Saturday, January 03, 2004

Open Letter to those who care about Makala

Originally Published 4/4/04

An open letter to those who are part of our little girls life. To the People involved in Makala’s Life:

The only thing that is important to us is that Makala grows up safe, secure and loved. Sometimes it is difficult for other people—in the family—at the church—in the schools or even at the supermarket to understand even a little bit what exactly happens when a few weeks before a little girl turns five, she meets her forever mom and dad. It was our decision to find our children who were already born to another mother. A mother who for whatever reason chose drugs, violence and to live on the streets and expose her little girl to God only knows what the first four years of her life. A mother who then went on to give birth to baby brother who was born drug addicted. Children who were taken in the heat of a violent night by the police and placed into a home that was not forever, one that was just good enough to be very sad to leave 10 months later when two strangers came and told her—we are your forever mom and dad.It was not a decision we made lightly or without a great deal of training, counseling and self education. Believe it or not these children are not simply given to any family willing to take them in. There is a lot to do in order to become the adoptive parent’s of two beautiful siblings who have been taken away from their birthmother. We didn’t simply walk into the state office and pick out which poor children we were willing to provide with a safe home, and someone to call mom and dad.We made this decision for many reasons that have nothing to do with the purpose of this open letter to all of you. The fact is that we made this decision and not one moment passes where we regret it at all. And believe it or not we do actually understand what we are doing. Oh, there are those days when we have to reach out to our network of people in the ‘same boat’ and ask for opinions and advice—but, we do have that network, it was part of our training, and education when we decided to become a forever mom and dad.One of the biggest problems we have faced since we made our decision has been those of you who cannot be expected to know or understand any of the implications this decision has placed into our lives. We could offer you at least 27 different books to read or suggest you spend some time on the Adoption Forums website We spend hours every week learning from. We could ask you to attend one of the counseling sessions or take a training class in ATTACHMENT, but to be honest that would be asking you to do too much. After all we are the ones who decided to become the forever mom and dad.There are days when we think maybe it would be better to buy property in the boonies and raise these children for the next ten years completely isolated from all of you and your ‘normal family’ thinking. Because, the simple fact is that you continue to expect our family to be normal. And I am sorry but the experts tell us that a normal family might be something we could see after three years—maybe longer but unlikely shorter. We know this—we knew it going in and we knew that was the deal when we decided to become a forever mom and dad.Sometimes when one of you tell me something I have to laugh inside because the fact is you really have no clue. I love it when you tell me that my daughter is a perfect little darling and never causes those kinds of problems for you. Ha Ha…just wait give her time to trust you enough and you will be calling me to tell me something horrible just happened. Like that time when Grandma thought it would be so fun to take her shopping at the mall. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Or when I asked for a meeting to give the heads up about the NEXT stage you will see happen at the school…or church or wherever she starts to feel she is trusting you. Remember she has only been with us for a little longer then she has known you. Take my warnings to heart because not doing so will hurt more then only you—it will hurt our daughter too. You see getting a new family is not as simple as your mind would like to think it is. And when you have lived in a life so horrible that outsiders take you away and rush you to safety in the middle of the night things are not as simply as your minds would like to make them. There should be an overwhelming gasp when you consider the implications of being five and getting a forever mom and dad.Most of you do not even understand that every hug you give her is one less hug from me. It is hard for me to tell you not to hug my daughter—and most often I don’t and just give her 20 or 30 more after she has spent any time with you—trying to get back a few of them you took away from me. Would you let me breastfeed your baby when the baby was one year old? Your hugs and kisses are doing exactly that to my relationship with my new daughter. But how do I actually get the nerve up to ask you not to hug? It seems so trivial to someone who has no idea what it really means to be a forever mom and dad.I doubt that many of you could tell me what the difference between a Bond and an Attachment is. Can you define what a secure attachment looks like? Do you know what RAD is? Did you know that often times ‘our children’ are diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, ODD, AUTSIM and a whole laundry list of other groups of letters standing for some kind of problem or another—when in reality it is nothing more then attachment happening or not. There is a whole lot more to the story when two strangers walk in and tell a little girl, "we are your forever mom and dad."We know that you did not make the decision to adopt a little girl and her baby brother. We made this decision and we never expected you to understand why or how we planned to pull it off. We don’t even expect you to try and learn because this really is not something just anyone can do. And after one year and two months I have decided that I am not going to be polite about this anymore. I have already raised two ‘regular children’ quit successfully I might add. I have dealt with Grandma and Grandpa input—public schools, scouts, sports, a horrible accident to my regular child, divorce and being a single mother, my children having a step-mother and then my giving them a step father. I know what raising a ‘regular’ child takes I have done so twice. Without too much need to argue with any of you about any input you might have had to offer. My success is actually a good part of the reason we were given the chance to become a forever mom and dad.The fact, however is ,that because you are a part of our lives and therefore a part of the lives of our forever children you are a part of our decision like it or not. Of course we would never expect you to bend over backward and find out what you really could do to support us in this journey and that is not what this letter is even about. But what we can do is ask you to remember that Makala is NOT a regular child. With a few moments of looking on the internet you might see this said in better words then I can possibly express, but the fact of the matter really is that if you think treating her like a regular child will work then you are FLAT WRONG. You are simply going to have to stop trying to be an expert to a situation you know absolutely nothing about. Unless you have been parent of one of ‘our children,’ or have worked for a long time in the field of issues that come with a child who is given a forever mom and dad.So what is the point of this open letter? Well, it is really simple. Do not give us advice—ask for it. Do not suggest ideas—ask for ours. In this case, we are the experts. In this situation it is what we can share with you that will actually lead to our daughter having a successful life. When you talk to me about what I should or should not do with my little girl you really have no clue what an idiot you can make yourself sound like. The methods used on Johnny when he has tantrums are completely NOT the same as the methods needed for a little girl who on one day after Christmas a year ago woke up and put on a pretty dress to go and meet her forever mom and dad.Stop stealing the kisses that belong to me. Do not tell me what a ‘consequence’ should or should not be. Do not say you feel sorry for our situation—that really makes me angry. I do not feel sorry for my situation and I am the one who herniated the disks in my back trying to escape the physical attack of a little girl raging. If we need to talk because of a problem with my daughter do not talk to me like some good friend who might have a few words of wisdom to share with me—ask me what wisdom I can share with you. I cannot talk to you if you continue to think you might actually have some valuable answer based on your experience with a bunch of regular children. I guess I could talk to you but I might end up sounding like a resistant parent so until now have let your words go in one ear and right out the other. We are not regular parents…..we are a Forever mom and dad.If you have any questions or would like me to suggest a book—or another resource that might help you learn to understand that you can not expect the same methods to work with Makala that you might with my other daughter Tori I would be very happy to help you. I have already given several of you books—sensitivity training videos and other literature. I am pretty sure you either didn’t read it—or couldn’t understand it. But would be happy to give you more. Please be aware that from this point forward I will be viewing myself as the ‘expert’ in all things that have to do with Makala. If you would like to make a suggestion for a cute hair style or movie she might enjoy please do so. If you are feeling that you might have an idea on a way to ‘help’ her attach to us—or do better in school—or act better during a visit at your home please call the experts and ask for our opinions on your idea we would be happy to talk with you at any time for as long as you would like about the issues in our daughters life…we would be happy to help you become educated on what it really is all about. After all we are the ones who decided to become the forever mom and dad. Our only goal is to raise our children in a home that is safe, secure and filled with love so that she will grow up to be everything she can be.

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