Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Odd How We Measure Progress

Once upon a time, 2002 to be exact, our daughter Leigh was crazy. She still is but in different ways, or in differently manifested ways. Here's a look at past and present, in order to measure progress: Then, we had to take all her furniture, including her mattress out of her room. (She had a blanket and a pillow.) This because everything became objects to use to hurt us with, or had been destroyed. I didn't know a seven year old could dismantle a dresser, and by dismantle, I mean destroy. All drawers in pieces, the frame literally shredded. In just a day. Now, she has furniture. It's grubby, but it's there and functional. And she's had it for more than a year. Then, we had to board over her windows and closet door. This because she was trying to punch her way through the glass of the windows, and had climbed to the top shelf of her closet and was playing with the light bulb socket. She had also ripped out the chair rails out of the walls with her bare hands and was using them to beat holes in the drywall, and we were afraid she'd do the same to the windows or the wall of her closet...behind which lie the plumbing to our home's only bathroom. Now, she has windows and a closet. The windows are bolted shut and the closet has no door, but it does have *some* clothing hanging appropriately in it. Then, she had no toys in her room because: A.) She'd destroyed most of them. B.) She'd use them to throw at us C.) She'd use them to destroy other things D.) She used them for a form of stress relief that starts with M and rhymes with perturbation. E.) All of the above. The answer is E. Now, she has some "stuff." A few books. A beat up stereo. Lots of pens, pencils and paper. Makeup and perfume. Lotions. A few decorations picked up at yard sales and Goodwill. Still beaten pretty hard, but most of it used appropriately. Then, she'd rage for hours until she passed out from exhaustion. Now, she just sleeps or eats when she's bothered or upset. Then, she'd pee, poop and vomit in her room ON PURPOSE and hide it. (Nasty story: The worst was when she managed to shove some under her boarded up closet door. We couldn't find the smell for weeks. It was gross. Just gross.) Now, she only has what we euphemistically call "hygeine issues." (Based on her refusal to make friends with this stuff we call "soap" at our house. However, this summer on Mom Bootcamp, we are addressing them. Then we had attachment therapy, play therapy, bi-weekly lunch sessions with a school counseling, a therapist, lots of family friends, a psychiatrist and meds. Now, we have two probation officers, in home and at school therapy, special school placement, a psychiatrist and meds. Very few family friends have survived our adoption, but the ones we have we know are the real deal. Then, she'd eat things she found on the sidewalk, attempt to smoke dropped cigarette butts off the street, and sampled drywall, carpet, rocks and most of her toys. Now, she eats any food she can find, and smokes anything she can find. Then, we attended church, and thought we had a good support system. Then, we also thought we had a good grasp on what we needed to do as parents. Now, we don't go to church, because having that support system means having to tell too many people too many stories and being judged way too much. Then, she had no friends. Now, she has no friends. ____________________________________ It's a really strange concept for normal families to grasp that an appropriate goal for an adopted child with issues could be "Leigh will not use her bedroom for a toilet in anger." For an adoptive family of a kid with issues, it's just another day at home. It's name is RAD, or mental illness, or, as one therapist explained it 'holes in her heart.' Either way, it's no fun, and all you can do is hope that, in the end, the progress you've seen is worth it. ___________________________________________ Inspired by today's post at This Work Stinks... Hang in there Mom! You're doing a great job!


  1. I think you managed to capture a very accurate, detailed word picture. I am so happy for you that you both (all, it affects the whole family!) are not in this tragic place anymore. Know what's weird? This could have been about my daughter Butterfly. 2007 and 2008 were years just like this. Her old room is the one Armadillo is (ab)using now, and we had to take the closet doors off and the shelves out because she'd climb to the top and stuff feces behind the top shelf. That took forever to find. The linoleum he is ripping up was put in because she soiled the carpet so much we had to rip it out. Armadillo gets stuff in his head and just repeats it over and over. I think he's stuck on her behaviors! (She is functioning very well, like yours is now).

    Thank you so much for sharing her progress. It is a tremendous encouragement to know of the successes brought out from these dark places. Just as encouraging as the healing, is that you stuck it out. You have been where I am. Your kid did the exact.same.things. That the behaviors are so strikingly similar makes that "what if I am the crazy one?" voice in my head quiet itself.

    So thank you for your encouragment and support. Now look who's hijaking comments.

  2. Hang in there, Mama.

    And hijack away!!

    Holler my way if you need to vent... I'll miss your blog during your break. :-(


If you are an adoptive parent or have one in your family somewhere, talk to me. I could use some insanity that does NOT call me mom!!