Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dear Anonymous

I appreciate the fact you took the time to read the entire blog before commenting on it. I think you have misunderstood a few things. Attachment Therapy does have a terrible wrap. There have been a few wackos that went off on their own and tried some things that proved dangerous and even deadly to the children they were trying to help. We do not agree with or even recognize it as AT. There is a lot of proof it helps, I can see a huge difference in my children. OUR therapist's way is very simple, I hold my child in my lap and my arms around them. Like you hold a baby but they are much bigger. We talk. It's not a restraint nor even tight. In fact, they hold me way tighter during the session than I hold them. It is a hug of sorts. They could get down and move to a more comfortable position anytime. They love it. They love the attention and snuggles they get. We recently showed the Jury a tape of it and they commented to the A.D.A. how sweet it looked. It helps my children feel loved and safe enough to talk about the ugly/scary things. It is very normal looking and feeling. We do not do any re birthing or force any power over on them. They have control over what we talk about and how we proceed. It is very empowering for THEM. None of it is about me. It is about what they need and what I am willing to do to help them. We tried traditional therapy and it didn't work. They did not trust people or therapists. Still have problems with that. They trust me more than anyone and it builds on that. Now that they do trust me, they are learning to trust others. It is taking forever b/c we are undoing a lifetime of abuse. They still have moments they think I will hurt them regardless of my demeanor or words. All of the professionals/therapists that know/knew our children told us to run not walk to AT.

We do encourage them to give up control over some things and encourage them to take control over more appropriate things. My children do things like refuse to eat b/c they are mad to have control. They are allowed to eat or not, I expect them to join us at the table or at least, the room. It is still not forced. We do not force control over things like what they wear, their hair, how they do things or what order they do them, and many other normal activities and things in their life. We try to help them learn to trust us by proving we are trust worthy. A day in my home and the last thing you would think is I force any of them to give up their power. We work hard to show them they are in control of themselves. They can not control every one else by raging for hours and holding us all hostage without consequences. We do not spank, threaten to beat, lock them in their room, or restrict them. We wait until THEY are done, unless they are in danger or attacking another person we do not intervene a tantrum physically, they are expected to pay restitution. They will all tell anyone (when they are not tantruming) that the way I restrain them does not hurt them, I am the one that gets injured if any one is hurt and I gladly take that so they aren't further traumatized. I am only holding them to protect them and others. In fact, last night my son threw a plate at my head. He was not restrained b/c he didn't continue to hit, scratch, chase another child to beat them, try to cut himself with a fork, or ram his body into the glass window. Those are all reasons I would hold him, if he tries to kill us, harm us physically, or himself in a deadly way. A hole in the wall is not cause for a restraint. Hollering nasty things wouldn't even get my attention. I try to make sure they are only used when I have to protect us from serious bodily harm. Most of them have seriously injured me in a rage. The guilt they had to deal with was devastating. They have yelled at me that I'm not keeping them safe b/c I haven't moved to restrain them so I must not care about them. Patches is clear, it makes her feel safe. It is hard to accept if you haven't heard it from it from her mouth. If they break something that belongs to someone else, they replace it. They are expected to clean up after themselves and often do w/o a word from me. If they keep us in a public place with a tantrum, they may have to help out with extra chores that needed to be done during the time we were stuck there. Most consider what we require too little. Most want to punish their misbehaving child. We do not. We understand they have problems and have an extremely difficult time regulating their emotions. We constantly tell them how proud we are when they do and point out how much better they did when they lose it. We also talk about how they feel. What do they think they could have done differently to prevent it from happening. We always forgive them. ALWAYS.

It is difficult to understand our life and others like us when you only have your own experiences to draw from. Normal well adjusted children. We do not wish or encourage them to act out at school. It is something I complain about here b/c I can. I am proud they have been able to control themselves there. It wasn't always that way. They have worked hard. My only issue with it is that it makes it even more difficult for people to understand how hard they have it at home. It is b/c they were abused by the very people that were supposed to help them. They are constantly triggered by normal, every day activities that occur in every home. They have severe PTSD from their birth homes. The school secretary is simple. She feeds his baby talk, she bribes him, she rewards him for lying to her, and more. I am not the only one that thinks this woman crosses lines. I want their teachers to like my children. I do not want them to tell them they love them and wish they could take them home. My children think it is an invitation to move in. It has happened to them before. It is confusing for THEM. All kids threaten to run away or want another family, I am never offended by this. I am concerned when they make plans to send me to jail so they can go live with their teacher. Imagine the stress of having to hide a part of you from the rest of the world. Imagine the shame of feeling you can't be yourself with the people you spend most of the day with. They are afraid they will find out. They are afraid they will hate them. I try to teach them there is nothing to be ashamed of. It is very common for children with the issues and background mine have to do this. It is so uncommon in general society that is is not believed by most. It is pushed off as a poor mother or crazy woman trying to make her kids sicker than they are. We all crave to be accepted. I am no different. I wish others could see this side for a moment to understand their struggles better. B/c they don't' see it, they don't think I am credible regarding other things surrounding my children. It doesn't feel good to my children b/c people make it obvious they don't believe me, they go out of their way to "make it up" to my child.

I do not demand obedience. That would be impossible for them to achieve. I give them choices. Usually, a good choice and a bad choice. They can do things at their own pace. I suggest they may want to do it in a timely manner to avoid missing out on such and such. We try to make the consequence a natural one. For example, every one needs to do their chore before we watch the movie. I give them ample time then start it. If they are not done, they miss that part, if they are done, they get to watch. No punishment. No screaming. No anger. They are welcome to take their time. I expect they do their fair share. They each have a small chore. Our chores are things like vacuum the LR, take out the trash, clear off the stairs, pick up the bathroom, wipe off the table, unload the dishes, and sweep the kitchen floor. They are small chores compared to most households b/c they each have one and there are so many kids.

Because of their sexual abuse, we are very careful about their ability to have complete control over their bodies. We do not force anything. We give them the good and bad or why it is needed and wait for them to agree. We teach them ways to feel safe. We practice ways to keep themselves safe and ways to handle situations. The leaps and bounds they have made in this area is shocking. Ruthie alone is one of the more traumatized and yet she is the most confident now. She is a safe child. I couldn't be more proud of her.

Their mental illnesses were brought on early b/c of their traumatic lives. We are focused on the sexual abuse b/c it is what puts all our children at risk today. We have to closely monitor their sexually acting out. They are focused on it all on their own. We do not bring it up. They do. They know other children do not worry about their privates tingling or if the nice teacher will touch them in the bathroom. Other children do not worry they will want to touch their friend's penis or won't be able to quit thinking about it. We let them lead the way. If we see them struggling, we ask what is wrong. We can tell by their body language that they are uncomfortable and we never push them to talk about anything. They want to talk to me. They feel better knowing they can share the tough topics and I never judge them. I accept all their issues, they are not who they are just something they have done or something that has happened to them.

I do a lot of venting here. Most my children did not know most of this ever bothered me or that it was any kind of issue. I do not throw their disabilities in their face. EVER. I do explain why some things are hard for them. They deserve to know. They ask. They do not know most of the terms I use here to clarify things to my readers. I would never tell them they were not normal or suggest they were perfect. They feel they are different. I tell them they are perfect for me, everyone is crazy in their own way, and I assure them nothing can change he way I feel. I point out all their strengths constantly. We have changed strategies many times and what works for one child does not work for the other. They are each a complex little person with their own personality. We let them decide what they don't like about their behaviors and what we focus on. My son tells me all the time he wishes he was nicer to me b/c I am nice to him. We search out professionals with experience and get their thoughts, ideas, and opinions. I am sorry if I haven't been clear but I feel you have grossly misjudged our intentions and actions. Please consider that I only write part of our story. You do not get all the wonderful times we share and all the details of the very bad things. I share a lot here but it is not nearly enough for you to fully understand the complexity of our home and children. They are each praised and adored. They can't accept it. I promise them to keep trying to help them believe. I know I have rambled quite a bit and I apologize. I hope I don't sound like I am attacking back b/c that is not my intention. I see that I need to be more be more clear in the future.

I welcome any comments or issues with anything I say or do. I will not allow anyone to hide behind Anonymous anymore. Tell me who you are. If you want to share your thoughts, it's only fair I know who's doing it. I do not expect or even want every one to agree with me. How could I learn from to hers if I wasn't willing to hear their points? I have noticed in the last few weeks I haven't been as positive as I would like. It is just so hard right now. Obviously, I need to try harder.


Jenny said...

I think you do an amazing job with your kids and on educating the world about your struggles here in your blog. The life you live is a hard and isolating one, but you are doing an AWESOME job.

I'm glad you choose to post and comment back to anonymous. I'm sure there are others reading your blog (or others like it) and think the same thing. Don't let them stand behind their ignorance and judgement anymore.

You can't compare a typically developing child to kids like ours. It's not fair to them or you.

Keep doing what you are doing and God Bless. I know you guys are struggling right now and we are praying.


Innocent Observer said...

Your defensiveness is making me angry. You do NOT need to explain yourself for any reason!

We all know that you have been through hell three times over the past few months. Anyone who knows you or your story commends you for everything that you have done.

Let's remember that without you, there would have been no arrest, no trial for a case the DA said was the worst he has ever seen. Think about THAT for half a second!

Without you these children would not be together, and would not be in a home. Most would have landed in a residential program by now. (Hey, maybe anonymous wants to come do your laundry for a day to get a taste of how things really work? Or maybe a weekend of respite for you? How long do you think anonymous would last? I'd give he/she 5 minutes!)

The school people piss me off...they did when my foster children were here as well. They believed every stupid little thing they said and blamed me for everything...and that was just minor stuff. Even things that we so obviously impossibly not true. I can only imagine how the big stuff would be. Eeek.

Stay strong and stop letting the morons get to you. You know and we know that you are doing a phenomenal job. Keep up the good work, Mom to Many!

Melissa said...

I don't know you IRL but it pisses me off that you keep having to defend yourself to people who will never know what you go through. Just because my children have no issues, I don't jump to assume that I am a better mother. Maybe I am not as good a mother as you simply because I know I could NEVER get through the things you do. It really frosts my ass when people hide behind "anonymous" and dole out their "expert medical opinions". I know it is hard to ignore criticism when it is coming at you from every direction, but stay strong. You are doing an amazing job!!!


Angela :-) said...

Wow! That was a very respectful explanation. :-) I wish we had ATs around here.

Angela :-)

amaurosis said...

It amazes me that so many "anonymous" people are such experts in raising mentally ill and traumatized children. How lucky we all are to benefit from their expertise.

footstepsonmyheart said...

There is no way on this green earth I could ever fill your shoes. I just want to commend you for all that you do in the face of impossible. You are an unsung hero.

Lexie said...

You don't have to explain yourself to anyone Tudu especially someone who is afraid to make their identity known so they hide behind their computer being anonymous. I would like to see anonymous try to raise 9 children who have mental illnesses and disabilities. Until then I would take their advice with a grain of salt since they somehow read an article on Wikipedia and suddenly became an expert on parenting kids with mental illnesses and attachment disorders. You keep on plugging away Tudu because without you those kids would be a wreck.

Mothering4Money said...

I'm sorry that people feel the need to judge you anonymously on the internet. You appear to be doing a great job with your kids and do what is best for them as individuals. It isn't easy, I'm sure. Just wanted to let you know that you have supporters in internet land too. Keep on keeping on.

Pam Skochinski said...

I'm on the fence about justifying anything to anonymous. Just the fact that the person wandered over here from Jani's blog makes the whole encounter suspect (boy are there some odd statements made in the comments over there).

I admire you. I have an adopted son who came to me at 17 months. He's simply adorable, everyone loves him, and he "loves" the point that he's an incredibly easy mark for a predator. We are always on the watch for his inappropriate behavior and hoping that when we aren't around that he doesn't run into someone who will take advantage of him.

For him, there was no history of abuse, only anectdoctal evidence of neglect. But he'd gladly pack his bag and go to live with anyone else in order to help him resist bonding with us. He's been with us five years, and we've made great strides in attachment, although we still have a ways to go.

Thank you for your posts and your honesty.

Annie said...

I think this was a great response. I just wanted to say - I don't really feel you "need" to be more positive - unless that is something YOU feel YOU need for yourself. I actually find your posts really hopeful and optimistic - it is always great to hear about how your children are coming to recognise their own problems, maybe how to improve them - the sad part of the story is what happened before, the happy part is that they now have a chance to work through it (even if there are a few sad parts to working through it, as well).

Kelly said...

Wow. What a post. You absolutely do not have to defend yourself for what you do FOR your children. You are not doing TO your children or AGAINST your children. You really have a gift and I thank God you choose everyday to use it to help your children heal.

Honestly, anyone who hasn't lived in the foster care world can not even begin to understand. I have to wonder why anyone who disagrees so strongly would spend so much time to read your blog. Sounds like they have all the answers...sign them up for foster care, man. Give them as many kids as their house can hold and let them fix them. I just hope they start a blog so we can learn how to fix all our kids too. LOL

In all seriousness...You are amazing!!!!

f said...

I also read the entire blog, but was too shy to comment. After reading the anonymous comment I can't help but give my own opinion.
I was abused as a child, physically, emotionally and sexually. As a result I was on medication for most of my teen years, suffering several mental illnesses and aggression towards others. After years of therapy I have finally been able to build a good life for myself, I am independent, have a college degree in fine arts. I haven't attacked my loved ones in 4 years.
One of the things that I noticed during my rage attacks is that they would only go away when my boyfriend would take me in some kind of bear hug, hold me tight and tell me soothing things. This made me feel safe, the anger would leave me and I would start crying. If he would argue with me, ignore me, anything else would cause me to try to hurt him, myself and anything around me. I was not familiar with AT or holding therapy, but by reading your experiences I can only tell you that to me it feels like the right way to handle things.
I would like to add that I experienced very similar things as your kids and I was able to survive and now function independently, I am often genuinely happy. I thought this might give you some hope for the future of your kids.
I sincerely wish I would have had someone like you to help me in my childhood, you are amazing, strong and I feel like you are handling it well!

My warmest regards, F.

ps: Is it possible to not publish my full name? I thought about mailing you personally, but I wanted to share my experience with you readers. But I don't want to be identified by family and/or coworkers, thanks!

MomInTheTrench said...

I wish you were my mom.

Ok, seriously, that was an amazing explanation. I was going to go all comando in your defense, but you've rendered me useless.

What anonymous is missing, is that if a kid grows up his/her whole life thinking that they have to trick everyone into liking them, they will never have healthy, happy relationships. They have to learn that they are safe and loved even with the person who knows everything about them--Mama. Then they can build on that.

Michelle said...

I started a lengthy response to anonymous and then decided to not get involved.

Suffice it to say, I think anonymous is WAY off in her assessment of your parenting and your children's needs.

You have acted and wrote with the skill of an expert...a MOTHER. I know that I don't contribute much to you with my stupid comments, but I very much want to let you know that anonymous is wrong!

I also highly doubt anonymous read your entire blog. How could he/she and still come to the conclusions that he/she did?

Lindsay said...

A truly wonderful post, regardless of the comment that led you to write it. I swear, it should be required reading in schools! We had a student a few years back, adopted, clearly with RAD, but neither his parents, nor my colleagues had a clue what that was. Staff (and classmates) viewed him as a weird (sexual acting out, inability to form friendships, adhd behaviour etc) and never believed his parents over what they said he was like at home. In fact I had to often listen to the support teacher talk about how his awful, cold parents were clearly the problem. Nothing I mentioned about RAD sank in with anyone. It was so sad.

You have written a wonderfully accessible, clear and insightful post that not only touches my heart because of your clear love and devotion as a family, but because it makes it so clear why children can maintain at school, but not in the home. Perhaps sharing it with your son's school might finally make them open their minds and begin to understand the complexity of mental illness.

ldw said...

No one can know our journeys until they have walked in our paths. This isn't a place for you to educate the world, although I have learned much from you, it is your place to be you. Write what you need for YOU say. Those of us honored enough to be chosen to raise "our" kids will understand EXACTLY what you are saying. Prayers for peace in your heart and home.