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Why Would I Say That?

I used to write down funny things the kids said.

(For those of you beginning the journey, keep a journal, send yourself a text, etc. You’ll definitely want it later).

Looking through old texts to myself, I found this one from early 2016:

Me (to my daughter):

“I couldn’t hear what you said, but it sounded like ‘I love you so much!'”

She (with emphasis and attitude):

“Why would I say THAT?!”

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Photo credit: Steven Depolo

At the time, we were in the throes of RAD. She and I did not get along. Every time she considered loving me, her trauma triggered anger and fear.

Two years later, LOVE WINS.

We have come so far, this girl and I.

We’ll probably have more roller coaster days and maybe months ahead, considering she’s now a teen, but we’ll make it.

She’s gone to camp and I really miss her. She’s one of my favorite people in the world.

Reactive Attachment Disorder, you can kiss my butt. 

 

 

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Girl Meets World and RAD Part 1

If you grew up in the TGIF generation (USA early 90’s), you might remember that theme song. In our house, the TGIF jingle signaled time to crowd in front of our little TV for Boy Meets World.

 

Sometimes I feel like I’m in my own show, Casey Meets World.

For five years and four months, I’ve searched for a way to reach our girl. We’ve powered through a trauma counselor, a mentor, a play therapist, outpatient counseling and in-home counseling. I’ve read every book recommended by every counselor, friend or acquaintance…and then some.

We’ve utilized an occupational therapist, speech therapist, psychiatrist, psychologist, nutritionist, neurologist and several other “-ists.”

Three months ago, we descended to the proverbial bottom of the canyon to find rock. Rappelling without ropes, if you will.

She flat-out refused to do anything I asked, and in fact did the exact opposite of EVERYTHING. Her behavior was out of control in ways I won’t describe here, but if you’re experiencing RAD, know that you are not alone.

You’re not crazy, and neither is your child.

Primal need for protecting herself (or himself) runs unbelievably deep. However, when you find your family unraveling at the seams, underlying reasons for a child’s behavior don’t matter as much as the emergency of the moment.

By the time a family reaches the cold, dusty bottom of that deep, dark pit, all anyone can do is scrabble for purchase, trying to find a way back up crumbling walls.

We finally admitted to ourselves that our tween needed more help than we could provide and we had to consider a therapeutic setting outside the home.

Back to the beginning for a moment.

Upon the children’s arrival, I began re-reading books by a respected psychologist. As a teen (I was a little weird in choice of reading material for my age), several of his books helped me understand myself better. Nothing in the books worked for these kids. NOTHing. Finally, in absolute frustration, I emailed him, with a subject something like, “Help! We adopted two kids.”

I don’t remember the exact time frame, but shortly after I sent the email, my phone rang. His secretary asked, “Will you be at this number in twenty minutes? Stay by the phone.” And twenty minutes later, he called me.

I’m not one to be awed by position or title. I’ll chat up a CEO or a streetwalker with equal interest. Everyone has a story. Everyone is human. Nothing about who you are makes you more or less valuable than the person walking beside you.

However, I do recognize that people are busy. I’m a mom, a recruiter and a blogger, and I barely have a spare minute. As yet, I’ve never published, never been a sought-after speaker on radio and in person, never been the end-all authority voice about, well…anything. And I’m sure that’s not a definitive list of his responsibilities. I can’t imagine being that busy.

I was floored that he’d take the time to call a random individual, considering the hundreds of email he must need to sort.

He gave me some advice I’ve never forgotten.

Be clear with the child that you understand their motivation.

If you know they’re being disobedient so they’ll get the attention they crave, don’t be afraid to say,

‘Hey. I know you’re acting up because you need some attention. (Fill in the blank with behavior) will only bring negative attention. Do you want negative attention, or would you rather ask me to spend time with you for a few minutes?’

Be open. Let the child know you’re aware of their game. Explain cause and effect, and let them know where the behavior will take them.

Following the above advice, we explained residential therapy to our girl. We showed her pictures of RAD Ranch (not the real name, but if I ever direct one, I am totally calling it that), where children with attachment issues live on a working farm, attend school and have physical consequences for bad behavior. If you act like a poopie-head, you might get stall-mucking duties. (And for those of you not well-versed in ranch speak, that means you’re shoveling poop.)

She didn’t believe us.

With crazy-impeccable timing, the director of said ranch rang our home phone at that moment. While I discussed our situation with him, I heard Hubby ask her, “do you know who’s on the other end of that call? This is no joke.”

Returning from the call, I explained a few of the details to Hubby, in front of our daughter. She watched our conversation, head swiveling as though viewing a tennis match, as we took turns discussing pros and cons. Finally, we turned to her.

Continued…

 

 

 

Our Three Songs

Music plays in my head all day. Choose three songs…the choice is almost as impossible as picking my favorite organs. (The ones that keep me kickin’, not the musical instruments.)

However, I must admit, three happen to be currently at the top of my cerebral playlist.

First, a quick backstory for those who haven’t read other posts:

Hubby and I adopted two kids (5 & 7 when they came to us via foster care). My good friend, an English teacher, says bambinos are “children,” not kids. “Kids” are baby goats. In our case, “kids” is accurate; a herd of goats would have been less destructive. More often, we call them the wild hyenas. During the first six months, if they were conscious, we couldn’t let them out of our sight. With one who couldn’t conk out until after midnight, and one who woke screaming almost every morning at 3 am, sleep was a pipe dream (pun intended). Our social worker frequently made clear her opinion that we were under-qualified as parents, and all four of us were terrified she would show up and pack them off to destinations unknown. Both children communicated mostly by screaming, crying, and shrieking. We prayed things would get better, but just weren’t convinced it would happen. Some days, Hubby and I were ready to give up (and so were the hyenas).

The first time I heard Mandisa’s song Overcomer, we were in the middle of HellonEarth. I cried. A lot. Pretty sure drivers around me thought I was inebriated.

Staring at a stop sign                      (actually, at a red light)
Watching people drive by                (yep, there they go…take me with you!!)
T Mac on the radio                          (in this case, Mandisa on the radio)
Got so much on your mind             (will these kids survive to age 18? Will we survive them?)
Nothing’s really going right             (are you reading my mind?)
Looking for a ray of hope                (ANY DAY NOW)
Whatever it is you may be going through  (what are we NOT going through?)
I know He’s not gonna let it get the best of you  (thank God.)

You’re an overcomer                       (not feeling it)
Stay in the fight ‘til the final round    (if you say so…)
You’re not going under                      (sure feels like drowning)
‘Cause God is holding you right now  (rescue me!)
You might be down for a moment    (no kidding)
Feeling like it’s hopeless                   (that’s right)
That’s when He reminds You          (hey….)
That you’re an overcomer                (I am?)

You’re an overcomer                      (I SO AM! We are GOING TO MAKE IT!)

By the end of the song, I felt so much better and incredibly encouraged. The kids now know this song by heart, and we all belt it out together when KLove plays “our” song.

For almost two years, our boy woke up screaming. PTSD is a nasty, horrible affliction no one should have to experience, especially a child. About halfway through the second year, he heard the Newsboys sing “God’s Not Dead.” Something about that particular song resonated with him, particularly the line about “roaring like a lion.” He’d been roaring for a really long time (both figuratively and literally). Slowly, we began to experience a change. Instead of being startled awake by screams, we were serenaded. Loudly, mind you (this kid can project like no child I’ve ever heard), but singing instead of screaming. Bliss.

Let love explode and bring the dead to life
A love so bold to bring a revolution somehow
Now I’m lost in Your freedom
In this world I’ll overcome

My God’s not dead
He’s surely alive
He’s living on the inside
Roaring like a lion
Roaring, He’s roaring, roaring like a lion

Finally, the one we sing with double meaning, TobyMac’s Me Without You. Without God, we’d be drowning. Without each other, we’d be sunk.

Flashback
Stepping through the scene
There’s You and there’s a very different Me
Touchdown, You had me at believe
You had me at believe, You did

Where would I be?
You rescued me
You are mine, I am Yours
You rescued me
And I am Yours forever
You saved me, remade me,
Where would i be?

I’d be packing my bags when I need to stay
I’d be chasing every breeze that blows my way
I’d be building my kingdom just to watch it fade away
It’s true
That’s me without you
Don’t know where I’d be without you

This last, even more than the others, my boy and I have claimed for ourselves. Whenever it plays, he shouts, “Mama, our song!” If we’re home, we dance around the kitchen. For a child who was constantly packing bags (or having them packed on his behalf) and who had a 3 cm hole in his tiny heart, this song is profound. Who knows where he’d be? Definitely packing bags, and perhaps not alive much longer, if God had not brought him straight to us.

So. Those are my three. What are yours?

**Images found on Google.

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