Sunday, August 31, 2014

Hurricane Season for Adoptive Parents

Here we are in our third official hurricane season at the Niles household. Well sort of, this is our third summer of being a growing adoptive family. So our normal...is not your normal.

you would think by now that we would have this drill memorized. However, just like the pains of childbirth...you forget.

 First read this old post and then we will go Back to the Future
 Flashback to July 2012


What does our hurricane season look like you ask?
Well, let me tell you the necessary components of a perfect storm in our house.
  • new school year, different school, new outpatient therapist, new med check doctor, braces, fun with family, upcoming trip out of town for Mom, upcoming trip out of town for Mom and Dad and then add a bit of PMDD and yep. there ya go . category 5.

So if you read the post I linked into the beginning of this one you see both excitement and trepidation that I felt with the thought of adding a new child into our family.

A week ago we were planning to go back to school shopping for shoes.
This week we are calling local treatment facilities and trying to make the best decisions two parents can make for a child who is still struggling to get her footing in this world.

Yesterday was the Orientation for her High school. We were supposed to meet teachers and tour the school, maybe even purchase a gym uniform or some jazzy spirit wear.
Instead we were calling Nurse stations for updates and information on when we would have our first family meeting which is hospital code for the "what the hell is next meeting"

Most people are planning BBQ and beach days for this weekend.
We are pulling back once again from obligations with our church family, and reorganizing to be ready for the next step in our child's treatment.

Tues of this week something triggered a very emotional reaction in our child. Add the components that I described earlier and you have a table flipping, wall phone ripping, angry child on your hands. There is nothing quite as disturbing as watching an otherwise "normal" teen snap back to survival instincts.

Getting braces on was a highlight of her summer.
Hearing all the things that she could not eat was determined a nasty attempt at controlling her by us...the parents.  What may be deemed as rules from the orthodontist for your child is viewed at Food Restricting by her parents.
The only logical thing for her to do is completely ignore those rules and SURVIVE.
Outright defiance ? no. Normal life for her and us.

Going to high school for the first time ever! New school, fresh start, new friends.... all exciting for our two oldest children who are now college age. For our daughter it's a restart that requires quick acclimation, finding the safe people and fast! As well as a litany of unknowns.

New therapist and new med check doctor to Bryan and I means: Office closer to home, trauma informed care, and hopefully less school time missed due to weekly appts. A doctor to do med checks means consistency and not the numerous nurse practitioners and high turnover of people at the last office.
For our daughter it means lack of control. Evening hours meant to be better for her school schedule now threaten her homework and after school activity times.  New people meant going over her painful history once more.

In home therapy had been going well and we were once again lighthearted and having fun in our family. No more walking on egg shells. Mom and Dad were making changes, our daughter was walking away instead of wanting to stand and fight. We were bonding, over pedicures and manicures. I even let her style my hair.

For our daughter, that meant feeling safe and part of a family. Mom and Dad not reacting or raising voices meant something was wrong. Chaos is good in the heart of our daughter. Fighting is normal, violence was all she was raised around and normal routine sometimes feels very unsafe to her. She craves structure and for us to protect her and advocate for her. She hates structure and for us to protect her and advocate for her. Did you catch that one? :)

She is on the fence about being in our family. Yes it's been two years. Yes that is a long time. However, studies show that it will take 2 years for every year in foster care for a child to even feel safe, attached and a part of their new family. so....we have 14 more years to go. That is if and only if she accepts her therapy and does the work. If she refuses medicine and therapy...well we are now in a different ball park.

In our home we have a zero tolerance policy for violence. You may flip a table. You may yell. You can even throw something.
You may not yell at your siblings and verbally abuse them. When a punch is thrown at me I often try to remove myself from arms length, and leave the house. This Tuesday I found myself cornered in our kitchen. So on the second hit I picked up the phone and said: I am calling Dad to come home.
Then I was hit again and again, leaving me no choice but to do what is next on our safety plan. Call 911.
I was able to dial 9 then 1. then the handset was ripped from my grip. The next part is a bit of a blur. But in a rage my daughter was able to rip the base of the phone off the wall, hit me in the head and back with the handset and then begin swinging the entire phone up and down and side to side getting in a few solid hits until the phone slipped from her hands.

I then stepped by her and said: I am going to the neighbors to call 911. I grabbed my wallet, all valuables *Bryan's work laptops, walked calmly down the hall and locked my bedroom door behind me. set down the valuables and slid out my back bedroom door quickly locking that behind me as well.

Before I got to the fence, my neighbor said: Cora is here, she is safe inside. Who do I call first.
This is our life. Our neighbor is Cora's safe place. I asked her to call 911. Then she yelled out do you want a medic. I yelled back No we are fine no medic. I then asked her to call Bryan and Zac and tell them come home. neither could be reached.

I quickly ran back inside to find the emergency number list so I could call Bryan's boss and have him sent home. I went inside and checked for the list. It was very quiet. I turned to walk down the hall and called out to Ambriel. She did not answer. I knocked on her door and asked her to come out front and wait for the police with me. No answer. Fear stuck my throat closed. I knocked on her door. No answer.  I turned the knob slowly, and the door slammed back in my face. I knew at that point she was in one of her purses searching for something. Then the door swung open and in all her fury she rushed me causing me to trip backward over myself and hit me several times again until I made it to the front hallway. I asked her loudly to join me in the front yard. She would not be staying here tonight. She refused and slammed her door.
*************
I ran back outside and called the cellphone of Bryan's Boss at the Railroad.  He informed me Bryan had left for the day and should be on his way home. I asked Donna to call Zac again to see if he would answer.

I went back in and called to Ambriel and told her to please come out front to wait for the police. I got no answer. This time mom instincts kicked in. I ran down the hall sick to my stomach and opened the door. She sat on the floor. Leaning on her bed back to me. not moving. I called her name. my voice was shaking now. she did not answer. I looked over her shoulder careful not to get within arms length and she had cut herself up and down both arms. I instantly dropped to my knees and saw there was a large amount of blood and a pair of safety scissors.  I asked her to let me have the scissors. no answer. She was gone. checked out. pupils did not respond. no blinking. I spoke louder and turned on the lights and fan . When she is in this state I do not touch her, I said: I need to see your arms. Did you cut deep? Can I help you?
no response.
again I said give me the scissors the police will be here soon. I don't want them to have to take you by force, drop the scissors.
no answer. I tried a different approach.
I looked at her rabbit sitting next to her and said: if the police have to use mace on you it will hurt Princess. she responded by throwing the scissors over her shoulder. I removed the scissors. felt the floor around her for anything else and ran out front dropping her scissors and other  sharp items on the porch and yelled for the neighbor to ask for a medic.

Then I went inside and kicked all the dogs out. Turned on all the house lights and waited for the police.

This has been our story for 2 years. We have made the call over 7 times. 4 times she left to go to the ER for an evaluation and that required an acute stay. Last year there were 4 charges of assault and battery against her. Bryan and I dropped those charges in December of 2013.

This time the officer again pressed charges due to the fact that she admitted to hitting me with the phone and her fists.

This time was no easier than the others.

27 hours later to the minute she was admitted to a local psychiatric hospital.

The next day an officer called to book her meeting and establish a court date. After speaking with him he said two things that make me sad. He said: Mam , it seems as though you may be educated a bit more than me on the mental health system. Then he said: but I can see this is not the first time you have been through this situation.

I replied: Well, I certainly am glad that I get to go to DC next week and talk to these politicians about the failure of our mental health system and the fallout it causes within families.

He laughed, but stopped when I told him that it was true. I had been given a scholarship from NAMI to attend a 6 day conference in our nation's capital. On the agenda is meet lawmakers.

He wished me well and said we would be talking again soon.


Day two of a storm in our house is a day of cleanup and rest. First we put the house back in order. Then we shut off all electronics. shoot out a prayer request and Sleep. sometimes a casserole is delivered. and it was. I am thankful for my friends that step in and hold us up when we are weary.

Day three gets a little bit more organized. the entire table turned into command central with laptop, house phone and cellphones all buzzing and beeping.

It's not our own battle. It's silly to think that we fight the world each day to advocate for our daughter. This is bigger than insurance and bumps and bruises...this is a war for her soul. We all do battle in this house everyday. But even though we fight what is unseen, we must still deal with the everyday responsibilities. We have to call therapists in and out of home. Cancel appts. Rearrange work schedules. Cancel play dates for Cora and make a plan.

We wait mostly for the all important call of the family session. this time we got no word until the third day. I knew this would happen because the holiday is coming up.

So, there will be no first day of school for her. Instead wen will meet in a run down facility, with beige walls and heavy furniture that can't be picked up and thrown and pictures of rolling hills and farm land drilled into the wall for safety purposes . We will say a silent prayer that the same therapist we saw last time will be there...so we can at least not have to start ALL over again.

We will offer hugs or hands to hold and be given the cold icy stare of a child who has been through this one time too many. She will be distant and angry.  She will hand us a list of things she would like brought from home so she can have some comfort during her stay.

We will do our best to meet her needs and let yesterday be yesterday.

We will pray for God's will to be done. Not ours. We will wait on him to direct our steps.

After all, we are not at war with a hurt child, or a grumpy woman from VB psych unit, or even the insurance companies or the bewildered stares of those who do not understand our story.

The bible says it best: Ephesians 6:12
 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

So, please pray for us as we do battle.

thank you-

The Niles Family



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