Tag Archives: foster care adoption

Autism: Hindsight is 2o/2o

My son was looking for more pictures of China today, so I went through a couple of DVD s which had pictures taken off of old, dead computers several years ago. I found a couple of pictures and sent them to him (most of them were from our trip to Ontario in 2008 with the kids, and Christmas of 2008 and 2009, so didn’t have cat pictures in them as she wasn’t there.)


Looking through the pictures left me once again wishing I could turn back time, and save the adoption before it failed. As I went through them, I stumbled upon a page of emails that I had copied from the months leading up to the first time the children were moved.

I was surprised by how much I have forgotten over the years regarding the children’s behaviours. I knew they did these things, yet with passing time forgot the frequency and intensity through which we experienced them.

There was just so much struggle with all of them, and while I did remember it wasn’t easy, I really did forget how hard it could get.

As I read those emails I realized a few of things that I didn’t notice before:

  1. I should have journaled rather than share our challenges through email during that time – for had I been reading these things about another family I would have thought the children were way too challenging for any family (I also forgot that upon placement we were told the social workers had thought our middle girl was unadoptable) and that the situation was hopeless.
  2. Looking through the pictures doesn’t tell the entire story; so while I knew by looking at the pictures when the children had been struggling just before they were taken (by the pure exhaustion on everyone’s face) and I remembered the struggle they were having, the intensity wasn’t accurately portrayed in the photograph.
  3. If I could turn back time, and do all the social workers told me were essential to a successful adoption with these particular children, and did everything `right,`we would still have been at severe risk of adoption disruption – for the emails, though I know every fact was true in them, tell of a family who was doing all they could to `hold it together,`and couldn’t possibly hold on much longer.
  4. Unless I kept all of those facts presented in the emails to myself, I would have found myself one day standing before the ministry and having them tell me it wasn’t going to work – and it likely wouldn’t have been much longer than we had with them.
  5. If I did everything `right` and never emailed or spoke much on any of our struggles, we might have succeeded in adopting these three children, but I still would have been completely burnt out, and I still would have isolated myself from other people, who would have always judged me, and who I could never please with the children I had. I was doomed to feel I had failed in some way.

I wanted my children more than I can express. I loved my children more than I can say. Losing them was a huge trauma I have yet to overcome. But I think now that even if I had done everything `right`, the adoption was still doomed to failure.

I hate that that is true, for I put all of myself into succeeding with them, and it still breaks my heart that I couldn’t do it. It breaks my heart that they are gone. And I miss them so very much.


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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.



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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.


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Autism: Morbid Thoughts

If I died, I would be okay. Those are the thoughts that have been consuming my mind this weekend. Morbid thoughts, I admit, but my thoughts just the same. The difficulty is that I am sick. Really sick. I have been battling these issues for many months, but they continue to get worse. I don’t know that I am dying, but… have you ever been so sick with the flu or something that it felt as if you were going to die? And it was so bad that in the moment, you really didn’t care if you did die, if only you would stop feeling so sick? That is how I have been – only I don’t think this is the flu.

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I also don’t think that I am dying. It is possible, and as I consider that, I consider all the people I know who died young for health reasons – two of my cousins (cystic fibrosis – age 21 and 26,) four people I went to highschool with (heart attack – age 33, stomach problems – age 34, brain tumour – age 36, breast cancer – age 39) three of the people I went to school with had very young children they left behind. At least I don’t have that. Then there was the boy.

A beautiful little brown haired, green eyed boy, with an amazing personality. When the other kids were fighting, he was the one who stepped in – despite being only two or three years old, he was able to get everyone playing nicely again. Much more mature than I was for all of my 27 or so years, and training in this area. He was just good at it.

Funny, and social, and caring (“but the owls can’t eat the bunnies,” he told me when looking through an encyclopedia – I know, but the kids loved the books – “the bunnies would be too sad.”) and smart… that boy had a lot of potential. Even my son liked him, and my son didn’t like ‘little kids.’ My boy was four years older.

He had his forth birthday party, and I dropped off my son, and a nephew. They had a lot of fun. I might have stayed, but I knew his family. I had known them for two years. I stayed for his third birthday party, and left the boys for his forth. And it was fine.

The next week, as he was dropped off for daycare, I noticed a limp. It came through the day, but (though I supervised carefully) I hadn’t noticed him hurt it in any way. Day after day the limp got worse, and this energetic little boy started napping during our early morning time outside. He was so tired all the time.

He could have pulled the muscle riding the bike he got for his birthday. Maybe another (quite rough) boy in my daycare knocked him down. “Try keeping them apart,” I was told. But the solution wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t helping. He just kept getting worse.

And then I got the phone call. Leukemia, they told me. I filled up a whole sheet of paper listening to his grandma on the phone. I still have that paper.

He fought for two years, brave, beautiful child that he was. And as I was in Vancouver with my children, placed just a few months before, being told that all three had Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, this little boy passed away while playing crib with the nurse. “Fifteen two, fifteen four, and a pair is six,” I am told were his last words as he fell asleep. I was standing in the kitchen making supper for my third anniversary with my husband.

The first time I left my children with a babysitter (with anyone other than my husband and mom) since placement was for his funeral a few days later.

Tomorrow is my 13th wedding anniversary. It has been 10 years, and as I think about how strong this pain and these thoughts of death have been this weekend I realize… it is not for myself that I cry. These tears are for him.


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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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