Friday, July 3, 2009

Brace Yourself

Not sure if this will come to fruition or not but I'm thinking of doing a CD on adoption parenting strategies for our state. I've talked with a few people and have several ideas up in the air.

Please don't think I'm trying to act like I know it all. I'm not a doctor or professional in this field. Far from that. I'm also far from the perfect parent. I screw up more than I get it right. However, I would've really liked to have had a cliff notes version when I first ventured down this path. I'd like to do something with a strong overview that would be helpful to new adoptive parents in our area. Expectations, strategies, blah, blah, blah. Share our story and be a hopeful example.

Could y'all help me with ideas? For those of you that have already adopted, think about what you wish you'd known. Those still waiting....what do you want to know? What would be the most helpful to know? Would you rather know strategies or techniques? Expectations?

You know...I can read parenting books till the cows come home but it's so much more helpful to me when someone models the right tone of voice and attitude for me. I just can't seem to do that in writing so I was hoping a CD might be more helpful to new parents. I want to give people hope, ideas, something to ponder, etc. In other other words I want to cram a lot of information into 1 hour.

What do y'all think????? Don't be shy! Email me if you don't want it posted here.


Marty Walden said...

I would want to know to read between the lines about the info I got, ie. possible sexual abuse and attachment issues. Our foster care course said NOTHING about RAD and how to get help. I would want to know how to tap into the system to get the most services. There's another topic for you, how to make the system consistent nationally. Every state has different requirements and if you're going intrastate, as you found out, it can be a nightmare. I would want to know how to prepare BEFORE the adoption. Just some ideas. :)

Dia por Dia said...

I think this is absolutely what you need to do! It is sooooo needed.

P.S. Let me know if the pictures I post on my blog are ok. The one of you and Special K. is my favorite. I will email any we didn't transfer yesterday.

Dia por Dia said...

I think this is absolutely what you need to do! It is sooooo needed.

P.S. Let me know if the pictures I post on my blog are ok. The one of you and Special K. is my favorite. I will email any we didn't transfer yesterday.

marythemom said...

Things I wish I knew (in no particular order) -

1. Don't make plans, have visitors, throw parties, or even leave home at all for the first 6 months. Downplay holidays, limit presents, don't over decorate their rooms and give them tons of stuff.
2. Don't put off enforcing rules because they "don't know any better," are "having a tough time," or "going through so much right now." Rules are like fences, they need them to feel safe. Consistency! It's easier to start with all the structure and rules while they're in the honeymoon period then to try to establish rules and boundaries later. You can always lighten up if they don't need the structure/ supervision.
3. How to find support - local and online - forums, list serves, chats... for all those questions you need an answer to yesterday and all those answers you didn't even know to ask the questions about.
4. How to hire and fire the important people in your child's life like therapists, psychiatrists... what questions to ask, what constitutes a good or bad relationship, when to let them go and move on. For example, if they insist they want to see your child without you, or make you feel patronized or incompetent.
5. How to advocate for your child's needs. How to find out what services are available and then how to get them. How to get around the stupid rules like "No Child Left Behind," least restrictive environment, no homeschooling or private schools for children in foster care.
6. Developmental versus chronological age. I wish someone had explained to me that my child would not "really" be 13 in any way but physically.
7. Where to find books/ information on attachment disorders (and convince me that NO child in foster care comes without attachment issues). What RAD is! Someone to say that there are several different methods for dealing with RAD and you have to pick and choose the techniques you use based on both you and your child's needs.

OK, I could go on a long time. I think I'll copy this and finish in a post on my blog. Great idea!

Mary in TX

Mom to biokids Ponito(10) and his sister Bob(12)
Sibling pair adoptive placement from NE 11/06
Finally finalized on Kitty(14) on 3/08 - 2 weeks before her 13th birthday!
Finalized on her brother Bear 7/08. He turned 15 the next day.
" Life isn't about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain."

sarsmile said...

As a potential adoptive parent, I think that would be a fabulous idea. What I'm really wanting to hear about is concrete suggestions for things to try. Expanding my 'bag of tricks', as we say in outdoor ed. There is a bunch of stuff out there on attachment and bonding and trauma, understanding what kids are thinking and what issues you might expect to see and why. Which is great, but most of the suggestions seem to be things like staying calm, being consistent, etc - very general. I want to know what I should do when my kid does X. What do I tell them, what changes do I implement, how long do I keep the changes in place, what exceptions can I make, etc. And if Plan A doesn't work, what are Plans B,C,D etc that I can try next.

I'd also love some good suggestions for how to start things off on the right foot. It seems like a lot of the time people wait until the kids get home and then react to issues as they come up. I like the idea of having plans already in place from the beginning, but I'm not sure what those plans should be. Obviously I can be flexible if Plan A isn't working, but I like knowing what it is, and making sure the kid knows too.

Maybe you could have one section be about the basic structure you put in place at the beginning, and a second section giving a list of things that might happen to upset that structure and then some ideas for how to respond to them?

Tracey said...

You are definitely the perfect person to do something like this! I really hope it happens. I'll be first in line to pre-order!

My thought is that it can't be too specific - i.e., do this, but if that doesn't work do that. I found that I've had to tailor my parenting to my child and her individual needs and behaviors. The books I read before she was placed helped a thousand times more when I re-read them after placement. My parenting techniques were derived from many different sources. No one method works for every child.

I also think one of the biggest things new adoptive parents need is advice on how to find the information they need. Above all else, adoptive parents will need to educate themselves, and pointing them in the direction to help them do that would be enormously helpful. I think it's important for adoptive parents to know that in most cases the caseworkers and CYS will be NO HELP WHATSOEVER. You need to understand that YOU are your children's best advocate and it's up to YOU to educate yourself on how best to help them.

And of course, taking care of yourself is so, so important. You will get nothing in return from your child for quite some time, maybe forever. You need to also be your own best advocate. If you let yourself get run down and resentful of your child you are in for a long, hard battle that may never be won.

sarsmile said...

Tracey, I realize that no one method works for every kid - I'm not trying to ask for a rigid checklist, more for a brainstorming session. What I want is specific ideas, including suggestions of the conditions under which they might be more or less helpful, so that when I'm feeling stuck I have multiple options to go to. I'm not expecting to be able to simply follow instructions, but I do want a whole pool of ideas that I can choose from, modify as needed, etc. Things that might work or at least be worth trying, not things that will definitely work. Seems like it would reduce the frequency of (not eliminate entirely) those moments when something happens and you have absolutely no idea how to respond to it - so you end up responding the same way you always respond, because you have no other ideas - and then by the time you go online and post about it, ask for suggestions, etc, the time has really passed when you can choose a different response effectively. I'm hoping to increase my ability to be flexible, not reduce it.

What I like best about Lisa's blogs is that she always seems to have creative ideas - therapeutic games, conversation topics, ways of explaining things to the kids, consequences, etc. I've tried to note down as many of them as I can, but I love the idea of having a bunch of them gathered in one place. So I guess I'm just encouraging her to play to her strengths as I see them. And actually I think Lisa is a great example of the value of having a good bag of tricks - SK is obviously a different kid than J, and I'm sure there will be times when things that worked for J won't work for SK. That being said, it does sound like it helps tremendously having specific strategies in place from the beginning based on her previous experiences - she can modify them if necessary, but she's starting from a much stronger place than she did the first time. The way she's been parenting SK the past few weeks sounds like it's several steps beyond the generic "provide structure, don't go out too often, don't overreact" kind of advice most of the books and websites seem to provide. Not that that advice is bad, just that I feel that others have given it effectively, and Lisa is in a position to offer something different. Assume that we know we should be doing those things, and talk about how to do them effectively.

I'm actually not sure if the comment above was intended as a response to me at all, since mine may not have been posted when you wrote yours. But I figured I'd respond anyway since it's a reasonable question, and try and clarify what I was suggesting. Hope this helps.

RADOnline said...

O.F.A.A.T Will totally support this program in any way possible.


BT said...

Hey Lisa. I'm like sarsmile; I would love a compilation of techniques and strategies that I could draw on at a moment's notice. Every type of undesirable behaviour you can think of, and as many ideas as possible for how to handle it both right there in that moment and over time. Then, because we know the behaviours stem from the overarching pyschological condition of our kids, as many therapeutic techniques as you can come up with. Your blog goes a long way towards this, but not everyone who needs this info has discovered your blog!

All of that said, you have shown yourself to be so adept at figuring out the needs of your daughters that I would completely trust your instincts as to what ought to be on a CD. I just think you definitely ought to do something (no pressure though; I know you are busy right now). You might also consider going the DVD route. Or both! Please keep us posted on this potential project.

Torina said...

This is a GREAT idea, Lisa!! You definitely need to include your videos about tapping and everything else. Those are crucial. The fact that you are a PARENT and have used all of this stuff on your own kids holds more weight to me than a therapist or a doctor or whatever.