Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Guilty Silent

 I didn't see it coming.  I didn't even know it was still there.   It crept up on me this morning very unexpected.  Those raw, unhealed emotions from fighting to get appropriate services for Kai.  Today I spoke at Kai's former school Northern Voices about our experience in advocating for Kai with the school district.   Two other parents spoke also, but I was the only one that broke down and cried while I spoke.   The tears came so unexpectedly, totally unannounced.   Why am I not done with it?   Kai is getting an appropriate education, I need to move on...but the sadness remains.   What happened to Kai by the school district makes me feel dismayed, discouraged and  disheartened.  My faith in humanity has been ratcheted down several notches since.   I am so saddened when I think about the year that therapist came into our home on a weekly basis and provided services to Kai.   They were able to get to know the wonderful unique him, but chose to do absolutely nothing to help get him appropriate services for his needs.  There was never a voice from any of them to say "Hey, wait a minute this child NEEDS an appropriate education for a child with hearing loss.  This child is not being served correctly and we need to make this right."  There was never a behind closed door support for my position, or support from mother to mother.  I consider every person who sat at Kai's IEP in silence as the Guilty Silent.  The Guilty Silent agreed for him to languish in a room with all non-verbal children that have no hope to ever speak because of the severity of their needs.   Now I wonder if those children have more potential but everybody remained silent and nobody advocated for them.     The hardest part for me is that I had such a deep respect for all of the Guilty Silent therapist that worked with Kai.  Every single one of them is a mom, is a seasoned professional and truly is one of the best in her field.   We have seen both private and public therapist and our school district has the best.   Obviously, being the best at a speciality does not automatically give you a moral compass.   Do you think I am being too harsh???   Perhaps.  
Actually, the root of the sadness doesn't lie in what happened last year, it lies in the future.  These will be the easiest times for Kai in navigating the outside world.   He has a hearing person's voice, my voice speaking for him, he is a beautiful, innocent little child, with an abundance of joy and happiness.  As he grows older he is going to be a vulnerable adult.   Easy for people to prey upon because of his hearing loss, lack of speech, developmental delay and of course his Ataxia.   I'm frightened.  I'm frightened that these people who have held him on their laps, laughed with him, seen him grow could not find the compassion to help him get the services that he so desperately deserved but more importantly needed.    So if  the Guilty Silent couldn't find it in their hearts, how can I ever expect and believe that the rest of the world will be kind to my very special son?  This is where my tears lie...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Living with Mr. Independent

This post is about the day in the life of a very independent 3 year old named Kai Kai Sweetie Pie.   When Kai hears the radio alarm go off in the morning he turns into the Tanzmanian Devil.   His feet are flying as he kicks off the blankets and jumps out of bed and races over to the alarm clock as if all of us were at his heels...we are not.  He looks back at me and points at me as if to say "don't even think about getting out of that bed!"   (Yes, we are still co-sleeping).  I spend the rest of the day decoding the many mysteries of what I am actually allowed to do for Kai.   If I open the bedroom door and Mr. Independent hasn't blessed me with the priviledge of opening the door for the day, I may get a full blown meltdown or he may look at me directly in my eye and point to himself with both hands, where I automatically voice "Kai Kai do it".   I then shut the door and let Mr. Independent do it himself.   Our morning pretty much continues like this, Kai has to pick out his own diaper, get his own utensils, get his own plate, cut his own food, he is independent to the max!  If I slip up and accidently do something for him that he doesn't want done, he gives me the look, I say "Kai Kai Do it", he goes and does it and we are on good terms again.    If I try to help him with anything, I get either a swat or a fervent headshake no.    He would definitely drive us all to school and has tried to wrestle the car keys from me, but I have won that battle. 
The car seat is my nemesis since he won't let me help him and it takes him forever to get seated and buckled.   I actually build in 10 minutes to our schedule for him to buckle up.   Now his older brother will gladly say "mom will you belt me in?"  I'll say "you are 6 years old, you can belt yourself".   His come back is "I like it so much better when you do it".   I bet he does!!!!   Mr. Independent goes to school happily with a great big smile on his face.    When I go to pick him up he see's me from down the hall and begins to run with his arms out like an airplane to keep his balance and he falls into my arms and gives me his open mouth kiss.  That is one of my favorite moments of the day and I cherish it.  Then he immediately gets back to business of independence and bossying me around.   As we leave the school, he directs me to the doors that I am to walk out which are never the same as him.   He wants to push the automatic door buttons and  open every heavy door.  Lord help me if he see's that I am assisting him in any way, he has to start all over again.   Unloading the dishwasher has become a secret sport.   I try to do it when he is asleep, at school or busy playing.   Otherwise, Mr. Independent  stands on the counter tops with me holding him and I hand him each individual item and he puts it away.   To his credit, he hasn't dropped a piece yet ( I put away all the glasses ).   I know, I know...I am my own worst enemy.   He also helps with the wash, sweeping, name it that kid does it.   It is a blessing that Kai is so independent and wants to do and accomplish so much.  I think it will continue to serve him well.    

Monday, October 15, 2012

Camera Shy Mom's

Kai and I enjoying a snack at our favorite restaurant on our lake.

Have you read about all the hub-bub created by the Huffington Post blogging mom who admitted that since having her kids she doesn't ever want to be in front of the camera???   She doesn't want it documented that she hasn't lost her baby weight from giving birth to her 4 kids, that she hasn't combed her hair and her shirt is full of baby food and juice.    Of course I can toss my hat into that ring.  I can add that I dread the day when my kids realize that I am old...older than most of their friends mom's.   But here is the great thing about kids, they love unconditional.   They don't really care if you are fat, skinny, tall or short, young or old, they want to be loved and they want to love you.   Bei recently said to me, "Mom, I wish you could be naked all the time".   Ewwwwww!!!!! Gag!!!!!!!    Totally shocked and dismayed, I said "Why would you say THAT???"   He came over and hugged me and said "Because you're beautiful mom".    Bei see's the beauty within me, not the wrinkles, tired eyes or the muffin top belly.   In a way it has been selfishness/vanity that has kept me from being in front of the camera because I have made it about how I feel about myself.    This article made me realize that as my boys grow older and look back on their lives they deserve to see their history with their mom in it.   I hope you start jumping into those pictures with your kids too!!!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Zen and the Art of Housekeeping

 Bei loves getting his face painted!  
Kai loves playing with water!

I had ENORMOUS plans of what I was going to do with all of my free time once the boys were in school.    I was going to join a bible study, work out daily, clean out every drawer, cabinet and closet in my house, begin and complete Kai's life book, print out my previous blog into a hard copy book, volunteer for Love Without Boundaries, volunteer at the boys school, save gobs of money by becoming a coupon extremist and learn to cook like Martha Stewart...BIG, BIG, BIG plans!!!  Well I realized quickly I am very delusional.   None of it is happening...NONE!!!   Instead, I am keeping up with my wash, making a meal in the morning to be served at dinner time, straightening up the house and that is it!  To be fair to myself,  I am cleaning out a drawer/cabinet here or there too.   It is all I accomplish in 4 hours.  I'm pretty much a housekeeping wimp...  Hopefully the boys will grow up to say "my mom wasn't the best housekeeper but she sure did love us".  

Monday, October 1, 2012

Separation Anxiety

This little boy makes my heart sing!!! 
Bei's first baseball game 
A common phrase in the adoption world is 'every adoption starts with a loss'; the loss of the birth family.   Being abandoned multiple times has been traumatic for Bei.   He was approximately one years old when he was left at a hospital.  He spent an entire year in the arms of his loving mother.   Based on our research into Bei's history we believe for the next 15 months he was at the orphanage a short time, fostered and then brought back to the orphanage the week preceeding his adoption.   More abandonment, more trauma...heartbreaking.  
Bei battles separation anxiety.  The beginning of the school year was really hard.  Harder yet is that he is embarrassed by it.   As we drove to school the first day he told me "I hate crying in front of my friends."   And he cried hard that day and several days afterwards and still does most Monday's.   He continually asks why Kai is not afraid to leave me when he goes to school?   He articulates to me that he doesn't think that I am coming back, that in the afternoon he really starts to worry that I won't be there to pick him up.   Coming off the weekends have been the toughest for him.  Last year I sought counseling to help me understand and to provide me tools to help build his trust.   Some of the tools were to give him a picture of us together,  I drew him pictures, love letters, I gave him a pair of glasses of mine that he still carries in his backpack.   The most important therapy tool was for us to develop his being born story and how he came to be our child.  I followed what the therapist said but never really understood how it all worked until I came across this book recently called
As I started reading this book everything the therapist shared with me fell into place.   This book outlines the neuroscience regarding children's brains.   It explains how children use their right side of their brain, the emotional, passionate, illogical side and how the left logical side of the brain needs to be developed.   The book discusses implicit memories, those that we don't remember but they still affect us, like abandonment versus explicit memories those memories that we record our lives by.    It discusses how imporant integration between the right and left brain are to a healthy mental state.   By putting words to Bei's story we may be able to help him understand the separation anxiety.  For us our story with Bei had always began the day that we adopted him.   He loves to hear how I first saw him while he was in the parking lot and I was in the civil affairs building and he looked up through the window and we made eye contact and I waved to him and said "Hi Bei, Bei".   How I fell madly and deeply and passionately in love with him that first day.   How the entire time we were in China he never let me put him down (I have pictures that prove otherwise, but I am sticking with my story).   How he slept on top of me for the first months, how he would kiss me 50 times in a day.   I really LOVE that little boy with all my HEART and SOUL!   But love is not enough.   He needs to be able to understand and integrate his story.  How do you tell a child that he was left, abandoned by people that are suppose to love you forever and ever?   That there are no options for a large percentage of the worlds population?   That what happened to him was unfair to him, to his birth family, to the Chinese culture?   How do you make a child believe that it won't happen again?   Can I promise him I will never leave him?   What if I die?    I am going to choose my words carefully and thoughtfully about Bei's story.  We need to go back further to the very beginning with a mother who had a baby, a baby that was sick, that was going to die. That she loved that baby so much that she wanted him to live even though it meant that she couldn't be his mommy any longer. She made the most heartwretching but most loving sacrifice that a person could do and she chose life for her child.  I am hoping that we can begin working through some of the trauma that Bei has experienced so that he is able to put this fear of abandonment to rest so it doesn't follow him into adulthood.