Need attachment help to keep our fost-adopt family together - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 04-29-2014, 01:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Friends, things have gotten bad in our home and I'm looking for support, ideas and advice to keep our family together.

 

To summarize, my husband and I have two bio daughters of grade school age and two preschooler sons who joined us by adoption through foster care. Our girls are smart, talented and kind. Both of our boys have serious special needs that result in a lot of extra care and some intense behavior challenges, including injury to each us and to the rest of our family. It is draining on all of us. My husband feels like he can't take it anymore and twice verbalized that he wants to dissolve the adoptions.

 

That is not an option for me. I think my husband is also dealing with chronic, mild depression and he'd be wanting to get rid of me through divorce if it weren't for the boys to place the blame on. Regardless, the stress the boys bring to our family is HUGE and it is real. Keeping our family intact is my desire. I need help.

 

On top of a list of developmental and physical diagnoses, both of our sons have autism. Our 5-year-old is the classicly autistic child without the ability to understand or display many social cues. It's darn near impossible for him to recripocate love. He has been my son for three years now and ****l doesn't know who Mommy is. Just the other day, one of his therapists was testing him and asking him to point to Mommy. He couldn't even figure out who I was with help, not to glance toward me or anything. He pointed to toys and cards every time he was asked where's Mommy. Talk about depressing. As the stay-home-parent, he is more bonded to me than my husband, so you can imagine how tenuous the relationship is with my husband. He was severely neglected before coming to us, so we don't know which of his behaviors are due to that and which are from the autism, not that it matters.

 

Our 4-year-old has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and basically acts like a drunk in a Wild West movie. One minute he is kissing on all of us, the next minute a minor thing will set him off and he is literally throwing chairs and every hard object he can find at us. We have had him since he was a few weeks old so there is attachment, but when he splits my lip or bites open my arm, it becomes strained.

 

It hurt last weekend when my husband shouted about what this was all doing to our girls. They don't get enough of our attention. They can't play normally at home because noises set off one of the boys and other things set off the other. We can't go to one of the girls' soccer games as a family because of the boys' behavior. The girls certainly can't have friends over who might do something crazy like leave a door open or talk out loud, thus setting off a boy. My husband verbalized that he just wants us to be a normal family. I'm mourning the fact that we had a perfect family before the boys. That's hard to say. But there, I said it.

 

I do homeschool the girls, which helps. The boys go to a special needs school and to an autism center. I hate the idea of sending them away, especially when I know attachment is one of the issues here, but their care is intense and I need the break. (I hate when people say they send their kids to school because they need a break. But really, I NEED this.)

 

I feel like we're getting all the help we can in our rural community. ABA treatment for their autism just became available and I advocated for my sons to be the first kids in the county to get it. It has already helped them after starting a month ago. They have IEPs at school and get specialized help. We have good doctors as their specialists. We get services through community mental health, including a whopping 4 hours a week of respite care (sarcasm: we need more badly).

 

I took my husband to a therapist for us to talk about this. He and my husband seemed to be going down a path of thinking that the best option since I don't want to rescind the adoptions would be to get long-term respite care for the boys, which means putting them in a home for a week or months. That sounds like a terrible option to me. They have already experienced trauma in their lives and that would introduce more. So we'd get a break, but they'd come home even more pissed at the world. I said I thought we needed help for my husband to work on attachment with them, but the therapist kind of ignored that, or so I felt.

 

Anyway, help! I'll take all the ideas you have to share.


Raising and educating free-range kids in our farmhouse at the maple woods. In March, find us in the sugarbush making pure maple syrup.

1 me + 1 hubby + 4 kids + 5 goats + 3 pigs + 3 dozen chickens + 6 ducks = 1 crazy place
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#2 of 8 Old 04-30-2014, 12:29 PM
 
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I hear you!  We just have two boys - working on adoption - and there needs are great.  It's been really hard to adjust from being a married couple to parents.  I have let go of many of my beliefs about what kind of parent I would be and how my household would be run.   It's been a BIG adjustment for my husband and I. 

 

For us, medication for one of the boys has made a real difference.   I was the person who swore they would never medicate a young child!  A good lesson for me in not judging others.  Given that the autistic boy has no emotional attachments, would a group home be so bad?  Sometimes I "try things on" for a few days.   So I'll pretend I've made a tough choice and see how I feel over the course of a few days. 

 

I'm not sure if you heard the story of the mother in Michigan who tried to kill herself and her special needs daughter.  I think we might take for granted how desperate, depressed, scared, and overwhelmed we can get as care takers of kids with big needs.  For 16 years this woman was a devoted Mom to a child that couldn't return love and affection, it takes a toll on the most saintly of us.  At the end of the day YOU ARE THE BEST JUDGE of what is right for your children.   Please don't concede to convention or guilt!

 

I wish you all the best!

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#3 of 8 Old 04-30-2014, 07:51 PM
 
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In your area does the community mental health center offer wraparound services? Also, did you get adoption subsidies for these two boys?

 

I will be back later to chat more! I need some sleep badly!


 
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#4 of 8 Old 04-30-2014, 08:09 PM
 
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I don't have any BTDT experience, but after reading I have some suggestions that I hope might help you, at least a little.

 

Your husband needs to face and address his depression if he isn't already. If your family prefers natural remedies- Vitamin D, fish oil, St John's Wort can all be effective. Limit sugar as well. Prescription medication has done me no good, but fish oil is practically an anti-depressant- if I miss a dose, the difference is HUGE. I'm not suggesting this in place of therapy and possibly medication, but it may help, especially while he's setting up the appointments and such. It sounds like the depression was pre-existing, and he may have been able to manage it on his own before, but I can almost promise you this situation is worsening it. The situation you're in could cause depression, you may want to watch out for signs of it in yourself.

 

Is your autistic child on a gluten-free/casein-free diet? It doesn't work for everyone, but a lot of parents have had amazing results with a GF/CF diet, some go so far as to call it a "cure" for autism. If you aren't doing it, I know just how daunting it is- believe me, I found out I have a gluten sensitivity this year, I know how hard it is, but the result is worth it. I don't know of anything similar for FAS.

 

Don't beat yourself up for needing self-care. Having special needs children can knock all of your previously held beliefs and values on their butt. Don't feel bad about needing to send your son to school. They're being sent to a place where people have more training and experieince in their unique needs, right? And you're getting much needed one-on-one time with you daughters, right? And your sons know that they come home to you, and thanks to the break you're in a far better mindset to meet their needs than if you felt trapped and got no relief, right?

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#5 of 8 Old 05-03-2014, 10:39 AM
 
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OP, going to a therapist was a good idea, but it sounds like fate landed you with a really terrible one for your particular issues, since his suggestion was to send away some of your children rather than helping their other parent deal with his own issues so that he can become a fit father to them. Wow. That's so unethical that I don't know where to start with it.

One of the things that coparents do for each other is that one puts their foot down in defense of the children when the other is screwing up badly. If your two biological children are aware on any level that their father would like to get rid of their siblings because of behavioral issues, then they are being emotionally terrorized in their own home. One of your sons came home as an infant, for pete's sake! If you husband rejects him, what does that mean about his love for them?   If your husband can picture a reality where he gives away two of your children and keeps the two he likes better right now, AND keeps you as a wife, then you haven't expressed to him the reality of your commitment to your kids. This would be ultimatum time for me: get help right now with a therapist who understands both depression AND adoption, or start looking for a new place to live because your untreated mental illness is making you incapable of being a good parent to any of your children at this time.


Special needs parenting is HARD. It's not actually easier when the children are yours biologically. Mourning the "perfect" family you might have had if one of your children/siblings was not disabled is utterly normal. Trying to give away your children as though they were unwanted pets is NOT. You are having a normal reaction and your husband is having a pathological reaction, and he needs to understand that. If he can't understand it, then he needs to not be living with any of your kids, because his current mindset is harmful to all of them. 
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#6 of 8 Old 05-03-2014, 03:51 PM
 
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I agree, you definitely need a therapist that sees your adopted kids for what they are- YOUR CHILDREN. Although being adopted does have an impact on them and your family, ultimately they're your children just as much as your biological children are. I cannot imagine a therapist telling parents of biological special needs children to just get rid of them! 

 

I think that the biggest problem is that your husband doesn't see your sons as his the way you see them as yours. His response of not wanting these kids in his life isn't an uncommon response to other peoples' children, even to non-special needs kids, but it is not a parent/guardian/care-giver's response. I don't think he actually sees himself as these boys' parent, and that needs to change. He's the only one who can fix that, and I don't know if he will. Your sons aren't easy children to bond with and it doesn't seem like he's willing to try if he already wants to kick them out. This is actually something that would be really helpful for a therapist to help him with.

 

There are times when special needs kids need to be placed somewhere else, because the parents aren't equipped to meet their needs. I don't mean the parents losing/giving up custody, but there are things like group homes and boarding schools for special needs children that are much better equipped to care for the kids than your average household. It is possible that, in the future, that may be something you're faced with. But it doesn't sound like you're anywhere near that right now, and that isn't what your husband is suggesting. He's not talking about what's in the best interest for the boys, he's not even considering their needs. His actions are not the action of a parent, and he needs to own up to the fact that he chose to take on the responsibilities of being these boys' father and start acting like their dad.

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#7 of 8 Old 05-03-2014, 07:39 PM
 
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Well said Sillysapling and Smithie. The other situation in which reactions like the OP's husband has are common, are those in which the husband was not really on board with the adoption(s) in the beginning, but went along with the wife because she really did. So when things go in an unexpected direction, husband wants to bail on the kids, because it is hard to resolve the anger at the wife.  Couple's therapy can help a lot with that type of situation; also helps at the beginning if one parent wants to adopt and the other doesn't. It's complicated stuff; but the children should not have to suffer. 


 
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#8 of 8 Old 06-25-2014, 09:14 AM
 
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I know this thread is a little old, but any updates?

Mom through birth and foster care adoption to DS 9, DD 6, and DD 7 mos 
Check out my blog: No Bohns About It
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