New to board-Daughter ADHD with-ODD???

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by luv my ottb, Jan 16, 2008.

  1. luv my ottb

    luv my ottb Member

    difficult child is 10 years old, 4th grade. Academically behind, emotionally immature, has definite anger issues.

    She was adopted, bm smoked, drank and did amphetamines until the 6th month of pregnancy. difficult child was 6 weeks premature and weighed in at 4lb and 13oz.. Very active toddler and suspected ADHD in preschool.

    She was diagnosed ADHD by neuropsychologist and put on adderall for focus at school. Helped somewhat and we added a mood stablilizer Depakote and Abilify to even her out from afternoon crashing of stimulant. Psychiatrist suspected early onset bipolar also.

    difficult child has an IEP in place, gets extra tutoring at school. We also pay for extra tutoring one day a week at a learning center that specializes in kids with ADHD and other disablities.

    difficult child is explosive, angry and whiny. She is manipulative, argumentative, lies, hits, kicks and is verbally crappy at home. She has threatened to kill me and herself. She has an unusual need to be the center of attention. At school, she holds the behavior in and doesn't let it show to others. So she can control it! She exploded over no coffee ice cream before dinner and it turned into a huge row. Emergency phone call to therapist who could hear her raging. I took her to the police deparment that night after she calmed down for a scared straight talk. Not sure how effective that was.

    We go to counseling therapy once a week, sometimes improvement, sometimes not. My sister in law who is a mental health counselor has give me the advice recently to detach and save myself from this child. Report her to the police. So has therapist. So I have been getting really good at it, but it really goes against my mothering instincts.

    husband, easy child and me are at the end of our ropes. We don't like difficult child. Our family is on edge and we have no idea what it is like to be normal. This board seems like a good place for me to be right now. Many of you have it much worse than me.

    We have an appoinment with new psychiatrist on Friday. There is so much more going on with this child (bipolar) perhaps than just ADHD if that is even a correct diagnosis. I hate the thought of going to the psychiatric dr and just giving me a pat on the head and new medications to try. This kid needs some type of serious evalution and services!!! I am afraid of getting my hopes up for help.

    Thanks for listening and I really find solace on this board.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    HI and welcome to the board. My first bit of advice is to take this child to a neuropsychologist. You'll get in my opinion a much better evaluation than you've gotten so far. Now, here's my wonderful story (sarcastic tone of voice here).
    I have a son we adopted at two whose birthmother did a lot of drugs. He tested positive for crack cocaine as an infant and I assume his birthmother, if she didn't mind crack, hardly said "no" to drinking and/or other drugs. Unfortunately, our children's development in utero can be severely affected by their birthmother's behaviors and some is not reversible. Your child could have alcohol affects, even if she doesn't have the whole syndrome and, if she does, it really isn't treatable other than to keep a close eye on her so that she doesn't do things that can hurt her or get her into trouble. My son fortunately does not seem to have symptoms of alcohol affects, but he is on the autism spectrum and the neuropsychologist and Psychiatrists believe it could be because his birthmom didn't say "no" to drugs and alcohol. There is a higher rate of autism amongst those exposed to substances.
    Has this child ever been to a clinic that can assess damages from alcohol? Believe it or not, alcohol is more dangerous than the drugs. That can cause impulsively, swiss-cheese thinking (the child may remember something one day and totally forget it the next day), a lack of ability to control themselves (organic brain damage) and many other delightful issues. We took our son to a wonderful clinic in Downtown Chicago for evaluation. Unfortunately, I don't think regular professionals, who don't understand the issues of substance abuse in utero, often can't nail what's wrong with our kids. Trust me, it took us forever with my son. He is really doing well now, but he dodged the fetal alcohol spectrum bullet. Still, it is unlikely he will ever be 100% independent, but he'll be able to live well in a group home setting as he no longer has behavior problems (he has serious interventions). I think you will have a hard time getting the right diagnosis and the right medications, and recommend continuing to evaluate her, hopefully with those who understand what alcohol and other drugs can do to a developing fetus. This is not a "typical" child who can be taken for an evaluation and at least had good pre-natal treatment. This is a child who was abused in the womb and, unfortunately, can have sustained permanant consequences of his birthmother's lovely behavior. Good luck, keep trucking, and welcome to the board (again).
  3. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    Hi, welcome to the board! You have found a soft, safe place to land.

    I agree with midwest mom, your child is a good candidate for an evaluation by a neuropsychologist. They are hard to get, the wait is long, the test is long, but it is oh so worth it. It is very intense and thorough.

    I would suggest picking up a copy of Ross Greene's Explosive Child for some strategies on dealing with your little darling handful. As it is, you are doing the right thing by keeping your family safe, but perhaps this can help you head off some of the outbursts before they get out of hand.

    Glad you found us. Sorry you had to.
  4. luv my ottb

    luv my ottb Member

    Thanks for the responses. It is good to know we are not alone.

    We have Explosive Child and difficult child was seen by neuropsychologist for testing in 2nd grade. She is now in 4th and I am looking for another evaluation.

    We have never explored the fetal alchohol syndrome with difficult child. Thank you birthmom. That is something to explore.
  5. KitKat

    KitKat Looking for Answers


    That parallels my experience with my stepson. He was diagnosed in 2002 (9 yrs) and has been on Concerta which is a slower release and is meant to avoid the crashes you spoke about.

    I am NOT sure if I am right about this, but anything, anything at all that can help your daughter to feel better about herself might help at home. Hockey helps with my son, albeit temporarily. We are at the same stage with him now (15.5 yrs old) as you are with your ten-year-old. Is it possible though that calling the police on her will just harden her resolve to be oppositional? We did find that with my stepson. His basic attitude now is "who cares - do what you want to me - I will not change". We're getting additional help but I don't have that answer and I wonder what we could have done differently.

    Good luck to you. These kids weaken and destroy family harmony (it appears to be their main objective in life) by causing arguments, instigating negative behaviour among their peers and siblings (they need somebody on their side) and the whole vicious circle just keeps repeating itself. I am more than sure that you are aware of this.

    I'd be interested in reading more about your experiences. Also, don't forget about your own health. I did, and I pay for it regularly. I had enough sense to get back into riding and bought my first horse a few years ago (finally!) and my step daughter who also lives with us has taken up the sport and has shown huge talent on the show circuit. Of course, that makes her big brother very jealous!
  6. luv my ottb

    luv my ottb Member

    KitKat-Horses are the best therapy I have right now for myself. I am scared to think of how I would feel without them. What type horse do you have and what type of riding?

    I ride English hunter with my ottb and trail also. difficult child has Appaloosa pony and was into horses at one time, but now that interest has waned. You have to work with horses and not just hop on and expect a perfect ride. Pony frustrates her and she gets angry when pony may not do exactly what she wants. difficult child wants perfection and would never accept rider error. She argues with trainer. Was hoping horses could be her red thread. Ugh!!

    The only thing she likes right now is dance class once a week and singing. I am trying to get her into choir. Hard to pinpoint interests right now.

    Did your stepson get worse through puberty?
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    luv, a child can have fetal alcohol affects without the whole syndrome. It is still organic brain damage and you can't expect a child with it to act "normal" because they don't "get it." No matter how many times they get into trouble for something, you don't "get" it and often do it again. I'm not saying she has it, but, with her history, I would explore it carefully. We did. What happens prenatally is significant to future development. You can possibly help a little--sometimes stimulants calm a child a little bit, but this isn't your normal, average ADHD. This can be due to alcohol and the brain damage does not go away or get better. The kids usually need careful watching as adults so they don't end up in prison due to not understanding laws. They thrive with extremely close watching and structure and can not be unstructured or they fall apart. See if there is anyplace familiar with children who have been drug/alcohol exposed before birth in your area. We were fortunate in that Chicago has one of the best in the country. Any child exposed to tonxins in utero is almost certain to have some problems, often quite serious. If you can get to Chicago, I highly recommend the "Ira Chasnoff Clinic." I would not report such a child to the police and in my opinion she is way to young to detach from. Sorry, I totally disagree with Sis. Maybe she doesn't understand the trauma these kids face even before they are born. Many, many professionals don't understand or write off kids who have had this kind of birth history. I had one psychologist tell us "we can't do much with THESE kids." Well, he was wrong. My son has achieved A LOT. I never forgot that cold-hearted and incorrect psychologist. What a jerk. Anyways, good luck!
  8. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Please read Identical Strangers. It will help you understand what our children are dealing with far better than I can describe. It deals with identical twins who were seperated at birth and adopted into seperate families for a study on nature vs. nurture. I am learning more from this first hand account than I ever learned in our 16 years of dealing with our daughter.

    MWM you are beginning to sound more and more like me every day.

    "What happens prenatally is significant to future development."

    "Maybe she doesn't understand the trauma these kids face even before they are born."

  9. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Just adding in my welcome. Others have given good advice. My son is also adopted and birth mother did crack and I'm sure was drinking as well. He is the same age as your daughter so I can relate to much of what you are saying. You are not alone.
  10. luv my ottb

    luv my ottb Member

    MWM, Wiped out and Nancy,

    Thanks all for the advice. I appreciate it. It gives me different angles to view this child and how to help her. I don't want to give up on her, but she does make life very hard. We have new psychiatrist appointment on Friday.

    I am going to find out more about the Chicago clinic.

    Keep the ideas coming!
  11. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I wanted to write more yesterday but I was on my way out. It would take me quite a while to tell you my story but let me just say that we were at the end of our ropes two years ago also. The chaos that difficult child was causing and had been causing for many years was unbearable. I felt guilt for what I had brought upon our easy child and at times wondering if I made the right decision years ago. That sounds harsh but as I said we had been through so much and there was no light at the end of the tunnel.

    It is very important that you have her evaluated by a qualified team of professionals to find out as much as you can about what is going on with her. Keep in mind that at ten the diagnosis is not set in stone and may change over the years. Some medication is probably a definite. I was so against medication until husband and I finally said we need them to give her something to stop some of the chaos. We tried several different medications until we found the combination that worked and even at that we revised and changed doses over the years.

    Many children who are adopted are dealing with inherited mental disorders. Years ago they didn't give prospective adoptive parents any history on the birth parents. Even though the law requires that now, we as adoptive parents don't recognize the warning signs or in some cases the outright facts and think that our love and nurturing can overcome that. Hence why I suggested you read Identical Stranger. I was one who believed that nurture would overcome any nature, and it just isn't so. I am not finished with the book yet and I have already gained a much better understanding and appreciation for my difficult child.

    It would be helpful to find a therapist that is experienced in treating adopted children, once you know what is going on chemically or biologically. Your difficult child is dealing with self esteem issues and adoption issues that even she doesn't understand. A therapist who understands this can help your difficult child deal with their anger, which is always misdirected to their adoptive family, mainly the mom.

    I have had many people tell me along the way that I had to detach. I couldn't do that, I just could never detach from this child that needed help so much, although there did come a point where we seriously considered placing her in an alternative living arrangement for all of our good. We have been through a lot, difficult child ended up in detention for a weekend at age 13. She had a long way to crawl out of the dark hole she dug for herself. She is 16 1/2 now and for whatever reason seems to have finally matured enough to realize what a mess she was making of her life. I won't say everything is perfect, far from it, but from where we started it's a huge improvement. Many of the issues we are dealing with now and typical teen behaviors. She will always struggle with impulse control, low self esteem, risky behaviors, but hopefully she is also learning some skills that will help her function in the world on a much better level. And she really seems to like us now.

    Don't give up yet. You are just starting the road to getting help. It is a long and often frustrating road, but can be worth it all in the end. I had to keep reminding myself that the purpose of adoption is to give a child a home, not to give a home a child. The ultimate goal is to help that child and you know she has a much better chance with you than if you had not adopted her.

  12. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Nancy, I read a GREAT article on somebody with fetal alcohol affects and how relieved she was to finally find out what was wrong with her, why she misbehaved, why she kept getting into trouble...and how best to treat an adult with fetal alcohol affects (basically they need a structured, group home setting or they will get into trouble because they don't "get" it).
    I think we sound more like each other these However, I'm not talking at all about attachment as I still don't buy that with infant adoption. I'm talking about substance abuse in utero which can lead to brain damage. Also, of course, inherited mental illnesses.
  13. luv my ottb

    luv my ottb Member

    OMG Nancy, Your story sounds so similar to mine. Tears are rolling down my face.

    I know she struggles with so many things I can't fathom, in utero and possible mental illness inherited from bio mom. She's home from school due to an ice storm and so far today she's being really good. I plan on taking her to the Y so she can get some energy out and let her help cook dinner.

    Total guilt about easy child-What kind of chaos did I set him up for?
    difficult child is on medications, but again at 10 years old I know I don't have a complete diagnosis. New child psychiatrist tomorrow and I plan on having a new neuropsychologist workup also. I am hoping dr. will see something new out of all therapists notes and our input or at least get me pointed to good neuropsychologist.

    We clearly have been thinking about a different living arrangement because of the flatout chaos which is involved with her. I am going to the library today to find Identical Strangers. Her anger is always directed at me, but all I want to do for her is help her. I have finally told her if she wants to be really angry about life and was she percieves as being abandoned, she should be angry at biomom and not me. Amazingly enough, I haven't heard biomom referred to since.
    Our therapist now has been great, but I sense she is getting frustrated that difficult child continues to be physically aggressive when angered. We were supposed to meet tonight, but she canceled due to weather. So I guess we will find out next week what she has in store or whether she feel difficult child would be better off with someone else.

    Thanks for your insight, we just sound so alike in our history.
    Hugs back at you.
  14. luv my ottb

    luv my ottb Member


    Sent you a PM
  15. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Hi, welcome to the bb.
    You've gotten some great advice.

    I would like to offer a suggestion, in regard to detaching -- I have learned not to take so personally everything that my son does, to not assume that he actually hates my guts, and to walk away when he is getting argumentative. THAT to me is a form of detachment. I hope your s-i-l means that sort of detachment and not totally throwing the child out on the street.
    with-our son, an adopted difficult child, we have learned that consistency is extremely important, as are natural consequences. He used to do a lot of what your daughter does and it is much better now. It does sound like you have a lot of other issues going on, especially since you know the bmom's health history isnt' stellar. Our son's bmom didn't do drugs but I still think there's some genetic stuff going on there with-ADHD and basic personality.

    I like the book suggestion, "Identical Stranger," Nancy. I'll look it up.

    Good luck, luvmyottb. Hugs.
  16. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member


    The book I suggested will not help you deal with your difficult child, but it will go far to explain things. I wrestled with the question for years about what we were doing wrong to not have a more positvie impact on her. I now understand that it was predestined to be that way. Another book referred to in the book Identical Strangers is Nature's Thumbprint. I don't think it can be found in libraries but I'm going to buy a used copy on amazon. It also deals with studies done on seperated at birth identical twins and what place heredity plays in their lives. Although the studies were unethical and highly immoral and would not be allowed today, it is the best glimpse we have into understanding nature vs. nurture. We can stop beating ourselves up over why they are behaving this way.

    I'm glad you are finding yourself not alone. Over the years I have found so many adoptive parents dealing with the same issues. It's an immediate understanding of each other. Just two years ago I found myself on the doorstep of another adoptive Mom who's daughter and my daughter were getting involved in some things and trying to sneak out together. When she discovered we adopted our daughter she hugged me and said "we understand each other far better than we can ever explain to anyone."


    P.S. I got Identical Strangers on audio CD and listen to it in the car driving places. It's very calming and passes the time. But I find myslef say oooh and ahhhh and scrambling for paper to write down things I want to check out on the computer later for more background in the studies done.
  17. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I almost forgot:

    "I have finally told her if she wants to be really angry about life and was she percieves as being abandoned, she should be angry at biomom and not me. Amazingly enough, I haven't heard biomom referred to since."

    We took our daughter to an attachment therapist for a while. While I don't advocate this because it is very expensive and very intense and we did not buy into it totally, she was the only one who made difficult child face the fact that she never adopted us like we adopted her. She outright told her that if we were going to abandon her we would have done so years ago because of all the cr*p she put us through, so if she should be mad at anyone it should be her birthmother. She stopped talking about birthmother after that.

    About six months ago we were having some issues (as you say always me and her) and I finally told her that her birthmom abused alcohol and some drugs and heaven knows what she did during the pregnancy, that she never finished high school, was very overweight, did not take care of her health, smoked, drank, was married and divorced twice and never had any other children and if that is the life that she wanted to live she was welcome to go find it. It was a breakthrough of sorts. While it hurt her to hear it and I did find out she told several of her friends how upset she was to find out the truth about bm, she all of a sudden decided living here perhaps wasn't as bad as she thought, and that her bm was not a fairy godmother who was waiting in a palace with a houseful of siblings ready to take her in. I also told her that I had written hew two years ago when difficult child had to go to detention in hopes that she could write difficult child a letter and explain some of the mistakes she made and help difficult child. She agreed to write it and we never heard from her. So much for her concern.
  18. Penta

    Penta New Member

    I have a story similar to Nancy's...however, my girl is the daughter of my now deceased adopted daughter. Her anger, defiance, and self destructive behavior began at the onset of adolescence, although as a young child she always had a strong personality. I was a single, working grandmother raising her and when she was 14 1/2, her behavior worsened to the point of threatening me with a weapon and a subsequent stay in juvenile detention. During that time I researched and found a Residential Treatment Center (RTC) placement for her. This was one of the most difficult and most expensive decisions I have ever had to make in my life, but I felt she was a child worth saving and I was afraid either she or I would not survive if she stayed with me. She went to Residential Treatment Center (RTC) kicking and screaming and continued her defiant behavior for months there, until finally she had an awakening as a result of a combination of medication, therapy and maturity. She came home at age 16 and is now, at 19, a wonderful young adult.

    5 years ago, I would never have thought she would be the person she is now. It is just incredible. She is off all medications now, except birth control which balances her moods. She is pretty much a typical 19 year old. Her only issue now is dyslexia which makes college harder for her than others, but she keeps up and does well.

    So, there is hope. The journey is long and a struggle with girls like ours. We each have to find the help that fits our child. It takes much perseverance and courage to raise a defiant child.

    I hope you can find the help your girl needs.
  19. Jena

    Jena New Member

    Hi and welcome.

    this is a good place to be i am new and it has certainly helped.

    You have your hands full, and I wish you luck with appointment. yet everyone has suggested a neuropsy. for my daughter as well and I'm taking their advice. I say always question the diagnosis if your gut is telling you something isnt' quite right.

    we used are using abilify. my daughter was diagnosed with bi polar and anxiety yet she doesn't have the rage episodes shes more manic. i am not sure where you live but here in new york i'm learning different hospitals. my daughters pysch suggested admitting her to hospital since what we're doing isn't working for a full evaluation. I'm considering it, she's only 8. maybe you should as well. I find it hard to believe that these dr.s are able to diagnosis our children upon a few interviews and some questionnaires sent to school and home.

    doesn't it take truly spending time with the child, specific testing to diagnosis. instead of a drive by diagnosis.??

    anyway good luck to you with appointment.

    seroquel worked for us for a while, have you ever tried that one?

    jen :smile:
  20. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    As bio mom admitted to using during pregnancy I agree with seeing a specialist in this area. Some of the damage done during pregnancy is significant (& horrendous) & not at all this child's fault. It's "hard wired" for lack of a better term.

    It's best to have all of these factors looked into - it may change the course of treatment for your difficult child. If what you're doing isn't working it's time to look elsewhere.

    As to the daily anger & being center of attention, you are right to detach from this. This level of emotion isn't healthy for your difficult child or your entire family. Physical safety is paramount. Call 911 & explain that you have a mentally ill child who needs transport to ER if difficult child gets physically aggressive or violent. in my humble opinion, threats of murder or suicide need to be taken seriously & addressed in this matter as well. (We've done it numerous times.)

    Rude/obnoxious behaviors are cause for a redo. I give kt a chance to "redo" her choice of behaviors. It's taken a few years to get this down but it's a calm way to redirect. Instead of timeouts, I do time in's. kt will be at my side for a period of time. Do what I do - it actually can turn into bonding time.

    Just a few suggestions that work on some days - not so much on others.