Another Newbie Here and question at the bottom of the LONG post

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by wintak, May 11, 2011.

  1. wintak

    wintak New Member

    Hi all

    I've read some of your posts and many of you are describing my difficult child. Holy cow. It's nice to know I'm not alone out here, but also depressing as it doesn't seem there are any "cures".

    My SO travels up to 30 days at a time, home no more than 7 days at a time so I'm essentially a single parent most of the time. difficult child is unbelievable. At 3 he told me he wished I was dead, at 5 he threatened to kill me with a knife and at 7 he attempted a choke hold on me. We've been in therapy off and on since he was 4.

    difficult child used to rage. At times I'd sit in daughters room, back to her door holding her and the baby as difficult child screamed with uncontrollable rage, banging and kicking on the door to the point it would physically move me. That passed before we got him on medications, thank goodness, but that was a good couple years of that.

    1st therapist simply didn't believe "such a sweet angelic child" could do that. 2nd therapist got to see a video of him in a complete rage.

    Had him in a montessori school where it was a mutual understanding that he wasn't a Montessori kid. I put him there because he HATES taking orders from adults (even at 4) so I figured he could lead himself to things that interest him. He ended up cutting a teachers shirt with scissors, holding a knife to another teacher (granted a butter knife but a knife is a knife at 4) and killing the catepillars waiting to be butterflies because he shook the cage.

    An evaluation by ChildFind at 4 1/2 said he was learning despite himself (his words) and no ADD/HD.

    Off to kindy in a traditional school where academically he did well, but socially didn't do so well. He was a bully and was bullied. He stole, he lied (oh wait, he still does). Then this year he got in a charter school after a 3 year wait on a Way To Go list. This school changes classes/teachers every hour so he doesn't have any one teacher more than an hour at a time. WHile I do NOT agree with what he's learning...they don't push him AT ALL so he's getting A's and B's and truly thinking that it's pretty easy to get through school.

    He is a liar, disrespectful as ALL can be, lashes out at home for NO REASON. and NOTHING is his fault. He got in trouble at school cuz someone drew a funny picture and MADE him laugh, he did XYZ because ABC MADE him do it. You get the idea. At school he holds it together. He's been diagnosis'd with mood disorder and ADD/HD. We've been in IOP (intensive outpatient therapy) 3x a week for 5 weeks where he was a perfect angel, a model patient. Meanwhile I'm in the next room saying how awful things are at home.

    I've been told I have to keep him active and DOING things all the time. Yeah, well, I have THREE kids, 2 of whom like free time, down time and chill out time. He pesters his siblings and me incessantly. He won't leave me alone when I need some alone time. He sucks the life out of me. He is needy and won't try things, has no opinion or any particular likes or dislikes. He has no real desire to work at ANYTHING.

    He goes to therapy but then at home says he's not going to use the tools they give him, he doesn't WANT to try and he's not GOING to listen to ANYONE, he can do what he wants.

    I've been told to let go of SO many things. The other 2 see that (in their young eyes) there are no consequences for him and his mouth/actions. He has no jobs other than to wash his sheets when he urinates on them (he doesn't WANT to get out of bed, it's warm when he pees on himself and he's too tired to make it to the bathroom and he can't find it etc). Like a recent post, I don't fight anymore, I just do the stuff that he SHOULD be doing because everything is such a freakin fight if he's in a mood.

    They are now recommending in home therapy and/or group therapy (as in he leaves the house and lives in a group home). Has anyone tried either one of those?

    If you've read this far, thank you. I have literally no where to turn. My other two kids are the opposite end of the spectrum of him and my daughter can only take so much more before I fear she's going to break (and I don't know what that'll look like). I expect SO much more out of her (and she's 5) than I do him. I've been told that emotionally difficult child is lower than my 3 year old. Intellectually he's typical, emotionally...not so much
  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    If you can stand it and if it offers, I would accept the group home option. Your other kids need the respite and so do you. The other kids need to know what is normal, and that this behaviour is not acceptable. otherwise the problems will only get worse as he gets older, then ramp up when you have the other kids following through with learned bad behaviour.

    Does he have a diagnosis? Because this behaviour is not normal and is not acceptable. A lot of the violence you describe, could be laid at the door of a raging child. I wouldn't be too fussed about the history of knives etc, so much as the general history of raging and violence. As the child learns to find other ways to cope with frustration, raging tends to ease. The dangerous child is one who will coldly, calculatedly pick up a knife and threaten someone with it. Not simply as a rage response, but in a determined effort to get their own way in something.

    But a lot of the other things you describe certainly sound in desperate need of treatment. Whatever strategies are suggested to try at home, need to be strategies that can actually be implemented by you and not some therapist throwing you in the deep end and setting yuo up for failure.

    Handing him over to someone else, to a group environment where other people are stepping up to actually work with him in practical ways - it could be just what he needs, as well as what you need.

  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member


    I see that your child was adopted. I adopted four kids and have a few questions that could help all of us try to help you. First of all, was your child adopted as an infant? If so, did his birthmother take drugs or drink while she was pregnant? This question is MAJOR. Does she or the birthfather have any serioius behavioral problems or mental health issues (or both). In my adoption group, we have found, kind of to our amusement, that our adopted kids resemble their birthparents more than us even when they have never met them. A lot of temperament seems to us (this hardy group of adoptive parents) to be inherited. Also, older adopted children usually suffer from some form of attachment problems. The attachment problems can cause some extremely serious behavior.

    Did your child have any delays or quirks when he was younger and now? Any obsessions? Can he transition from one activity to another without raging? Does he know how to relate to his same age peers?

    Adopted kids are more complicated t han biological kids because often we just don't know that much about the background. I don't want to totally discourage you. My older adopted kids are doing great and I am extremely close to both of my adopted daughters. I am closer to them than to my biological son.
  4. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    I was going to suggest many of the same things MWM brought up. This sounds very much like the tweedles (who my late husband & I adopted at the tender age of 6). wm, especially, would go off into rages, bully, & to be very honest, charm the pants off of many of the professionals we saw with him.

    I agree, take the offer of group home ~ you need the respite. Don't push yourself to the point of no return physically, mentally or emotionally. If you aren't healthy & don't have regular respite you lose yourself into the antics & chaos that our "little wonders" bring into our homes.

    To answer your questions, I've had in home staff here for over 8 years now. Both kt & wm have been in Residential Treatment Center (RTC) settings; wm has been in a therapeutic foster home (has been for 5 years as he wasn't safe to his twin or myself). Foster mum, foster dad & I co-parent wm as a whole. wm will never ever question a decision or attempt to triangulate the situation as foster parents & I talk frequently & have a rock solid relationship. We're on the same page.

    kt has in home respite (our respite programs our dwindling quickly) & an Integrated Listening Systems (ILS) staff. I have staff in here 7 days a week now. wm has Integrated Listening Systems (ILS) & respite to give foster mum & dad a break.

    The interventions have helped to an extent as it's taken the pressure of me on a daily basis.

    Mental health care team for the tweedles is strong & knows me well enough to not be snowed my the tweedles "charming" personality. kt & wm are both diagnosis'd with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), complex PTSD, & bipolar not otherwise specified. The attachment disorder & PTSD has involved & still does, years of therapy with a therapist specializing in adoptive & attachment disorders.

    Please keep us updated. Take the respite & enjoy time with the rest of your family with-o the stressors that are difficult child.
  5. wintak

    wintak New Member

    Thanks ladies...we got him home at 10 mos, he's from Guatemala. We know nothing about the birth mother other than her name and he was the 2nd child born to her. I don't know even how he was born (c-section or not). I know the possible fathers name, but again, no history. He had been in foster care for the 10 mos. The therapists are telling me that is the worst age I could have taken him home. Well, I didn't have a choice, the gov'Tourette's Syndrome of the US and Guat don't really like each other, at least at that time. He was SUPPOSED to have come home at 4 mos. I know pretty close to nothing about the foster family other than it was a man and a woman and 2 of their children. Many of the pix are of my son propped up with a bottle in his mouth.

    I have no idea if the birth mother did drugs or alcohol, although we were told that in GENERAL they don't do drugs or drink alcohol in excess. He doesn't have features of a Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) baby.

    As a youngster, he was VERY verbal, VERY early. People were amazed at how well he spoke and wanted him tested for GT. Finally relented, had him tested for GT where he scored lower on the test than if he had guessed on every question. Clearly he didn't want to take it, or didn't bother to listen to instructions etc. That brought up the Learning Disability (LD) issue so we had him tested AGAIN where he scored "typical" no Learning Disability (LD).

    He is not as well spoken now, at the end of 2nd grade. He insists on talking baby talk and no one has ever spoken to any of my kids in baby talk. He's difficult to understand at times, but if you ask him to repeat in a voice you can understand, he will. I don't see any obsessions and he's pretty open to change...that doesn't necessarily set him off unless he's not going to get his way when he wants something. He gets absolutely ****** off if he tells me something and I don't understand. And I try, to empathsize, mirror, reflect, approach non threateningly...all the tools they want me to use. I explain that (in this case) I don't go to his school so I don't understand what he's talking about and then he really gets peeved. I usually end the conversation there cuz he can get me really mad pretty quickly sometimes so I "disengage and walk away" (another tool therapy suggests).

    Peer to peer relationships have been a problem, but I think he's doing better. Or at least that's what the school is telling me but then again just the other day a little girl said hi to him and he totally blew her off. So she said Hi again and he ignored her and she finally came right up to him and said..HI, how are you/? He just answered fine and turned away. It was a little girl in his class but it was like he didn't know how to act. I know he's got some friends who are peers, but they, too are socially awkward. He tends to think the older kids want to be his friends. When he was younger the girls would think he was cute. The girls would fawn on him and call him cute and he thought they were friends.

    So you'd do group? Anybody try in home therapy? The only problem is difficult child will be an angel, easy child#1 will talk their ear off and easy child#2 will stick his thumb FIRMLY in his mouth and cling to me. :)
  6. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    We've done in home therapy for the tweedles. It gives the therapist coming in a different perspective of the ongoing situation with your difficult child. I would just sit back & listen or attend to one thing or another during therapy for kt; the in home therapist began to see the ongoing dissociative states, the some days infant like state & then back to 16 y/o kt. kt couldn't hold it together in her own home during the therapy while she can & does in the therapist's office.

    It was very eye opening to the entire mental health team. The same has/is happening with wm for his in home therapist.

    In home therapy helped for quite a while then we decided it was time to head back to attachment therapist with in home therapist checking in every other month for "fine tuning" home & family issues.
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    With his early history, and being propped to take a bottle rather than held, I'd be thinking of attachment problems. There is no good age to adopt a child other than straight from the hospital. But if you can't, it is best if the foster parents were loving, attentive, consistent and nurturing. If an infant or toddler does not get his needs met as an infant he soon learns that he has to depend only on himself and can have serious attachment issues that linger. I would not discount this as a reason why he is acting out. Has he ever seen somebody who is very knowledgeable about adopted children? Your child, like my four adopted kids, were not only adopted...they are culturally different from you and that can sometimes make the children feel like they don't really belong in the family.

    I would want a neuropsychologist assessmet to see what is going on with your child. I do not trust school district testing at all. They are very basic. Are your other children also adopted or is he the only one? I think sometimes if only one is adopted, that child feels like he doesn't belong, no matter how much we love and nurture that child. I made sure after we adopted one asian child that we also adopted another. Likewise, after we adopted our African-American son, our next child was part African-American.

    Adopted kids ARE different than our biological kids. There is always a bit of them feeling like they were rejected...all four of my adopted children have said this.

    Plus not knowing the birth history becomes a problem too regarding genetics. Keep us posted on your progress. We care :)
  8. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Interesting that the adoption theme has come out in the thread as when I read your original post I was struck by something in the way you were talking about your son that seemed to imply some attachment problems between you - and then I looked at your signature and saw that he was adopted... If it is not very indiscreet (obviously feel no pressure to answer if it is), did you adopt him because you thought you were unable to have children and then went on to have biological children? I know that this, strangely, often happens.
    I have quite a few friends who adopted children at around the same time as I did, from the two creches for abandoned children in Marrakesh. I also used to go to one of these creches once or twice a day for three months to visit J (from when he was one week old to three months old when he came to live with us). Probably pretty similar to the set-up in Guatemala. The children were just left alone to cry most of the time and they were often fed by a bottle being propped up against them. And yet... how the child turns out does also seem to be something of a mystery. One friend adopted a boy and a girl together, when the boy was 9 months and the girl 10 months. She was a close friend and I saw the family often when we lived in Marrakesh so spent a lot of time with the children. The boy seemed "normal", outgoing, cheeky, affectionate whereas the girl seemed to have problems - barely spoke, very timid, quite sly and secretive. And then another friend who adopted a boy when he was THREE years old after having been found wandering around on the streets, apparently abandoned and having spent the night alone - well, that boy is just remarkably well adjusted to all appearances. Now seven and no particular behavioural or emotional problems. Of course you can never tell what is going to happen with adopted children later, at adolescence, and I have read and heard a fair bit about how deep and common emotional problems with adopted children are. But... the problem is one just doesn't know what is due to the adoption and what to other factors. Especially, as you say, when you just have no history to go on. You said something about facial features of children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) - can you say what these are?
    We often talk about attachment problems coming from the side of the child and much less so about them coming from the side of the parents. But I think that can be an issue. Sometimes bonding is not natural in the way it is with a biological child and I wonder if this becomes especially true if the child is "difficult"?
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

  10. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I am also thinking of attachment problems and reactive attachment disorder. I hope this is NOT the case because it is a very hard diagnosis to have and to share a home with. I think if you can get the group home therapy it might be a good thing. Your other children need to be a factor in this decision also. It is entirely possible that he is doing things to the other kdis that you cannot see, esp as he has been a bully at school. My son terrorized my daughter at night after we were in bed. He wasreally good at sneaking aorund and at getting her not to tell. He made awful threats and she believed them. After he was in a phsop for several months hef inally showed them a rage and then made a list of all the things he had done to his sister. It was terrifying and took both sides of a piece of paper. NOT paragraph form, just lists of what he had done. Written bigger than if it was lined paper, but still horrifying and numerous. ALL of my kids have had a lot of therapy before and after then.

    You need to get ALL of your kids into therapy. If you don't want to do the group home right now, have the in home therapists come as often as possible. Timerlady has more experience with that than many of us, and is right that they will see things that they won't ever see in an office visit. I am sorry that you all have to cope with this.

    Be SURE to have him checked for sensory integration disorder by an Occupational Therapist (OT). Schools have OTs but usually they only look for how Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) will impact school. Private Occupational Therapist (OT)'s tend to be much more thorough. Sensory issues/Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) can cause all sorts of problems that you wouldn't think they would cause. The therapy can be very very helpful.

    It would be an awesome thing to create a Parent Report for each child. Esp difficult child, but the others will likely have probls because him so one for each of them would also be helpful. This is a document that you create and keep in a 3 ring binder. Years ago some of the warrior moms here created the outline and it had helped many of us. It keeps everything in one place where you can find it - likes, dislikes, development, mood journals, doctor visits, what you have tried and what the results were, who you have seen and what they did and how well it did or didn't work. It has to be updated frequently but it will really help you get a handle on things. The link in my signature will take you to the thread in the archives that describes it and has the outline. If you already have something similr, this can help you add anything that you may have forgotten.

    Most of all, stick around. We are not just a community here - we are a real family. We truly care about each other and will do all we can to help. OF course we cannot diagnose, but we have a lot of experience and info and can help give you ideas of what it might or might not be and what may or may not help. with-o this forum I do NOT think my Wiz would be in college, with straight A's, no police record and be a happy, fairly well adjusted kid. He would be in prison or dead because he killed himself or one of us. NOt exaggerating - that is where he was headed and the help and support here gave me the strength and resourcefulness and info to change all of that.

    Welcome to our family! Happy to meet you but sorry you needed to find us.
  11. wintak

    wintak New Member

    I've asked Therapist #2 about Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and she kind of dismissed it. And the current therapists have, also. I'm sure at this point I do have some attachment issues with him. I've only written the tip of the iceberg, there's so much more that has happened. Current psychiatrist asked if this was a "failed adoption" and in my mind I'm thinking..uh, no,..he came home but she meant that some kids do not "fit" with the adopted family. I didn't ask what we do in that case. I didn't want to hear the answer. Might have to ask next week. She tries to get me to say I hate him sometimes and I won't say it. I'm deathly afraid if I say the wrong thing they'll send someone to the house and I'll lose all 3. I'm sure that's an unfounded issue in my mind, but it's there. I don't like his behaviour. I don't like that EVERY FREAKIN THING I SAY to that child somehow begins a fight and always ends up being MY fault (in his mind). That's why I give up so much with him, I'm so tired of fighting. It's ALWAYS my fault that he's mad, sad (aka smad as we've termed it in the house) or angry. I'm mean, he hates me (screams that pretty regularly). IF it was a Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) then why would he not even TRY coping skills with the anger? I've read up on Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and ODD and all the other acronyms (and autism spectrum) and he's got a ton of practically ALL the acronym symptoms. And my adult mind just doesn't get this. I can't comprehend why a child who looks "typical" would act like a 2 or 3 year old emotionally.
    He does pick all the time on his sister, verbally. School is her sanctuary according to her teacher and from what I can gather.

    Funny that SusieStar mentioned terrorizing after bedtime....sometimes he'll walk in my room in the middle of the night, just stare at me (I wake up and have chill bumps going up and down my body) and then after a few minutes leave. I don't know if he's sleepwalking...I seriously get scared when he does that. That is SO creepy

    Thanks for letting me vent. I may end up doing that quite a bit. As a mother, I can't fathom how it would make my child feel if I sent him away to a group home. Wouldn't that make him feel even MORE unloved (if that's how he feels). WOuldn't it make him feel like we didn't want him?
  12. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Hi wintak. It is a puzzle to me, personally, that you have been told attachment is not an issue. I suspect that you are being told this by people who have no special understanding of adoption or abandonment/attachment crises in adopted children. Do please read "The Primal Wound" by Nancy Newton Verrier, if you have not already done so. I think it should be required reading for all adopting parents - I was originally put onto it by a friend who had been adopted and who had found it deeply truthful about her experience.
    It is not to say that everything spoken about in the book is going to be obviously true in every case. But I think it gives some useful pointers. Here's just a few things she says about the TERROR that adopted children can have of being abandoned again and how this translates into difficult behaviour with their adoptive parents:
    "...Like other victims of trauma, adoptees often turn their rage at the unspeakable thing that happened to them [ie being abandoned by the birth mother] on their caretakers. Although some reunited adoptees speak of feeling rage for their birthmothers or for the society which caused their separation from her, many will say that they feel no ill-will toward her but have all their lives exhibited oppositional behavior and intense rage toward their adoptive parents. Paradoxically they feel a tremendous dependency upon and need to connect to those same adoptive parents. This ambivalence is the source of great confusion and enigmatic behavior. Not understanding the unconscious source of this behavior, parents think that their children should be able to change it at will [...] One reason that the difficult child is sent into treatmet is that the parents can no longer cope with his behavior. And with good reason: the provocation and aggression caused by the anxiety about a further rejection become more and more destructive and unbearable to the parents as the child tests their commitment to him. The provocative behavior often plays into the parents' insecurities about being good enough parents and into their own rejection issues. They then become defensive and retaliatory, instead of understanding and steadfast. Sadly their defensive reactions often produce the very outcome which the adoptee feared in the first place: abandonment - being sent out of the home to residential treatment centers, boarding schools or simply out on the street. If the adoptees' behaviors were seen as attempts to avoid pain rather than deliberate provocation of the parents, the parents might be able to identify the signs of manifestations of that trauma and help their child integrate it."
    It is very difficut but it is your responsibility as the adoptive parent to find out and understand what is happening with your adopted child. I really would urge you to find a therapist who SPECIALISES in adoption and attachment issues. As for sending him away - you and your family need a respite, that is clear and totally understandable. But my own fear is that sending your son away would tap precisely into the abandonment terror that Nancy Verrier describes, would be seen and lived as a rejection on your part, and would not be a productive move. It would also be my intuition that your biological children are a source of fear and stress for your adopted son - unconsciously, probably, he sees them as threatening his place in your hearts and your home. Their place is assured, natural... but his?
    I don't think the adoption can be an irrelevant issue for you all.
  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    An adoption specialist would know more about attachment issues than this therpaist. Remember, therapy is not an exact science and they bring their own biases into each session. Find somebody who works exclusively with adopted kids. We have one that does. He's a psychologist, by the way, and he's GREAT. It makes a big differnece! Every situation is also different. If he is a threat to your other children, you may have no choice but to parent him from a distance. We adopted a child who sexually abused (for two years) our two youngest kids. It was bad abuse too and our two youngest were too afraid of him to tell us...he threatened to burn the house down with all of us in it and they believed him. Trust me, he did not act like this at all in front of us, the parents. He had reactive attachment disorder. He is gone. I don't recommend you take those measures, because it doesn't seem that he has sexually violated your younger kids, but your other kids still deserve a peaceful home. Him standing over you at night and staring at you, gave me goosbumps. That is pretty strange behavior. (((Hugs)))
    Last edited: May 13, 2011
  14. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    It's not about you being attached ~ it's about your difficult child & his ability to bond or "attach" to you & your family. As to someone taking all your children versus just the child with the issues is stretching your imagination.

    This may indeed may an adoption that's failed or needs to be disrupted. AND you will feel guilt, remorse, sadness ~ you'll likely feel a weight lifted off your shoulders as well. However it's you & your husband to make that decision - psychiatrist is likely "being the bad guy" to help you sort this out. Only you can tell if this adoption can succeed. The only way it will succeed is if you get some help for your difficult child ~ your entire family. difficult child appears to need extensive treatment; you as a family need respite.
  15. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Just wanted to add to the above, wm is my son yet he's lived away from me for going on 5 years now. He wasn't safe here. I have no shame in saying that husband & I couldn't parent him while keeping kt safe at the same time.
  16. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I would also add that NOBODY, including social services, judged us negatively at all when we relinquished our adopted son back to the state after he had raped (repeatedly) my younger kids. Nobody. Are you certain this child is safe around your other kids? I worry because I never dreamed this horror could happen in my loving house and I always thought that, because I had spoken to my other kids about "bad" and "good" touching and had assured them we would always believe THEM, that if anyone violated the younger two, they would tell us. But once a child sexually violates a child, he appears more powerful than God to those kids. Not all kids can be saved (a very sad story we learned the hard way). Some not only shouldn't be in families, but do better without families. Standing over you at night is creepy. Maybe he does this to the other kids. Gold help me, maybe he touches them or is thinking about it? I would buy a alarm at Radio Shack so that he can not leave his room at night without waking you up so you can watch w here he is going and w hat he is doing.

    Please guard yourself and your precious younger ones as well as trying to help the difficult child. If we had not let go of uber-difficult child sexual abuser, my other two kids would be as messed up as he is. I think that they are doing so well because they got so much help and saw with their own eyes that we put the blame where it belonged...on him. If we had kept him in our lives, with them so afraid of him, I doubt anyone in our family would have ever recovered. These are very hard choices we have to make. I also will note, many on this board have had to make similar "should I or shouldn't I" decisions about biological children. Dangerous is dangerous. If you have an only child, you have more leeway than if other, especially younger kids could be at risk.

    Please be careful. Don't let it go as far as we did (although we didn't even know what was going on...I felt so stupid). More big hugs. We are on your side.