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Miscellaneous May

A rainy Saturday…which is ok. I didn’t have anything planned. A year ago today was Ben’s graduation party. A year from now I’ll be doing David’s. Only, I think he wants to bump his down a week so it falls on his birthday weekend. That works, too.

We had a bad storm roll through one afternoon this week – Wednesday or Thursday. Some places experienced 70 mph winds. I don’t know that ours got that high. There was a lot tree and roof damage and power outages in Des Moines. We were fine, except for our trampoline. It got kind of battered. The trampoline itself is fine, but now I don’t have net for it. The kids are pretty excited about that but I’m wondering how long it will be before someone bounces off and breaks a body part. Of course, our first trampoline never had a net and nobody except Ben broke anything on it. He fractured his foot twice from using it so much. I even remember catching the boys climbing up on the shed roof and throwing themselves off it onto the trampoline. And they were fine.

And now I’m not sure what to do about the neighbor kids. They like to come and down and play on the trampoline. But they put a fist sized hole in my net. After I caught them widening the hole I warned them I had better not see that again. Well, a week ago Sam ran into the house to report to me that 3 of the kids had thrown their entire bodies through the hole. So, I went outside and was not nice and basically banished them for the rest of their lives from my trampoline. Then I went inside and felt guilty. How is this neighbor lady going to show Jesus to these unchurched kids if she’s hollering at them for putting a hole in her net? Still…they had been repeatedly warned. So then I spent some time googling “trampoline net repair” and figured out how to fix it…and then the storm took out the whole thing. So since there is now no net do I let the kids back on? I don’t know.
I worked Thursday and Friday with a couple of 10 year olds in the same classroom. Wow – those were hard days. These are boys who were not taught to obey when they were toddlers. And now they’re halfway to adulthood and they think it’s perfectly all right to look an adult in the eye and tell them, “No – you can’t make me.” Yesterday I had to get the principal THREE times to deal with one. I felt so defeated. I had an altercation with the one who refused to hand over a rubber band he kept playing with. I wanted to beat this kid’s rear. Instead, I had to force myself to walk away. We were at P.E., out on the track. So, I walked over to the side and, to my surprise, the principal was there and had witnessed the thing. We chatted and he made the comment that this boy’s mother has no control over him (no surprise there). I said,sadly, “So what happens in five years?” He replied it wouldn’t take that long. I told him this is why I am fighting so hard for my girls. If I don’t get control now, they’ll be completely out of control by their teens. The principal replied, “Oh, Sarah – you have nothing to worry about. Your children are being raised in a far different type of home!” And that’s probably true. But even kids from good homes can make bad choices - especially when they experienced such a rough start in life.

I did have to laugh yesterday morning, though. The other boy, whom I had to deal with the previous day, commented to me, “Thanks to you, I had to write like a million sentences last night saying, ‘I will not disrespect my teacher.’ And my dad said if it happens again I’m getting a spanking.” Hah! I told him it sounds like he has a good dad.

A week and a half ago Sam’s hamster, Smokey, died. It was trauma all over again, just like when Chocolate Chip died last year. He cried and cried and cried. He’s a sensitive soul and I really am convinced then when these kind of things happen, he’s crying for the loss of Paul, too, even if he doesn’t recognize it. We replaced Smokey with 2 gerbils this time. Oh, they are fun! The lady at the pet store recommended them because, apparently, hamsters are territorial and have a tendency to fight. These little things just wrestle and play with eachother. We’ve only managed to hold one once. They are super fast and kind of skinny. If they ever escape from their cage, they’ll be a goner. Of course, in another year or so, they’ll be dead, anyway, and we’ll have to go through this all again. Poor Sam.

I facebooked about it the night Sam brought Smokey’s cold, lifeless body to me. I wrapped up the post with these words: And I am able to smile because I know that the hurt is temporary, but God's work in Sam's life is going to last forever. I can't wait to see who he turns out to be!
As I re-read what I wrote and posted the truth of the words really hit me. I’ve been struggling more as we approach early June and knowing I’m going to marry off a child in the next month – alone. But my hurt is temporary, too. But God’s work in my life will last forever, both here on earth and in Heaven. Who knew a dead rodent could remind me of much more eternal truths?

Sam had kind of a rough week last week, which meant I had a rough week. He went through 2 pairs of glasses in 2 days. Let’s see: in December he got his new glasses with his new prescription. Insurance paid for those. They cover one pair of glasses a year, which is really unfortunate. I think when it is determined little boys need corrective eye wear they should just be given lasik surgery. So we got those glasses in Dec. They lasted until early March when they broke somehow. So then, I bought him 2 pairs of glasses, assuming that, at some point, he would need the other pair. That came last week. He took a basketball to the face which snapped the pair he’d been wearing since March. So, we threw those away and pulled out the spare pair. The very next day I pick Sam up at school and he greets me with these words, “Truth be told, Mom, those new glasses weren’t nearly as sturdy as you’d like to think they are!” Not the words I wanted to hear! He had been idly messing with the back portion of the bow and the entire thing broke irreparably. So, that night we went to another eyeglass place and ordered him two more pair of glasses. Since March I have spent nearly $300 on glasses for this kid. He’s only 9. How many more pairs am I going to have to buy before he is grown and buys his own? Way too many…
Mother’s Day was nice. I still find the day a little depressing just because Paul used to make it so nice for me. It was like he did everything he could to express his gratitude for giving him children on that day. But the kids try. The little ones made cards and the big ones bought a card where they all wrote messages (not just signed their names). And they bought me a DQ cake. And a couple of days before, David insisted that we stop at Coldstone Creamery – his treat - after getting his birthday picture taken.

And these two sweet ladies at church remembered me like they do every year. This year they gave me a $50 Visa gift card. I used it towards a new weed wacker. I’m getting rid of Paul’s heavy duty Craftsman that is too big and powerful for me. I bought a lightweight battery operated one with good reviews. I am losing both my weed guys so it’s going to be up to me until Sam gets big enough to take over.

David had to have a root canal this week. He was in a lot of pain last weekend, but he was feeling better Monday after going to the dentist. This time I had him go to Dr. Fuller. He is the absolute best! David goes again this Thursday for more cleaning out and then he’ll get his crown after that. He wasn’t too thrilled at the 5 shots of Novacaine it took to get him numb. His body must have an aversion to pain killers, too, like mine.

He really cracked me up with this: I couldn't take him to the dentist because his appointment was at the same time I had to get the Littles to school. He had never been to this office before so he had to handle the paperwork himself, which was a first. He said he got to the part where it wants to know the guarantor's information so he wrote down my name, address, and phone number. Then they had this line: Relationship __________. So he dutifully filled in, "single." Ha, ha, ha! He said it wasn't until he almost turned in the clipboard that it dawned on him that they were asking what the guarantor's relationship to him was!
I met with my adviser this week and mapped out my last year of classes. It’s going to be grueling. This is what I’ll be taking, starting this July – so, for the next 13 months until I am finished:

· British Lit

· Introduction to Linguistics

· Modern English Grammar (I will like this one)

· Stress Management Strategies (It was either this or a class on the Holocaust – the latter sounds more interesting, but since I have to take it during the time the holidays fall, I decided I had better take a less work-intensive class)

· Introduction to Literature (shouldn’t I have taken this before taking all the Lit. classes I’ve already done?)

· Dramatic Literature

· World Lit.

· Creative Writing (can’t wait!)

· Major Portfolio (where I create a portfolio of my best college writings – required for graduation)

· Senior Seminar (kind of goes along with the previous class – you take them together)

· Shakespeare

What I really don’t like are the number of classes that will be Blackboard Collaboratives which is where I am sitting in front of my computer. The terms that starts in late August is going to be awful because I will have back to back WC classes. I will be sitting in front of my computer from 5:30 – 10:45 every Monday and Thursday night. How am I going to do that and take care of my kids at the same time? David usually works Mondays and Thursdays. Ugh. But it’s only for another year. I can do this!

I am currently taking "Aging in America" and so far, I am really enjoying it (other than the fact that papers have to be done APA style - not my favorite. I haven't had to do that for a year and I'm pretty rusty). We've had 2 discussions so far and my professor has given me 12 out of 10 points for both, so I'm currently sitting at 105% in the class! Now I feel this pressure to do that every week. I find the topic interesting because I have always liked old people. I think a lot about aging and death so this class gives me a chance to voice some of those thoughts.

There has been another homeschooled adopted child’s death in central Iowa. It mirrors the one that happened in W. Des Moines last fall almost perfectly. Another 16 year old was found, dead, emaciated, down to 56 pounds, on the floor of her family’s basement last Friday. Her parents have been arrested and charged with her murder. Her siblings have been removed.

It makes me sick.

The accusations are flying. Homeschooling needs to be regulated more. DHS has to be held accountable. They need to fire the head of DHS. They should quit allowing monsters to adopt.

So here we go again. This is going to sound familiar because I just blogged about this last fall. The problem is not with homeschooling. The problem is not with DHS.

Nobody goes into adoption with the intent to hurt a child. People who adopt do so because they want to. It’s hard work to get a child. It’s even harder work once the child arrives. The culprit is Reactive Attachment Disorder. I know this because my daughters have it – although theirs’ is pretty mild, I believe. But even mild can be a nightmare at times. RAD parents are abused. They have a child that they have sworn to love, care for, and protect and what do they get in return? They have a child with a broken heart and mind who can’t love them back, in some cases. The child desperately wants to attach but when he gets close, he strikes out because he’s scared of attaching to anyone. The child is sometimes in incredible pain from a past they couldn't control and have no way of processing. In worst case scenarios, he physically hurts his siblings and his parents. Sometimes he plots their murders. Sometimes he attempts to kill them. When Mother’s Day and their adoptive mom’s birthday rolls around he attempts to sabotage the day because it hurts them. In more mild cases, it’s all about control. I deal with the girls seeking attention all the time. Lizzie has to have the last word every.single.stinking. time. It’s being compliant, but adding their own “twist” so they don’t obey exactly or completely. Sometimes they claim they can’t do simple things like zip up their coats or tie their shoes – they are trying to control me to do these things for them. It’s demanding that the radio station be switched. Or turned up. Or turned off. It’s deliberately talking when the news comes on because they know I want to hear it. It’s complaining about supper every night. It’s refusing to do something I’ve told them to do previously because, “Well, you didn’t say this time we had to do it that way.”

It is draining. It is exhausting. It claims health and marriages and relationships with bio children.

It is parents desperately seeking help and finding doors shut in the name of insurance and full beds. It’s having your child in RTF (Residential Treatment Facilities) and then having to take them back home because insurance won’t pay for more treatment even though this child has sworn to kill you when he has the chance. It is not being able to have family pets because they would not be safe. It is not being able to take family vacations because any variance in routine sets the child off and creates more problems. It is having locks on your appliances and knives and windows and doors and cameras in all your rooms. It’s having your most precious possessions “accidentally” destroyed. It is having the school call Child Protective Services because your child claims you refuse to feed him and the self-inflicted bruise on his back came from you. It is having clueless people tell you how charming your child is and suggest that you “lighten up” on your discipline. Just to be clear, I am not experiencing any of the above. These are just repeated stories I hear from other mothers in my RAD groups. I am actually really, really fortunate in the degree to which the girls experience it. I really believe my girls love me and I don't see psychopathic tendencies in them like a lot of RAD parents do.

And this is how these children end up getting murdered. Am I defending the parents?

No. They were the adults. She was a child. They had a choice. She did not. They deserve to spend the rest of their lives in prison.  They took a life and irreparably damaged the lives of their other children.

There is help out there. It can be hard to find. But you keep looking. And you keep asking. And you keep pounding on doors until somewhere, someone says they will help. Worst case scenario, you dissolve the adoption and give the child back to DHS. Even that, though, is not always easy. Some states (not Iowa) charge parents who attempt this with abandonment and they risk the loss of ALL their children as a result. But it’s when the parents feel helpless and feel like it is all on them that things can take a deadly turn. The love they once felt for the child is buried under mounds of resentment and disappointment and anger.

This is when children die.

They haven’t actually come right out and said this latest murder victim suffered from RAD. But she was adopted out of foster care. It’s not hard to put the pieces together – especially when you’ve lived it.

Is DHS to blame? I am seeing a lot of finger pointing. I really don’t think they are, though. Their job is to rescue children and to find new homes for them if attempts to fix what is wrong in their original home fails. That’s a huge job, especially when there are far more children that need homes than there are homes to take them. I read a statistic the other day that said 800 DHS workers have quit their jobs in Iowa since 2011 because of the stress and work levels. Once a family has been vetted and allowed to adopt, they have no way of knowing if that same family will end up abusing or killing the child. That’s like asking them to be able to look into a crystal ball.

But here’s what I would like to see happen: It would be nice if there could be continued support for adoptive families, sponsored by DHS. Even if a family drops their foster care license they could still come back for continued assistance. I would like to see a division devoted to post-adoption services: respite care, information on therapists and RTCs, classes on RAD, etc. Of course, it take money and it takes planning and it takes people to organize and run these services. And I don’t know where the money would come from. Our taxes, I suppose.

Ultimately, this is a sin problem. And it won’t get better until hearts get better. And that’s not going to happen until Christ comes again. Satan attacks the most vulnerable and he’s having a hey-day with these broken children.

If there is anything in this world that breaks my heart, it is this: these little children who desire love so desperately but are too broken to receive it. I think I may be able to save my own. But for every one that gets saved out of the brokenness, there’s more that can’t be helped.

Come quickly, Lord.

We had Arien’s shower at church the other night. I gave the devotional. I spoke on handling conflict in marriage – which is NOT what I wanted to talk about. How depressing of a subject for such a happy time in life! But I always pray about these things and my mind kept coming back to this subject. So, I figured maybe it’s what God wanted me to talk about. It went fine. I really wasn’t nervous. But afterwards, I found myself feeling so drained and actually kind of shaky. I don’t know if it was because I had really put myself into my talk or if I was under more strain giving the talk than I realized. I was pretty transparent and I always wonder if that makes people uncomfortable. I had one lady come up to me and tell me she foresees a lot more public speaking in my future. I hope not! And then today (I'm finishing this up on Sunday) a lady told me how impressed she was with my talk. She said, "It takes love to be that open - and it's obvious you love Arien very much." Oh, wow! And I thought I was just being a blabbermouth...

No, really, it’s fine if that’s what God has for me (public speaking). But it’s not where my comfort level is yet, either.

Yesterday Ben took it upon himself to trim his own nails with a nail clippers. It’s good that he is taking responsibility for more of his self-care. I love that I don’t have to shave him anymore! But, he does have cerebral palsy. And so, he ended up taking out a chunk of the top of one of his fingers. He came to me asking for help with a band-aid. I got him bandaged up with the suggestion that maybe I should continue to do his nails for him. He kind of shrugged that off but then commented seriously,

“Well, at least I’m not going to die from this.”

That made me laugh!


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