Tag Archives: adoption

Autism: Extended Support

I am not much of a party person; not at all in fact. So I didn’t do much for New Years Eve this year. We were in bed with the lights off by 10:30pm in fact – later than usual, I admit, but not too different from any other night when my husband doesn’t have to work the next day.

At 12:01am, Clara ran up to me whimpering, then both my girls ran barking to their space at the window. The fireworks had begun. I sat with them (no point taking them back to bed like that) petting and calming them for about 15 minutes until the fireworks were over (it was just a neighbour after all, and firecrackers are expensive) then we went back to bed and slept until 9am. I was thankful my girls allowed me the extra rest, for normally we are up so I can feed them and let them out sometime between 7:30 and 8:30am.

I got through their routine, then went through mine: breakfast, tea, surveys and such on Swagbucks, read the news, go through my emails, read through my news feed on Facebook… I haven’t done my ‘lessons’ in a while. No routine seems to last long, even when I enjoy it. It was 11 before I was finished all of that, and then I watched an episode of ‘Angel’ on Netflix while I was waiting for lunchtime to come.

Lunch was eaten, and it was just after noon when I started my Sims game. I have mentioned in the past how much I love Sims, but I haven’t played much in a while as it started freezing up on my old computer, and then I started having all those issues with that computer, and didn’t play at all.

Since this game was on my new (to me) computer, the house and family I built in my last game didn’t transfer over, and I had to start new. I do get attached to ‘my family’ in Sims, and was disappointed when I learned I couldn’t ‘bring them with me’, but I really enjoy building my houses and creating and naming my family as well.

As I said, I started at noon. For the next nine hours I was completely fixated, and was only (with much difficulty) able to tear myself away to walk, feed, and take my girls outside, and to get my own supper. Even at 9pm, I didn’t want to stop playing, and felt the tug back to the game through the night and until the morning when I was able to start playing again.

That was how I spent my New Years. Though I had to start again, it isn’t even a new game. I have been playing Sims since long before I lost ‘my’ foster children – so at least 7 or 8 years – and I always get fixated for days, weeks, even months at a time where it is pretty much all I can think of.

One thing I did notice especially this time was how when creating my family (on Sims 2 pets for the PC at least, because I am allowed a large family there) is that I always include extra adults to help with the care of the children. Always. I know that if those extra adults aren’t there, I have no hope in properly caring for the children, and I will be completely overwhelmed by the game.

I know this for the Sims. Yet when I had my three very high needs foster children, plus my autistic son to raise, I pretty much tried to do it all myself. Sure I had my husband, but he was away at work full time, so basically I just had him read stories to the children as I bathed the girls (separately) and put them to bed. I also flew my mom in to help for a couple of months a year – but most of the time I was alone, and overwhelmed.

What I needed, I think, was not to lose the children but instead to have a larger group of people caring for them. With the ministry, they believe that having more people caring for the children meant having the children taken to respite and school, and daycare, and other places outside of the home. But I think it is better the way I have it set up in Sims – where the ‘extra’ caregivers are family who all live in the same home. Seamless. When a need arises, it is met, and no one is ever on their own with the children.

True, the Sims world moves fast. Much faster than what happens in real life, or so it would seem. But time does move fast for me. So fast, in fact, that it feels like it is moving as fast as it does in the game (and at least in the game I can, and do, pause often to figure out the next moves so all needs are met.)

In life, I am nearly always overwhelmed, even when I have nothing pressing to do. I can’t help but wonder, however, if I could have been successful in the adoption of ‘my’ children if I too could have had a large built in extended family here to help.

I guess I will never know – but I think the way we do it here in North America, where most families – and most mothers especially – are pretty much doing it alone is a recipe for failure. Perhaps the solution isn’t to take, or send out, or struggle alone with the children, but to build larger extended families with lots of support, where no one is ever alone with the kids.

This from an extreme introvert, autistic person who works best on her own.



Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Autism: Choices Made Long Ago

This morning I woke up early with a nearly overwhelming urge to plan What if? Not what if I get this job, or win the lottery, or suddenly find myself pregnant, but more on the lines of: What if I could return twenty years in the past, indwell my twenty year old body, and live and make decisions based on who I am now, and what I now know?

If that were possible, what would I do differently? What would I do the same? Where would I live? (On ‘my little corner’ where I always find myself in my dreams?) Who would I live with? What job would I do?

If I didn’t move across the country, would I still have turned to church and found faith? If I hadn’t met my husband, what would his life be like now? (Probably much messier, much simpler, and easier for him, I imagine.) If I hadn’t tried to adopt “my” children, would someone else have succeeded in adopting them? Would they still be together now?


If I hadn’t moved away from home, would I have followed through on homeschooling my son? If we had remained close to our families, would my son be more social? Would he have friends who lived close enough to visit? Would he seem so alone?

If I didn’t have twenty years of failure behind me, would I still have sought my Autism diagnosis? Would I have brought my son in for his? Would we still have gotten it?

I am completely overwhelmed by the reality that my choices have such lasting consequences – and that if I choose wrong, working to fix it won’t remove all that was set in motion due to that choice.

I don’t know whether this is in spite of, or because of, my form of Autism, but I spend an unreasonable amount of time and energy considering things that are outside of the laws of the world I find myself in.

And though I know making plans for what I might have done is at best a waste of time, the pull is so strong that I will likely spend my day fixated on it anyway. Though I realize it will ultimately lead to me feeling trapped so far from home, for a while – a very little while – I will believe that “anything can happen,” and there I will find hope.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Autism: Memories That Haunt Me

Well, the day is here. Seven years. It hasn’t always been this hard, but hard enough. Today I think of my children, and what might have been. I think of how quiet my house is. How empty. How large. Perhaps that is why each year at this time it becomes really hard to live here.

Last night I fought my way to sleep through tears, hopelessness, and an overwhelming sense of how broken the world is, and how broken my life is. I feel every loss, and every failure. Each and every one.

Vacation July 2016 014

I see my daughter at four, leaning in for a hug before she left for preschool with my husband. Achingly I hear my self deny her. I know why – I didn’t want her leaning across her sister, who had been sent from school despite spending the weekend treating her lice at home. I was overwhelmed. I would see her in a couple of hours, but was anxious about the appointment we were about to go into. I had my reasons. None of them good enough. I wish I had taken my baby in my arms – for three days later, when they let me see her for the last time, she had already been turned against me and wouldn’t come close.

“It is okay, Mommy,” she said. “They will let me come home.”

But they never did.

I see my daughter at six. Happy and smiling despite all of her struggles. Allowing us to change her plans, and drag her to an appointment (because she wasn’t allowed to go to school) even though we knew how hard change was on her. I see her relax as I assured her we would pick her up from the play room at the ministry when our appointment was over – but we never did.

I see my son at ten. Afraid, and vulnerable, and wanting so much to believe he would never be moved again. Wanting so much to be liked, and to fit in, that he would do and say anything. I see this child, who always surrounded himself with people – yet always seemed so alone.

I see my son at thirteen. Bravely coming to a strange place to watch his sister, while we went into an appointment – and being told he wasn’t allowed to go in with her. Awkward, and uncomfortable, and trying so hard to do the right thing despite all of this. I see his face as I walked out, and told him she wouldn’t be coming home with us. None of them would be coming home with us ever again. And I hear his words, and see his response these past seven years. “Family doesn’t matter,” he says. “People don’t mater.” “I would rather be alone.” And he is. That is the moment he stopped wanting to visit people. That is the moment he started hiding in the basement.

And I hate them for what they did to my children. And I forgive them, and think, “Maybe they were right.” Because I am broken now. And I hate myself for losing them. And I hate myself for trying. And it is so much easier to forgive other people – even when they took my children away.

The tears flow. Seven years, and that is enough pain for a lifetime. Yet the memories don’t end there. Over and over again I see those moments:

  • The last, struggled breaths of my dog – and how he looked lying dead on the table once he was gone… and the box that now takes his place.
  • The last pained breaths of my cats, my rabbits, my guinea pigs – and the very tears I cried as I held them in the end.
  • The last look at my Grandmother before I turned the corner in her apartment building, and left her for the last time.
  • My Grandfather, two of my cousins, my father, my mother’s mom…

And I think, as the losses pile up, and the memories haunt me like ghosts – I don’t think I can take any more. My mind will break. My heart will break. I can’t. I can’t. And I remember that thing that people say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Is that biblical? I wonder. Can it possibly be? But what about those whose minds do break? What about those who snap, and take their lives, or take the lives of others – was it not too much for them?

I don’t know. Seven years. Seven years, and the pain remains. A hard, hard day.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Autism: This Week Broken

This is the week. The most difficult week in all the year, and I am feeling it. By the time I post this, it will be over – but that makes it no less difficult to get through. I can feel it coming, like some dreaded experience, though the experience of it happened seven years ago. Seven. Such a Biblical number, don’t you think?

Seven years should bring rest. While my body pretty much is at rest (my dog is still recovering from her surgery, and I don’t like to move from her, for she wants to follow) my heart and mind are not. I am full of anxiety, irritation, and depression. I feel anything but restful. Not grateful. Not content. Not calm. I know I am supposed to be, but I am not, and that only makes me feel worse.

Seven years of “after.” Seven years of “since.” It happened so long ago, that I should have healed. But I haven’t. In moment I think I have, but so many things are triggers, that so quickly I realize that I haven’t really healed at all. I should have healed. I haven’t. Another failure to add to my list. I begin to think that I was never resilient to begin with – that word that they like to throw around to help them feel better for the things they feel they have to do. “People are resilient,” they say. “Children are resilient.” Whatever helps them to sleep better at night, I guess, but not all of us are. Not all of us. Probably in their line of work, the majority of the people (adults and children – who are not that different, really) are likely not resilient.


So maybe I shouldn’t have tried to adopt in the first place – being one of the not resilient ones. Maybe they shouldn’t have approved me. Only I was taught (as if it were fact) that if I tried hard enough, I could… and if I worked hard enough, I could succeed. Never was it even suggested that this might not be true. Those who fail are those who don’t try hard enough, or work hard enough.

Besides, I was feeling pretty good at that point in my life, and fully believed I was healed of those issues in my past (at least in the moment… perhaps if they had asked me on a different day…) and I was already (successfully) working with children.

I had the desire. I had the education. I had the empathy, and the mercy, and the love. I had the time. I had the space. And most important of all, I tried hard. I worked hard. Every day I worked to succeed at this. I tried enough. I worked enough. But somewhere along the way someone was flawed in their thinking.

Maybe if some people work hard, and try hard, they can succeed. Some. Not all. Not all.

So I failed, seven years ago – and above the trauma, and above the loss and the pain, and my own shame over not being able to succeed at something that so many others manage to succeed at (for I compare myself with all parents, and not just those who try to adopt through the foster care system – I can’t help it) but I also still feel the judgment of so many others who seem to believe if I had only tried hard enough, or worked hard enough, I could have adopted those children. I want to shout out, “I did!” Though I know it wouldn’t make a difference.

Seven years. And what is more, I am also turning forty this week. Another biblical number. Forty days and forty nights of rain. Forty days in the dessert. Forty years in the wilderness. Forty. Another number promising an end to suffering and pain, and the beginning of hope. Seven years and forty years, both in the same week. Will things get easier after this?

I am trying. Trying not to think of it – though my days are filled with fear, pain, sadness, hopelessness… My nights are filled with tears, and insomnia. I am struggling through with headaches and exhaustion. This week. Trying, trying, always trying… yet though I try so hard to think of other things, and find positive ways to spend my time, it does no good. This week, I am broken.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Autism: When “Do To Others” Doesn’t Work

When I had my children, who were on the fetal alcohol spectrum (or static encephalopathy, as it was properly diagnosed) as well as attachment issues, I learned pretty early on that restricting certain foods from their diets had a significant impact on their behaviour.


Over the first year or so, I removed refined sugars, food dyes, dairy, and wheat from their diet. This was neither easy, nor cheap – but at the time, I felt it was worth it. I replaced these foods with others – applesauce, rice syrup, and such for sugar; soy milk, goat’s milk, or for the youngest a dairy free formula for the dairy; garbanzo flour, rice flour, quinoa, oats, and such for the wheat.

During that time, they became a lot calmer, and had really good appetites. They would, without being prompted, eat everything on their plates, and seconds as well. At each meal, they would thank me for the food, ending with, “it was very tasty.” I didn’t train them to do this, it was just their response.

I admit that they were very thin. I asked many people what to do about this, but no one had any real suggestions. Maybe avocado – which I fed them, but they stayed thin.

Another thing that I did with/for my children was to provide a rather strict routine (which helped them to remain calm, as they always knew what was coming next,) and to constantly supervise them when they were together as they had certain tendencies that might result in pain or emotional trauma for them had they not been watched.

These are things that I did for my children, not to my children – but the ministry, and others, who had more experience with typical children, responding in typical ways to foods and such, did not understand this. Their view was that my ways of raising these children was rigid, and controlling, and even abusive.

The thing was, my children were not much different from me (except they were all a lot more social, for all of their lack of boundaries scared me in this way.) I was fed a ‘typical’ diet growing up, and it made me feel really sick all the time. I would have loved for someone to have taken the time to find out what I could eat, liked to eat, and left me feeling healthy. I would have loved for someone to do that for me, as I did it for my children. I would even like that now!

Growing up in a traumatic environment, and with undiagnosed Autism, which brought with it a whole host of issues, I had many bad habits that could have been supervised away. I don’t blame my parents for not providing that level of supervision – it wasn’t done in those days. Still, I knew those habits were wrong, and I couldn’t break them on my own. It took me years into my adult life before I could overcome a lot of them, and I still struggle with some.

Having someone supervise me so closely to ensure that those bad habits were replaced by better ones, is something I ached for in my early days. In my own silent way, I was begging for help with these issues, but no one heard me.

So when I knew that some of the habits of my children could end up in pain, and brokenness, I supervised them. It is what I wanted to be done for me. It wasn’t easy. It meant a lot of juggling to ensure that as the stay at home mom, I was always watching them (no bathroom breaks while they were awake, and my husband was out, for instance.) It was tiring. It meant constant vigilance. I could have done it easier if I just let them… but again, this was something I did for them, not to them – as I would have wanted done for me.

Again the ministry decided this was rigid, controlling, and even abusive. How do they make these decisions? And in the end, they took my children from me, and the adoption fell through.

“Do to others as you would have them do to you,” I suppose doesn’t work in cases such as mine where what is wanted, and even needed, is not understood – because it is not ‘typical.’ But I don’t think it was fair to call it abusive.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Dream Child

I woke up from the dream with tears in my eyes. How long will this continue? My heart felt as if it were being torn apart, and awakening did nothing to reduce my pain. All I wanted was to get back into the dream. Back into the life. Back to the days, in any way possible… those days where fear was strong, but the brokenness hadn’t yet come.

She was in school, and in foster care, the dark haired, brown eyed, beautiful child I loved since I was told she would be mine. She might have been about five or six years old, and when she first saw me watching her, she didn’t recognize me. It hurt, but she had been young, and I knew it would take time.

Medicated, and calm – and they thought I would fight them on it, but it worked for her, and I was pleased. Why were you taken away, my little one? She was there, in the school, in the gym, on the playground, and I was observing. I was supposed to be there. Nervous. What if she didn’t want me there?

I had always wanted her, this happy, funny, social child. She was the one I had dreamed of since I was a young child. The reason my parents went out and bought me the second cabbage patch kid in the early 80’s, and put the first away for later. I was very specific. She had to be this child. The one with brown eyes, and brown hair – when everyone I knew were partial to blond hair and blue eyes… but not me. This was my dream child.

And then there was her birthday. The pregnancy didn’t last long, and struggled to hold from the beginning. But as had been true before, I dreamed of this child from the moment of conception. Her name? Heaven. Her due date? The same week this child was being born. But she was taken from me, and this child was given to me, and the dreams matched, and the pain eased.

For a short time, that felt long in the dream world, we came to know each other again. This child who wouldn’t go to anyone else for months after she was given to me. We talked, we played, we slid on a large tube slide, and little by little, I healed. As I slept, my daughter was being prepared to return home, but then I woke – and cried, for this baby of mine that I have wanted my entire life, was being torn from me again.


She was happy with me in the dream, but she doesn’t know me now. She has grown from the preschooler I held in my arms, in the arms of another, and she has forgotten me. She wouldn’t know me, and I wouldn’t know how to talk to her, and there is nothing to say she would ever come home again.

So I awaken to a reality that always brings me pain. Crying for a child that I will always love, and never know again. But I do not ask that the dreams be taken from me, for in them is my only release. Though when being awake causes so much pain, and sleeping brings healing that does not hold, I often ask why I must wake up again.

I live through the days, just to get to the nights, when maybe… maybe if I am very lucky, my children will visit.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Autism: Any Future At All

All of my life, this is what I wanted: to be a mother. To help the hurting children.

Nothing else is enough. Nothing else ever has been.

My dream was not in construction. It was not in motel work. It was not in work at all. It was in being a mother. All my adult years, I worked towards adoption, towards this goal.

There never was anything else for me than that, though I tried. I tried hard to move on, and still I hold on, for my children… for that dream that refuses to die.

What is there after this, when all has been taken away? How can I move forward, when that ache remains, and will not fade, despite my own battles against myself to find my worth in other things.

I do not fear death, for death is a welcome change to this – to this brokenness that fills the world around me.

Remain as I do for my remaining child, I still see no future here. There is nothing beyond today, for I cannot see to dream.

And the boy expresses his hope for the future – to help those that are hurting – and in it I hear my own words, coming from my own broken life.

Please, Lord, let his dreams come true. Do not take away from him the thing that he lives for, the thing that will heal his own pain – for if the pain can be of use… if only it can be used of God, in aid of others struggling too, perhaps it will be worth it.

But now, for me, here at the end… how can I look forward with hope, to a life void of dreams?

I pray. All of my life I’ve prayed: “Please make me a good mother, Lord.”

Yet that very thing that I wanted – I can’t say more than life, for life has never been something that I wanted to hold on to so much – that very dream that kept me moving forward through the darkness and pain, has been taken from me, and there is no more.

And I would work with those who broke me. I would do it all again, to have that dream back. To have my children in my life again – for is there any more?

To live for them is an idol, but I cannot live for me – on those days (and there are so many of them) when the pain is overwhelming, and I hate where I have come, I must have something beyond myself to live…

So live for God. But He does not need me. I am thankful that He chose me. I am grateful that He wants me. I would live for Him. I would die for Him. But he does not need me.

Since I was four or five years old – for as long as I can remember – this, this has been my dream, and it was stolen from me.

So if I can’t go back (but I must), and I have no dreams to carry me forward, how can you help me?

A future empty of children… empty of my children – is it really any future at all?


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: