Monthly Archives: August 2015

The Adoption Part Seven

It was maybe a week into placement when our son started accusing others of abuse that was not occurring. In the beginning, this was almost always directed at my birth son. There was a three year age difference between them, and while both were excited to have a new brother, it wasn’t always easy for them to get along.

My birth son, however, had never been known to hit anyone at that point. It could happen, but I wanted to be sure before I accepted the accusations as real.

As I have said, both the foster parents and the social workers involved had told us of this tendency to make false allegations of abuse. It was something we were to watch for, but also to understand, knowing where he came from.

My solution to this issue between my sons was to give full supervision while they were together. As my younger son also had boundary issues, I did not feel comfortable leaving him alone with his sisters, either. The boys were then separated into different bedrooms, (which also helped as we found the younger had been stealing from the older) and constant supervision of my children became part of our routine. I didn’t find it exactly difficult. I guess that is one of the strengths of my autism – it is all or nothing, and once I added in this rule to our routine, I found a way to make it work… always.

I put an alarm on the outside of his bedroom door so that I would know if he was getting up in the night (he had a tendency to wander), had him nap, or have quiet time for a couple of hours in the afternoon to give me a break, and watched over him the rest of the day.

For those first two years, this worked most of the time. As long as the social workers didn’t believe everything he said (and since they told us this truth about him, they should have been questioning it all anyway) we could deal with this in a positive way. Supervising, and calmly stating the truth to his accusations, helped him to understand it wouldn’t work to try to get others in trouble in this way. It also reduced the frequency at which this happened.

Of all of my children, I think my younger son had the most growth in those first two years with us. He went through three years of primary school, learned to read well, stopped going up to strangers, stopped asking us to buy him everything he saw… He was settling, and things were going well.


He didn’t rage like my older daughter, though he did have meltdowns at times. Our neighbours would question us during these times, as he would cry for something he already had (such as a nightlight) and they would believe we were withholding things from him. But they weren’t very frequent, and time outs or removing privileges (such as riding his bike) were often sufficient in dealing with them.

He liked spicy foods, so pepper had no effect on him, and wasn’t used. He was 7 when he was placed with us, and old enough to have showers alone, so he was never given cold showers. The limits to his diet were replaced with other items, and we were fully open with the ministry about these things.

There was very little reason for him to be removed from our home.

However, on three occasions, all happening during his second year with us, I did spank him. I wanted to get across to him the seriousness of his offense, but I admit, I was both fearful and angry when I disciplined him. For that reason, I stopped rather quickly, and had him stay in his room in a time out while I went to think about things.

The three times I spanked him were for the following reasons:

  1. He stole a craft book from one of the children I had in my daycare, and scribbled in it. That child had died of leukemia that year, and I had meant to give the book to his Nana, who was coming to visit me that day. My younger son knew of this child, and also knew that this book had belonged to him, and that I had planned to return it to his family. At the time I thought his actions were deliberate, but as time went by I became less sure.
  2. While I was visiting my family across the country, he found a way to have time alone with my youngest daughter. He helped her to put on a sweater – which wouldn’t have gotten him in trouble – then hit her for telling me about it. It was that hit which he got in trouble for. I felt it was very important that she be able to tell me if someone touched her, without fear.
  3. He peed all over his room. It wasn’t just his bed. It was the entire perimeter of the room. On the floor, on blankets, on clothes, in the vent.. all around the room. Afterwards, I realized this was most likely an emotional response to the conversation he had overheard two days prior. At the time, however, I was upset. I did spank him. Did feel it was a poor time to respond in that way, as I was angry, and did stop myself telling him to stay in his room because I needed time to think.

For more reasons than the fact that the ministry found out, and the children were taken, do I regret my actions of those days. I regretted it while I was doing it, which was why I stopped and removed myself from the situation.

For more reasons than that the ministry forbid it, do I regret my response, especially for the first and third times. Where my son was in need of compassion and understanding, he was met with anger. It wasn’t right.

I know I was wrong. I will regret my actions for the rest of my life. I have lost my confidence in my ability to care for children, which was my life until this point. I do struggle to see, however, when so many decent and confident parents respond in this way so much more often, that I am a worse parent than them. I struggle to see how it was better for my children to be removed from my care, than to remain and have supports put into place to help us find better ways to discipline them.

Before we went camping that weekend that we had that confrontation with my sister in law – while my youngest son was awake and listening in the tent beside us – both of my sons had been skating in our driveway on their in line skates. My younger son crashed into one of our fence posts, and fell onto the driveway. He was wearing a helmet, but no other padding. He looked up in shock, but as was his way in larger accidents, he didn’t cry (he would scream for the little things, and carry on for the big ones.) He got up, and returned to skating, but was left with bruises along that side, and on his ear where the helmet strap went across. All of my children, as well as my mother were witness to this accident.

During that weekend of camping, he was active. He didn’t have any accidents, but did get some bruising from that as well.

Then we came home, feeling good. That Monday, my sister in law called the ministry on us, for no reason other than spite for our response to her. My son peed all over his room, and received a spanking for it. On Wednesday, our son had his adoption finalization interview – but the social worker came with the intent to take our children away, due to that phone call.

In our son’s words, the social worker made him say that I beat him up. She got an inaccurate confession out of him, and told him he and his sisters would never live with us again. Then they were moved without question, even knowing full well that he had a tendency to say such things. The allegations were not completely false, as I did spank him that day – but for the rest, my youngest son would say what he believed others wanted from him, and the social worker came looking for this story, so he told it. And then they were gone.


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Harvesting Plums

I spent the morning harvesting plums from our tree. We planted it about 8 years ago, and it was supposed to be a dwarf, but it won’t stop growing. We had the same problem with the cherry tree that we planted at the same time – it is huge! If I had known, I would have planted them in the front yard. There is a lot more space out there, but we had rabbits at the time, who had the run of the yard – and rabbits and baby trees don’t mix.


So we planted them in the back, and our neighbours (who are advanced gardeners – which makes me anxious, and stops me from trying most of the time, but that is another story) asked me to cut off the parts hanging over our fence.

I guess that worked out as many of our plums were growing on their side, and I couldn’t get there to pick them. So I just cut off the branches, and pulled them over to my side, harvesting them as I went. If he told me to cut them off this time of the year, and he knows what he is doing, it should be okay… right?

There were a lot of spiders – and I don’t like spiders. I know they do good things, eating so many insects, and I am not the kind to kill them (most of the time.) But I would prefer it if they never came near me. Some of these spiders were huge! – okay, I am not talking bird eating spiders from Australia huge, but for Canadian spiders, they are too much.

There were also several bees happily feeding (or whatever they do) on the raspberry bushes. I don’t mind bees, they are friendly, and so good for the environment – and it makes me sad that people use pesticides and things that are killing them off. In the plum tree, however, there were a lot of wasps. Wasps I could do without. So every time I cut off a branch, I had to run away as a swarm of wasps came flying out of it. Then I could go back and pull it over to harvest it.

We don’t spray any of our food. I really don’t know what I am doing for gardening, anyway (though I would love to learn) so I wouldn’t know how. So all of the food we bring in has to be cut to check for worms and things.

The plum tree isn’t too bad. I haven’t found any yet. There are a lot of ladybugs laying eggs on them, but they are on the outside, and I want to encourage them, so I just left them out there. The cherry tree in the back is pretty bad. We really should spray that one. The cherry tree in the front is okay, though.

Every time it comes to harvest season, I procrastinate in getting to it. When I was working, I often forgot, the time went by so fast – but now I need to find ways to save money, and harvesting our food is a good way. However, every time I actually bring myself to do it, I remember how much I enjoy it. It feels really good to grow and bring in my own food – like that is exactly what I should be doing.

I don’t know how to can my foods. I would love to learn how – but I am not good at asking, or learning from people that I know. I would like to take a class, but those cost money… I would also love to learn to garden.

I can grow some of the basics – pumpkins, sunflowers, potatoes, tomatoes, raspberries, plums, and cherries – but I don’t know what I am doing even with these. They are just the ones that seem to grow for me. In fact, one year my dog replanted our potatoes for us. He isn’t a digger, but I guess he thought that was important, and he dug away at the soil where our forgotten potatoes had been planted the previous year, and we had a whole new crop (is that what you call it?)

When it comes to passion, and the way I would like to live, I think this would be it. Back to the basics, grow and preserve my own food, heat the home with a wood burning stove, dry my clothes on the line, knit and sew the things that need to be new, and buy the rest at the thrift store. I am a traditionalist – a pioneer/farmer/country person by heart – but I was never taught how to live that way, so all I can do is dream.

Today though… today was a good day.


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The Adoption Part Six

When he was placed with us, we were told that our son had a tendency towards making false allegations, making up lies, stealing… all of the behaviours one might expect from a 7 year old who had spent much of his young years in and out of foster care, and coming from an abusive home.

As I have mentioned, my son was brought to my daycare by his birth mom for much of the time between the ages of 21 months and 3.5 years. His mom came from much of the same type of childhood as he did, and had many of the same struggles. I can say from knowing her that she did try very hard, but she unfortunately had a tendency to be drawn into poor relationships.

While I did document the times when he came to my daycare with unexplained cuts and bruises, I never did call the children’s ministry on the family. The reason for this was that they were already involved before and during the time he was in my care, and while I questioned his mother’s explanations, there was a possibility that she was telling the truth.

When he left my care suddenly, and without explanation at the age of 3.5 years, I assumed (it seems correctly) that he had been taken back into foster care. I thought about him a lot, but never considered that one day I would be trying to adopt him.

For most people, and this was true for us, the social workers match the child to the family. It isn’t often that the parents choose the child, though they are given the option, once the paperwork detailing the children’s needs comes through, that the parents can choose not to adopt that particular child.

So while our social workers were preparing us for the adoption of a sibling group of three, which they had already matched with our family, we had no idea who the children we would be adopting were. It was when I was told his birth date that I put it together, and asked if he was the child we were to be adopting. I also had the name of our middle daughter (we live in a small town) and asked about her as well. This was confirmed, and I grew more excited about bringing my children home.

When he came home, he was as excited to have a new family as we were to welcome them home. He called me “mommy” right from the start, shortened to “mom” as he grew older. The behaviours that had been mentioned, and the challenges, were apparent right from the beginning.


He especially had trouble understanding boundaries when it came to people he didn’t know. He would run right up to people to ask them for things, or to climb in their laps. He had no fear in this, but it scared me. If we went into a store, he would continuously ask us to buy him whatever he saw, and grew upset when we told him he didn’t need it. For him especially, I could see that the social workers advice not to allow him to be given anything from other people, or to be left in the care of other people until he settled into our home was important to follow. So I did – fully and completely, as is my autistic way.

We homeschooled him, with permission from the ministry, both to help him settle in, and to help him with his education. I was already homeschooling my birth son at the time, and it made sense to me to keep the children home in the beginning. At the time of placement, he had just completed the first grade. They were moving him to second despite the fact that from what we could see, he couldn’t even recognize the letters of the alphabet. I had him repeat the first grade that year, and he (at his own request) completed the second and third grades the second year, so that at the end of two years in our home, he was right where he was supposed to be for school (despite the fact that he had fetal alcohol, attachment issues, and was tested in the 2nd percentile for intelligence.)

Outside of homeschooling, we took the children to Church, where they attended their age related classes, sent them to youth group, had friends come over, had birthday parties, visited family, spent time camping, took them for numerous outings to amusement parks, science centres, zoos… We also had numerous specialists and doctors involved in their care, and they still spent time regularly with their previous foster parents.

For me, that was an overwhelming amount of social interaction, so it didn’t make sense when they accused me at the end of those two years of isolating my children. I guess that, also, is the autism in me. The amount of social interaction that I can handle is so much less than that of neurotypicals that it doesn’t make sense to me that anyone would expect more. If they had known about my autism, and explained it to me, maybe I could have understood and adjusted – or maybe they could have given me that reason to deny our choice to homeschool in the first place; but then if they had known of my autism, they never would have allowed me to adopt at all.

If I had known, I could have adjusted, but I didn’t know. That is the way things go some times. I was trying so hard to be normal at that time, that it never crossed my mind that I was never created to be that person.

Our son was also on the sugar/dye/wheat/milk free diet that our girls were on. In fact, he had the strongest reactions of all of them in a behavioural way to these foods. I still do not understand how others could have missed these connections; they were so “loud” to me. I also do not understand how, when they were told in detail of what we were doing in these areas, they couldn’t come up with a solution to help get other types of fat into the children’s diets to help them gain weight.

So from these, I was accused of isolation, and nutritional neglect – though in these I believe they had as much responsibility to help us, and to let us know what they were demanding from us, instead of accusing us in the end of something they knew was there from the beginning.

This is a lot of information, and again I am going to have to split it into two posts to keep it from being too long. Thank you for sticking with me – there is a lot to say.


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The Adoption Part Five

This post is in continuation of The Adoption Part Four.

Doing the wheat free/casein free diet in addition to the sugar free/dye free diet, also made a very strong difference for the older two (the younger had health issues, and was off dairy when she came to us. We also kept the wheat and sugar out of her food, but for health rather than behavioural issues.)

It wasn’t like I took out wheat and dairy, and gave them nothing in place of it. They had oatmeal most mornings for breakfast. They ate rice, chickpea flour, quinoa, millet, corn flour… I replaced wheat with other grains. They still had breads and such, though they were made slightly different. They had soy milk, goat milk, and we tried other milks in place of cows. I sweetened their foods with applesauce, rice syrup, sugar free berry syrups…

And they had great appetites. They ate a lot, always licked their plates clean, always thanked me for the “tasty” meals. It was a lot of work, especially when going out, but it was worth it. Again, it would have been my autism that kept me so thorough in this. Without the allergies, I guess most parents would have given in, at least on special occasions, but I never did.

Though they ate well, and had energy, the older and younger child were very thin. I did not hide this diet from anyone. The social workers, specialists, doctors… everyone knew. I asked for help in finding foods that would help the children to gain weight. Mostly I was dismissed – some children are just small. Others said to feed them the wheat and dairy. Finally we got nutritionists involved. They were looking into reasons why the children would be so affected by these foods before the children were taken.

Even so – even though I replaced each food that was removed. Even though everyone was aware. Even though I was the one who requested help for the children’s weight gain. Even so, when they were removed, they called it nutritional neglect. It wasn’t right.

Still we had the issue of the rages. While reduced, they were still there, still dangerous, and I was still being judged for them. I was afraid of the spanking, that we would be found out, and lose the children. I needed something else that would work as well, but not get us into as much trouble.

With my birth son, in addition to spanking (which was only done occasionally until the age of 8, when other methods became more effective) I used black licorice pieces for talking back (he hated the taste), or removing electronics. Both were very effective for him, but then again, aside from school refusal, frequent refusals to bathe and brush his teeth, and the likelihood of having Aspergers, he was not a difficult child to raise.

With my daughter, (who had Fetal Alcohol – all three were diagnosed post placement, Reactive Attachment Disorder, and a high likelihood of being bi-polar) there was nothing I could use or remove to reason with her. With the sugar free diet, bad tasting candy was out, and she liked most foods. The one thing that worked (and again, I got this idea from other parents, not from myself) was a tiny dot of cayenne pepper on the end of my finger, and placed on her tongue.

Again I would threaten her with it first – “Stop, or you will get pepper.” Then I would count, “That’s one….. That’s two…..” and again 90% of the time she would stop before three, saving us from hours or days of rages, and a lot of trouble. Again I hated doing it, and while it was not directly said, I was pretty certain it wouldn’t be allowed.

It was by accident that I tried the third idea. It was a hot summer. A very hot summer. We were on our trip across the country visiting my family, and staying in my mother’s home. She lives in a triplex, with one not so great water heater to share between the apartments. I was giving my daughter a shower (age 5 at the time) when the water turned cold. She had shampoo and soap still on her, which I needed to rinse off. She started screaming, and I told her I was sorry about the cold, but if she stopped screaming, I could get finish and get her out fast. She stopped.

cold water

For several weeks the cold showers worked for rages as well – again with the threat first, the count, and only as a last result, the follow through. Whenever possible, I used this in place of the pepper or spankings (which I had mostly stopped by that point.) Again, it was a very hot summer, or I would have worried about the cold causing health issues. I felt this was less dangerous, and less controversial than the other options, but still I was searching for less invasive methods. Still I hated doing it.

When the children were removed, all of these were deemed child abuse. While I don’t fully disagree with this assessment, I think a lot more could have been done to help. Telling me these things didn’t work, when they did, was not helpful. Finding me an alternative when I so often asked for help (and not seeing those requests for help as a desire to end the adoption) would have been much more useful.

I was open with a lot of my struggles – and with the fact that I loved and wanted to keep my children. I was open with most of it – and at the very least, the issues which brought about the discipline methods I was trying to avoid. As the children’s ministry, I feel they should have done a lot more to help me come up with reasonable ways to deal with the rages; with reasonable nutritional diets that would help the children grow, but not add to their behavioural issues. I believe there was a lot more they could have done, before removing the children, and causing more than two years of improvements in attachment and behaviour to be torn away.

This is, in full, the part I played in the removal of my middle child. I know who I am, and knew I needed to find other methods from the beginning. The ministry might say that I am in denial of the part I played – but that is not accurate. I know who I am. I wish they understood there was so much more that they could have done (and so much less in terms of damage) if they could have helped us rather than blaming us. We needed the support, not the judgment – and the children needed the consistency.

Despite my struggles, they were still thriving in our care, and I do not believe having them removed was the answer.

For my youngest daughter, her issues were mostly health related while she was in our home. I did not have a lot of behavioural issues from her (though she has apparently had many since returning to foster care.) For her, time outs or time ins were sufficient to end behaviour. Transitions were her hardest area, but even then she would usually stop screaming for me if I told her that I couldn’t drive while she was screaming, or we would crash (that didn’t work for my husband, but he could ignore until they were nearly home, and she would stop on her own as he turned onto our street.)

Aside from the diet, which everyone was fully aware of, there was nothing that could be considered abuse towards my youngest child.

The older boy was quite a bit more of a challenge than the youngest, and quite a bit less than the middle. I will have to save his story for another post.


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The Adoption Part Four

Today is a difficult post for me, for this one reveals my own failure and regret; my part in the loss of my children. It pains me greatly, and constantly I have to remind myself that I am forgiven – it helps me to forgive others. It helps me to move forward, and try… keep trying to forgive myself. For I haven’t yet.

Please understand my children were my life. I put all of myself into their care. I spent all of my waking hours thinking of them, and trying to find ways to improve their lives and help them to heal. I read, researched, listened to the specialists, went to workshops. I was overwhelmed by all the people involved, but still I pushed through it for the sake of my children.

I paid strong attention to the rules we were given, and the guidelines the ministry advised us with in raising them. I tried. But so many rules from so many directions, so many conflicting ideas, would be difficult for most people. It proved impossible for me.

Other rules I tried to follow, knowing very well they were essential, and was unable to maintain.

For instance, with my middle daughter, who was prone to rages. Her rages were very loud, self-harming, long lasting, frightening, and very exhausting. They also almost exclusively happened while she was with me, and to a lesser extent, my husband. If I left her to her rages, others would hear her screams, and judge my parenting.

If I left her to her rages, she would end up with numerous bruises on her head, legs, and arms, as she flailed on the floor. Bruises I would have to explain, and already I was getting in trouble for her rages (though they were the same when she was in foster care, only in her younger years she could be contained in her crib, where less harm would be done. We too followed this procedure until she outgrew her crib, but I was still being judged for her screams.)


I found that if her routine was kept predictable, her schedule exact, and she was kept from being overwhelmed (by having more than one specialist visit at a time, for example, or too many activities in a week) her rages would be reduced significantly. Reduced, but not eliminated, and still I was being judged, and she was at risk of hurting herself.

I tried time-ins, but due to her attachment disorder, her rages would become worse. I tried holding her in a hug until the rage was over (as worked for her brother when he was young) but these didn’t work for her either, and both of us would get hurt.

With the advice of others, I tried the refined sugar free/dye free diet. As is true to my autism, I was very thorough in this. I could see a very real difference in the behaviour of the older two children with this diet, and if they had unknowingly received foods with sugars or dyes from someone else, I could literally feel it, like an energy, or a poison, coming off of them. I could not even get close to them without feeling this wave push me away. Others did not see this pattern. With it screaming off of them so loud to me, I figured others must be blocking it out in order to deny it. How could they possibly not see the connection? They thought I was imagining it.

This also worked, but there were still a lot of rages. The danger was still there.

The ideas did not come first from me. It isn’t like I lost my temper, and just used what was around. I knew these were not allowed, and felt very guilty for using them – but I couldn’t find an alternative. Asking for help (which I did, often) only increased fears from the outside that the children were too much for me. I was afraid my children would be taken if I used these ideas, but I was even more afraid that they would be taken if I didn’t try.

The ministry would (and does) tell people these things don’t work. That is where their logic broke for me. Whether right or wrong, these things did work. While the ministry was against them, many decent parents in society still use them. It didn’t make sense that birth parents could still be good parents when using these methods, but I was considered a child abuser for using them less frequently than most, and for much more significant issues. I guess that is my autism. I cannot see how what is true for one cannot be true for another, and it seemed really unfair.

The first method was spanking. I didn’t go directly to spanking when she was in a rage, but to the threat. “Stop, or you are going to get a spanking.” Then I would start counting. “That is one….. That is two…..” if I got to three, I would follow through. 99% of the time, I didn’t get to three, and hours – even days of raging would be ended. I knew, though, if I didn’t follow through, the threat would lose its power.

It did not actually happen often. She was over 3 years old when I started. I never used anything but my hands to spank her. She always had her clothes on, I did not go over about 3 swats at a time. I do not believe it was abuse, and it did save all of us a lot of pain and judgment.

But spanking is a definite “no” with the ministry. I knew that. It was very clear. It physically, mentally, and emotionally hurt me to go against the rules – that is not in my nature. While I am not exactly against spanking, I am a rule follower, and I could not keep it up. So I sought other methods that would work as well.

This post is getting too long, so I will have to split it again. There is still a lot to say, and I feel it is important to share in detail.


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The Adoption Part Three

The adoption seemed to be foreordained when we found out that I had watched the older child in my daycare for 2 years, while he was still living with his birth mom. During that time, he struggled quite a bit, especially with transitions in the beginning, but he quickly settled into life in my home. As a toddler and preschooler, he was often in my care not only during the daytime, but overnights and weekends as well.

To find out that we were now to adopt him and two of his siblings led me to feel a sense of peace that we were doing the right thing.


We received the paperwork with the reports on the children, and it was heartbreaking. To think of how much they had experienced in their short lives, and how it had affected them, just tore at me. I determined to make it my mission to help my children to not only heal, but to thrive in my home.

For me that meant a lot of reading and research on their issues, as well as on how to help them through their challenges. I very much enjoy reading and research, and so by the time they came, I felt I had a good understanding of what we were facing and the best ways to help them through that.

Before placement, we were told that the older two children especially had significant attachment issues. It was the social workers recommendation that I give up my daycare license, and focus on my kids; that because of their attachment issues, we should not leave them in the care of another for the first six months after placement, and that all gifts and food during those early months should come from my husband and I.

Those early days with our children were both highly exciting, and highly overwhelming. There was so much to do. I think it was a mistake, likely, that we spent much of that first summer up at the lake. The girls were too young, and there were too many people up there. That tied with the fact that we were supposed to be providing for all of the children’s care, and relatives at the lake wanted to participate, quickly led people to be dissatisfied with my parenting choices.

I tried to explain that it was at the social worker’s recommendation that we were not allowing them to watch or feed the children, but they didn’t understand. I think that showed the beginning of my downfall. When I am given rules such as these, and reasonable reasons behind them, I follow them. I can’t help it. I suppose they could call me controlling and rigid in this (and they did) but it isn’t even as if I came up with these rules on my own. I was only following what I had been told to do.

Over the next two years we settled into a routine of homeschooling (for which we had permission), crafts, stories, games, outings, appointments… life was full, and rewarding. The children were healing, and settling into our home. I even took them on a cross country trip (by car, camping along the way, no less) to meet with my family.

Knowing my children as I did by this point, I decided to make the trip a long one. Three months, including the 12 days or so of driving. I knew that my middle child would rage at the beginning and end of the trip. That was her response to disruptions in her routine. I knew the others would struggle with her rages, and we would all be exhausted for a while. Still I thought it was worth it, and expressed to others the reasoning behind my plans.

So when we returned, and it was followed by weeks of rages from my girl, it shouldn’t have surprised anyone. I had told them it would happen. Still they blamed me.

Unfortunately I agreed with my husband to take the children to the lake during this time, despite feeling it was too early, and my elder daughter was not ready. I went, and hoped it would work out… but it didn’t.

Having Reactive Attachment Disorder, my girl saved the worst of her rages for me. Others would come up to her, and she would walk with them, smiling. They would look to me as if to show me how it was done, but she would come back and be worse than before. They didn’t see it. They didn’t understand. It was the hardest weekend I had had, both with my children, and with my husband’s family. I felt judged, and misunderstood, when I needed support and understanding.

After we got home, my daughter healed. Things were finally getting back to normal, and I was still thankful that I was able to make the trip.

We had a meeting with multiple professionals in the children’s lives, including their previous foster parents and social workers. All of them commented to me on how well the children were doing, and how pleased they were with our care.

Since things were going so well, I once more agreed with my husband to take the children up to the lake. We did like it there, and it was often a lot of fun for all of us.

Unfortunately, my sister in law was also up there. She has never liked me. I have known this since the first time we met. She is a very intense person, and I don’t do well with intensity. She is also a teacher, and possibly the fact that I was already homeschooling my birth son by the time we first met was seen as a threat to her. Whatever the reason, she never liked me.

The children did very well that weekend, and aside from one instance where I was too paralyzed by her presence to get my children water when they asked for it (we did get it as soon as she got up and left) we did well in our parenting of them that weekend. There was no reason, then, as to why she would call the children’s ministry on us after we had left.

She confronted my husband on that trip, and we fought back. She questioned our parenting, though she neither witnessed my daughters rages, nor any struggles we had with the children, and still she questioned us – so we told her to leave us alone. That is why she called the ministry.

The children were removed from our home that Wednesday, and despite how the social workers and foster parents praised us the week before, they were suddenly all against us. Guilty with no chance to be proven innocent. And that is still how I see the world responding to me. Is it any wonder I have such anxiety?


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No Dogs Allowed

On our way home from the lake, we made a stop in the city so that my husband could visit his sister, who was in the hospital there.

He dropped my dog and I off at the park; the same park we had waited at a week before while he went to the hospital. I looked then, I really did, for signs that said dogs weren’t allowed, and I only saw them at the playground. That made sense. No dogs on the playground. I could live with that.

Summer 2015 016

This time we were dropped of at the other end of the park, and as my husband pulled away, I saw the sign. No Dogs Allowed. The anxiety started, but I figured I had looked the week before, and hadn’t seen the signs, so maybe it was just that picnic area.

Okay, so the picnic area and the playground were out of bounds for us, but we could still walk through the park as we waited for my husband to get back.

As I was coming up to the other end of the park – the other parking lot, where we had been dropped off a week ago – a little girl looked up at a sign that was facing her and read, “No Dogs Allowed.”

It is not like I meant to go against the rules. I didn’t know. I don’t understand rules like that anyway. Where else were we supposed to go when my husband was at the hospital? It is not like we live in that city, or even close enough for him to bring me home first (or go back to the lake to pick me up.) Both are a fair distance away. Where were we supposed to go? Last week we tried to go to another park, but noticed the sign right away. No Dogs Allowed. That is why I ended up at the other park.

About a month ago, we stopped in the same city at another park, which also had the signs up. No Dogs Allowed. It is so unfair. I clean up after my dog. It isn’t his fault other people don’t do the same. Why are we denied access to the parks?

So at that far end parking lot, where I realized we weren’t allowed to be there, I walked up to the street. I walked along the street, and back to the place where we had been dropped off. I had to wait there for my husband to come and pick me up.

As I sat there, and read by a tree in the parking lot, my anxiety grew. My heart was racing, my stomach was turning, my head was dizzy, and my fingers were numb. Even my dog was whimpering in fear. The whole time I was afraid that someone would come up to me and yell at me for having my dog there.

People are scary, and I don’t understand their rules. Being there made me want my dog with me even more – not to defy their rules (that isn’t me; it is not being able to follow their rules that brought out such anxiety to begin with) – but because I was so anxious about the people that I needed my dog to calm me.

I don’t fit in their world.

No Dogs Allowed. I need my dog. Why won’t they allow us in their world? I don’t understand. They might as well say, “No children allowed,” or “No geese allowed.” They make as much mess. If it is over fears others have of dogs, they might as well say, “No crowds allowed,” or “No people allowed.” I am as afraid of crowds and people as others are of dogs, yet if I could bring him, I even I would have found peace in a space of my own, within that crowd. It doesn’t make any sense.


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The Adoption Part Two

Though I was very nervous about the pre-adoption classes, I didn’t find them particularly hard. It had only been a few years since I took my Early Childhood Education, and at the time I was still running my daycare, so I knew quite a bit about children going in.

I am also a researcher by nature, and by the time we had our classes, I had read a lot of material about the main types of challenges we might face adopting out of the foster care system. I wasn’t naive enough to believe that it would be easy, but my concerns at this point were more about how to pass the home study, and whether we had enough bedrooms for the children.

While I did all that I could to prepare, the future is an abstract concept to me that I find difficult to imagine. I can dream of what the future might bring, and with that comes both excitement and fears, but I can’t put myself into that space to see how I would do there.

Since I was already used to having 7 children around me each day in my daycare, my husband and I decided that we would ask for a sibling group. I believe that it is especially important to keep siblings together when they have experienced a trauma, as all of these children have.

It was winter when I called for information on adoption, spring when our classes started, and fall of that year was when we started our home study. By this time, the social worker already had a sibling group in mind for us to adopt, and I was very anxious, and very excited.


As is true to my nature, I put all of myself into the home study, and the projects that we were given to complete during it. Our social worker said she had never had anyone who was so thorough in the things she asked us to do – but that is who I am.

It was hard for me to talk about my past to the social worker – both because my early years were traumatic themselves, but also because of my difficulty in making the connections between thoughts and words. It would have been really helpful to have questions written out that I could answer beforehand, but of course, we didn’t know about my Autism at that time. I highly doubt that we would have been allowed to adopt if they had known.

That is not to say that I believe Autistic people couldn’t make good parents, whether adoptive or biological, but the Children’s Ministry is very strict about who they allow to adopt. There is good reason for that, as these children have already had a difficult beginning, and the social workers need to feel confident that the parents are healthy, and emotionally stable going in. They just don’t understand enough about Autism to have that confidence at this time.

For myself, I believe I had a lot of strengths to give to my children – if only the ministry had understood the reason for my weaknesses in order to work with and around them. For it was my weaknesses that ultimately brought about the removal in the end. I did try to express my needs in positive ways, but it was my weakness they saw just the same.

But here, I am getting ahead of myself. We are still in the home study at this point, and my dream is not yet over.

I made it through the home study, and spoke fully about all of those difficult topics that I dreaded bringing up. I also spoke of all I had done to heal from that time, and of all the effort I had put into learning how to care for children since then.

So we passed the home study, and then came the wait. The wait was hard, and filled with anxiety. They knew at that point which children they wanted us to adopt, but still we had to wait. It was hard knowing our children were out there somewhere, growing up in foster care, and we were losing all of those months that we could have been getting to know them. It was hard, but there was still a lot that the social workers had to do on their end before the move could take place.

And then it happened. The following summer came, and suddenly we had three more little children to call our own. We were a family of six, and I was happy.


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The Adoption Part One

They say that people with Autism aren’t able to feel empathy. I don’t believe it. If anything, I have too much. It overwhelms me. I see the world. I know there is good in it – but I also see the evil, and it hurts. It hurts so much, and I wonder how people can move forward and enjoy life in a world with so much pain. Empathy. But I guess that is a post for another day.

It was something that I had always wanted to do. Maybe it had to do with growing up with “Annie”, and wanting to adopt the little girl, Molly, who was likely older than me. Perhaps it was because my childhood was so hard, and I wanted to stop some other child from going through life feeling as lost as I was. It could have been my way of trying to gain meaning for my struggles, and a reason to stay, when I so much wanted to leave this world.

Probably it was a lot of all of them, and very likely it was the wrong reason to adopt. But why do people choose to adopt, really? We see that the world is not really kind, and the children… the children can’t fight for themselves. We know that pain – or maybe other people imagine they know what it would be like – and we feel that we must do something to help.

When you see something is wrong with the world (and there is so much that is wrong with this world) how do you turn away from helping? And that is where I found myself. If I could do something, how could I not do it?

At the time, I had my son. True, my husband and I could not have more children, but there was my boy. I was also running a daycare, and was surrounded by little children a lot of the time. The children were happy in my care. I enjoyed the work. It wasn’t like my desire to be a mother wasn’t met in some way; but I still felt this strong call to do more.

Tyler 2006

It was hard to gather the words to speak to my husband. The connections between thoughts and spoken words were still hard to form – but this was something I felt I had to ask. Writing the words wouldn’t have been enough. I had to ask him, and so I did.

Despite how things turned out, I am still thankful he agreed. These days my son is grown. My daycare was closed for the adoption. My confidence in working with children is low. My fear of people is high. But I am still thankful he agreed.

The next day I picked up the phone. I am so much more afraid of phones now, but that came later. I picked up the phone, had the information sent to me, signed up for the pre-adoption classes, and dreamed of who my children would be.

That was the beginning. So full of hope and fear. Oh, to go back to those days.


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Welcome Home My Children

This is a poem that I wrote for my three children before they were placed in my home for adoption.  While the adoption failed after 3 years with us, my love and prayers for them remain constant.


I do not expect you to love right away

Or even to feel the desire to stay

When you lie in your bed I won’t ask you to say

Lord thanks for the way I was brought here today

Does it hurt when you cringe as I draw you near?

Do you crave the love you so painfully fear?

My child does it scare you when I shed a tear

For the loss you have suffered to bring you here?

When in anger you threw the toys down on the floor

Stomped down the hallway and slammed the door

Reminded me less of a child than a boar

Did you think I wouldn’t want you anymore?

Though you push me away with all of your might

Break our things, hit your friends, and give me a fright

Grasp for control and hold on tight

Still I will stay by you for I know it is right

At night when you’re lonely as you could be

Frightened of things in your dreams you will see

Will you turn to the one I love? – Jesus is He

Right beside you through all of your life He will be

Years from now as you look back on our care

Will you be able to say, “yes the Lord’s love was there”?

Will the years in our home help you to bear

The life that so often seemed terribly unfair?

When you grow will you know of the depth of the love

That permeated your life from above?

Of God the shepherd seeking His little lost sheep

And leading you home; forever to keep

God loves you, and so do I.


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