my mother-in-law I would put together a binder with complete list, along with recipes and shopping lists. The boys each cook once a week anyway. I just want to make sure they are organized. Of course after making sure they have all the information to make themselves a variety of healthy meals, they will probably live off frozen burritos, pasta, pizza, and burgers for 3 weeks. I know that.

So life is quiet. I'll try to blog a few times before I leave, but I doubt that I will be on-line while I am gone.

Be well.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

So close....

The social worker who is writing the adoption home study emailed me the first copy this morning. I emailed it back with a few corrections (like the spelling of Gary's last name and where Roland and I met) and filled in some of the blanks she had left (like when Gary moved in).

She still hadn't got the medical reports so I called the physician's office. My doctor is out of town this week, so they weren't sure they would find them, but they did and they said they would fax them right away.

That means we are really and truly almost done.

I think.

Unless there is some process that health and welfare has to go through to accept the home study.

We may actually be asking for a court date soon!

Woo Hoo!

Monday, June 07, 2010

Serendipity? Not quite

Serendipity, you may know, is that phenomenon where you find one thing while looking for something else. It is supposed to be a good thing.

You know, sort of like looking for medical receipts and
finding on June 7
a packet that was mailed March 17
saying that our foster care license will expire June 14
unless we complete and return enclosed materials by May 1.

Yeah, sort of like that, but not QUITE like that.


Roland, who admits he was the one who opened the packet, called the licensing worker who will visit us on Friday, June 11. She will do an extension or something. I really think all we want to do is get the license extended until the adoption.

Though on one hand I want to say this is Roland's fault, the truth is that if I had really wanted to renew our license, I would have called a couple of months ago to find out what was going on. I had been thinking that the new licensing worker was really falling down on the job. I mean, I KNEW we should have received something by April at least. I kept thinking I might call and find out what what going on.

Oh, I also found receipts for clothes and such that I could have sent in for reimbursement but now they are more than 3 months old and not eligible.

I think I'm done.