5 month marker

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by cmh0150, Jan 17, 2010.

  1. cmh0150

    cmh0150 New Member

    We are fostering/adopting our difficult child; today marks the 5th month he has lived with us. Until this week, things were going relatively well; so much so that we were ready to move forward with another foster/adoption.

    Academically, he is doing really well - he is in Special Education due to his emotional issues. He was doing well enough that the school was considering mainstreaming him in a few weeks for one class.

    With his placement with us, we got him a good therapist to help him on his issues; including making this a successful placement. His psychiatric changed his medications from vyvanse to focalin; stopped the noon clonidine. Now, I am thinking we need to revisit that.

    This week, difficult child (who I view as an amazing kid - he has survived multiple foster placements and at least 2 failed adoptions) was suspended from school for a couple of days. The reason was because he bolted from the school and ran away into neighboring woods. The police were called; he was found and returned to school.

    He had started a fight that day (third one this year); that is why he was in crisis. We did the consequences - took his stuff away, which created another emotional crisis which we worked though.

    Now, he has earned one item back (TV in his room). But yesterday, as the day wore on, he was out of sorts, moody - not the worst we have seen but not the best.

    I think one issue that is going on is that since we stopped the noontime clonidine, the fights began at school. So, today, we are going to start him back on the mid day medications.

    Anyway, I share all of this as my first post of substance. Also so that I can hopefully tap into the wealth of experience. As sometimes, I feel I am making this up as we go along and would like to know if we are headed over the cliff.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member


    I've adopted older kids and your child-to-be sounds like he has had a really long line of failed relationships. Does he have attachment disorder? Has he ever been sexually abused (I was told 90% of the kids in foster care have been and that boys are more likely to act out if they were...in fact I've had this happen).

    If you've only had him for five months, and I'm not sure how old he is, I'd like to warn you that he is still on his honeymoon and just to make sure you are aware of the problems you will probably face along the road. This is not for the faint of heart and many of these older foster kids do not really want to be loved...in fact, it scares them. I worry about you with him because I am close to your age (57) and could never go through it again with an older adopted kid who has been "given back" twice. He was obviously quite a problem for the other families. He may be twice as hard for you.

    I'm not convinced medications will fix his problems.

    If you adopt another older child, I would give it at least three years to see how it goes with this one. And make sure the child is not younger or smaller than him. It is not that unusual for older adopted k ids to sexually abuse each other...especially if one is much younger. And, no, you won't know about it or catch them.

    Sorry, not to be more positive. I've been through the mill with this situation and medications are usually not the fix we hope they are. Many of these kids were exposed to drugs and alcohol even before their birth (causing brain damage) and sexual abuse (in bio. home or foster care), multiple caregivers, etc. and they just don't do well in family life. Many lose the ability to love anyone.

    Our child seemed like an angel until we found out he'd killed two of our dogs (this was a few years into the adoption that he got this bold) and had been molesting my two younger adopted children since he'd began making visits before he moved in. The two little ones had been too scared of him to tell us about it as he flashed knives at them and threatened to burn the house down with everyone in it. But around us, he acted like the perfect kid. These situations frighten me. Take care and be aware that love won't fix him.

    Others will come along. I just hope you're going in with your eyes wide open so you don't go through what we did. Have you raised any children before this?
  3. tictoc

    tictoc New Member

    Just wanted to mention the possibility of using a clonidine patch, so you don't have to deal with multiple doses each day or with the crash that sometimes follows. The patch can stay on for up to a week. It can cause some itching, but or pediatrician solved that by prescribing an inhaler to spray directly on the patch site.

    Good luck. Others will have info more specific to your situation.
  4. cmh0150

    cmh0150 New Member

    Thank you for sharing what you have been through and for sharing the insights you have gained.

    I too worry about being in the honeymoon and want to know who this child is or who he will likely be. We want to be able to give him some tools and skills to make a living for himself as an adult.

    This is the first child for us. We talked about this for so many years. Finally decided to go for it; after being the primary caregiver for my mother and moving her in with us. Certainly, it has been one of the most challenging things in our lives but the experience has also been rewarding.

    We also have served as the 'surrogate parents" for partner's brother from when he was in his early 20s and we moved him in with us to now when he has his own kids who he is responsible for and takes care of (he still stays with us but does also spend time with his kids - that is another story).

    With that, we decided we were ready to take on new challenges, even though older than the typical age for child rearing.

    He is 10 and though he does not have a diagnosis of attachment disorder, his SW believes that is an issue. There was a report when he first came in the system of sexual abuse but nothing was verified.

    I understand the medications are not the solution but hope that over time, with the right medications, good therapy and a strong family support system; we will be able to give him a fighting chance for a good life.

    As for the adoption/fostering of another child, our thought was that this might help him adjust more to family life. Perhaps we are still naive about what these older children who are in the system have been through. Certainly, I do not want to complicate things. But we know there is such a need out there and still want to help. We will think about this carefully.

    We probably are not aware of how draining this will be. The failed relationships that he has had are all the signs that we are in for a real battle. I don't know all I need to know about this situation. But we are willing to go as far as we can.

  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hon, you're not a kid. It was hard for me when I did over a decade ago and when the kid left, we were relieved. Don't get another child thinking it will make this one more comfortable. He would probably do better alone than with another child, who is also likely to have issues. I'm pretty sure it would drain you. And this boy isn't a kid who will attach to a sibling. He may abuse him, worse a her. They may even abuse one another. There is a reason I warn everyone who adopts to adopt an infant. I've adopted six times. The eleven year old was a nightmare from hell and I think our experience, while extreme, is not unusual.

    I haven't heard many good outcomes about older child adoption. I know there is a great need for families. That's why we adopted R., the eleven year old. We wanted to give a chance to the child least likely to be adopted. He was an older boy who had lived in his last foster home for five years and his foster mother said he was a good kid (haha...he really fooled her as he did us for three years). We are very jaded now and would never ever do it again. Not for all the money in the world. It was the most devastating experience of our lives. A lot of these kids end up in residential treatment centers or jail or abuse us or our animals...I'd be careful of your mother. Yes, I know it sounds awful, but you don't really know what he is all about. You may never know. If he has been in that many foster homes, he certainly does have attachment disorder issues. Adoption workers want to place the kids. I know first hand that they not only don't always tell the truth; they often don't even know the truth.

    I hope you chose not to adopt another child. in my opinion it would be best for everyone, including your mother and this child just to concentrate on him. If you are bound and determined to do it again, I would NEVER get a girl. To me, that's just asking for trouble. But I wouldn't adopt another child before he has been with you for three years. I think he should see an attachment therapist with you as well. I'm surprised nobody suggested that.

    I wish you all good luck.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2010
  6. cmh0150

    cmh0150 New Member

    I appreciate your words and insight; I shared them with my SO and we will go slowly. Your suggestion for a Therapist who focuses on attachment issues is one we will followup on.

    Also, while we do not want to be the third fam to turn away; we will proceed cautiously and slowly with adoption.
  7. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member


    Like MWM, we adopted children from foster care. Kanga came to us at almost 6 from 2 previous homes including a pre-adoptive home that didn't work out. These kids are rough. If we knew then what we know know, life would be very different. Our other kids were a bit younger (almost 5, almost 3 and an infant) and I would adopt them again in a heartbeat! But I do know several families that did older child adoption, including a few Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) kids, ages up to 16, and they were successful. The children are grown now, doing well, and still come home for visits and holidays, etc.

    I would take a nice, long time before finalizing the adoption. I would also have a tough-as-steel lawyer negotiate your subsidy (you want it to include residential treatment as rx by a psychiatrist).

    We had a great therapist who told us to stop taking things away from Kanga as a punishment because she had suffered enough loss in her life and overreacted to that type of punishment. Have you tried having him do something as a punishment? If he can write, maybe have him write an essay about what happened, how it felt, how he handled it, how the adults handled it and what everyone could have done to prevent it or handle it better. Another suggestion was having her take a walk with us until she was calm -- those walks could be long!

    Good luck and welcome!
  8. cmh0150

    cmh0150 New Member

    Those are good suggestions and ones we tried.

    In addition to taking things away (which we have now restored), what I did was to write out 4 questions, ranging from asking him to write out why he did what he did with regard to each out of control behavior he exhibited to writing out what he would do to keep from having similar behavior.

    I asked him to write in no less than 1000 words (that did not work out as that was more words than he could handle and we modified it to make sure that he wrote as much as he could write). He wrote well enough that it seemed there was a connection. I know however that he is a very savy kid, who knows how and what to say. So, all with a degree of skepticism.

    I appreciate hearing that there can be success with older adoptions - we hope that this can be one of those stories. But we are prepared if not.

    There is more to the story, of course. As time passes, more will unfold.
  9. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    The other adoptive mom's have said all that I would contribute.

    All I would offer is support in whatever decision & the reminder to have a tough family lawyer to negotiate the adoption subsidy. Be prepared to walk away - states always pull that one; deal's off we're taking the child. In that case, remain fosters.

    Don't let the adoption people push you until you know (via a private evaluation) what you are dealing with.

    Good luck & keep us updated.
  10. cmh0150

    cmh0150 New Member

    the private evaluation is what others recommended when we also were struggling with IEP issues; we will followup on this.

    when we were still doing the visitations, we had already consulted with an attorney for the adoption but had not signed the retainer; now that time has passed, we should do that....

    i did not know you could negotiate the subsidy - we were concerned about that as difficult child has a history of residential treatments - and we did not know how, if needed, we could afford that, if needed.

    we are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst
  11. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I feel I am making this up as we go along and would like to know if we are headed over the cliff.

    Join the crowd!!!

    I, too, worry about you adopting 2 kids.

    I am glad you are moving slowly.

    These children are severely injured and it may take a lifetime to heal. You have a lot of love, but your stamina may wane.

    we are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst

    Indeed. Wise words.
  12. cmh0150

    cmh0150 New Member

    So, I debated whether to make this a new message with new subject - I came up with a couple of catchy subjects: "The Worst Begins: 2nd Suspension" or ""Y'all So Know Your Stuff" but they all relate to the earlier post and good information I got earlier. So I thought I would just continue so I won't have to repeat that history.

    Well, difficult child was suspended last week for two days - his behavior at school was out of control. It took a couple of teachers to get him to shut up. Basically, he was mouthing back to his teacher. He continued; she sent him to the Crisis Room. He continued and bolted out of that room to another teacher's room, yelling. The teachers had to grab him by his shirt collar to get him under control.

    Now, we got the notice from the school, saying that are going to need to re-evaluate him.

    Not really sure what that means - and would appreciate some insight from anyone.

    As for where we are now with the adoption; we have decided to hold that off. We need to see who this child is and also need to know that he really wants this to work (versus being happy that it is not the institution that he was at.)
  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    All I can tell you is that you probably will never find all the answers including who this kid really is. Most kids at his age have attachment issues, but some can put on a good act that they love you, especially when they want money or toys. I wish I could give you better advice...we never really did find out why our adopted boy was as dangerous as he turned out to be. The boy himself didn't know or have memories of his early life.

    I'm glad you're taking your time. Any kid who was in two disrupted adoptions had some serious issues. The other parents probably tried their best to help him too and it didn't work out. Nobody wants to disrupt an adoption.

    good luck as you continue your journey.
  14. cmh0150

    cmh0150 New Member

    The advice and words that you and the others have given has been the one point of clarity that we have had in this process.

    Looking back over how we got here, it feels that there was a conspiracy of silence to some degree by the cadre of social workers and professionals. Certainly, we had a big role in this as we were blinded of our own volition by our desire to expand our family.

    But had we known that difficult child had been suspended 5 to 6 times previously (he shared that with me when I asked him); we likely would not have gone forward.

    Anyway, it is what it is and we will do the best we can.
  15. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I can not tell you how many times I have read on this site a foster mom or adoptive mom finding out that the agency had hid critical information from them during the process.

    Do not trust that you have heard everything - even if they say you have.

    You can love this boy all you want, it will not fix him. You can be there for him and help guide his medical & academic future. There will be many trying times. For sure get whatever subsidy you can from the agency you are dealing with.

    I really worry about your mom. This has got to be so much tension for her to live out her last years. Sad.
  16. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    A teacher should never grab a child by the collar to make him be quiet. That is abusive.

    It sounds like he needs a more supportive/restrictive placement. Is he currently in an ED room in a regular school or at an ED school?
  17. cmh0150

    cmh0150 New Member

    Thanks - for what it is worth, this situation with my Mom is better than it was. One reason she is with us is because those who were supposed to be caring for her (my sis and her grown sons), were in fact being taken care of by her. They basically were/are leeches (sp?).

    But you are right - it is stressful seeing her difficult child being suspended but I remain hopeful and perhaps naively so, that we are going to slowly help him understand what it means to live in a functioning and caring family.
  18. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Don't let him near your mom without supervision. He could hurt her.

    I hate to be negative, but it is unlikely that he will ever learn to like living in a family or being loved. It enrages many kids and makes them even worse. He's simply too old and been through too much. I would keep him as a foster child until he is eighteen (if he lasts that long) but in my opinion it's best not to adopt him. Then it gets pricey if he has to be removed...then you have to pay child support. I know...first hand.
  19. cmh0150

    cmh0150 New Member

    I wondered about that.

    He is in a ED class in a regular school. However, he ran from his ED classroom to a regular classroom where teachers grabbed him to calm him down. Ironically, it was the classroom of the one teacher who he liked and who he hoped he would be mainstreamed with (prior to these suspensions).

    One thing the social worker suggested was that we ask for an IEP meeting to discuss what is going on; he can and has achieved maximum points in the classroom.
  20. cmh0150

    cmh0150 New Member

    So, to close the loop - we did not need to get an attorney to negotiate; we got the maximum subsidy we were eligible for. difficult child had a strong advocate as a social worker and she ensured we got all we were eligible for.

    Adoption was finalized in Spring; about a month after my Mama's death (she lived with us and became a genuine grandmama for difficult child while we were fostering).

    He is now in mainstream school and doing relatively well though struggling with all the new freedom.

    I just wanted to update all as I appreciate this space as it helped me sort through things when no one else could.