Sunday, August 31, 2008

The book

On this particular day, I felt extremely alone. I had built up that day in my own head, believing whole heartedly that I would be coming home with a new sense of purpose, direction, support, and guidance. I had been hanging by the very end of my rope, and thought the rescue team was finally showing up. But instead of beginning the process (and I did expect a process, not sudden cure) of pulling me back up to where both feet would again be able to stand on their own, they just shook the rope. I was barely hanging on to the thing, anyway. It didn't take much of a shake to send me spiraling down to the self pity vastness below.

That day, I did choose to share with the world (the world being the 5 of you who read my blog) my grief. Only words can't describe how I really felt when I typed that post. What you don't know is how my husband reacted when I spilled all to him later that night. I'm aware the publicity I give him here on the blog doesn't really paint the accurate picture of him. The few times I've mentioned him it was because his reaction was not exactly what I needed at the moment. On that night, he was equally blunt and did not indulge me in my pity party. Only, this time, he was right. Maybe he's right every time, but I won't give him that much credit. "What are you so upset about? We know her so much better than they do, anyway. And we know her Creator."

So, we hit our knees. Again. They were still bruised and carpet burned, as I suppose knees should always be. I've clung to the God breathed words of James, who said true wisdom comes only from God, and that he gives when asked. I began to seek out websites and even blogs where mothers share their deepest thoughts and struggles through fostering and adoption. I found this mom, and this site, and Annie suggested a book by these guys. The aloneness faded. I'd chase rabbits explaining all the details, but the short of it is our current financial situation leaves a lot to be desired. My mom graciously ordered the book for me, though, and I'll be picking it up from her tomorrow. I hope I'm not setting myself up for another downfall. You'd think I'd learn not to place so much hope on one event, or book (unless it's God's precious Word). But here I am again, hardly able to stand waiting to peer inside it's cover.

Many of the sites I've found list symptoms of RAD or other attachment disorders. I had seen several lists, but only recently saw some lists that included this symptom: Parents seem hostile and angry.

I'm no psychiatrist. And that symptom has not been explained. I can only speculate what I think it means as a mother of a young girl struggling with an attachment disorder. I can think of a couple of ways that applies. But the biggest thing that struck me when I saw that listed as a symptom was relief. I'm not making this up. I'm not making it out to be worse than it is. I'm not the only parent in the world that outsiders are watching and thinking I'm not being fair to this kid. Yes, she's only 4. Yes, she's as cute as a button. Yes, she can charm and please and has fantastic manners and looks as innocent and sweet as a lollipop. So, when she tells her Sunday school teacher that she can not play with toys because her mommy would be mad and doesn't allow her to play, and when her teacher mentions this to me while my cute-as-a-button RADling watches with utter glee and complete satisfaction, it is still me that looks out of control and ridiculously overreactive as the smoke runs out of my ears. A hostile, and angry response.

It's like that all the time. The action of the child in and of itself does not seem that bad. It is beyond most people's comprehension that one so young can master mind such a scenerio. That she can, indeed, pull the strings of most puppets around her. That sounds so insane. I hear myself. I realize how ridiculous it sounds. And before her placement with us, I'd think anyone who said such was crazy, too. That sweet little face who has been through so much trauma can not possibly be bad enough to elicit those hostile reactions from her mother. I saw what she did, her mom is making it out to be such a bigger deal than it is. She's just being a typical 4 year old. 7 days, I say. Live with me. For about a week. Then we can talk about this.

The flip side of that is, though, that on some level I am hurt. The triangulation (pitting one adult against another), the pushing away, the frustration. And I'm sure there are times when my reaction is not what it should be. It's battle fatigue. Just fatigue. Just plain tired of fighting the fight and trying to be affectionate and loving.

So, that's where we are. It's honest. Brutally honest. As honest as I can possibly be and still preserve the privacy of my baby. I'm beginning to understand. I know she's operating out of fear. I know that no matter how hard she's pushing right now, that there is a tiny beating heart in there that wants my unconditional love. Even if her brain hasn't figured that out, yet. I also know she's worth every tear I shed. She's worth sleepless nights and carpet burned knees. And if your knees aren't already burned, but you'd like them to be, burn them over her. And us. And other mothers who are battling attachment disorders. It's tiresome work.


hsmomma5 said...

Beautiful post.

We are going through another rough spot with our one with similar struggles right now as well. I needed to hear what you wrote. I needed to know I am not alone. I needed to be reminded that though there are no viable treatment options for this in our area (we have sought such) that God is ultimately in control. I needed to hear your husband's wise response.

Praying for you--please pray for us too....

chickadee said...

that's a great post and i love when you share your heart with us (even if it is on the blog since i never call). i can't imagine doing what you're doing and not feeling angry. but i'm sorry to say i don't think you're ever going to find the resources and encouragement you're looking for through the "system". tj is right to direct you to your knees and tell you that you know more about her than anyone (and care more). anyone can see that.

i give up to easy on people. i don't think i could be in it for the long haul. god knows who can do it best.

The Source said...

That was an amazing post. Having never cared for a child with such a disorder, I can't fully comprehend what your family goes through with your little one, but you have helped to make it clearer. You've helped others understand that when we're judgemental, we really have no idea what's going on. I will be praying for you all. Thank you for sharing.

dean said...

a person has to live with RAD to even begin to know. when we were in monticello, we had the sweetest, cutest 7 year old, and we couldn't even begin to comprehend why her aunt and uncle (her legal guardians since her mother abandoned her in a motel room when she was an infant) couldn't take it anymore. the first 6 months she was a perfect angel. we thought terrible thoughts about her guardians (uncle is even a pastor), but after the 6 month honeymoon (it was actually more like 6 months of her assessing the situation), we found out. but no outsider would believe it... not school teachers, not sunday school teachers, not even her grandparents. they wanted their granddaughter out of the terrible place they perceived our agency to be, and finally the aunt and uncle relented and allowed the grandparents to take her. 2 weeks later, grandpa called in tears wanting to know if we would take her back (we did).

we're praying for you, and i'm going to look for some of the info on RAD that i'm hoping we still have around here somewhere...

Annie said...

I know the look, I know the glee. I know the self doubt. I know the desperation of thinking there are at least 5 people with an alphabet soup full of letters behind their names who are "responsible" for this child and NO ONE will tell me what to do. I'm glad we can share our lives here, and know that we are not alone.

Mandy said...

I am constantly amazed at how utterly and totally alone you foster parents seem to be when you REALLY need help.

I am VERY thankful that I get to see her and talk to you in person about these things. You can have a soft place to fall with our family.. we know you and TJ and know your hearts. We see your children and how loving you are to them. You have a great balance of discipline and grace. I always assume if you're upset with any of the children, it is deserving.

I am JUST noticing some of the behavioral differences in your little one that you're mentioning here. I'm sure it's just a smidge of what you guys deal with constantly. I don't know how you do it! I wonder if someone like me would have thrown in the towel already and begged someone else to take her because she is just too difficult.

I will join you with your carpet-burned knees in prayer for your family and this little girl. I KNOW you're doing a great job - and I cannot imagine any counselor or specialist could tell you how to raise this little girl better than you are already doing. You've got the Lord leading you, and that's much more powerful than the culmination of "letters" that others have.

Anonymous said...

An amazingly transparent, profound and beautiful post from the same kind of soul. Thank you for helping us know how to support and pray for you even more.

Green Acres said...

Praying for you - and your family. ((hug))

Christine said...

Found you because I like to stalk other RADalicious Mommies. Glad I did!

You are so waaaaaaay not alone!