Advocacy

Thanks to Facebook, I was reminded this morning that one year ago I was court-ordered to stop talking about my oldest daughter completely, much less her situation and needs, or risk numerous consequences including jail time and losing my parental rights (i.e. I would no longer be a parent to my children). So, today seems like a good day to get started on some advocacy efforts.

 

Christmas Card 2015At that time, I was also instructed by the Assistant District Attorney (ADA) to shut down this blog completely. (Not just the kid parts – the whole thing.) I was also instructed by the ADA to remove posts and photos from Facebook, including, and especially, our family portrait which appears here.

After that my kiddo was in upwards of 10 failed placements in less than 10 months with more than 60 days of juvenile detention thrown in and seven weeks on her own in Oklahoma City, because she ran away, and they couldn’t locate her. Because they couldn’t keep her placed anywhere, they couldn’t provide the court-ordered services that she required, like GED classes, therapy, transitional living, services, etc., and I was generally only allowed to see her in court. I also had a court-ordered parenting plan that included paying the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) child support of $640/month, attending parenting classes, opening up my therapist’s notes to OKDHS and the court, and allowing OKDHS to search my home at any time without notice. That was after OKDHS’s investigation literally found no fault on my part.

When my oldest daughter turned 18 last February, the legal case against me went away formally, but I’ve been advised by more than one attorney not to “advocate” about these issues until my other two kids turn 18, lest OKDHS remove them from my home out of vengeance. If you think this sounds crazy, welcome to my world and the world of many adoptive parents who step up, do the right thing, and end up being crucified by OKDHS, the DA’s office, and the Tulsa County Court, in an environment where we are literally allowed to say/write nothing about what is happening to our families.

I think my best bet against having my kids taken into OKDHS custody over the next six years is to be loud, because then if they’re taken away from me, you’ll all know why and be more likely to advocate on our behalf.

  • If you know parents who have been through similar experiences, please ask them to email me at shelley.cadamy@gmail.com.
  • If you know people who adopted from a government entity, and their kids have undisclosed mental health issues/behaviors that are unmanageable, ask them to email me at shelley.cadamy@gmail.com.
  • If you know people who were forced to “abandon” their adoptive children so that their kids could get help that is only available to kids in foster care, please ask them to email me at shelley.cadamy@gmail.com.
  • If you’re an attorney who would like to share, confidentially, your experiences and/or ideas for system reform, email me at shelley.cadamy@gmail.com.
  • If you’re an advocate and have a plan for reform, including legislation, please email me at shelley.cadamy@gmail.com.

I appreciate my friends who were part of the “if Shelley goes to jail today” plan, wherein friends would 1. pick up my two younger kids and take them to an undisclosed location, and 2. call the media and organize a march on the Tulsa County jail.

This is just the beginning – there is much more to the story above. If you have questions, please post them in the comments below. Big love, people.

Advertisements
Advocacy

All in their Places with Bright, Shining Faces

Yesterday was the first day of school in Tulsa, and we had one of the easiest back to school weeks ever. I’m knocking on wood as I type this. I’m a fan of school. I miss going back to school myself. I might head back to grad school soon for no other reason than I just want to learn new stuff. Having said that, there are a few things about school that are issues for us each year. We put tremendous pressure on teachers in our country, and in my state we pay them abysmally, so I don’t want to make it harder, but that’s exactly, sadly, what I’m about to do.

Seemingly sweet “get to know you” assignments that involve baby photos or explaining why your parents named you what they named you (two actual assignments I’ve seen in my Facebook feed since school started) are really uncomfortable for foster/adoptive kiddos/families. So are genealogy projects. And, family “heritage” projects. And, Mother’s Day gifts made by your kiddo when you’re the foster mom, and their bio mom hasn’t made it to a visitation for 6 months. Or Father’s Day gifts made by your kiddo when they have no father (I adopted as a single person. My kids don’t have an adoptive father).

For example, I have zero baby photos of my kids. I’ve tried to get some from the bio family, but it’s never happened. And, as far as why they were named what they were named, all the reasons I actually know of are really sad, and I wouldn’t even want my kids to know them much less their new classmates. I have one kiddo who was named after his bio father, right before the bio father promptly abandoned him forever, for example. I literally know of children whose first names had to be changed when they were adopted, even though they were older, because their names were Marijuana and Chlamydia. As far as genealogy or family heritage, about the only thing I have to go on is the Department of Corrections website where I can find all the vital statistics and full legal name of my kids’ bio parents. There is no way to explain that in any kind of feasible way to 4th graders. In the words of my super smart fellow adoptive parent friend, Sundra, there is no adoption story, whatever the situation, that doesn’t have a lot of pain and abandonment attached to it.

So, again, I don’t want to make things harder. Teachers cannot possibly allow for everything that might be painful for a kiddo. But offering some options might help. For Mother’s Day, help the kids make a gift for the person who nurtures them, whether that’s a grandparent, guardian, father, or someone else. As an option to baby photos, kids can bring a photo of themselves at a proud moment or a photo they just really like.  A kiddo can look up the meaning of his name or discuss someone in his world he respects who also has his name, or some such other option that doesn’t further traumatize/marginalize kiddos. Discussions about genealogy or heritage are tougher. As soon as my black children stand up and say their (adoptive) family is Irish and German, that’s just going to create lots of questions they likely won’t be excited to answer. And, I frankly don’t know their biological family’s heritage, so I’d just have to make stuff up, which I’m not going to do. Sorry I can’t be more helpful here. If you have ideas, please post them below.

And, when you get right down to it, there are lots of families for whom these kinds of assignments, though well-meaning, could be sensitive. Bad stuff happens in life (divorce, death, incarceration, drug addiction, abandonment, to name a few) that kiddos don’t want to announce in front of the class or even write about to their teacher. One of my kiddos landed in psychiatric care after some serious bullying that was the result of her opening up about her background to a 6th grade friend who did not have the maturity or context to understand what she was hearing. So, again these assignments are well-meaning but have the potential to marginalize and traumatize kids.

So, on that note, again, I really appreciate great teachers! And, in Oklahoma, my home state, we pay them virtually nothing and expect them to hurl their bodies on top of our kids during tornadoes. They’re heroes until they ask to be paid a living wage, and then they’re just parasites living off the government teat, but that’s another post. Happy back to school, everyone!

All in their Places with Bright, Shining Faces

So Comfortable

This morning I read Slate’s story on The Whiteness Project and I was reminded of the times I’ve been asked by black people how I got so comfortable around black people. First, I have to give major credit to those who asked, because that’s not an easy question to ask for lots of reasons. And, I’m sure it’s been on the minds of many people who didn’t ask. So here’s the thing – I wasn’t always comfortable around black people. I grew up in a 1970s suburban development in Oklahoma City, one that my mother and stepfather specifically moved to for the schools. One might even call it a white flight development. I went to an all white grade school, and an all white middle and junior high And, I went to high school with 400 other white people. If I’m remembering this incorrectly, I’m sure someone will tell me about it. Maybe there was one brown kid in there somewhere? But if so, I really don’t remember that.

In college, I still didn’t know one darn non-white person until I was matched up with a young black woman via lottery in the dorms my sophomore year. We rarely talked, and I assumed it was because I was older, and she had a full social life, but looking back, she may have just had her “you’re a white person” walls up, boundaries I didn’t realize existed until I was much older.

In grad school I met some black people who played in bands, because I worked at a restaurant/bar on campus corner, and we had fabulous live music. That was peripheral at best. So, I was on a campus of fifteen or twenty thousand people, and still didn’t know any black people, as terrifying as that is in retrospect.

I finished grad school and went to work in Oklahoma City for a state agency, and worked with a few minorities, none of whom I knew beyond small talk.

In my 20s and 30s I worked around a few black people, but again only peripherally. I never knew any of them beyond very small talk at work. Then, I met a young black woman at work, and we became friends. I knew what was happening in her life, and she knew what was happening in mine. We didn’t socialize, though. And, later I realized she had the “you’re a white person” walls up, too. I mean that in a loving and straightforward way – not as a criticism.

So, long about 35 I started to think I likely needed to become a parent, for many reasons that I’ve already discussed in other blog posts, and voila the universe gave me three beautiful, brown children. I don’t recommend acquiring brown children as a way to become comfortable around non-whites – it’s sort of the Evil Knievel method of getting there. But, it’s what worked for me, and I think it’s a lesson for others.

Had you asked me before I became a parent if I was comfortable around black people, I would have answered “yes,” and that would have been a lie. I didn’t know it was a lie at the time, but it was. When the social service agency in my state called to say they didn’t often have healthy, white babies in the foster care system, I told them I only wanted kids 4-years-old and up, and I didn’t care what color they were. And, I didn’t care. But I had no idea what a paradigm shift I was in for, because I had no idea what the world of black people was really like.

So, here’s what I’ve learned, and what the article referenced above spells out – when you surround yourself with people who look like you, think like you, and earn the same income as you, whether you intend to or not, you have created a scary little insular world where it’s easy to judge and condemn anyone outside your circle, because you don’t regard them as people. They are “other,” so how can you have empathy for them? Not pity, but empathy? How can you walk in someone else’s shoes, if you don’t even know what shoes they’re wearing?

When I fostered and then adopted my kids, it was like I learned the secret handshake for a world to which I had not been privy my whole life. What I’m about to describe below is the rule, not the exception. Some of you I’m sure have wildly diverse social networks, but as the “75% of white people don’t include black people in their social networks” statement in the above-referenced article illustrates, you’re the exception not the rule. If you’re reading this and thinking “yeah, but I’m not racist” stop doing that. I’m not saying you’re a racist. I’m saying you don’t know black people. So, here’s what I’ve learned:

  • My kids get treated differently than white kids at school, until I go to the school and show the administrators/teachers they have a white mom, and then it stops. Does every school and every teacher/administrator do this? No. Do enough do it that I’m forced to admit it’s a thing? Yes. And, yes I do use my white privilege on behalf of my children and will continue to do so. This makes me sad in so many darn ways.
  • Other black kids tell my kids they smell “musty” and have “nappy” hair, one of the many ways in which black children learn to belittle other black children. These are words I didn’t even know outside of Alice Walker novels until I became a parent. And, I didn’t realize black people were awful to each other, as completely naive as that sounds, until I became a parent of black children. I assumed white kids would say awful things to my kids about their brown skin and “nappy” hair – I didn’t expect it from other black children. I was absurdly wrong.
  • Black hair – don’t even get me started on the culture of black hair. My kids are beautiful. They have beautiful, natural black hair. And, I can’t tell you how many women have walked up to us to tell me, in front of them, how horrible their hair looks, because it’s natural. Thank God we also have wonderful women, with their own natural hair, walk up and say the opposite, too. I actually created cards to hand out to people who have complaints, because my oldest daughter started getting in their face about it, and I was afraid she was going to get punched. In my wildest pre-adoption dreams, I never thought I and my children would be waging a self-esteem war about hair. If you haven’t seen Chris Rock’s Good Hair, please watch it.
  • Salespeople treat me differently when I’m with my kids than when I’m not. When I’m not with my kids, I get the full “uptight, white lady” treatment, which means I get waited on immediately with a big smile. When I’m with my kids we stand around for a while and might have to finally ask someone for help. I first experienced this when I was buying furniture for my children’s rooms in a store that is notorious for very aggressive salespeople. I walked in with my kids and stood there while no less than 7 salesmen stared at the floor and each other. Finally a woman, who later explained that she was Iranian, walked up and very graciously helped us. I knew exactly what I wanted, so she earned her commission on $1,500 in less than 10 minutes, which I hope she explained to her co-workers.
  • White people are judgmental and rude. I can’t tell you how many big-haired, Baptist women have looked disapprovingly at me in the grocery line when they see me with my kids. Or at the park, or the movies, or the festivals or wherever. And, no I don’t actually know that they’re Baptist – there’s just a type of woman in the Bible Belt that I can’t describe any other way. Or there’s the group of white women dining next to us in Chicago who gave us more disapproving looks than we’ve ever had in Oklahoma. I wanted to say “yes, my beautiful brown children ARE dining on lobster this evening, and they know how to use their utensils properly and how to eat in a grown-up restaurant, so I invite you to suck it,” but I smiled nicely instead, as did my seething 15-year-old.  And, by the way I always smile politely, directly at the judgers, so they can see that I and my family know how to treat people, and we will not be shamed.
  • Black people do not talk to white people like they talk to their black friends. You may think they do, but they don’t. They really, really don’t. People I thought I knew decently well spoke to me in a whole new way after I adopted the kids. It’s like they let walls down, although I’m sure not completely, and it was at that point I realized my black friends had had filters the whole time they’d known me. I can’t imagine what it’s like to walk around the world filtering yourself at work, school, socially, with your neighbors, because I’ve never had to do that, because I’m white. No wonder black people have their own churches. Can you imagine worshiping with a filter? This realization, too, made me very sad.

And, finally, I treat black people differently than I did before I adopted. I know that, because I’ve had several people ask me “Shelley, how’d you get so comfortable around black people?” That tells me I’ve had a shift that wasn’t purposeful or conscious – it just happened. I thought I was treating everyone the same for the last 40 or so years, but I wasn’t. I can’t name what’s different – I think I’m just more authentic, more transparent, I don’t know. Maybe someone reading this can tell me what the difference is. I do know why the difference happened – I got to know some black people. It’s really that simple. I have tremendous empathy for my children, and it’s tough to see someone who looks like them and continue to regard those people as “other.” Young black men walking down the street who might have scared me 10 years ago (yes, I was one of those white women as are a lot of white women), now look like my son will in 10 years, so I smile and say hello. Know what I get back? Nine times out of ten I get a smile back and a a”Hello ma’am, how are you?”

So how can you get to know black people? I don’t know, frankly. I keep threatening to have quarterly parties where I invite people from all the worlds I inhabit and make them talk to each other. Maybe a good start would be to admit that we don’t live in a racially equal or a post-racial society. White people who say “I don’t see color” are just absurdly misguided. Of course you see color. Now, confront your fears, step outside your safe, white world and actually get to know some of the people behind the color. I highly recommend it.

So Comfortable

What Adoption Classes Didn’t Teach Us About Raising Black Children

Wow, I wish I’d written this.

What Adoption Classes Didn’t Teach Us About Raising Black Children.

What Adoption Classes Didn’t Teach Us About Raising Black Children

Mars

My oldest ran away this week. She’s run away multiple times (it’s her thing), but she’s never stayed away overnight before, which she did this time. She apparently landed at her friend’s house where I went to pick her up today and take her to the CALM center where she can stay until we (I, her therapist, her psychiatrist) get her a bed at a psychiatric unit that specializes in traumatized females. I’m a fairly tough individual, but days of wondering where your kid is, especially your kid who is ripe for re-victimization, just wears a person out. Our local police department had been to the house to take my report, then I’d filed paperwork the next day to generate an arrest warrant, and had another officer out the next day to advise me on what to do once I found out where she was. With a RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) kid, it’s not as simple as just going to pick her up. During this time I’d been holding down a fairly demanding job, and parenting my other two kids who were also freaked out that their sister had left.

So, I can’t tell you how pleased I was when I went to pick up my child to get a lecture from her friend’s dad about my parenting fails and his advice for overcoming them. According to him, because I’m single, I can’t possibly spend enough time with my children, and he was sure that none of them feel safe, secure or as though we have an actual home. I confirmed that statement a couple of times, because he was speaking on behalf of all three of my kids, two of whom he’s not actually been around for more than 30 seconds. In the same breath, he told me I should rent out a room in the house to a stranger, to improve our financial situation. And, finally, the best part, that I was clearly not attentive to my children’s spiritual life, because we don’t attend church, and that my children needed a “church family,” just like his daughter has.

So here’s the thing – unless you have raised a severely traumatized child for a minimum of six months, you have no idea in what world I and people like me live. It is a world as foreign to you as Mars. I don’t care if you’ve lived on the streets, made a million bucks, have three doctorates, are black, white or purple – your certainty of your understanding of our family and our issues, and supposed solutions, is absurd. You may have the best intentions in the world and fancy yourself a good Christian, but your unsolicited advice will ring false each and every time. And, you will do harm to a family who is already struggling.

The good news is that to be part of a much-needed support network for families like ours, you need to know a few things. Kids like mine are ridiculously good at manipulation, and they love control. And, I don’t blame them. Those are the tools that kept them alive through their early lives. However, they will say and do anything to appear victims and gain control of the situation. They have high levels of defiance. So, they will likely be very convincing when they charm the pants off of new teachers, therapists, friend’s parents, and neighbors. They’re like tiny politicians. And, after they’ve charmed the pants off these people they will carefully and skillfully convince them that their parent is a monster. They do this with husbands and wives often. Husband is charmed, kid only acts out when husband is not around, husband thinks wife is insane. RAD kids cause a large number of divorces. Hopefully, I don’t have to explain why this is disconcerting. I have friends whose RAD kids have convinced court advocates, psychiatrists, grandparents, teachers, etc. that their parent is an abusive monster to the point that human services is called and sometimes arrests are made. Thankfully, someone who has a clue usually intervenes, but not always.

The other thing that’s good to know is that, especially with single parents of RAD kids, we’re vigilant 24/7. There are no “down” days when you’re parenting traumatized kids. When you let your guard down, they go in for the kill. My daughter opted to run away days after we returned from a really lovely vacation to Chicago. She had a great time, appeared relaxed and comfortable, and then went into defiance mode on the trip back and didn’t speak for 12 hours. There is no rhyme or reason, so you have to be on guard all day, every day. Consequently, we’re a bit emotionally exhausted just about every day.

Finally, there is no magic pill or secret sauce for what ails a RAD kid. Not love, discipline, affection or religion.  I completely respect people for whom religion plays a vital part of their lives, and I’m not undermining those beliefs. I’m actually deeply spiritual, but I find God much more present in Chagall’s America Windows than I do in church. I find spirituality in the miracle that is my children and in how we found each other and became a family.

Keeping all this in mind, the very last thing a RAD parent needs to hear is that she’s failing her kids. My days, and the days of my fellow RAD parents are filled with doubt. Our parenting is basically an informed crap shoot, by necessity. For the record, we are just fine financially, and my kids are pretty awesomely secure. They’re also pretty self-sufficient, because I do not cater to their every whim. They see someone who takes time for her career and for herself, which is what I want to model for them. I think I kind of rock as a parent. I’ve had therapists ask to write theses on us, because my kids are doing so well considering their extreme histories. I know these things intellectually, but when you’re vulnerable, like I was today, it’s pretty tough to hear all the ways in which you’re supposedly failing your child.  I think sometimes people are certain about their answers, because it’s too scary and threatening to them not to be. To consider that the reality of the situation doesn’t have  a quick fix. But in this case, if you’ve not walked the walk, please do not attempt to talk the talk. In the words of my friend, Voltaire, doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.

Mars

Public Service Announcement

My friend, and adoptive parent in crime, Michelle Kelley sent this to me tonight. I have literally been asked ALL of these questions. I have watched this video six times, because it’s ridiculously on target. And, I’ve been known to respond to people who ask “are those your real kids? with “Are those your real breasts?” so this is especially fabulous to watch. Bravo, Rain City Church, the creators of the video.

Click here to view the video.

 

Public Service Announcement

Tightrope

Today, I had every foster/adoptive parent’s nightmare – getting a visit from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, because I had been accused of child abuse. Someone called the child abuse hotline to say that there was a child in my home in handcuffs and shackles. What they didn’t explain to the child abuse hotline was that child was being escorted by two police officers to one of three waiting police cruisers. She was being escorted to a local psychiatric facility, because she was out of control. I’m not sure how the caller missed the two police officers on either side of my daughter, or the cruisers with their flashing lights, but he or she certainly didn’t provide that very valuable context to OKDHS. So, when the ladies arrived, I explained what had happened – that I’d just arrived home with my daughter. They are required by law to fully investigate complaints (for which I’m very thankful), so they proceeded with their questions. I explained my kids’ history, gave vital statistics, and showed them that my kids all had beds and that there was food in the refrigerator and pantry. Then, they interviewed my kids, which they’re required to do. I had already invited all three kids into the front room to laughingly explain what had happened, in hopes that it would transparently lighten the mood for them.  Because what was truly terrifying me about the visit was not what would happen to me, but what it would do to my children on a day when they’d already been seriously traumatized. My kids were removed from their biological parent’s home a day or two after Christmas about seven years ago. They were eventually split up into different homes, spent time in shelters, and sometimes with abusive foster children and with abusive foster parents. So, the very last thing my kids needed was the threat of being removed from me and my home. The very last thing.

The ladies were incredibly compassionate and gentle in their questions. They reassured the kids they could see the kids were well cared for, and the interviews were something they just had to do. So, all three of the kids answered very basic questions about whether they were attending school, if they had enough food, and other mundane things that I’ve honestly forgotten. I offered them coffee, apologized for my messy house, and then they were gone.

We’ve obviously had a tough day today. I’ve written several times about my middle daughter’s issues, and today’s were no different. Violent fit; police called; handcuffs and shackles; waiting for the third cruiser with the cage to arrive so she doesn’t kick out the glass in the cruiser; as soon as I’m out of her sight she calms down; arrive at hospital. What was especially frustrating about today was that there were no beds in our entire county for my daughter. I had already called the three hospitals who provide psychiatric care for juveniles, and none of them had beds. I called COPES and learned that they’re not mobile on the weekends. Eventually, I was told what psychiatric hospital was doing the “rotation,” this weekend, which means they are responsible for figuring out what to do with my daughter, whether they have a bed available or not, and we went there. While there, my daughter calmed, and she and I had a come-to-Jesus meeting, where I explained she can’t ignore her coping skills and throw fits once a week, or she’s going back to the psychiatric facility. She’s twelve and African-American. I’m terrified that if I don’t help her manage her anger now, one day she’ll have a violent rage at school or on the job, and someone who doesn’t understand what’s happening will shoot her dead. I’m hoping that our talk today is enough to help her make good choices, because I wasn’t sending her to another county an hour and forty-five minutes away, which likely would have been my only option. I didn’t complete papers to have her evaluated, because once I did, she would have been in the system, and I wouldn’t have had any control over where she went. It may have been a very poor decision, or a very good one – my parenting life is a constant tightrope. Our life is a circus without a safety net.

The tightrope that I and every other foster/adoptive parent walk is maddening, and one of the reasons I write this blog. I have friends who have been told by psychiatrists that their adoptive children cannot come home from inpatient psychiatric care, because they will be a threat to the other children in the home. But if adoptive parents relinquish rights to their adoptive kids, even in dire circumstances like those I just described, they will owe a substantial amount of child support to the State of Oklahoma until the child turns 18. What kind of option is that for a family? Last year when my oldest daughter was living in our garage (yes, our garage), I was threatened by an intake worker at a psychiatric hospital with a call to OKDHS. That was while I was trying to get help for my daughter who had just created a blaze at our house that required a couple of fire trucks to extinguish. Parents of “normal” children are likely cringing as they read this but when your kid is communicating online with strange men about all the sex acts she’s going to perform on them, and she won’t give up the stolen cell phone she’s using to stay online, then guess what – the garage is a nice alternative to being kidnapped into sexual slavery. It’s warm, dry and safe. It’s just not terribly comfortable, and it’s a pretty serious clue that your mom is going to stubbornly keep you safe from yourself and your incredibly self-defeating behavior. And, it worked ultimately. These are the kinds of creative parenting techniques that parents like me have to come up with every day, and if your world is not quite as gray or complex as mine, then that might look like abuse. Unfortunately, once someone like me has made the decision to adopt, there are very few resources, and lots of living between a rock and a hard place. Our state has a massive effort currently to recruit more foster parents for the 11,000 that are currently in care, but there are no additional resources for those parents. You’re just on your own. And, I’m ridiculously stubborn and resourceful. Consider all the foster/adoptive parents who are not.

After the kind ladies from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services left, the kids and I went to one of our favorite little breakfast places, because we were all worn out and starving. My kids ordered for themselves, then me. Then the very sweet waitress stopped writing, looked right at me, and said, “You have the most polite kids. I could wait on them all day long.” I thanked her and let her know, without sharing details, that we’d had a really tough day and that her words meant more than she knew. And then, the world’s most badass children and I proceeded to make our very own very good day.

Tightrope

Dear Moms of Adopted Children | Kathy Lynn Harris

This is almost a year old, but I’m just now seeing it, and I had to share. It is perfect. It describes me and so many of my friends so well that it brought me to tears.

 

Dear Moms of Adopted Children | Kathy Lynn HarrisKathy Lynn Harris.

Dear Moms of Adopted Children | Kathy Lynn Harris

New Facebook page

So many of you have kindly followed this blog and reached out to me on Facebook, that I created a new Facebook page just for those who are interested in becoming foster/adoptive parents or are interested in advocating for foster/adoption and mental health care.  I’ll share shorter and more frequent posts there about our daily lives and about advocacy efforts. Please click here to go to the new Facebook page and tell me what you’d like me to post about. Thank you!

New Facebook page

Merry, Merry!

This time last year, my now 11-year-old was in the midst of a meltdown that would land her a few days later in the Reactive Attachment Disorder unit at our local psychiatric hospital, where she would stay until August. So, this year, thanks to remarkable therapists, psychiatrists, teachers, family, friends and people we don’t even know who have supported us through caring posts, we have made it to Christmas Eve with barely a hitch. I’m so proud of my kids. They’ve worked so hard to be emotionally healthy this year. They’ve joined in our December family morning mantra without complaining, “I am worthy. I am loved. Christmas is what I make it,” and have shown remarkable empathy and patience for each other. Though they will manage the heartache that comes with Christmas for the entirety of their lives, they are not letting it define them. My 11-year-old is currently sashaying around the house to the festive sounds of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and soon she’ll join me in the kitchen for even more holiday baking.

This year, in honor of all the hard work everyone had done to be emotionally healthy, we decided to do something a little different with our Christmas card. The kids and I decided they should pose like sad, little rich children out of a Wes Anderson film just to show our friends and family how seriously we take ourselves. The card was such a bit hit, I thought we’d share the photos here. Thanks to everyone who reads this blog and helps to keep me sane throughout the year. Merry Christmas (or whatever you celebrate) to you and yours!

Image

Image

Image

Image

Merry, Merry!