Thursday, September 26, 2013

failed adoptions and re-homing: My two cents

Stories about the rehoming of adopted children have been all over the news lately. Almost all of them negative. They sensationalize adoptions horror stories about rehoming (which as usual the media gobbles up) and paint a picture with a broad brush that makes it sound like these few cases are what's typical for rehoming and even adoption. Demonizing adoption is not new to the media! You can find horror stories that exist in any type of family (Biological, Step, Extended, Adoption etc) but does that mean that all families are abusive, sadistic institutions with criminals for parents? But wow, the media sure loves to make adoption sound that way every chance possible, and these recent horror stories of rehoming are a perfect example of that. Two of my children were previously adopted by other families before we adopted them and re-homing them was absolutely the right thing to do! The writers of many of these articles are simply clueless, it's just one of those things where unless you've experienced it, it's really easy to sit in a place of ignorance and point the finger. The reality is that you can take classes on adoption and related issues, you can read books, you can meet with social workers etc etc etc but nothing can prepare you for what it will really be like. I did the research, I read the books, I thought I was prepared. But when it came to living with the SEVERE behavioral problems from our first children, there was nothing on this earth that could have made us "ready." And you can't imagine how much we suffered and struggled. Did we rehome our children? No. But I absolutely can see why some people do and given certain circumstances why that would be the best option for everyone involved. Because just like there's no way for adoptive parents to be "prepared" there's also no way of knowing what issues a child really has. And no, you can't assume age is the only deciding factor for behavior. It is a myth that the older the child, the more issues that child will have. It actually has very little to do with that. And I don't have enough room here to discuss attachment and trauma. The other painful reality is that there are very few professionals (therapists etc) that are trained in adoption related traumas. And yes, it VERY different from normal psychological training. The large majority of therapists working actually do not know how to help with these issues and their therapeutic approaches are often more hurtful than helpful. Again, I don't have enough room here to discuss the differences. In short, there are only a few universities IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY that teach classes specifically on adoption related trauma and how it differs from other types of therapy approaches. So believe me when I say that there is not enough help available even to those that look for it! In our entire state I found ONE THERAPIST that actually knew how to work with my kids. Are there parents that just give up and look for easy ways out, sure but they are few compared to the mass majority that truly have tried everything they can do before resulting to finding new families for their adopted children. So what is the solution? Everyone keeps saying that what's being done is cruel. That rehoming children is wrong etc. So to allow a disturbed child stay in a home that can't help him/her even if they have tried where nothing but fear, resentment, and continued trauma exist, that's better? To out law rehoming is wrong. Some people just can't handle it, for many different reasons, and there's no way to know until you are in that situation. Reading a book and living it can't compare. But there are others that can handle it. I had no idea the strength I was capable of until after our first adoption. I could have never guessed. When I saw what we were capable of, well... We decided to continue adopting older and yes, outcast children. See that's why rehoming is often the best solution. Because there's no way of knowing what the outcome will be until after you've actually lived it. There's no way to truly know what issues a child will have and there's no way to know how parents will handle certain situations (regardless of resources.) So what's the solution? End all adoptions because 10% fail? What of the 90% that don't fail? (I'm getting these numbers from the Time article link below) There's no magic spell to tell which child and which family will be in that 10%, Or in that 90% for that matter. Ultimately the real problem lies in the fact that resources for help simply do not exist or in such a limited supply you practically have to be a wizard to find them. How therapists are trained needs to be changed. The research and evidence is in abundance but the application of this research is practically nonexistent. That's the big problem. And until that changes what's the solution? To end all adoptions? Then what will become of those disturbed children? They and their problems won't go away just because they aren't being adopted! And again, what of the 90% that succeed? Are we to ignore the fact that the large majority of adoptions work out just great? The media ignores that fact because it doesn't make a good story! And of the lesser number of adoptions that fail, most of those children go on to new families where they then succeed, but again that doesn't make a good story for the media either! It may not be the prettiest solution, but until significant changes take place in therapeutic resources, including therapy itself, then rehoming these 10% to families that are better able to take on that challenge is best for everyone involved, especially the children. And even after the changes are put into place and if more and appropriate resources become available, there will always be a need for rehoming because the reality is that not every family can handle every situation. Sometimes families fail. Marriages end in divorce, biological children are sent to live with relatives, are given up for adoption, or end up in fostercare, and yes, some adoptions don't work out. That's just the ugly truth, whether the critics of rehoming like it or not. But ask my children if rehoming made their lives better or worse. Our home, is their true home. It may have been a hard and twisting road to get here, but here is where they belong!
This article in "Time" finally convinced me that I needed to share my two cents.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Anita's garden experiments

I've started a new blog with my sisters about healthy living... or attempting to live healthy anyway hahaha! It is called "Sister Health" check it out!
Here's my newest post from that blog:

As I sit here (having just finished a breakfast smoothie from Angie’s amazing smoothie recipe) I’m looking out of my window at all of the snow we still have on the ground. I’m ready for Spring! Eating well and gardening are perfect companions. This year we are expanding our garden (yes, again… we seem to do that every year.) We will be adding more beds to our front and back yards. I’m going to try to plant lettuce and other leafy “greens” this year, that will be a first for me. But I’m excited to try! I’m also interested in attempting some vertical gardening. I suppose we already do some of that. We have a grape vine planted on a trellis. We also grow our cucumber plants on large tomato cages. But I’m ready to take it to the next level. Our goal is to plant enough, and be able to store enough, that we will rarely have to shop for produce during the entire year. During the warm months we buy very little produce thanks to our garden. I already do some canning and this past year we planted some winter squash (other than pumpkin, which we plant often) for the first time. Today I put my last butternut squash in the crockpot with our dinner. Our winter squash has been wonderful! So, I’m hoping to plant even more. Thanks to some suggestions from a dear friend, I’m going to attempt to grow one of our winter squash on a trellis. We’ll need to build a strong trellis and provide “slings” to hold the heavy squash up (and keep it from tearing off of the plant.) My friend told me about the time she planted pumpkin on a trellis and used old nylons for slings- BRILLIANT! So it’ll be fun. If this works, I may start planting all of my winter squash this way. We don’t have a very big yard and this would be a great space saver! I may also experiment with vertical planter boxes (placing planter boxes on a vertical support system.) Maybe I’ll try planting some of our leafy greens this way… that would help keep the snails out. I’m also going to try something more “controversial” haha. I’m going to attempt to grow dandelions! I know, dandelions are every gardeners nightmare and yet, do you realize how healthy dandelions are? Everything can be eaten; roots, leaves, flowers- the entire plant! And they are little vitamin packed super foods. We have already started harvesting dandelions in the woods (away from the city and lawns that use chemical poisons- we don’t want to eat that!) We’ve started baking bread with dandelion petals. We have also included dandelion greens in our salad. So… I’m going to try growing some. And let’s face it. Finding seeds won’t be hard lol! I’m going to plant seeds in pots on our patio. I’m hoping this way it’ll be easier to control their spread. I can, in theory, remove flowers for use before they go to seed, which will be easier to spot in the pots. I’ll keep you updated. Either I’m a genius or I’m about to make the worst mistake I can in my garden hahaha! So Spring can’t come soon enough! I’m excited for all of my experiments!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Christmas letter 2012

Happy New Year!

            Here we are, another end to a big year. The best part of our year was when we got to go to Germany this summer to visit where Anita grew up. We had so much fun and are anxious to return someday again.

Kevin: Kevin still teaches at both the University and Community College. He also continues to work free-lance as a commercial photographer. Kevin is also still going to University part time to earn his Bachelor degree. In spite of his busy schedule he gets straight A’s in all of his classes. It is looking like he’ll have a little more than a year to go before he graduates. When he isn’t working or doing schoolwork he’s our in-house handy man. Kevin finished our roof gable this year, built more things than I can remember, and still finds time to be a great husband and father. Kevin is still the Young Men’s president in our ward.

Anita: Of course the highlight of my year was going home to Germany and sharing all of the places I love with my family and introducing Kevin and the kids to my relatives. This past Spring I researched how to put in drip-lines and Kevin and I managed to get them put in for all of our garden beds. What a time saver! I made jam for the first time this year, that was fun. Most of my time is spent helping with homework, doing NR therapy with R and C, working with the school to get the appropriate help for my children (what a headache that can be sometimes!), and trying to cook healthy meals. I am currently serving as a Relief  Society teacher in our ward. When I’m not doing that, I always have several sewing projects going, house projects, and gardening. I’m already planning next year’s garden. It’ll be bigger than ever!

T: T has had a great year. She is 18 and a senior in High School this year and continues to get straight A’s. Last year she took a CNA class at the Technical Institute. This school year she’s going part time at the Tech Institute again but this time she’s learning dental assisting. She recently got a huge honor. She was asked to intern at Intermountain Health Care hospital in the MRI department. IHC only offers very few high school students this opportunity in the county! We are so proud of her! This year T also completed her Personal Progress booklet. She has just started going to Relief Society and really enjoys that. She’s also started going to the Singles Ward once a month.

J: J has had a busy year. He is 17 and a Junior this year. Towards the end of last school year J got his first job doing custodial and landscape work at a local elementary school. He started out doing really well. Unfortunately J got a lesson in work ethic when towards the end of the summer he decided to not work as hard as he should and he was fired. At least he learned that lesson while he is still in high school. J is constantly struggling with his grades but I am working hard with him to pass all of his classes. J had some exciting news this year when he tried out and was accepted on the High School swim team. He is doing really well! J has always been our fish and it really shows. I can’t believe how much he has improved during his time on the team. He specializes in the 500 freestyle and the 100 Butterfly. It’s a lot of fun to watch his meets.

R: R started at the high school this year as a sophomore. I’m glad he can go to school with T and J. He’s been enjoying his classes. R still does his NR therapy, which takes up most of his free time. This year he completed the Teacher section for his Duty to God and he’s excited to start the Priest section in January, when he turns 16 (yikes… can you believe how old all of our kids are getting?!) We are proud of all of the hard work he’s put into his DTG. R continues to be our neighborhood’s lawn mower and snow shoveler:) He earns a little money doing that but he also enjoys doing the service and he’s starting to get a reputation among our neighbors as the “go-to-kid” when you need help getting some yard work done.

C: C has also had a big year. She took swimming lessons this past summer and actually learned to swim on her back! She still can’t quite figure out how to lift her face out of the water while swimming on her stomach. C continues to do NR therapy for her physical and mental delays and she is constantly improving. We continue to be amazed with her rapid progress. C started 7th grade at the Junior High school this year. It is such an odd feeling to not have any of my children in Elementary School! To add to that, she turned 13 years old this past October! We have all teenagers now! C is making huge progress in her Personal Progress booklet. T (as part of earning the Honor Bee in Personal Progress) and I have been working with her and she’s already completely finished three sections of the booklet!

The zoo: all of our critters are doing well. The dogs are over ten years old now but still in great health. The cats are all doing well (and currently terrorizing our Christmas tree daily.) We continue to have people ask us to add to our zoo but I’ve stood my ground, I’ve also gotten really good at handing out the contact information to “No More Homeless Pets” and the “Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.”  I’m a recovering animal hoarder hahaha! We love our zoo though:)
We hope you are all well and happy this holiday season.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!