Thursday, November 15, 2012

Counseling...Finally!

I'm disappointed to report that the last couple of weeks with our adopted son of 5 months now, have not been positive.  It's exhausting always having to discipline and punish him.  I know at some point, you have to give children a little bit of freedom to learn how to do things on their own, but with R, we have to check behind every single, minuscule thing he does.  If I don't check on him while he's brushing his teeth, then he won't use toothpaste and he won't brush all of his teeth.  He can't seem to do anything without constantly being checked, reminded, or told.  There are so many things he hasn't been taught, but at the same time, he can't be trusted to do the things we have taught him.

We received a report from his teacher last week, that he would not quit talking in her class or his reading teacher's class, after being told to stop numerous times.  He ended up having to pull a card in both classes.  As usual, he was punished when he got home from school, privileges were taken away, apologies were written to the teachers, and he did not get to go on the family outing over the weekend.  Knowing how badly he wanted to go, we assumed this would leave a lasting impression on him, that would prevent him from acting out again (not ever again, as he is a child, but at least buy us a good bit of time before his next offense).  The impression we thought we left, was a failure, as we received a very upsetting e-mail from his teacher yesterday, that read:

Good afternoon. I just wanted to let you know that Robert has not had a good day today.  He has a very hard time following directions.  He and several other students were pushing each other in the bathroom line after PE and he was given silent lunch.  During this time he talked the whole time that I wasn't looking right at him.  After lunch he was going to the library and the librarian called me to let me know that he was playing in there as well.  (Running around and pulling books off of the shelf).  He is on  yellow today and I told him that he was to write you and his dad a note about the things he has been doing today.  He is doing better as far as being on task in class, however he is really struggling when he as any unstructured time.  Be sure to look for his note this afternoon.  Thank you for your continued support.  

My husband and I were livid when we received this e-mail, one hour before school let out.  This was by far the worst report we had gotten from his teacher.  At this point, I looked at my husband and said, "What now?  I have no idea what to do.  Nothing we're doing is working and it's only getting worse."  I then responded to the teacher's e-mail, conversing back and forth with her a few times:

From Me: We are so very upset to hear this. The past 2 weeks at home haven't been good either. I don't know if I'm allowed to ask you this, or not, but do you think he may have something wrong with him that needs to be addressed with his doctor? We have talked about him starting counseling too. Thank you for keeping us in the loop. 

From Teacher:  I really don't feel that there is something that needs to be addressed by a doctor at this time, but I am not a doctor so if you and your husband would feel better about having an assessment then I do encourage you to do so.  I do however feel that he might benefit by seeing a counselor just because of all of the changes that he has experienced in the past several months.  Robert is a very kind and helpful young man, sometimes he just has trouble with self control.  I just wanted you to be aware of what we are seeing at school so you could address it at home as well.  Thanks for your continued support to help make Robert successful!!  

From Me:  Okay.  We will definitely start with counseling and see if his behavior improves.  I agree with you that he definitely has trouble with self control.  We constantly have to tell him to quit making noises when he's doing his homework, eating, brushing his teeth, and anything else that requires focus.  He also has a very hard time sitting still for even 5 minutes.  We have a 'no running in the house' rule that he cannot follow at all and constantly has to be reminded.  I'm sure if he has a hard time with these things at home, that he does at school as well.  We very much appreciate you keeping us informed and as always, please continue to do so, as we are working diligently to teach him so many things that he seems to have never learned or experienced, that most 9 year olds know, such as tying his shoes.  He'd never had anything but Velcro shoes before he came to us.  He struggles every day to tie his shoes properly and keep them tied...just this morning it took him about 5 tries. 

From Teacher:  Believe it or not, he is not the only 3rd grade student that I have that can't tie a shoe. It is really quite shocking!!  I know that Robert is a work in progress and please know how much I just love him!  I will keep you up to date on any changes that I see in him and I would appreciate it if you would do the same!!  Have a great day!!

When my husband picked R up from school, not telling him his teacher had e-mailed us, he asked him how his day was.  Of course R lied, and getting the whole truth was like pulling teeth, with lots of tears involved.  Unfortunately, he experienced his 2nd spanking of his life, and definitely worst than the first. And now this weekend when we go see "Wreck It Ralph," he will not be permitted to go.  This is not over though.

I have been dragging my feet way too long now on getting him into counseling.  I know it's something I should have done from the very beginning, but I just kept hoping things would get better.  My first task this morning, after sending the boys off to school, was to find help.  I tried contacting my APAC (Alabama Pre/Post Adoption Connections) contact, Lisa, at the Children's Aid Society, but she could not be reached.  I then decided to e-mail her, because she has always been quick about responding, although it had been quite awhile since we corresponded.  Shortly thereafter, I received a phone call from her supervisor, who also happened to be the counselor, informing me that Lisa, who by the way is younger than me and petite, had had a stroke and was in inpatient rehab.  Lisa and her husband have been in the process of adopting a baby from a foreign country, but she is not letting this stop them, as her husband and parents are there now, visiting the child.  This might be the visit where they bring the baby home...I'm not sure though.  Back to the topic of counseling, the counselor and I spoke for awhile.  She will be coming to my house the week after Thanksgiving, to meet with me at noon, where we will do a patient intake.  At this time she will get all of his background information, e-mails from his teachers, and comments from me.  She'll then examine all of the information and set up a counseling plan with her and R.  I am so thrilled and amazed with the resources the Children's Aid Society offers.  Did I mention, this is all free?  You can't even pay a doctor to do an in-home visit!  The counselor also shared with me that she gets very busy this time of year, because the children always seem to have problems around the holidays.  She also said she will talk to me about how I am feeling, to gauge what I may need help with.

I am not pleased with the way I have handled this adoption, whatsoever.  My husband handles it so much better, and I'm envious of him for it.  For instance, instead of being helpful when I'm astonished that he doesn't know how to do something, I get irritated and angry.  I'm angry that no one ever taught him.  I'm angry that so many people let him slip by.  I'm angry...and because those people aren't here, I take it out on him.  It was very apparent of how I make him feel, when him and my husband were in the living room working on his spelling words, and then I walked in and he became visibly nervous, stressed, and couldn't focus to spell the words, whereas he had spelled every word correctly before I walked in the room.  I'm a terrible person for being mean to this innocent child.  I'm constantly stressed because I want to be better, I want to love him,  I want to want to be around him.  I know I should and need to feel all of these things and more, and I worry every day because I do not.

I ask for prayers, good vibes, good thoughts, whatever it is that you do, to help my family become whole.  I ask for the same that this counseling will be the answer we've been looking for.








4 comments:

  1. you are not a bad person, you are human. it is totally understandable, and it is great that you recognize that you are taking something out on him, that you see he feels it, and that you're getting counseling for him, and maybe for the rest of the family together (or you to talk our your frustrations). you're doing such a great job, don't ever doubt that! it will get better.

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  2. Thank you, Chandra! I appreciate you so much for understanding and not thinking I'm a bad parent or a terrible person for struggling so much with this. You know I love L and A to to the moon and back, and they know it too...and I want to be able to include R in that statement. You're a great friend!

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  3. Hollie...I am so proud of you for taking the first step to send R to counseling. We cannot possibly imagine what he is going through with this whole new life. All kids handle things differently and its great that a counselor who sees this often will be able to offer support and help. It's great that she might be able to help the rest of the family also with this new adjustment. I've never been there, but I can only imagine how hard it is on ALL of you. I also appreciate your honesty. You are not a bad person or parent. Children all respond differently to our parenting styles and it takes some work to figure out what's best. Even with all 4 of my kiddos -- they are all so different and it takes lots of trial and error before you figure out what works best for everyone. I will be praying for you and your family. :)

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  4. I also think you are a great mom and I think you are doing amazing things. Parenting is full of it's struggles and some are more difficult than others. I think counseling will be great for everyone involved. Nothing but good thoughts from us!

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