Monday, November 02, 2015

We Never Outgrow the Need for Family

The National Adoption Awareness theme for 2015 is "We Never Outgrow the Need for Family," and is focused on the adoption of older youth. It is time to pay attention to America's teenagers living in foster care. These are our children, we are supporting them and the outcomes have not been positive.


When compared with their peers (who live with their permanent and biological families), young people in foster care face higher rates of poor outcomes. Youth in foster care face higher rates for dropping out of high school, unemployment, and homelessness. Young people between the ages of 15 and 18 represent 5 percent of the children currently living in foster care placements.(Children's Bureau, 2015').

Even in the face of disadvantage, research on positive youth development confirms that children and teens do have an ability to rise above and overcome the traumatic experiences and build a positive thriving adult future when they are connected to a strong, permanent support system.

Every young person needs a sense of belonging and opportunity to build lifelong connections which are critical in helping them prepare for adulthood. These lasting connections may play a major role in helping young people navigate the complicated landscape of their emerging independence and provide a sense of stability. Youth connected to a family who not only provide a sense of stability but also gain help in important life tasks like enrolling in college, finding stable housing, job hunting and building healthy relationships.

During National Adoption Month, prospective adoptive families can learn more about the needs of older youth and opportunities to positively guide them toward successful outcomes. Stay tuned for more info!
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Children's Bureau. (2015). The AFCARS Report: Preliminary FY 2013 estimates as of July 2014, No. 22. Retrieved from https://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/afcars-report-22.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Back to School 2015: A year of Transitions Ahead

It always amazes me how quickly the summer passes and the school year begins again. This is a big year for the students in my house! Makaylah and my nephew, David are both seniors. Jeremiah is starting the 8th grade. This means in June 2016 there will be three graduations if everything goes as planned.

I am looking forward to a big year of transitions! It should be an interesting year with everyone in my home facing the end of one stage in life and a lot of new goals, situations, and excited anxiety. I am very happy that I managed to finish my degree before the year ahead. I wonder what I will be writing here this time next year?

The great part about Makaylah being a senior is that I will only have one more IEP meeting for her, and I believe that meeting will be all about closing the file! Yeah. She is not completely happy with the fact she will not be attending the main high-school full time, but we have been so blessed with the educational situation she has been able to access for her high school career. There was a time I wondered if she would be able to remain in the same school for a whole year. It wasn't easy and I had to move back to Oregon to find a school district that was actually interested in her success.

Thankfully, the Beaverton Oregon school district has treated Makaylah and Jeremiah like students they are interested in seeing become successful. Nearly the complete opposite of the attitude we found in Washington state, Evergreed school district. What a difference and I can only imagine the outcome had I remained living in a district that chose to "expell" both of my special needs children rather than accomadate the needs they have had. The impact of an uncooperative school district is at least 30% of the reason my marriage ended in divorce.

My brother John and I will be focused on our own transitions between now and the New Year. Our whole house is filled with members transitioning to a new stage of life. My dregee is earned and I am hopeful I will find a decent day-job. In February the "Safety-Plan" we have needed and used since October 2010 will no longer be needed. Makaylah will be an Adult and I will have successfully managed to help her make it here without any huge issues to face. All things considered a parent could not expect a better outcome than her life represents. We are however, very excited that the 24-7, line-of-sight, two adults at all times safety plan will be a non-issue in a few short months!

Co-parenting with my sibling has proven to be the best decision my brother and I could have made for all of our children. However, it feels like this little house has shrank over the summer and we are all looking forward to figuring out future living arangements. There is a real possibility it could be just Jeremiah and I living in this house together within the next year or two!

Now off to do some school clothes shopping!


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Now that we have the "Why" matter Settled

Some people have asked me why I would bother to finish my college degree at the age of 52? While many of my cohorts plan for retirement and the "golden years" why would I be planning my career? From all outward appearances, I survived to this point in my life without my Bachelor of Science in anything. And, it remains to be seen if two-years of college life during my 50s will result in any amazing change in my circumstances.

Why, did I go back to school and finish my degree?

  • I was in a position in life that I could finish classes, study, and be at home with my children.
  • I was half-way there because of the college credits I have earned along my way in life. I like to finish the things I start.
  • My education and life experience are the only things that can't be taken away from me. I guess unless I experience dementia or Alzheimer in my oldest age.
  • To set a good example for my younger children, since my older children have already finished college.
  • Because, a few people in my past life have told me I couldn't do it, or that I was somehow not intelligent, or invalidated my wisdom because I didn't have credentials. 
Those were my personal reasons for returning to college and completing my degree at the age of 52. The real question is what do I plan to do with my college degree now?

  • I would like to find a "career" day-job so I can feather my retirement a little more.
  • I understand there may be unconscious age discrimination out there--in the working world. I might consider taking a few more classes for a post-bach in Gerontology. After 32 years mothering, older people might be a nice change.
  • Most of all--I have the qualifications to research and write on a New Level. My future will include more free-time to work on a variety of projects and advocacy issues.
  • I can network with professionals on a whole new level, I am not just another mother with a story to tell. 
  • I will be able to use my "full participation" ethnographic research and write creative nonfiction the way I want to write creative nonfiction.
I am looking forward to the Next Goals, Projects and Adventures that make New Memories in my Life.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

The Finish Line is in Sight!

photo of Anna Glendenning on graduation day. PSU Honors College B.S. in Sociology
PSU Honors College Graduation
I thought I would stop by my old blog and post an update!

The past several years have been difficult on many levels, and my life did not go the way I had planned when I become the adoptive mother of Makala and Jeremiah. At the end of the day, however I am glad things have turned out the way they have.

Since October 2010 my little brother, John, and I have been co-parenting our children together. Between the two of us we have a total of seven children. My biological children are now 30 and 31 still doing well in their lives and I am still not a grandmother which means I called it right when I chose to adopt my little ones and continue parenting while I still had the energy. My brother's 20-something son is living around the corner in his own apartment and  is working hard. My 20 year old niece moved up this past year and is doing well in her job, and with her classes at Portland Community College--we don't mind keeping her around and in the house as she sets a great example for Makala and we want my niece to have the opportunity to start her life on the right-foot without being entangled with a relationship in order to survive. My nephew David is six-months younger than Makalah--they are both 17 years old now and about to start their senior year of high-school. And Marty is 13 years old now! It has been a long 12 years since the day I met my youngest children and life has included an interesting twist or ten since that day!

I returned in January 2014 to complete the college degree I never finished. I will say it has been one of the hardest things I have ever done in life, but I am thankful I will be completely finished earning my B.S. in Sociology in less than 6-weeks! I am currently working on my requirement as a student of the Portland State University Urban Honors College which is to write and present a Thesis. My thesis will be specific to just one part of what I hope will be a future of research and writing I have planned. I am doing a literature review with an ethnographic style about the Stigma associated with being identified as "Special Needs" at the time of placement for foster children. It will be a published writing in a Scholarly Journal! And, my first step toward what I hope to accomplish with everything about the life and journey I have lived so far.

I will be looking for gainful employment so that I am able to cushion my retirement nest-egg and starting my own research and writing a few books I have had in my mind for a long time. I am happy that the hard work I have done completing my degree will mean that I am able to write more than just another mother's story and that I will have the "qualifications" to write with authority!

Most of all, I can reassure parents out there in the situations of crisis and despair that it IS possible to see miracles happen for our children. It is possible as a parent to make the hard choices and be the best advocate for our children even with the conflicting expert advice and bureaucratic red-tape to plod through and parent our children. EVEN if RAD may always mean the attachment is slightly different than our dreams might have had in mind.

One thing I do know for sure is that Makala is doing well--will always have social issues and will probably face a future where her biggest problems stem from her inappropriate social attitudes and behaviors. My job was to keep her safe and raise her to become an able adult one day! In February she will be an adult and next June she will graduate high school. I have done what is required of a parent and been her best advocate the whole way. I made the Hard Decisions for her best interest and for her brother's best interest and I have sacrificed in order to provide the environment the children needed.

I was right to feel the "RAD CULT" was not a healthy way for ME to view parenting my daughter with Reactive Attachment Disorder and to be honest do not support Attachment Therapy and as many of my readers and friends are well aware I did take a shot at AT Parenting. In so doing, I became a depressed, victimized and controlling bitch which did not result in anything positive at all. What did make a difference was to remove and eliminate the situations that led to the most difficult rages and behaviors my RAD child had developed a pattern of needing. I have made it possible for her to NOT repeat the scripts that she repeated those first nine years of her life and placed myself and her into a situation where there was always at least one other witness to nearly everything! It has been very difficult to live under a "Two Adults, line-of-sight, 24/7 safety-plan" with Makala.... but, my brother and I found a way to pull it off! This has made it possible for the past nearly six years to be free of so many of the "little" and big things I once faced completely on my own.

I understand that most people would not be able to accomplish the safety plan I have accomplished but I could and it has been worth it. Every relationship is unique and my daughter will probably have social issue arise in her future but she has also had years of practicing socially appropriate behaviors in a non-traditional family setting.

I have a lot of ideas, suggestions and insight now. My hope is that I will be able to work and write and help make a difference for parents in the future. I look forward to returning to my blogs and starting my own research!


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