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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)


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.

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.

Things never got any better for him…

Here is a brief description of the son of one of my Yahoo friends. I put these stories on my blog to hopefully open the eyes of those around me to some of the issues surrounding special needs adoption. Realize that just because you don’t see some of these behaviors doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Parents don’t usually share such things with family or friends because they feel a need to protect their children from the hurt of rejection. As well, we as the  parents of these kids wish to be accepted and supported, but fear that if we share too much, our children and even our entire family, will be avoided and judged. So we choose to isolate ourselves rather than risk it. It’s kind of like a self-fulfilled prophecy. 

Read about Mrs. Brown’s son:

RAD [attachment issues] is certainly possible in toddler age children, as is early onset bipolar. Doctors don’t like to medicate that early, as they like more time to see what is going on. My son who was adopted at age 2 1/2 was diagnosed at age 4 with severe ADHD [attention deficit hyperactive disorder] and ODD [oppositional defiant disorder], to the point of mania.

It was SO hard to get through those first months before they would medicate him at age 4. But he was a danger to himself – he was so bad off.  He would run around the yard to fast he would smack right into a tree.  He started out on Cylert and Clonidine to help him calm down and help him sleep (which he didn’t do much of).  As he grew so did his Dx’s, to Bipolar, attachment disorders, Conduct Disorder, and something about rages; I can’t remember what they called it. To put it mildly, he was violent.

He was born alcohol and drug exposed and was premature. He had frontal lobe damage, which is the part of the brain that controls emotions. His emotions were out of control. He had to leave our home when he was 9 due to his violence, attacking my (older) daughters. He would spend his nights chewing thru his (metal) screens, ripping up floor boards, and destroying furniture.

People around here didn’t know how bad it was at home; he tried to hold it together out in public and at school for whatever reason. Then he came home and blew apart. So of course the lovely folks in this town assumed it was my fault. Even when he couldn’t hold it together at school any more and started doing more and more outrageous stuff there, they still blamed me. [They thought] I must be abusive to have a child like this. They knew his birth history, but still blamed it on me. Says alot for their intelligence, huh ?

During one of his rages, I managed to get him to the ER, where they recommended a stay in a pediatric psych unit. He never came home again. From there he went to more permanent psych hospital stays and RTCs [residential treatment centers]. Things never got any better for him. He is 19 now.

This is a typical story of an adoptive child who was adopted with serious issues. When an adoptive parent puts themself out there to bring these kids into their family and try to provide a normal, caring home, please do not blame them for the children’s behaviors or judge their parenting techniques. You have no idea what it is like to live with these kids until you have done it yourself. If you ever dared to step out and do as they have, you will undoubetedly become very sympathetic to their family. Support them, love them, and do what you can to help them. They ought to be admired, not judged. And, when they say, “My child came to us with issues that are very hard to deal with,” – believe them! 

A Three Day Snapshot – Day 3

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

with temper tantrums orToday he pulled the same thing at the CMH appointment.  I knew there would be toys to play with and told him ahead of time that if there were little cars or legos he’d have to play with something else, as he’d been grounded from those for behavior, and that if you are grounded from something at home, you are grounded from it everywhere you go. They had both, but there was a whole cabinet full of other things to play with.  He zero’d right in on the little cars, grabbed the bag they were in and when I said, “No,” and took them, he got ahold of one.  I had to forcibly take it. I told him if he didn’t stop arguing and fighting he had to just sit on the couch in time out, and he began punching and kicking me.  In some ways, as bad as it sounds, I’m kind of glad it happened right in front of the clinician doing the intake.

At dinner time, he was NOT going to eat his dinner (chicken breast stuffed with broccoli and cheese) because he thinks broccoli with cheese is “nasty”.  He loves broccoli. We finally said if he didn’t eat it, it would be wrapped and reheated for every snack and meal until it was gone, and that he’d not be allowed to play outside before and after service tonight at church with the other kids. He must have been using his selective hearing for that part, right along with Manny, who had decided since Matt didn’t like dinner, neither did he, so his got wrapped up too.  After dinner, I was headed upstairs to change for church and saw Matt putting his play shirt on under his church shirt and asked what he was doing.  He told me it was so he could play after church, and I reminded him he was not going out after, only Allen and Ike would, as they had eaten their dinner. When I came back downstairs, both boys were in the kitchen with their dad finishing their dinner. So at least that worked out.  They were fairly good the rest of the night.

Tonight during prayer time, my husband thanked the church for the men who have been helping me with Matt on Sundays when he can’t be there, and asked for prayer for Matt and for our family.  Our pastor added that he would like whatever men are sitting anywhere near us on Sunday to do the same, just get up and take him out when he becomes so difficult and reminded everyone that Matt needs a lot of prayer, and a lot of love, not judgment, that he’d been badly abused and it would take time.  He also said he’s already seeing some progress with him.  I so appreciate this church, it’s the first church we’ve belonged to since moving here that I feel my kids are safe from criticism and where I had no one minute of hesitation about calling the pastor and his wife after the Sam’s incident to ask for prayer, knowing I wasn’t going to be judged as a bad parent. Unfortunately, we have had that happen in other churches, when Allen was younger.


A Three Day Snapshot – Day 2

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Unfortunately, that repentant subdued attitude did not last into Tuesday. Matt was angry that he was still grounded from his legos, sports cards, and little cars. By the time Marc left for work at around noon, he was ready to gear up into a rage, which he’d held off until then. I ended up putting him into time out on the couch and sending all the other boys out to play, which made him madder, but I’m tired of them hearing all of this and mimicking the attitudes and sometimes the language. He escalated to the point that he was attempting to bruise himself so he could say I did it, at which time I ended up holding him restrained. I’m not strong enough to just get him in my lap and restrain him that way like my husband can. The only way I can keep him from hurting himself or me is to get him on the floor in front of me, facing away from me, my feet holding his legs apart so he can’t kick me, with my hands holding his arms up so he can’t hit me or pinch me. Unfortunately, he got hold of my hand with his teeth, and held on until he drew blood. I told him he’d not be outside at all that day, which as you can imagine went over just great.

Finally, I had to get dinner, so I just did quick and easy spaghetti, after warning him he better not leave the couch. He insisted he would not eat supper, because I said he had to sit in his dad’s place at the table by me, not next to any of his brothers, because he’d also both threatened them and tried to hurt them earlier in the day. He also informed me that he would not take his bath, because he knew he had an appointment in the morning and also church the same evening. Matt wanted people to think he didn’t get bathed. By then my husband had called on his lunch break, and said he’d watch for an offer of signing out early, they didn’t end up offering it early enough to help me that night. He said to tell Matt if he refused to get his bath, that his dad would wake him when he got home from work and give it to him and that he (Matt) would NOT like it a bit. He finally agreed he might eat a LITTLE (he ate 2 helpings), and he’d have his bath if he could play after. I told him if his bath was quick he might have 15 minutes before it was time for all toys to be put away for the night (8:30 in our house). He wasn’t happy, but I did point out that he COULD have been playing all day, including outside.

He did get his bath, and sat quietly on his bed while Manny got his, because I wouldn’t let him downstairs with just Allen & Ike; I didn’t trust him not to go off on them again. He got his 15 minutes to play, got his night time medications, then the nightly routine of TV time to relax enough for the meds to work, and in bed by 10:00. They are up that late because their dad works late, an hour away, so he and I rarely get to bed before 2:00 a.m., and we really don’t want them up at 5 a.m.

A Three Day Snapshot – Day 1

I have a long time friend who recently found me on Facebook. We reconnected after about ten or so years. We originally met during our old adoption advocacy days when we lived in Flushing. Our adoption support group was instrumental in bringing her and her first son together by adoption. I will call her Linda. This is day one of three days in the life of her newly adopted son, Matt. She currently has four sons.

 Monday, August 24, 2009

Today I had no choice but to take all the kids to Sam’s. I had to pick up a prescription that could not wait. Matt wanted me to let them wait in the car, which I have allowed if I am just running in somewhere for a minute or two. But today I knew it would be longer, so I said “No,” and that they would have to come in with me. First, Matt ran away in the parking lot and Allen ran and got him for me, which set him off against Allen now, too. We went in, and by the time we got back to the meat coolers he was working himself up deliberately. You can actually see him doing it; he clenches his fists and starts breathing harder and faster to work up a good rage. I ended up having to hold him against the cart with one arm while pushing/steering the cart with the other, because he’d started running up and kicking Allen as hard as he could. So he started kicking me, in between pressing his foot on the wheel so I couldn’t move the cart. I ended up having to hold him against the cooler to stop him trying to hurt me, Allen, or himself.

We made it to the pharmacy counter and had to wait a few minutes for it to open back up from lunch break. A lady, who’d been shopping back by the meat dept. and tried to speak with him when he was doing all this, followed us. I saw her come around the corner and duck back when I saw her but didn’t think anything of it at the time. She apparently followed us out and took down my plate number and called 911. Not 10 minutes after we got home a county sheriff’s deputy was at the door with a worker from FOC. To avoid speaking with them, Matt ran to the back of the house and out the back door, but they got him to stop. I told her what happened, and Matt admitted all. She came down squarely on my side, and told him he has to obey me, that I have the right to discipline him, and that she thought he was very lucky to be where he is (she had already asked about his background).

He told her he knew he was lucky, but that being told, “No,” makes him “want to get mad and hit people.” So, I’ve joined the ranks of parents who will need to document, document, document, I guess. She said this was NOT going to CPS; she saw no reason for it. It looked to her like that lady who called 911 was a nosy woman who had no idea of the actual situation or circumstances, and apologized for having to come here especially when it was very clear I’d done nothing wrong. The whole cops at the door for what he had done scared him though, I think. After that, he apologized to me and then to Allen and couldn’t do enough for either of us for several hours. He and Manny have an appointment tomorrow at CMH to get them services. Here’s hoping for at least respite time, huh?


Do you know a FASD/RAD child?

Click here for a pdf that explains RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) and suggests how to deal with a child that may have attachment issues.

Click here for a pdf with some suggestions on how to handle a teen with FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder).

Note to family & friends: Read these to better understand some aspects of our family!

Gertz’s Pile of Ideas

On another adoptive mom blog, I found an article about a magnetic sleep technology that got a special needs little girl off sleeping pills. Some FAS kids have difficulties with sleep and need medication in order to fall asleep and achieve and sustain REM sleep. This is interesting and worth looking into if your child has this difficulty.

“On January 1, 2009 I made a commitment to find an alternative to sleeping pills for Ellie. She has needed to take a sleeping pill every night for 3 years to get her to sleep. The guilt I felt about this ritual was inconceivable. Ellie is 6, so for half of her life, I have watched her struggle in a drugged haze to get her teeth brushed before she conked out in a drug induced state. That little body would shudder as it passed into a chemically induced state of fake REM and every ounce of natural therapy I would incorporate into our daily routine was lost … to read more click here.

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