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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Same Day

I did not write this because I wanted to have myself a pity party. I wrote it to help those of you who are considering foster/adoption to understand what may be in your future. I was totally blindsided by it, even though I had all the classes. Nobody is this honest in a classroom, especially when they need families so desperately. I'm not telling you not to do it, but just preparing you for what could be. I pray that it's not.

Have you ever read The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder? I hadn't read it until a few years ago even though I had read the Little House books a lot when I was young. Somehow it wasn't in the set we were given and I didn't know it existed until we were making a genealogy chart for the library as a homeschool project. Now I read it at least once a winter, if not twice, because it is a reminder of how much I have. We have enough food to feed us, and if we were to run low, there are many ways to get more. I also enjoy the 'snowed in' feeling that winter affords, not having to worry about taking the kids out and having them try their manipulation. But rather than the peaceful break I am expecting, I find myself disgruntled almost immediately.

In the Long Winter book, Laura finds that being snowed in makes every day just like the previous, until time blends into a slow half-waking monotony. She finds every day to be just like another, and soon forgets even what month it is. I can really relate to that feeling, and it isn't just during the 'snowed in' months, but throughout the year, Regardless of what we try to do to make things different, it always feels like the same day. And rather than facing months of blizzards, I am facing years until the 'spring' comes.

Every morning starts the same, with the same kids who have been disciplined for getting out of bed and making a ruckus...getting out of bed and making a ruckus again. Because they cannot be quiet and stay out of others' things, we made a rule that they have to stay in bed until we get up. It's not like they're lying there until 11:30 or something, but they survive on SURPRISINGLY little sleep and as soon as those eyelids fly open, it's time to horse around. So that being awoken in the dark by banging and scratching puts me in a bad frame of mind right away. There are three who have real issues with keeping their hands to themselves, and I don't mean in the tickle and pinch kind of way. I have found them choking one another and tying things around one another's throats. So we have three kids who really need to be in rooms by themselves, plus four other kids and us, and only four bedrooms. The answer is that we are constantly moving people around, building divider walls to try and separate them (which they destroy by boring through the drywall and hurting one another anyway). The result is that the 'angry juices' are already flowing first thing in the morning.

Next comes the bathroom time, which costs a great deal of time. Because one child gets kicks out of using others' toothbrushes just to gross them out and be in control of their emotions, all bathroom time must be supervised. They resent being watched, so they will drag it out, or worse, pretend to have to go just for the attention of me sitting there staring for 20 minutes while other kids jump up and down with their legs crossed in the hallway.

We move on to breakfast, and any meal time is suffering here. We wait to see who will eat what is served and who would rather starve as a means of trying to control. But here it is not a matter of just eat it or go hungry until lunch. One of our kids specializes in getting people to feel sorry for her, so if she doesn't think she's getting enough attention, she'll starve for days and then someone from the general public sees her and freaks out. And as many times as I've tried to explain it to people, they just don't get it. One lady at our co-op went to the directors because she was concerned with the way we were 'treating' this child, both because she had to stand in the corner at school and because we weren't concerned enough over her poison ivy (which she rubber on her face INTENTIONALLY to get her way with sympathy). So we determined she wasn't ready to be in a group setting (after Bren had to help talk me down from sending her to public school just because I didn't want to be around her anymore) and my mom was available, so she stayed there (which doesn't happen very often but I was desperate). Turns out she ate like a horse, and it was all the foods she's been refusing to eat here. Of course.

Then it's on to school and the 'who wants to play dumb' game. Some days they are into it and fly through things so fast I can't keep up. Other days they are perfectly content to stare out the window and pretend the work is in Chinese. We take a break for recess, and then I have to pull out my metal list of who is grounded and who isn't, because the tire swing and riding bikes are off limits to those in trouble. This is also when I am most likely to fight with Bubby. He's a good boy, but his mental capabilities have been severely affected by fetal alcohol. We had to take him out of the speech/physical/occupational therapies he was in after the adoption because the county is in the middle of a transition, so Medicaid is still in his old name and wouldn't cover services (and yes, we have spent hours on the phone trying to rectify it, but until the county computer gets completely updated, there's nothing they can do). So taking what he did in therapy and what I know just as his mom, I make him do some therapy...which he hates. Some days he's compliant, some days he cries the whole time, and some days he falls into a crumpled heap on the ground and refuses to move. He isn't trying to be trouble, but he doesn't understand that by this point I've had all the stress anybody needs for a day.

Then after lunch is lay-down time. I generally look for something at his point to steel me, like a Bible verse or praise on someone's blog. But when some of the kids fall asleep, others silently go through their drawers and eat chapstick, steal stickers, or use a sibling's sock as either a handkerchief or toilet paper (another reason I will not do reusable tissues or TP unless it's absolutely necessary- they don't need permission to do it once or they'll do it forever). So half the time after-nap is spent disciplining again.

Then it's time to try and get some cleaning done. It is so hard to clean up after 9 people when only 2 of them can be trusted to help. Totally aggravating. But in order to make the others work, I have to stand over them, they move at snail's pace out of rebellion, and my entire day is gone. So they generally stand in the middle of the kitchen (out of reach of any food) while I work around them. By dinner time, I am spent. It's all I can do to get the food served without falling asleep. The dishes generally go in the sink for morning, and we head off to bed. I had tried putting them to bed and working for a while afterward, but because I was at the other end of the house, they would get up and go in my room to steal things, or try to strangle one another, or play in the bathroom until there was a flood. It's just easier to go to bed when they do so I can keep an ear of them. And after 5 hours' sleep, they're raring to go again. The same day over and over.

I used to make appointments for myself to get a break, since Gary gets to get out of here on a daily basis. I would plan to go to the movies every 6 or 8 weeks. They have a Tuesday special, and afterward I would go to McDonald's and get the chicken strip meal (with Buffalo sauce and coffee, of course). But I can't leave the house anymore, because those same three kids have started really taking advantage of Gary's near deafness and have pulled some really dangerous things with him just two rooms away because they know he can't hear them. It also doesn't work to get babysitters, because no babysitter is savvy enough for these kids. Our son told the babysitter once that he needed to go throw up and wanted to be alone, so he went in our room and shut the door. He went through our dressers and stole money and also broke my big jewelry box (a gift from my darling that meant a LOT) so we don't hire babysitters. It also doesn't work to send them elsewhere, because they get so wound up by being given free reign that they are uncontrollable when they get home.

So now I am a prisoner in this cycle that never ends. Every day is the same. I can't go anywhere without the kids, and when I take them somewhere, somebody interferes and we end up at home again, anyway.


~Bren~ said...

Yep...I totally understand. Don't you wish Michelle Duggar could come spend 1 week in your home??? I wonder what she would tell us....

Swylv said...

I'm very saddened to hear of this kind of rebellion from kids whom you and your DH have opened your heart and home to. Don't these kids realize that you want them and that's why custody of them was given to you. That for whatever reason their birth parent can't or won't raise them and they should be thankful to have parents who want them.

It is not hard to be a kid. Just obey your parents and G-D and your life will be rosier!

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

I love your honesty. I can't stand plastic Christians who pretend to have it all together all the time. Since I know you like the Above Rubies Magazine ( I got the newiest one yesterday!), you should go straight to page 11. It is an article written by Nancy Campbell called "Help! How can I have Peace in my Home?". I bet it will really encourage and inspire you.

Ace said...

By any chance, do you have a roll of duct tape, perhapse two or three? You see, there was a boy I knew in college who got "beer muscles" everytime he drank, unfortunate because he was very scrawny, and he would just go wild every night. So his roomates would duct tape him to the wall and let him run out of steam. I think this might work for you kids, you might even get some of them to help you to tape the one acting up the worst for the day. LOLOLO Sorry, just trying to make you laugh.

God Bless you for doing this, I would have strangled someone myself by now. I will pray for you.
Many Blessings :)

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

I'm very sorry. It sounds like you have had about all you can take. Thank you for your honesty, though. I know that you are probably worried about people judging you for taking on so many special needs children. It is what it is and now you are living the reality of it. I pray that God will give you special strength to love these special children and that He will get you through each day and give you exactly what you need.

May God bless you. Thank you again for your honesty. I have had some pretty bad days lately, but yours takes the cake!

Anonymous said...

I so appreciate your truthfullness to everything that you guys have gone through and well still continue too... But I still have faith in you and your hubby for taking on such a challenge and the Lord will bless you for it, wether it be in this life time or the next.Satan at this moment is having a field day and is using the kids to attack you..Keep the faith girl I am rooting for you!!!

Crystal said...

I have to admit that I am so glad you posted this! I could have wrote it myself! I only have one 12 yr old that behaves this way, but he makes life a prison for everyone in the family. I feel so isolated and alone! He does all of the things you mentioned, and has even physically attacked me. In public, he's so sweet and quiet that no one believes that he does these things. Thank you for sharing your heart. It makes life a little eaasier knowing that someone else is going through a similar situation. I'm praying for you.

dccdmom said...

I don't even know what to say, but I'll be praying for you and your family.

laurie said...

Oh Amy, while I know it is so much harder with adopted children who have emotional issues, let me encourage you that at least some of that just goes on in families with alot of kids!! Either that we are more dysfunctional than I thought!! : ) The toothbrush stuff - we have one that is a FREAK about germs and others think it is so funny to use his toothbrush or silverware or you name it (they could care less as long as they brushed their teeth or ate or whatever).... And even with all biological, fairly well behaved kids the monotony of daily training sets in and it becomes a blur. The other night we were telling baby stoies and sometimes it is so hard to remember who was the toddler and who was the baby during a certain episode. Sadly, sometimes it became such a blur there are parts I just don't remember. Sometimes they say or do things that I can't believe any child of mine would say or do and I wonder back "Did I specifically teach that one that certain thing or did I teach everyone else that and assumed he go it through osmosis?"

I don't mean to diminish the hurdles of fostering/adoption, but rest assured that at least some of it would be going on if they were all yours and came that quickly..... : ) Hugs.

Lisa W said...

Oh my goodness, how this brings back memories!! And we only had two "extras" with our own 5. Needless to say, you've stuck it out a lot longer than we did.

I'll be praying for you and your household. I remember those days.

Blessings ~

a soldiers wife said...

just wanted to let you know that I'm praying.

NeeCee said...

I understand what you are going through, the tiredness and emotions that come with it. I also have an adopted son that has Attachment issues and we have gone through everything you have written about. Its not easy and its exhausting.

Just know you are not alone in your struggles. There are others living the same life. Our Heavenly Father is there with us each day and with His help we can accomplish much.

I'll be praying that He gives you His supernatural strength as you go through your days.

Betty said...

Hi Amy,
Just wanted to let you know that I'm praying for you. I know its not easy. There were days I was pulling my hair out with my 13 yr old and 2 grands. There are times when we moms need a time out so we don't commit a felony. Lol. I love you guys and miss you much.

Anonymous said...

I know this post was a while ago now but I wanted to let you know that I appreciated it.