Friday, January 23, 2015
Recently, a mom with several bio kids as well as several adopted kids asked me if I was a "lifer," meaning, did I plan to keep my children home with me for their entire lives. My answer is no. My plan is to teach my children to become responsible, contributing, independent adults who will one day strike out on their own and build a life for themselves, come by and visit, gather on holidays, perhaps marry and have kids, etc...
But what if a child never reaches that point of independence and self-care ability? There are group home options through many special needs programs. But what if your child doesn't qualify for intellectual impairment? Say there is one category where they come up below average in (below average is still in the average range) and it blows all qualification. Then what?
Today, I'm writing from a dark place. It's the place where, when I look at my kids, I see the profound damage that is the result of being neglected babies, left lying in cribs, never cuddled, never loved, poor nutrition, abuse, inappropriate exposures, lack of medical care, lack of education, and more, more things than I can ever even imagine. The adoption books, every single one I read, failed to convey, probably because the authors truly didn't experience or know, the extent and fullness of what it's like to live with children like these. These aren't children setting fires and torturing pets. These aren't bad children. Not at all. They are good children. Innocent children. Children deserving love and family. But these are profoundly damaged children and the results of that damage are staggering, never-ending, compounding, a bottomless pit of diagnosis waiting to be diagnosed.
For every accomplishment, every step of progress, another can of worms is opened because the progress should lead to one thing, yet it leads to another and what comes up is often harder than what we just went through. For example, it's not enough that a child can read if the child can't comprehend. Comprehension of words isn't enough if the child can't understand the meaning of the words when they are put together into sentences and paragraphs. This is beyond knowing a language, I'm talking about logic and reasoning. If you do this, this will happen, right? For these kids, it's not right. It's not even consistent. Do the same thing day in and day out and they still expect a different outcome each time, not even the same different outcome each time, but different ones each time. That, by Einstein's definition, is even beyond insanity.
Change one thing in the day, just one, like do PT after breakfast instead of before, and my kids are thrown into a tailspin of confusion that lasts all day. But they appear to function very well because they are polite in public and appear engaged. Appear. Give them multiple choice questions and they already have a percentage of success built in by the nature of multiple choice. Ask them to come up with an answer on their own and they can't - even when the answer is directly in front of them in white letters on a chalkboard and I keep pointing to it using very large gestures. They don't see body language. At all. After all this time home. I have a witness to this - finally!
Where is hope? Do I see it in the faces of my children? No. I did an experiment over this last month. Every time I saw a child out in public or at church, I engaged them with either a look or by talking to them. In every single case, I got more out of that child, a stranger, than my own children give. They understood a look and a communication exchange took place, there was engagement. They conversed, answered and asked questions, even 2-3 year-olds! Toward the end of the experiment, I asked my children to observe what I was doing. They were amazed, or at least appeared to be. We also watched online videos of children receiving bicycles under the Christmas tree so they could see what a normal reaction should be. Again, they appeared to be surprised.
So, where is the hope? Is there any? Of course there is. I believe in Christ, therefore there is always hope. It is not my place to give up. I don't know what I'm going to do. Yet. But I'm not going to give up. Meanwhile, I'm nixing everything that isn't helping, from any type of therapy that doesn't show results or isn't more than what I'm already doing at home to useless check-ups and tests that won't change the course of treatment regardless of results. To quote a title of a book, "You're either in or you're in my way."
And if anyone wants to tell me this is what I "signed up for" when I adopted, or that this is "normal," save it, stuff it, choke on it. I don't want to hear it. It's definitely not what I signed up for. It's definitely not normal. But it is now my life and I am mother to these girls and that's not going to change. This is parenting in the trenches and I've recently discovered that I'm not the only one using that term. In fact, I'm in good company with a large majority of moms raising children just like mine. HERE is a link to the best article I've read so far on this subject. Unless you've lived it, you just DON'T KNOW and CAN'T EVEN COME CLOSE TO IMAGINING what it's like. You don't have a right to judge me, but your support of me in my efforts to be the best mom I can for my girls would be very welcome.