Hi folks. I'm so glad I found and joined this site. I know that each of you appreciates how challenging parenting a differently wired kiddo can be and I love that you maintain this soft place to land in my grief. We are a large bi-racial family, I'm white, and husband is black. We have four children by birth, 19F in college and living at home, 17M junior in high school, 13M 8th grader, and 11F 6th grader. Additionally, we have four more bi-racial children by adoption thru the foster care system, 9M 3rd grader, 8F 3rd grader, and 5M identical twin pre-kindergarteners. When our youngest birth child was one, we decided to provide foster care for the state. We mainly cared for infants and young toddlers over an 8 year period. It was not our intention to adopt but soon found that some of the infants we cared for since birth were not able to reunify with their birth families. We got our 9M difficult child at 3 weeks of age, and our 8F and 5M twins from the hospital at birth. All adoptions were finalized by 18 months. We have enjoyed a relatively chaos free life with our children and have a good marriage. I am a stay at home mom and my husband works fulltime close to home and is an involved parent. Like many big families, we have a lot of structure, routines, and rhythms that keep things afloat around here. Yes, we have the occasional moody teen or mouthy child, and consequences are predictable and just. Things are pretty normal... except with our 9M difficult child whom I'll call Rocky. We got Rocky as a 15 day old foster placement. He was full term, substance exposed, mainly meth, crack, pot and alcohol, and spent about 6 days detoxing in nicu before he was placed temporarily with an extended family member who was already fostering his 5 year old half brother. Foster relative was also pregnant herself and was placed on bed rest so chose not to continue fostering Rocky after 9 days. After placement in our home, CPS facilitated weekend visits with Rocky's bio gma who lived only a few miles from us. She was to come to our home, pick him up and take him back to her home to stay with her from Friday night til Sunday evening, as she was considering adopting him. CPS also allowed BM to visit with him while in gma's care. We never did have the chance to meet her in person. Bio gma's interest quickly fizzled out and visits got shorter and shorter, until by the time Rocky was 2 months old, she just stopped by and held him for a few minutes and vented about her chaotic life and person BM. She described interaction between BM and Rocky as intense. Either manic and hyper-vigilant or detached and indifferent towards him. Bio gma didn't want to facilitate visit any longer in her home so CPS transported Rocky to BM's apartment for visits. Only two took place. On the first one, BM answered the door, invited CPS in with Rocky in his infant carrier, then poured herself a bowl of cereal and proceeded to just eat it and watch him. She only took him out of carrier to change his diaper at CPS's insistence at end of visit. At second visit to MB's apartment, she let CPS and Rocky in, then disappeared to her bedroom. After 20 minutes waiting in living room, CPS worker found BM had gone back to bed and was sound asleep. BM was awakened and asked to come out and interact with her baby. She dug around in her purse and produced a page of metallic Winnie the Pooh stickers which she stuck all over Rocky's arms, legs, and head, and then went back to bed. On the next visit, CPS found that BM had moved out of her apartment and was never able to be found again. She did not participate in any services and severance of parental rights was uncontested at 7 months along with half brother's case. No info on father was ever found or known. Half brother was ultimately adopted by relative placement later but they were not interested in adopting Rocky as they had their own bio infant 6 weeks after Rocky's birth. Both bio gma, extended bio family wanted us to adopt Rocky as he was bi-racial like our other kiddos. We decided to adopt Rocky and no more visits took place. We have maintained a wonderful and very supportive relationship with half brother's adoptive family as he too struggles with many issues that have been challenging to find help for. I distinctly remember thinking that there was something odd about Rocky from the day he came to us. He would sleep from 6pm until 9am, hardly moving at all. I thought his little body must still be just detoxing and that it was going to take time to heal. He was always described as an old soul, always watching, and very low key. He sucked his thumb and liked a blankie but was not preferential about any special one. Around 6 mo he started to display odd behaviors and temperaments, even tho he hit all of his developmental milestones on time. For example, he would reach for me to hold him, then when I picked him up, he would immediately squirm to get away or be put down. He would cry or reach for his bottle but when given to him, he would immediately throw it down. He started to refuse to hold his bottle to his mouth or even touch it, waiting all day until he was starving to grab it, and desperately gulp it all down in seconds, and then sort of dissociate or fall asleep. By 8 months, he would crawl around after me, wanting me to sit on the floor, so he could sit in my lap or near me, but when I did, he would turn his back to me and refuse to interact with me. He would touch and explore me, my clothing, hair, glasses, jewelry, or toys I held, but as soon as I tried to engage in his exploration with him, he would shut down and turn away refusing to play or talk. By 9 months, his behaviors were becoming very obtuse. He would cry in a low energy kind of way, really more of a whine with out words, following me everywhere, because he wanted me to pick him up so he could put his thumb in his mouth. Yup, you heard that right. He now refused to or couldn't put his own thumb in his mouth without my picking him up, after which he immediately wanted down or away from me. He would sit on the floor in front of me, and only me, and hold his fist right in front of his mouth and act like he just couldn't get it in there anymore. He did the same thing with bottles and foods. He would cry for them but when given them he would throw himself backwards on the floor, hitting his head and screaming. It was like he would somehow unlearn or sabotage all needs getting met. We took him to his pdr repeatedly and were advised that this would likely look like a mood disorder or ODD, later in life. We were angry with doctors because it just seemed like the answers always were attributed to drug exposure, foster care, etc. No real help suggested. At 1 yr, two significant things occurs. We got another foster baby that was just a year and two days younger than Rocky, and we had difficult child evaluated by Early Childhood Intervention Services. This foster placement resulted uneventfully in another adoption, our 8F. Rocky seemed to really like new baby and our older kids provided most of her care as school was out for summer. difficult child didn't actually didn't qualify for any services at all but after spending several hours in our home, observing difficult child's first sweet, charming behavior, then cold, rejecting behavior towards her when she pushed his hand away from her cell phone or not allowing him to take her glasses off of her face, the Intervention Specialist agreed that there was something very odd about this baby. She pulled some strings for us and qualified him for one hour/week sessions in-home with a behavior therapist. Once therapy was under way, we really believed that things were going to get better. Boy, were we wrong! Every therapy visit netted the same result. difficult child would be very excited as soon as DSI would arrive, squealing, and coming right to her warmly. She would bring bags and boxes, different each time, with colorful interesting developmental toys. She would show them to difficult child and invite him to come and play with them. He would gladly accept but then as soon as gentle little social boundaries were given, like "not in your mouth please", "soft hands please", or "not yet" difficult child would withdraw and refuse to play, turning his back to therapist. No amount of coaxing would persuade him to re-engage. This was standard for all interactions with difficult child. Everyday ended with him mad and pouting. To be completely honest, my parenting, fostering, and home day care experience told me that difficult child was using maladaptive coping skills to manage some deficits in his social skills. It seemed like he was so sensitive emotionally or cognitively, that he simply could not recover from other people telling him no or asking for their wants to be considered too. fast-forwarding thru the next few years, to age four, difficult child seemed to be determined NOT to do anything for himself. He never developed that normal independent childhood drive that says "I want to do it my OWN self!" He refused to undress, dress, and pick up toys. He would state that he "not can do it". He would stand in our driveway and cry that he couldn't walk the 50 feet to the playground equipment, but then when we left him behind and he finally dragged himself to the play area, he ran around like a maniac. He is thin and wiry, extremely strong and physical in play and sports. At 4.5 years, he still refused to have anything to do with potty training and frankly I had just let it go because I just didn't need one more conflict in my day. So the first day of summer, I explained that we were going to use the potty and wear big boy underwear. He explained that he could not and would not be using bathroom or underwear. He is still not dressing or undressing himself at this point at all. Not because he can't, because he won't. When we tried to place his very capable thumbs inside his waste band of his sweat shorts, he would go limp and stare off at the wall, refusing to even try. I decided to tell him that he could come out of his room and start his day when the pull-up was off and in the trash. I'll spare you the details... he sat on his floor, without moving for 4 days, yup, that's right, 4 DAYS!!! no food, no water, no toys, tho they were within reach, simply sat there telling anyone who would listen that "I not can do it and I not gonna do it!" Well, guess what, he could do it and he did, easily. This was the theme for EVERYTHING in his life. He woke up everyday determined to NOT do whatever was asked or required of him. And I waited him out. And it got ugly. Sometimes his emphatic protests to do simple things actually made some of us question whether or not we were asking too much or being to hard on difficult child. It has the only thing my husband and I have ever disagreed about in 20 years of marriage. It has begun to make me feel resentful of the unnecessary stress and standoff drama difficult child insists on daily. difficult child went to a developmental preschool at three, where he essentially learned how to convince others to do everything for him. His IEPs were a joke and he quickly stopped doing many of the things that he did for himself at home. We held him back and started kindergarten late, foolishly thinking that he was maybe just very emotionally immature. difficult child has mastered the art of NOT learning and hindering the learning process. He is very smart and capable but instead exerts all of his energy on avoiding anything and everything he doesn't want to do. These include peeling his tennis shoes, getting lots of drinks, getting lost in the halls, chewing his clothes, books, and anything else he can get into this mouth and no one stops him. He's soft spoken, is small for his size, moves slowly and deliberately, with a very sneaky manner. At first, his k-3 teachers begin the year feeling like they can really connect, encourage and teach him. By the end of the first quarter he has them doing all of his work with him and spoon feeding him all of the answers, shortening or omitting his assignments, not because he can't do them, but because he is so needy and committed to looking helpless that they just don't have the stamina for the inactivity on his part. By Christmas, its always the same. "Rocky is not even trying in my class. He prefers to play with little objects that he has stolen for others and entertain himself instead of follow along with the class. He lies about what work he's done at home. He cheats on tests and copies other kids' work." So here we are today. Almost Christmas, and his third grade teacher is sick of him and I can't blame her. He is only doing a fraction of the work and applying no effort in her class that he did at the beginning of the year. He has repeatedly stolen items from her, chewed up her rulers, torn up all three books they've read as a class from misuse, stepping on them, throwing them, EATING them! We had him tested thoroughly with a neuropsychologist and a neurologist just a few months ago. Results are that he has a moderate speech language disorder, under developed vocab, working memory deficit, and a mood disorder not otherwise specified. He is basically an chronological 9 year old, a physical 7 year old, an emotion 3 year old and medications aren't likely to help. Testing was very expensive and not covered by insurance at all. neuropsychologist recommended bioneurofeedback for difficult child and for us to make every effort to keep him surrounded by high functioning peers. The neuropsychologist also validated my belief that he is not bonded with me or our family. He recommended that my husband do as much of the parenting and pushing with difficult child and allow me to be more of a giver and comforter. In a perfect world, maybe, but so far we haven't made that happen much. difficult child attends a small private school where kids attend school on Tues., Thurs., and Fri. and homeschools a common curriculum Mon. and Wed. It has been much less stressful than 5 days a week of homeschooling, or fulltime school where we spent four hours doing homework every night just trying to keep him up with the class skill level. Now on homeschool days we work on whatever life skill he's lacking most at the moment. I think that the neuro psychiatric evaluation was helpful to show his teachers but I pretty much had a good understanding of his strengths and deficits. I think I've read every book on the topics of Execuitive skills, dyslexia, mood disorder, ODD, ADHD, Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), giftedness, mental retardation, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), adoption, bad moms, victimized kids, motivational tools, etc. None of these are a perfect fit for difficult child. The Manipulative Child book came about as close to defining difficult child's emotional mindset, but the Late, Lost, and Left Behind book described difficult child's learning deficits. The struggle for me is to lower me expectations and do what I feel is enabling so that difficult child can be successful, right Well, he adjusts right along with me. I too believe that kids inherently do as well as they can do, but there is some other force at work here too. I just can't figure out what it is. I think that even tho the dr community has rejected Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) for difficult child, I think he has a toe on the spectrum. He is very rigid in his thinking, all or nothing, over/mis uses the words always and never in almost every sentence. He does not speak about feelings or emotions at all in terms of others. His emo vocab is basically mad, sad, and like. He has no remorse for hurting others, stealing, lying, etc. He is good to pets but will destroy others' belongings if he feels they have wronged or embarrassed him. He is sneaky, plays dumb often about random things that he is an expert on. He has a very difficult time learning from mistakes, I believe because he is so emotionally vulnerable and avoidant of negative feelings that he dissociates and therefore has no hindsight or ability to reflect on the past. He tells me that he doesn't feel anything about me, love or like, but that I make him mad a lot because I let the other kids do and have things that he thinks I know he wants. The other kids in our family avoid him because he's either trying to manipulate them to do for him or argue baseless points with them about things that make no sense. He prefers younger kids than himself, and constantly takes everyone's inventory around him, pointing out how much better everyone else has it than him. We have been very blessed by 7 other kind, accepting kids who constantly model how to be functional, accept authority, earn privileges, and interact in a healthy manner with each other but he seems to be affected by none of it and intentionally does the opposite but expects the same rewards as others achieve. Thank you folks for letting me vent here today as I struggle thru this rough day. Sorry the bio is so long but it comes with the big, weird, different family. : ) Any insight would be greatly appreciated. I feel Im losing the forest thru the trees here!