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Families are Forever {Mom of Many}

Are you waiting for your child to come home? Parenting Tip #7

Too often we dwell on the hard things in life – the difficult circumstance and bad memories.

I suppose it’s human nature to focus on the negative. But today I’m going to do something a bit different.

Let me encourage you to have hope. If you are a parent who has suffered discouragement, disappointment or a loss of the dream, then this one’s for you.

I’m here as proof that things will get better.

We have 15 children. Two by birth and 13 through adoption. I’d be lying if I said the journey has been easy. We had major struggles and have endured a lot of pain. But there also were great moments – watching our kids learn, grow, overcome and learn to enjoy life has been amazing.

For a long time I despaired of ever having my dream of a close loving family of 17 – with so much trauma and pain in my kids’ pasts, that mountain seems too high to climb most days. But I still hope. Every morning I awaken and every night I go to bed I wish our family was all together, enjoying being with each other.

Some day.

Are you waiting for your kids to come home? {Mom of Many}

Here are a few things you need to know.

  1. Never judge a family, a parent or child, based on one specific period of time – a snapshot. You cannot know the value of a person unless you know their heart and even that sometimes is hard to read. Too often people judged our kids during the teen years as being unsalvageable. At times I wondered myself because I had no one to tell me differently.
  2. Never lose hope. If your children chose a different path, don’t despair. Many of my children left our home and walked a path different from what we laid out for them. But one by one we are seeing them come back to us and forge a new relationship – an adult to adult relationship that is sweet and blessed.
  3. Let them go but don’t let them go. If your children walk away to live a life contrary to your belief system, you need to let them go. I don’t mean cut them off or ignore their calls or shun them. I do mean let them go and tell them, “If you decide to walk a different road, I won’t come with you, but I will be right here waiting for you to come back – any time day or night.” Always leave the light on. Always be looking out the window, watching for them to come home. Pray God will work in their lives and keep them safe.
  4. When they come back, lose the past. Remember it, learn from it, but don’t cling to it. Let it go. None of it matters any more. They were kids. Yes, they may have made bad choices, but they have grown and changed and need to know you still want them, still love them.
  5. Realize that the new relationship with your kids can be amazing. You no longer are responsible for their decisions, you don’t need to take care of them any more and you can sit back and just enjoy them (and your grandkids!). No judging. No advice giving. No pushing and prodding. Just let them be. Enjoy them as they are and let the rest go. Let them know they are accepted as they are and that they do not answer to you any more. Give them room to grow and freedom to live their lives without worrying about being criticized. You need to be “safe” in their eyes.

To bring it home…

In our family we have 7 daughters, 8 sons, 5 sons-in law, 4 moms, 2 Marines, 2 in the Navy, 13 beautiful grandkids, a programmer, a pastor, 3 nannies, 2 graphic designers, 2 teachers, a pilot, 3 company managers, 1 dispatcher, a bookkeeper, 1 limo driver, 3 CEOs, an animator,  6 college graduates, a CNA, 2 photographers, and some with other cool titles I can’t think of right now.

God has blessed our family and is not finished with us yet.

We have an amazing family and one day they all will know and appreciate that – ONE DAY.

Until then, I’ll keep the light on.

Val @ Mom of Many




Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)

Are You a Disappointed Adoptive Parent? Parenting Tip #4

October 16, 2015

When I realized today’s date, my thoughts turned to my kids, but not in the usual way. One year ago today Jillian and I took my 86 year old mom to the hospital for a quadruple bypass and valve replacement. Just nine weeks later we lost her to a stroke. You can find the first in the series on my other site, Love My DIY Home. But my main topic isn’t my mom today.

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)

I want to talk to you about your adopted kids.

(The rest of you can just go ahead and read along. I’m sure you will be able to find something that applies to you as well).

I have 15 kids. 2 are homemade. 13 are adopted. When I thought about the day I took Mom to the hospital, I remembered how much I appreciated the support I got from some of my kids when she passed…and I also remembered how much I have tried to forget that some were strangely silent.

To sum it up…

  • 6 of my daughters and 2 of my sons came to visit Mom during her last days, 1 son wanted to but couldn’t, 1 son kept in contact by frequent texts and calls. 1 son didn’t understand or become involved, but he did come to our family reunion. Those 11 helped me survive those weeks and coupled a difficult time with blessing.
  • 1 daughter and 3 sons never called, came to visit, or in any way acknowledged the fact their g’ma was gone.
  • The ones who were supportive were brought closer together. The ones who were silent and absent drifted farther away.

So what happened?

Why out of 15 kids did 4 not care their g’ma was gone or that I’d lost my mom? They all grew up with her around. She lived with us for 12 years. She babysat them, joined us for Christmas, birthdays, Thanksgiving, and even the not so special, average days. She went to church with us. She laughed with them, yelled at them, told them stories and gave them presents. She was a huge part of their lives.

She was at each hospital homecoming and adoption day. Some didn’t like her because she was difficult at times. Some loved her even though she was difficult at times.

How is it that only 11 out of the 15 rallied during our family tragedy?

If you are an adoptive parent, listen up because I’m here to set the record straight.

No matter how hard we worked at raising our kids, no matter how many hours, what we sacrificed, or how much we prayed for guidance or hoped for success, our kids are who they are and we cannot change them. But I’m not here to talk about them. I’m here to talk about you, the adoptive parent.

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)

When you adopt, you get kids from all walks of life (usually not so great a path), with different genes, experiences and views of what life is all about. Some have been traumatized. Some have seen and experienced things most adults have never even heard of that gives them a skewed take on life.

There are no guarantees in raising children.

Let me say that again. There are no guarantees.

You can do your best and still not have a child love and care for you.

I have one daughter that doesn’t even acknowledge that we are her family. I was told not long ago one of our sons feels the same way.

How is it that some claim their family and some don’t?

I know of two absolutely wonderful adoptive moms (and dads) that have the same situation in their family. These ladies are two of the most sweet and godly women I know. Both of them have adopted kids that haven’t communicated with them in years.

One adopted kid is sweet and kind but doesn’t acknowledge her as mom any more. One is mean and hateful. Two are indifferent. I KNOW it wasn’t bad parenting. I KNOW these were great families that did the best they could. Both are Christian parents that were stable, faithful and consistent.

So what gives?

If you are an adoptive parent who has experienced disappointment in either how your kids are living, how they treat you or you have not heard from your kids in months or years, realize your are not alone. Unfortunately it is common.

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)

I know an adoptive mom who had her skull bashed in with a hammer by her son. Another had to send her biological kids to a separate school because their adopted siblings attacked them whenever they saw them in public when mom wasn’t around. I once met a mom who drove to a gas station and left when her teenage son was in the bathroom, calling protective services to pick him up. She was afraid her son was going to kill her and didn’t know what else to do.

I slept with a bat next to my bed for two years out of fear of one of my son’s mood swings. I just didn’t know from one day to the next what he was going to do.

I could go on but you get the picture.

Before this gets too depressing, I do have adopted kids that love me and sometimes I forget they are adopted. They are a blessing to me and we enjoy each others company. Yes, it can happen and it did. Many have grown to be responsible young ladies and young men that are a credit to God’s grace and unfailing love. They are a blessing to us and feel blessed that they are in our lives. It is our hope that all of our kids will one day love us and want to be in our lives. Until then, I wait and pray.

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)

Adoption is risky. When you adopt, you put yourself out there.

If you have adopted, stop feeling guilty, disappointed or abandoned if your child has not met your expectations. You are the top 1% of humanity! You chose to step out of your comfort zone to share your family with a child that was not originally your own. How many of your family or friends have sacrificed the peace and safety of a “normal” family and reached out to a child that was without?

Even if you made mistakes, you still showed up every day. Even if you weren’t perfect (who is?), you deserve a gold star. You did more than the other 99% who stayed in their comfort zone and watched you do what they would never consider doing.

Stop feeling responsible for your child’s bad choices. They have their own mind, their own heart and their own agenda. I have seen kids turn out great even though they had crummy parents. I’ve seen kids blow it in life who had fabulous parents.

God alone is responsible for the outcome of your efforts. Your only responsibility was to be faithful.

You went above and beyond. You are blessed. You are amazing.

Now go live like you know that.  ~Val (Mom of Many)

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)


This Woman’s Story Sounds So Familiar…

Monday, December 13, 2010, 5:59 PM – a story from a fellow adoptive mom…

The local caseworker told us early on (when they were threatening to charge us with neglect for not picking up our RAD daughter from the teen shelter after her two weeks were up) that DCFS “does not want your other kids. We don’t want Rob [either]”.

Yet we were repeatedly and relentlessly threatened with the loss of our other children and they actually filed a petition asking the judge to make them wards of the state (although not to take custody of them), then tortured us for over a year and a half by making sure the judge never ruled on that petition. I have heard horror stories about familys who were destroyed when DCFS pulled their other children as punishment for refusing to take back their very troubled RAD child/ren or in response to wild tales of abuse cooked up by the “problem child”. In those cses, the other children were severely traumatized and never the same by the abuses they suffered in foster care (often from the child/ren who the parents had been trying to protect them from in the first place) and by “the system” in general.

It totally destroys a child’s sense of safety to be pulled form a family where there is *not* a problem, especially when they have just gotten free of a troubled sibling and are now dumped back into a home with him or her – most often one where the [foster] parents are clueless and thus unable to stop the abuses.

I found myself searching for a source for cyanide and wondering how many peach pits it would take to cook up a fatal batch myself so I could take brownies with poisoned frosting to my first “visit” if they pulled my other kids – so all of us could die together and be safely in the hands of God instead of in hands of DCFS (state child protective services) — that’s when I began looking for a safe house for my children to go to during every court hearing and pulled the last one of them out of the public schools.

DCFS in IL is notorious for being cowardly and pulling children out of the schools instead of visiting their homes. I’ve heard terrible tales of how parents panicked when their kids didn’t show up after school and didn’t find out they were in DCFS custody until the next day. Most of those cases I’ve heard of were those where the kids were pulled in retaliation, not for actual abuses. And we have fostered 3 dozen DCFS wards, so I’ve heard those parents’ stories too. I have a friend whose 9 year old son broke his arm at a Little League game. The next day, a (particularly nasty) neighbor called CPS, telling them that his father had hit him with a baseball bat in the backyard. They pulled the child from his classroom in the middle of the school day without even talking with his teacher, his Little League coach or either of his parents. It took them almost a week to get him returned to their home. The poor child began wetting the bed and has severe separation anxiety and all of her children had trouble sleeping for months afterward.

At the very least, you should talk with your other children’s schools – principles, teachers, guidance counselors, maybe also bus drivers – and let them know what’s going on and what the dangers to your other kids are. Ideally, most of those people already know because you’ve had to explain to them why your children have been a little odd in school during your troubled child’s latest bad spell. I’d include any after school caregivers, coaches, scout leaders, etc. It helped us greatly that our school principal knew what we’d been going through so he was able to sit in on the CPS investigator’s interview of my 6 year old (they just couldn’t do it in our home?) and served as a buffer for her if the questions got scary and kept a leash on the CPS guy so he didn’t intimidate her.

This was early-on in my RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) daughter’s ever-escalating accusation history, so they had not yet threatened to take the other children away. You cannot assume that DCFS/CPS will behave in a reasonable fashion. It seems there is no limit to what kind of stunts they will pull just to prove their power over everyone and immunity to the consequences of their actions.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome series: Living with FASD

Here is an article that does a pretty good job of explaining some of the difficulties that those with FASD encounter: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome series: Living with FASD.

Eva and Rick’s Incredible Journey

Wow. Check out this story about a single mom and her adopted son with FASD. It will give you a good look at some of the things our family has lived through  – a journey not many can identify with or even try to understand.

“He wore out his welcome in a few months wherever he went and had survived at least 13 homes by the time he came to live with me. One of his “homes” was the psychiatric ward of a county hospital where he stayed for three months when he was two. Immediately preceding this, he visited his birth mom and returned in a catatonic state. He wouldn’t stop rocking and staring into space. His foster parents couldn’t break his trance and after a few hours took him to the emergency room. When he was discharged, they refused to take him back.

All of the placements ended because of alleged abuse in the foster home or because Rick was no longer wanted. Because of this I expected him to have an attachment disorder but when he was 5 a pediatric neurologist diagnosed him as having possible Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and prescribed Ritalin. My medical dictionary and other research didn’t tell me much; just that it was a cause of mental retardation. Rick didn’t look like the photos and had none of the physical characteristics. I dismissed it. I was in denial. I figured a secure, stable, loving home would work wonders for my Ricky.”

To read the rest of this article go to: http://ninezeroproject.blogspot.com/2010/05/eva-and-ricks-incredible-journey.html

Chicago Tribune – FASD Misunderstood by Courts

Click here to read an article in the Chicago Tribune about a young man diagnosed with FASD that is presently in the court system. It will give you an idea of what deficits those with FASD struggle with – these issues are life long because of brain damage in utero caused by the birth mother drinking alcohol during her pregnancy.

World wide interest has been sparked by the story of the little boy who was sent back to Russia by his adoptive parents. His special needs that were too much for the family to handle.  Many FASD children are sent here from Russia to American adoptive families, often without the families being aware of the extent of their special needs.

A Plea for Help From an Adoptive Parent

I have a friend on my adoptive parents Yahoo email group who is in dire need of a solution to her family problem. She’s in the place we were months ago with no solution in sight. She has one week. I am asking prayer for her and her family as well as any input you all might has as to a solution. Below is part of her story from her blog, Adoption Drama…The System. She lives in Michigan. The comment in red with brackets is mine.

Michigan’s Post-Adoption Support Fails Youth, Families, and the Community.

I am an adoptive mom and a professional in the foster care system. I cannot sit back and watch the post adopt system fail our children. The children that are in adoptive homes today and those awaiting adoption. At the time of adoption, some children qualify for Michigan’s Adoption Subsidy support – medical and/or financial support. The concept of this support is to provide adopted children and their families with the support they need to meet the needs of the adopted child that were present prior to adoption. These needs are considered prior to signing of the adoption document. A family has to option of submitting documentation after the adoption is finalized to add other conditions that were present before adoption but not diagnosed until after adoption. No where in any of the support, does it say there is a limit to how much they will cover for the qualified condition.

My son is 16. He came into foster care when he was 4 and adopted when he was 5. The conditions he lived in prior to adoption have had a lasting impact on who he is and how he operates in society. Its like he is miss-wired because of the abuse he suffered (prenatal drug exposure, severe physical abuse and neglect). His behaviors started around age 6 and became out of control at age 12. Things continued to escalate and he went for residential treatment at 14 1/2 years of age. Well in the first facility, things got worse and he acted out more, placing more people in danger. He was moved to another residential program and spent the last 1 1/2 years there. He’s completed their program but not without incident. Their program has not addressed all of his behaviors or needs, but has touched the tip of the iceberg.

FUNDING HAS STOPPED. Despite the fact that he has not addressed the initial needs that placed him at risk or a danger to himself or others, FUNDING HAS STOPPED. It doesn’t seem to matter that the need hasn’t stopped – the qualifying need that got him adoption subsidy. But all they can say is, “FUNDING HAS STOPPED.”

The reality is that if he makes any of the same choices he made prior to going to residential treatment, he will go to prison. The reality is that he has lived in a very structured program of 2 years and they are just open the door and send him on his way. No transition back into the community, even though programs exist to help him transition back and be successful. All this because FUNDING HAS STOPPED.

Where is the adoption subsidy support that is suppose to help him get the care to address the needs without a limit? Without a limit doesn’t align with “Funding has stopped.” Helping him be as successful as he can be given the past he was dealt, isn’t a part of their plan. Where are my son’s rights to care and treatment from adoption subsidy?

The transitional program costs money. If I had the money, I’d pay for it myself. I don’t have the kind of money the program costs. I want nothing more than for my son and the other adopted children in the same situation and the foster children with the same struggles that are waiting to be adopted to have a chance for a successful future. To be given the opportunity to use the “support” from adoption subsidy they were promised. As adoptive parents, if we don’t pick them up when funding ends even though the need has not, the state threatens to file CPS neglect charges on the parent. Yet, Adoption Subsidy it the one who is neglecting their need and the agreement to support the treatment of that need. [If we bring them home and a child is hurt, we will be charged with “failure to protect. This is a lose/lose situation for the adoptive families.]

Please help me help my son and others in the same situation. Our funding is scheduled to end on 3/19/2010. Coming home places me and the other children in the home at risk due to his violent and sexual behaviors. He has threatened to kill me and tried once before. I love my son dearly and want for him to have a chance of being successful. Home and back in the community is not where he belongs right now.

Consuming Alcohol During Pregnancy

November 23, 2009

A new study from Perth’s Telethon Institute for Child Health Research has found evidence that the amount and timing of alcohol consumption in pregnancy affects child behaviour in different ways. 
The study has just been published online in the international journal Addiction. Lead author Colleen O’Leary said the analysis was drawn from a random sample of more than 2000 mothers who completed a questionnaire three months after the baby’s delivery, and were then followed up when the child was 2, 5 and 8 years of age. 
“Mothers who reported what we would classify as heavy drinking in the first trimester of were nearly three times as likely to report that their child suffered with anxiety and/or depression or somatic complaints,” Ms O’Leary said. “Those who drank moderately during that first trimester were twice as likely to report those types of behavioural issues for their child. 
“Exposure to moderate or heavy levels of alcohol in late pregnancy increased the risk of aggressive types of behaviours in the child. “This research suggests that both the timing and the intensity of alcohol exposure in the womb affect the type of behaviour problems expressed.” 
In this study low levels of alcohol did not increase the risk of harm to the baby. However, the evidence clearly shows that the risk to the baby increases with increasing amounts consumed. “It should also be noted that in this study moderate exposure is classified as drinking 3-4 standard drinks per occasion- that’s about two normal glasses of wine-and no more than a bottle of wine drunk over a week.” Heavy drinking included women who were drinking the equivalent of more than a bottle of wine per week.
Note: I just received a letter from an adoption agency that placed one of my kids in our home for adoption, saying that their birth mother consumed 40+ ounces of alcohol a day and was addicted to cocaine during her pregnancies. She had been referred to rehabs many times but didn’t go. Why do mothers do this to their children?  This is one disability, FASD, that can be prevented. Not only can the child’s future behavior be affected by the mother drinking alcohol during pregnancy, but there can be physical and mental damage as well.

Sociopaths, Psychopaths, Borderline Personalities, Etc.

OH MY, OH MY! I just ran across this today – very interesting reading for those of us who have experienced difficult children through adoption. Click here. Here and here are other sites that speak of these disorders.

This is an excerpt from an article on Answers.com:

  • The key characteristics of a sociopath include: (1) having no conscience, (2) inability to treat others as human beings, with feelings and rights and (3) inability to learn from experience, from life. One result of this last is gross immaturity, though it may be hidden unless one knows the person well. A sociopath behaves as if he/she were the only person in the whole world and as if everyone else just existed for their benefit and had no existence in their own right. (4) Sociopaths treat other people as toys and hanker after the power to control and hurt their ‘nearest and dearest’. (5) Many are monumentally self-important: they may pretend to be millionaires when in reality they are sliding towards financial disaster. (6) Habitual dishonesty.
  • He will charm his way into your life and heart, then take complete advantage of you – your emotions, your finances, your intellect. He will make you think you are the crazy one. Your friends will see right through him. He will isolate you from your friends and possibly your family. He cannot hold a job and will probably commit crimes – theft, fraud, forgery, and spend time in jail or prison. He will abuse drugs or alcohol. He may abuse you.

Power Point by Adoptive Parent

He's my sonClick here for a Power Point that shows the story of one adoptive family’s struggle to get help for their emotionally disabled child.

Those of us with similar stories find that Michigan does not want to fund residential treatment centers though often they are the only solution for families with these types of kids. They cannot risk keeping them in the home due to safety issues.

It appears we will be losing our funding for our son’s residential treatment center at the end of November. The state would be willing to continue funding if we’d rescind our adoption and place him back in the custody of the state welfare system. Unfortunately, saving money (versus serving the best interests of a child) is their goal.

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