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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Adoption Disruption and Thoughts I Can't Express part 4.

I was going to title this: "The Anatomy of Disruption"..... but just decided to label it part 4.
I have written 3 other posts on Adoption Disruption.  Here, Here and Here. And then one more here.And yet another one here..  And then here.     There are more.... but those are the main ones. :)

So, here I go with another disruption post... WHY?  Because I guess I haven't covered all my thoughts on this very difficult topic .

Since I wrote those other posts, we have adopted again from Adoption Dissolution/Disruption.
Miss Alli came home almost  2 1/2 years ago. 
Since that time, we have been through a lot with our sweet girl.  The most recent, was the reuniting with her sister Tatyana.  She has not yet reunited with her brother who is still in the first adoptive home.
Aren't they just beautiful together? :)
Tatyana is now on her own, so we could reunite.

I would like to visit this from the  perspective of the child, and how things unraveled into a huge mess, but with a happy ending.

Let me start with the premise that I believe is most important.  God is in control.  It doesn't matter how I feel, or how I perceive things, He is in control. He chooses to allow things to happen that I do not understand, but I trust Him, that His purposes are always for our good.

I have had  discussions with Alli's older sister and Alli, separately, to gain some perspective for writing this.  Earlier today, for clarification, I asked Tatyana about Alli's behaviors back when she was a little girl in Russia, and then when she came home to America.
Tatyana has emphasized that all Alli's behaviors were typical kid type behaviors.  She didn't feel that anything warranted what happened to her sister.

I asked Alli, "Do you remember how you behaved in Russia compared to America?"  Her answer corroborated her sisters.  She was a typical little girl in a very bad situation. 
She was also picked for her good behavior in the orphanage to go to the store and go on a trip to the Black Sea, and to do something special at Christmas.

In watching the video given to us the the children's interview, Alli was typically nervous being recorded but said she liked Pink, and Barbies.
She was adorable.
What Alli DID say, was that she was very afraid to come to America.  "I didn't want to leave my mommy."
That broke my heart.
Her mommy didn't have custody of her, but she still felt a connection with her.
Of COURSE she did! All kids love their mothers!

But she agreed to come, because she didn't want to lose her brother and sister.
And that is PRECISELY what happened to her!
Her biggest fear, came true. :(

Alli went through a time of shock, having 2 new parents that she couldn't relate to or communicate with, and a new brother who was younger than her. This was not their fault or her fault.
She was forbidden from speaking Russian to her siblings, which was her only form of communication.
And, she lost it.
She cried and had  melt downs.
As time went on, things got more and more out of control. She didn't understand what was being required of her, and didn't get why they were so mad at her.
This was a hard time for all of them. And I am sure many of us could see themselves there.

Please remember that when a child is learning English... they may speak it LONG before they comprehend it!  Misunderstanding RULES!

She was afraid of the family and didn't trust them. They were afraid of her and didn't trust her. She was angry.
Since she felt she could do nothing to please her family, she gave up trying.
She began to talk back and had decided in her mind that she was apart from them.
I can picture the "talking back".... it happend here too!

Things spiraled out of control and she wound up going into respite care where she did quite well.

At the end of her  stay in respite care, she was told it was time for her to go back home. Her statement was "I'd rather die than go back to those people,"  which landed her in  a Unit for evaluation, and then she was disrupted.

She called her home to communicate with her brother and sister, but was told they didn't want anything to do with her.  She was devastated.

A disruption occurred.

Her second adoption didn't go so well either.   And by then, she really just didn't care.
She decided she would rule her own life, and acted out whenever she felt like it.
She had begun to form a habit of unwanted behaviors to hide the pain she was in.

Then came us.....  She wanted to try, she really did, but the fear of failure and self judgment ruled her heart and she was full of shame.
She would try, and then give up, try and then give up.  It was a cycle of shame, sadness, anxiety, and then hope once again. It was HARD for all of us!

As Alli began to help us unravel her past, and opened up more and more to us, her window of trust and tolerance began to open wide, and she began to drop her old bad habits of unwanted behaviors she had clothed herself with.
She began to let go of the grip of fear that consumed her and began to trust once again.

But, as encouraged as we were, we knew we had a long road ahead of us, because when somebody allows themselves to go into reckless abandon behavior wise, it can be easier the next time, and next time, and there is so much disconnect. It becomes a  habit ; and habits are hard to break!

Today, Alli loves and trusts us.  In fact, during our talk, she said that she is glad she came to America, and she is happy that she is home with us.
And she very much feels "At Home!"

I was able to tell her how much I love being her mom. :)

So why am I writing this?  I am writing it because it is so wearying seeing adoptions fail. :(
Adoptive parents NEED to be prepared for the adjustment phase of children coming to America or just into a new family.
The grief process is huge. We need to educate ourselves about what grief looks like and how we can help our children loving them through it, not judging them through it.




PARENTING METHODS MATTER HUGELY!They matter, especially, for a child who comes from a Trauma Background! 
While Alli came from a background of trauma inflicted upon her in Russia, there was even more trauma forced upon her by her previous families and she couldn't handle it.
She went from feeling safe in the orphanage, to being terribly frightened and alone in America.
Feeling safe in an orphanage should say alot about what her home
life in Russia,  was like!

Parents, do all you can to educate yourselves on Trauma. LEARN HOW TO PARENT FROM A PLACE OF SAFETY AND LOVE!!!!   STAY AWAY FROM FEAR BASED PARENTING!
And for heaven's sakes, stay AWAY from groups that call themselves "support groups" when they are really more like "misery loves company" groups.

I am so thankful for our sweetie's healing in her heart.  SO THANKFUL! 
But I am also thankful for the process we have all gone through over the last 2 and a half years.  I have learned a LOT! :)

Parents, Never stop learning!   Parenting is an art form that takes practice and effort!  If we cease learning.... we lose, and it can be the difference between a greatly successful bringing of a family together,  a cold existence living under the same roof, but not really being family, or a traumatic disruption that has profound effects on everybody.  :(

This is my last post on disruption.
This post was meant to help folks to see disruption from the Child's perspective.

My daughter is healing. She is awesome and she is strong. She is real!

There is NO DOUBT that there are situations where disruption is necessary.  I do not fault parents who find themselves in sad predicaments and do end adoptions.
My goal is not to fault anybody.  Please do not personalize what I write.
It isn't about you!

My goal is to let adoptive parents know there is HOPE and there is HELP!
BUT..... we must be willing to be introspective and see where we must change.
I have had to change a LOT of things in my life, in the views I once held and more.
It has been a good and LONG journey.

13 comments:

MamaV said...

Wow. What a story! Alli is incredibly blessed to be loved by you, and incredibly strong herself! I am so happy that she could reunite with Tatyana!

Cayte said...

Heartbreaking. Beyond heartbreaking. It is so awful what your Alli-girl went through. Horrific and unfair. The mind reels that adults who passed a Homestudy would punish a kid for refusing to follow instructions she didn't understand!

Given that PAPs are required to complete pre-adoption training on issues they may encounter raising a traumatized kid, what can be done to stop this sort of thing from happening? Do they sleep through class? Believe it won't happen to them?

I've come across so many cases where adoptions have failed in short order -- like, 35 days (!).

Saddest statistic I've read in a while is from the Embassy of Ukraine -- about 25% of older adopted kiddos get shipped back by their US forever families before they turn 17 or 18:

http://newlivesnewloves.blogspot.com/2013/07/turning-18-and-going-back-to-ukraine.html

Or who give up on their "forever kid" after all of five weeks:
http://followinghiscall.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/taken-hostage-or-testing-our-love/

0r who simply ship the kid back to their country of origin -- this is an especially heartbreaking case:

http://www.cbc.ca/passionateeye/episode/return-to-sender.html

This needs to stop. Surely there's a better way to screen adoptive parents?

The saddest thing is, this is the kind of behavior that leads to countries to shutdown international adoptions - sending kids back like trash or failing to do basic things like hand in post-placement reports:
http://en.for-ua.com/news/2013/08/09/103309.html


Christie Minich said...

Catye,
Yes, I think some go into adoption with the "we know what we are doing" attitude and get in over their heads FAST.
We too know adoptions that have disrupted within the first 6 weeks.
And not just one or two.
Typically, it is between the 2 month and 2 year mark.
The child is grieving, they have picked up speaking English but don't have the depth of understanding needed. So there is much misunderstanding.
This happened to Sarah. They thought she was terribly rebellious at 5.
We quickly realized she could say, "I'm fixin' to go outside", but she did NOT have a command of English.
That took about 5 more years!

And yes, countries weigh in on this type of stuff.
I cannot imagine a 25% rate like that. :(

Education is the answer and also having a "red flag" issue list.
There are some generalizations that are across the board pinpointable. (I know that isn't a real word)
I think education should be PARAMOUNT but aimed at some specific issues.

Cayte said...

Six weeks. Break. My. Heart. Lots. I can't even imagine. What are the "red flag" issues and what can be done to make learning about them mandatory??

I think Russia required something like 80 hours of in-person adoption training... and if 80 hrs wasn't enough to get through to PAPs, I've no earthly idea what would be. *sigh*

(This is kind of off-topic, but .... six weeks. Six. Weeks. No adult can reasonably think six weeks is enough time to learn a new language and adjust to a life so very different from everything you've ever known! While I'm not adopted, both my baby sis and I have a long history of mental illness in our family, severe enough to have required psychiatrists, meds and in-patient treatment from when we were in elementary school. Proper treatment took longer than six weeks. Heck, figuring out the right meds took longer than six weeks. It would have been - pardon the pun - insane to give up on *treatment* after six weeks! And we were native English speakers being raised by our awesome dad, with a ton of support from a close, loving and very supportive extended family!!).

Christie Minich said...

Catye, I agree that is not enough time. I think sometimes it is the fear factor.
My favorite line in "Anne of Green Gables" was "That's the kind that puts scrychnine in the well!"

I think sometimes the support network surrounding these families is NOT a support network at all, but more there to point out all the child's flaws and criticize.

I would love to be part of a development curriculum that deals SPECIFICALLY with education about what to expect so you DON'T disrupt. Not the simple adoption education...."Your child may not like your food"..... but the real stuff.
Your child may cry and think they are going crazy because they can no longer THINK in their own language, and they cannot communicate deeply in yours!

I would like to participate in an education class that explains the first two years grief process and how to get through it!
And also, how to be prepared that your buttons WILL show up that you didn't even know where there!

But part of the process is everybody changing and coming out better on the other side.

A HUGE red flag for me is if parents think they know what they are doing just because they have kids already.
OR
the attitude towards education as being a detail that needs to be checked off and it isn't taken seriously.

There needs to be detailed education about how a child might feel about food, security about food, the need for food, the need for an emergency box to be near at night and more.

Those are just a few ideas.

Christie Minich said...

I think social workers should be able to ask potential parents if there is a chance they would disrupt.... and offer different behaviors... would this cause you to disrupt? struggle?
Could you love a 12 year old who wets the bed?
etc.
And truly see what a family will be able to handle.
What will you do if your child steals? Runs? Curses at you?
What if they are afraid of your purfume or the way you wear your hair? Would you be willing to change it?
If your child is afraid of alcohol, because a parent was an alcoholic, would you be willing to put alcohol aside? (that was a real issue I knew about)
What about a child who has been exposed to sexual behaviors?
How will you handle that in your family?
These are real questions that need to be answered......
If your child talks back, what will you do?
What do you think about grounding, long punishments, corporal punishment?
Would you be willing to put those aside and try something different?


Those are just a few ideas off the top of my head.


Dawn said...

Powerful. Fear is so pervasive in our kids' lives. We NEED to realize that as adoptive parents. Beautifully written.

NoMatterWhatMom said...

Thank you for bringing this up again. We paid attention in class, read books, sought out other fost-adoptive parents and did everything we could think of to prepare ourselves.

I'm not really sure there is any way to truly prepare for adopting three siblings who suffer from RAD, PTSD, and some other issues--at least not from a strictly educational standpoint. The learning curve felt like it was a straight vertical climb without ropes. At the six-week mark, I thought I might just not be cut out for this. I was exhausted and felt like a complete failure. But a couple of experienced foster parents in our church told me that our children couldn't survive another disruption. We sought and got help and kept climbing.

I did know from the beginning that our children were not the problem. We as a family are living with the results of the problem: our children's parents abused and neglected them. Then, the "system" warehoused them for many years, moving them repeatedly, before allowing them permanency. Their behaviors are a reflection and a response to the way they feel--a mirror of their inner worlds. What frightening worlds those must be.

I found those groups that focused on how bad their kids were and realized that I could win at "can you top this" every day. But that didn't help me help my children. And I just couldn't view my kids or our family as hopeless.

Now, five years in, I realize that parenting my kids will be a lifetime of learning how to keep my eyes on the prize: three human beings who know they were created for a good purpose by a loving God, are loved no matter what, and who are able to serve God in some way--whatever that may be for each of them. We have had to change a lot and are still changing. It's not about getting behavior that we want, but about relationships and feeling safe and healing. Putting it into practice every single day, in the face of scary behavior, can be really, really hard--requiring that we rely on God to keep us all safe and give us everything we lack.

I would be very interested in participating in the online group you mentioned in your last post.

Christie Minich said...

NoMatterWhatMom,
There is no question that experience is up in your face.... and you have to face yourself.
I don't know what we would have done without that training to remember!
Also, we did not take on 3 at one time!
We did 1 at a time.... and THAT was hard! I couldn't imagine 3 children all with special challenges and scary behaviors.....

NoMatterWhatMom said...

The training was valuable and I am so thankful that we had it. We needed a lot more of it and have kept on going to trainings every time they are offered by our children's mental-health agency. The agency we have been with for the last two years focuses a lot on the way the brain manages stress and on teaching both our children and us how to help them regulate and build positive experiences and memories. Our previous agency would send us to trainings where the instructors would give helpful suggestions, then add the caveat that they probably wouldn't work with our kids because they were on the extreme end of the spectrum. Not really very helpful. It is possible to make a lot of mistakes while trying to do the right thing.

We were advised to disrupt our youngest child because of the overwhelming and relentless nature of his needs, but we just couldn't do it. Moreover, were we to do so, our older children would never, ever believe that we would not disrupt them as well. Our youngest is still relentless and overwhelming, but not quite as intensely so unless he is stressed out. Then, all bets are off. I have to feed his meter a lot.

I reread your list of proposed questions for PAP's and we were asked those things. I don't remember just what we answered, but now, we deal with all of those behaviors nearly every day. The thing I was most worried about was fire-starting, yet we've weathered that, too. I still worry some that I will suffer another major injury. That is something I have to be careful about and ultimately leave in God's hands.

To adopt challenged kids, we have to be willing to forego our desire to have what our culture considers a normal life and instead to have the kind of life that our children need to heal. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

Jordan Vanwagoner said...

I find this very inspiring, ever since I started reading this blog (Which was a month ago), I thought to myself, "I want to adopt a kid, and make sure he/she lives a good life." I mean, I'm not a parent, nor an adult, (Not for a while at least) but it's something to thing about, at least in my point of view, but I digress. You're an excellent mother, and you sure do know alot about good parenting, it's great you can raise Alli so well to the point where she trusts you and the others, and no longer has to be afraid of her surroundings. (Sorry if I'm making no sense at all.) Anyways,

Christie Minich said...

Good words "nomatterwhatmom"....
And you are so right about wanting to do the right thing and then getting bad info can cause things to be worse.
One of the reasons I like Heather Forbes and Karyn Purvis, is they both teach that love does not fail.
You cannot err on love. Honestly, some of these battles are spiritual battles. Our children have to heal spiritually too.
And I love that you said, it is not a sprint. That is For SURE!
I was reminded of that yesterday!

Aus said...

Jumping in better late than never - I'd add a thought...

Alli did what she did for one reason only - fear.

Children don't "know" anger - they know fear.

they are afraid to get close and trust - because in their short life experience every time they tried it - well - it blew up in their face...

But over time - and with repeated TRUST BUILDING events - they relax and loose some of that fear...

Enter your parenting practices that are ANYTHING but "fear based" parenting!

As for lack of training - we've adopted "pre-Hague", "during Hague", and "post-Hague" and watched the criterion change over those years. We're in a better place today than 10 years ago - but there is still much work to be done! One aspect of adoption qualification that still needs to be examined is extended family response to adopted children. That is one that has come back to bite us over the last couple years...

Great stuff Christie - and while I understand you maybe not "wanting" to write another disruption post again - never say never or always! ;)

One last thought - and I'm just going to put it out there...We don't get to "know" who our children are - I would never have thought that the Father would sent me children from Asia even once - and He's managed that 3 times now! Alli was ALWAYS supposed to be your daughter - she simply was. Why He choose to get her to you they way He did? Well - I'll add that to my list of questions that He and I will have a chance to discuss come the fullness of time!

hugs - extremely insightful and cool -

aus and co.

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