I've had some great times with the twins the past couple of days. They were kind of grumpy until the last day or two. I'm not sure if it comes from being an adoptive parent, but I still get a thrill when they squeal when I get home from work. Yesterday, a social worker was there when I got home - not a big deal, just the regular quarterly review(which went well.) I went upstairs and both babies stopped playing, squealed, ran over and grabbed my legs. The next half hour, while the social worker was there, they would play, then run over to me to be held, squirm down, play, run back for a hug, play, check out the social worker, etc. Nothing makes me feel more special than when my kids (including the big ones) show me trust, faith and affection.
my kids' recent milestones:
Ben, 14 mo son, has been able to climb up the little climbing wall on their tiny playscape for awhile, but he went down the slide by himself yesterday! Now, he only has to get comfortable sitting down after he climbs up...
Sophia, 14 mo daughter, had two milestones. First, she and I were watching Sesame Street and I mentioned that Ernie had a duck. She looked at me with comprehension, picked up her stuffed duck and brought it to me. Second, she stole her brother's bottle, I told her 'uh oh' and she gave it back to him.
S, 14 year old, babysat (with supervision) yesterday and did a great job. She got a bonus payment from the kids' parents.
Kaia, 17 year old, started her first job!
A link to K
I've added a link to my daughter's blog
. It is worth reading - she is quite a writer and has a lot to say. I'm very proud of her for actually publishing her thoughts out where anyone can see them. She doesn't use her birth name, of course, but she always been so anxious about being in the spotlight. My hope is that she finds this freeing and empowering.
Her dream has been to be an author, and she's always leaned towards fiction. Part of the power of the written word is the bit of the author's soul that comes with it, which she can feel now that she is publishing something. Writing fiction can turn from an escape to an empowering experience.
this will (hopefully) frighten you...
My seventeen year old, K, came from a fundamentalist Christian background. I am thankful that, as difficult as it is to be removed from your birthfamily and put in state care, her family never got this far. Setting Him Straight?
For at least two weeks in June, Zach, a 16-year-old gay teen from Bartlett, Tennessee, was a hostage held against his will.
He wasn't kidnapped by a child molester or abducted by international terrorists, though what he has been through, in his own words, has been "torture." Indeed, Zach's captivity has been completely legal, if horrific. He's been interred by the authority of his parents. And his captors have been a group with the ironic name, "Love In Action."
"Love In Action" is one of the so-called "ex-gay" ministries. It runs what it calls a "youth program," named Refuge, which is essentially a "camp" to allegedly "de-gay" homosexual teens.
According to Zach's blog, his parents decided to send him to Refuge against his will after he came out to them as being gay. On May 29, Zach wrote on his blog that his parents sat him down and informed him he was going to a "fundamentalist Christian program for gays."
"They tell me there is something wrong with me, and they 'raised me wrong,'" Zach wrote. "I'm a big screw up to them, who isn't on the path God wants me to be on. So I am sitting here in tears."
According to other blog entries, Zach's parents took away his cell phone and car keys, apparently in an effort to keep what they perceived as bad "outside influences" away from him. His parents also isolated him from his friends - he wrote on June 3, his last blog entry, that he hadn't seen any of his friends for more than a week. He was housebound, he said. And he was only able to access the computer to write his blog, he wrote, after his parents were asleep. Zach's state of mind, even before he was forced to go to Refuge, was clearly fragile, as reflected in his sad and poignant blog entries. "My mother has said the worst things to me for three days straight," he wrote at 11:33 on June 3, the last time a blog entry was made. "I went numb. That's the only way I can get through this... I can't take this... no one can. This kind of thing tears you apart emotionally." And then Zach writes what many of us fear most, the worst possible results of this kind of pressure: "I'm not a suicidal person," he begins, and your heart sinks as he broaches the subject. "But I can't help it... all I can think about is killing my mother and myself. It's so horrible. This is what it's doing to me... I have this horrible feeling all of the time... I wish this on no person."
But studies have shown that gay teens are up to three times more likely than their heterosexual peers to attempt suicide, because of the anti-gay pressures they face from home, school and society. It's estimated that one-third of completed suicides are done by gay or lesbian teens.
Though he has not posted any blog entries since June 3, friends and supporters have written on his blog site, saying that after the initial two-week period at Refuge, Zach's parents have decided to keep him there an additional six weeks. Zach was able to post an exhaustive list of rules and regulations from Refuge that he had found e-mailed to his parents. The rules include a strict prohibition on "hugging or physical touch between clients. Brief handshakes or a brief affirmative hand on a shoulder is allowed." Males at the camp are not allowed to have facial hair of any kind, and must maintain "clean, business-like haircuts." Females are instructed to "shave legs and underarms at least twice weekly," and may not have hair that is "colored, highlighted or streaked." T-shirts without sleeves are forbidden for men, even as undergarments. So are thongs for women. The only jewelry a man may have is a wedding ring and a watch. Women are allowed that, plus a simple pair of earrings (one per ear.) Absolutely no one may wear Abercrombie and Fitch or Calvin Klein clothes or accessories. No cologne or perfume, either.
Reading through the exhaustive list of do's and don'ts for Refuge, you learn that every member there is put into what can only be likened to emotional solitary confinement for the first two or three days, where they may not communicate, verbally or otherwise, with anyone, even parents, except with special permission.
They can't have a cell phone or watch TV or see movies, other than the one shown weekly at the camp. They are not even allowed to read, unless it is the Bible or pre-approved material from the camp. No secular music. Bach and Beethoven are expressly mentioned as not being religious music, and thus forbidden. They are not allowed to keep in touch or have contact with previous friends. They are expressly prohibited from displaying "campy" behavior or "gay/lesbian behavior or talk." They and their belongings are subject to search. They may not keep a journal, other than that required for their "therapy." They are photographed for "sobering re-evaluation." And they are encouraged to tattle on each other if they break the rules. It seems clear that Refuge engages in behavior modification as part of its "therapy" to "cure" gays and allegedly make them straight. There is absolutely no scientific evidence that this kind of abusive behavior makes any kind of permanent, healthy change in its victims. All of the major, credible mental health organizations, such as the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association have long ago distanced themselves from this kind of "therapy." Furthermore, these mental health organizations also know that being gay or lesbian is not a mental disorder, and readily say so. The notion that you can alter a kid's sexual orientation by dressing him in certain clothes and forcing him to read the Bible and act in particular ways is not only ludicrous, but psychologically destructive.
Even 16-year-old Zach understands that. In one blog entry, he writes: "How could you support a program like this?" he asks of the Refuge camp. "Even if I do come out straight, I'll be so mentally unstable and depressed it wont matter. I'll be back in therapy again. This is not good."
up and coming.
The cruise is a big deal. K is already packed. I think we have all we need, just have to sort and do laundry and pack. Lot's of choices, should Holly and I try to marry in one of the stops where it is legal? It would involve lots of planning because we won't have time for waiting periods. The kids would love it, but we could also use that time in port to shop and do historical things and just have fun. What show should we see in NYC? and on and on...
Holly and I have considered being a marriage testcase here in Texas, but kids' adoptions aren't final and we don't want to mess those up. It is tempting, though. Can you imagine what a big deal it would be for a state a big as Texas to let us marry?
I was sick yesterday and am not a hundred percent yet. My mind is wandering. I guess I'll blog more later when I feel better.
F came back Saturday and is leaving for a group home this afternoon. I feel for that kid, but we just didn't have the time or the energy to deal with her. She a manipulator and would have kept S in trouble. Hopefully, she will at least begin
to work on some of her issues at the group home. They are good people. F probably doesn't realize that the adults she works with there know what they are doing, and they get full reports from us and the staff we work with. If she is lucky, they won't put up with BS and will make her work on her stuff. She will also have less contact with her bio family and what she has will be more structured.
Some think it is already too late for her. She's almost fifteen and that only leaves three years to undo all of that emotional damage. It is possible - K has done tons of work and seems to be in a good place with only 2 1/2 years away from her biofamily. She isn't close to being done, but she understands that.
This isn't a very good post, I know. I don't say much and am kind of rambling. My excuse = it's Mondy morning.
My wonderful, brilliant partner, Holly, wrote an essay for HRC's exceptional family competition. It explained why we are exceptional in 500 words. You can see it on her blog, 0to5
, and WE WON!!. We get to go on a cruise with R Family cruises. I must say that it was difficult for her to write. She is uncomfortable, as many of us are, patting herself on the back. I am so glad that she decided to enter!
when mothers let you down
I think that everyone wants to impress their mother - to have her approval. I know I did when my mom was still alive, and I still temper my decisions with her in mind.
My teens want to impress their bio moms. They want their bio mothers to love them and approve of them, just like everyone else. Unfortunately, these women usually aren't very capable or respectable, and they are usually less mature and responsible than their daughters.
As I mentioned in an earlier entry, my seventeen year old has decided to try to rebuild a relationship with her bio family. She knows that she will not be able to deal with all the anger roiled up inside her until she deals with her family. Bless her heart, she's alraedy worked past so much. Anyway, her mother missed K's court date. Her mother still has parental rights and has always come to court to catch up and see K. This kind of kicked K in the gut, but she steeled her spine and called her mom. They set up a time so K could see her mom and sisters. This was last night. We were going to meet at a local restaurant. We got there, had a seat and none of them were there yet. K checked her messages and found one from her 15 yo sister apologizing that they couldn't come because their mom had some mystery illness. The woman couldn't even call herself.
She probably has a lot of guilt - she let K get abused as a young child, then abandoned her to state care when K started fighting back against her stepfather. K had to parent her bio mom for years because she was addicted to prescription drugs. It just bites that K is ready to forgive and her mother still can't face it. It makes us sad and angry. Holly suggested to K that she call her younger sisters and invite them to a movie so she can at least see them, and we won't have to depend on the mother's health...
We spent the weekend at my in-laws. They have a beautiful house on a lake with jet ski, ski boat, fishing equipment, etc. They both go out of their way to make our kids' experience grand every time we come.
We took the short term fourteen year old girl, F, with us. We usually don't think twice about it because her parents are very cool with the people we bring, and these kids often have never had these kinds of experiences. Turned out to be a mistake.
My fourteen year old, S., is difficult, but adores her grandparents and being at the lake. F doesn't have these kinds of restraints of affection. She doesn't usually do the actions that get them in trouble, she just goads S into it so she can turn on her and tattle, or find some way to become the victim. We haven't called her on it very often. S should know better and is old enough to have a mind of her own, so we hold her responsible for her actions.
anyhow, the big events this weekend:
1) the girls were snippy and tired and S became furious when I asked her to sit up straight and chew with her mouth shut. She yelled back, F defended her and went on about how we pick on S too much. Finally, they got up and sat at a different table. Everyone finished their dinners and went back inside except Holly's mom, me and the girls. The girls had their heads huddled together snickering. I told them a little rhyme my mother'd taught me when I was little about secrets and lies keeping one from Heaven. F looked up and sternly insisted that I couldn't say she wasn't going to heaven. I laughed - it was a joke, I said. Holly's mom got up and laughed and went inside. F, with S's help, couldn't seem to stop themselves from getting angry and going on and on about who was I to say who was going to heaven when, as F said, I was with a woman and the bible says woman should not be together like male/female. I reiterated my apology about hurting her feelings, or whatever I hurt, but, like an idiot, I mentioned that the bible never once even alludes to women together, only men. By this time they were yelling (which carries over the whole lake - the water effect or something) and they couldn't listen. Holly came out and got control of the situation. The kids went off on their own pretending like they were asleep. I really grieved. I know better than to lose my temper like that. Holly and her mom reminded me that I was tired, too, and everyone loses it. S. Came back later with a sincere apology.
2) Holly's mom took the girls tubing the next day. This is hard work for her to drive the boat because of an illness she has, but she wants the kids to have these wonderful experiences. As they finished and came back to the house, the girls wanted to get in the hot tub. She said no - F had a bleeding scrape on her knee and they don't use chlorine in the tub. Blood in the tub could get the whole thing infected with something. The girls took offense at this, were heard calling Hollys mom the b word and behaving in a really offensive, disrespectful manner. They both denied it, but others had heard.
3) found out today that Holly's dad had seen the girls in the jacuzzi after they'd been told not to get in. He didn't know about the blood. Holly's mom has to drain the thing and clean it out by hand today, which causes her great pain. The girls denied they did it, then insisted they 'slipped in.' Lots of tears and grounding and lack of electronics and bicycles at my house right now. They still won't take responsibility.
I want F gone. S took the actions, but she is so much easier to be with when not with F. I hate feeling like this. We've never requested a kid leave us. F will be going to church camp for the rest of the week. Holly thinks we can struggle through next week so she can have her bday party with us instead of the group home she is going to. I don't want to. I'm not that nice. I don't want to give her a party or anything else.
Please tell me I'll feel better about this soon. I don't want to lose my temper again.