October 27, 2021

more bullet points, therapy, and a new perspective & a real time, never ending issue

That title up there was initially MORE BULLETS, etc - but I opted to change it lest you'd think things had taken a violent turn. 

* Therapy:  I have to be there. The boys each attend on a separate day. She is planning to create a bond with me and each boy. This woman came recommended by Alice, my worker AND by the therapist that Coach and I met with when Lad was really struggling. We'd shared our plan with the therapist we met with to advise us on how to proceed with him, and she'd told us this woman is the most respected in the field. All she does is work with adopted children. She specializes in TBRI (trust-based relational-intervention). 

* Logistics of therapy:  I pick Harry up early from school on Thursday, my day off of babysitting. Then Coach has to be home at 3:00 for an hour  between patients to be sure someone is here when Larry gets off the bus. Harry and I usually get home at 4, unless there's traffic. The appointment is about 13 minutes away, but it's all expressway - throw in an accident and we could really be late. I pick Larry up early on Wednesday, and Coach has to high tail it home by 2:30 in order to cover my babysitting gig, and to be home for Harry who gets off the bus at 3:05.

Sound confusing? Somehow I grasp it, but I swear to you 
every single week, Coach asks if I need him to be home at a set time on those days. A few times, my high school kids have had a half day - so he was off the hook. A college kid might have been home once. My dad came and sat on the deck watching Larry play till I got home once. I can't believe how often Coach dodges the bullet. Once I even agreed to take Larry to his office, in the wrong direction, so Lar could sit there and color or read or do homework and Coach wouldn't have to leave the office. Then after Harry's appointment, we drove past our home in order to go back to Coach's office and collect Larry. I did that once. Never again. Every time I complained about having to be home, I was like UM, MY ROLE IS BIGGER THAN YOURS IN THIS THERAPY THING. I'M NOT SITTING IN A WAITING ROOM- I'M PART OF IT. GOODNESS, DON'T ASK ME AGAIN IF YOU HAVE TO BE HERE. 

* Coach talked ages ago about changing his work schedule. His work said OK - but it wasn't going to change until October 11th. Once that happened, this begging him to be home wasn't going to be an issue. He was going to be home in the evenings for the entire school year. Like by 3 three days a week, and 6:45 Tuesday and Friday. Fridays didn't matter, no homework, no hard core bedtimes. Perfect.

I don't have many photos for this post, but Halloween is almost here and can I get a show of hands for anyone else who made a kid a Chewbacca costume at his insistence (even visited the fabric stores in order to select the right fur fabric) and then end up having Halloween land on a day that was 95 degrees out? My friend was the room mother/classroom volunteer, so she was at his kindergarten party. She called me afterwards and asked if I was trying to kill my kid.

* Therapy itself is 50 minute of play therapy. Um, my aching knees. I work out, but some of the stuff we do on the floor with legs crossed kills me. I've played Twister. Walked across a room balancing a balloon between my cheek and a boy's cheek - like the Tango. I've learned how to do a mean pillow sandwich (think back massage in the shape of adding mayo, pickles, any imagined food item - then place large pillow on top and then gently laying on top of that), played numerous games of Chutes and Ladders (happens to be one of those games we never owned when I was a kid and I thought all those that had it were SO lucky), and colored with gel markers.

* A recent session with Harry: It was more talking than playing. My knees rejoiced. Harry had been acting up at home and at school. I let Pam, the therapist know before his session. Not typical acting up, but really disruptive behavior. She talked about control and how it was probably hard for him because he was used to doing whatever he wanted. Even being at Debbie's house, that was different rules than what was at our house. Debbie was more lenient. She wasn't having them read regularly or bathe daily. Fast food was a norm. Harry was quick to say DEBBIE TOOK GOOD CARE OF US. Pam and I agreed, it wasn't wrong - just different. It was change. It was a lot.

Then he talked about how he'd leave the house to follow Larry around when he was REALLY young, because no one watched what he did when they lived with their folks. It was a dodgy place to live and they were often left on their own to fend for themselves. He told us that once his dad locked he and another couple of kids who were all living together out of the house overnight. He was probably under 7. His grandma took in he and Larry for awhile (Larry talks about this too - saying he was fed good meals there and she cared for them - she gave them baths), but then the dad came and took Harry back to the drug den where he lived so he could take care of the other kids, specifically the infant twins he and his new drug addict wife had just had. Harry pulled his hood over his face and tugged on the strings during the session. He wept. 

* TRBI class taught by Pam that was supposed to happen Sept 25th was postponed until mid October. This class, that both Mini and I were planning to take this semester and Coach would take it next semester, is taught to parents with kids who've experienced trauma. They need to be parented differently. Coach and I felt we were doing our best, but we were probably doing 'it' wrong as these guys needed something different. 

It was around this time that Larry started giving us a very difficult time. Pam suggested I meet with her on my own, instead of bringing a boy. I did that. She had some handouts for me about the TRBI method and we reviewed some stuff in order to get a crash course in stuff she thought might help. 


Ouch. My head spun. My gut ached.

* That's a thing - NEED A FAMILY WITH NO OTHER CHILDREN. During the process, we got that response a lot when reaching out about various sibling pairs. Unfortunately this little office that was handling the boys' case heard the boys' request to be placed with a large family and they said OK, HERE YOU GO. The boys wanted to be with a big family because they were raised in a drug den with 7 kids total. All really young. Harry was the oldest and he was 7. Why hadn't Indiana opted to match the boys with what they needed NOT what they wanted? 

Coach and I pressed onward. 
Separate, real-time, unrelated issue:  My in laws, who I've mentioned here before, drive me nuts. They think they're the spiritual advisor that each of us is just begging to have intercede for us. I used to call my MIL to fill her in on what the kids are up to. I stopped after the email a few years ago:  we needed to be reading the catechist regularly. We needed to be sure each college kid had one at school and was reading it regularly. Birth control was a sin. Their own good friends thought they'd done everything right since they'd sent their kids to Catholic school. YOU KNOW WHAT THAT IMPLIES, THAT THOSE OF US WHO AREN'T SENDING OUR KIDS TO CATHOLIC SCHOOL ARE NOT DOING EVERYTHING RIGHT.

At any rate, they are maddening. For 25 years, Coach has basically instructed me to hold my tongue. My voice won't do any good. They're set in their ways. BUT I'm no sheep. And for 25 years that has driven me insane. Coach now sees the error of his ways, but the damage has been done. I've told him that I will no longer be responsible for my responses to them. I will not seek his permission to share my thoughts. 

As for me, I don't find the pandemic to be the least bit political. It's a pandemic. Vaccinate. Hope it gets better. Enough. My in-laws disagree DRASTICALLY.

They sent about 10 emails yesterday. How the covid vaccine can do such and such to adolescent males. How this atheist is now a Christian because of such and such. I don't read the articles. This is just from the titles.

Finally I replied to all:  

My SIL responded later:  down at the bottom of the page. She was referring to the unsubscribe on the articles which was not what I needed. These articles didn't arrive in my email directly. They come from Thing 1 and Thing 2. 
I was tempted to leave FIL email address in
 here and urge all of you to forward him
crap that would drive him up a wall.
 Think leftist, liberal stuff.

I was like, HUH? Nope. I'm referring to opting out of their emails. She was like, OH, IT'S CALLED THE DELETE BUTTON. I just don't get why no one can tell them to stop. 

Not sure if my in laws got my message, but if I get another unwelcome email forwarded to me from them I think I'm going to have to call them up and have words. Not sure what it is about me. A character flaw? But I don't like to pretend that I'm OK being pushed around or preached to. I have a strong faith. Back the hell off. And we don't have to practice our faith the same way. I don't tell you how to be a good follower.

Think end of your rope. What would you do? Admittedly when life becomes stressful their crap really gnaws at me. But I feel I've been quiet too long. Open to suggestions.


Beth Cotell said...

Coach needs to be the one to have a conversation with them and ask them to stop sending you the emails on the vaccine.

Praying for Harry and Larry and your whole family. I can only imagine all the horrors that they had to deal with before they were removed from their home. :(

me said...

The therapist's comment must be frustrating. I think a big family - with great older siblings to model good behavior and relationships - and to give the boys a chance to be kids - makes sense. You and your husband know it's not easy at time to parent - you're looking for ways to make this change a good one - and you know how to love and to discipline (in the true sense of teaching them the way to go) well.

As for your in-laws just delete! You're stressed right now and looking to control something, but you know they are not going to change. Tell them at some point that they raised a good and faithful son who is doing a wonderful job as a parent, so trust that they raised him right. And then walk away or just say no to anything they protest.
(and snarkily, if Catholic school was so important,why didn't they offer to pay for it? They must still think it costs pennies a year to goto parochial school. The nuns are gone, the religious orders no longer run the places, and so they have to pay the teachers actual money. It can cost more than college in some places!

You and your family are in my prayers.

Ernie said...

Beth - It isn't just emails on the vaccine. It's every extremist concept EVER. Coach will NEVER tell them to stop. Everyone dances around them. I find it exhausting and when my folks cross a line, I tell them. I appreciate your input. I do find their emails entertaining at times, so why eliminate a source of funny for the blog or life in general? People can't believe their antics, so I got that going for me.

Yes, the horrors. So much of it only became clear to us AFTER they moved in with us. We never felt equipped for children with severe issues and this scared us. We have so much to take into consideration.

Ernie said...

me - We'd always envisioned our welcoming, role-model setting children as an asset in this process. This woman knew her stuff though and we were now on red alert. I might be the most trusting, I'VE-GOT-THIS, kind of person to ever walk the earth, maybe to a fault. I did tell Coach that maybe she didn't REALLY know how severe their issues were, I mean she'd only met with them for like a month. I still had the IT'S NOT GOING TO BE EASY BUT WE CAN MANAGE perspective, but at the end of that I added the 'RIGHT?' question mark.

There are so many layers to the in laws. My therapist believes that Coach and I need to sit down with them and share our frustrations. Coach will never agree to that, but then again he should never have allowed things to get this out of hand. Coach has had to work VERY hard to become a father who isn't borderline physically abusive and mean like his dad, so I wouldn't say that his folks set the tone for him to be a great parent. His dad was thrown out of many sporting events when Coach was a kid.

When Coach proposed, his folks threw a fit. They'd been friends of my folks for YEARS. They were upset because he was about to start PT school and they believed we were sinners for getting married while he was in school because we weren't willing to welcome children. They initially refused to invite people to our wedding. His dad yelled in my face at one point. We were a good Catholic couple and who treats people especially future daughter in law that way and NEVER APOLOGIZES? Lad was born WHILE Coach was in school. I had money. Lots of it. Owned a condo and paid off my mortgage before we moved into our first home. I shouldn't have gone down this path. How is this Catholic?

They eventually took out their checkbook to help us pay for Catholic grade school, but it was too late. Plus, knowing his dad, Coach was like NO WAY. He will continue to question everything that we do, WHY DID YOU BUY A CAR? HOW MUCH WAS THAT VACATION? So we took a pass. They are loaded and could've helped out while we were drowning in tuition and SO WANTING to keep our kids at their beloved school, but they didn't.

Jenny in WV said...

Part 2,487,352 of how "the System" is so messed up!

I started tearing up reading what Harry said. I never expected an adoption would be all sunshine and rainbows, but I didn't imagine it would be so hard either. I hope there are happier days ahead for you all.

I'm single, so I have no in-law experience. Is it possible to set up your email to automatically forward the emails from your in-laws to someone else - maybe Coach? If so, then he could take over deleting or ignoring the unwanted medical/political/religious advice, and just telling you or forwarding back to you any important emails from them.

Pat Birnie said...

Once again- oh my goodness. When you described Larry pulling his hood up & tugging on the strings, sobbing. It just broke my heart. These poor little boys.

And to have to out up with the garbage from the in-laws at the same time- unbelievable. In my opinion the ‘just delete and ignore’ may be best for your own mental health; getting into it with them could just cause you more stress and nothing will change their ideas.

Kara said...

I have a couple of difficult relatives. I have set up email rules that automatically put any emails from them in to a folder named "Outlaw Inlaws." I look through it when I have the mental energy to deal with it, and wind up just deleting 98% of it.

I have a feeling I know where this story is going, and I feel for you all.

But, as to the Halloween- it's almost ALWAYS 90+ degrees on Halloween in Phoenix! Half the time my kids would ditch their costumes and go around half dressed to Trick or Treat. We're predicted to be at 85 this year, but my kids aren't going out this year, they've decided to man the door and hand out candy.

Ernie said...

Kara - That special email folder sounds like a good solution. Here's hoping my teenagers can set something like that up.

This adoption situation has been so unpredictable and distressing. Thanks for following along. It's a lot. It feels wrong to just summarize because the bits and pieces along the way are so telling.

A consistently hot Halloween would've probably prevented a Star Wars costume theme for my gang. That thick fur broke my machine. No joke. He was so flipping pleased with himself though, it was worth it.

Anonymous said...

I really love your response to the emails. I'm nowhere near that bold, but in my heart, I wish I was.

I agree with Kara-- set up a rule in your email that routes it all straight to particular folder or trash without your looking at it, then look at the folder if and when you feel like it. You can route by sender, by keyword, or various other things.

For Coach: I'm not sure if his bugging you for schedule stuff is ongoing or not, but if it is: my kid's kindergarten has a weird schedule where they let out early one day a week, which is a situation that BEGS for me to forget what day it is somewhere along the line and miss pickup. I have her "leave in time to get to pickup" times blocked on my work calendar as if they're meetings, and I also put alarms in my phone for each day of the week to remind me to go get her at the right time for the day. No matter where I am or what I'm doing, something is going to ding at me so that I know to go get her. Tell the man to use technology to help him keep track of the schedule. The tools exist.

For the kids and what the therapist said... I've never been in your situation, but I will just say that even the best therapists are not infallible. She might have meant well, but what she said was not helpful and she shouldn't have said it. I think that the boys be having a different experience if they'd ended up in a house with no other children... but I don't know if it would have been better. Nobody can know. That house and that family doesn't exist. You're the ones who met them, you're the ones who said "yes," you're the ones who are fighting on their side. As a family and as individuals, you're making a massive effort. That means something.

Ernie said...

Anonymous - Bold, or just plain exhausted by them. I, too, like the re-route idea for the emails.

I'd be 'THAT' mom, always messing up the kindergarten schedule. Coach's schedule changed Oct 11th, so that would help. The flip side is that Coach runs an entire PT clinic and trying to leave at a set time mid afternoon is tough. He was often not forgetting what day it was, but was hoping I could find another way. My magic wand was broken, but I still found other solutions a handful of times. I was READY for his work schedule to change.

I agree that the therapist might have been over doing her assessment. At least that was my hope at the time. I tend to feel like I have a Wonder Woman way about me and feel like I can fix stuff. How hard could it be? It wasn't just that parents with other kids need to focus on the two struggling kids, but the biological kids in a situation like this suffer and their lives need to be taken into consideration too. My kids are old enough to do lots of stuff for themselves, but they still have needs and stuff that was going on was impacting them. Still, we all continued to give it our all. We weren't ready to call it quits because of her comment, but the fact that she found their issues to be so severe was a red flag for us. We are not exactly spring chickens and we had to consider EVERYTHING, long term, etc. It was a heavy time.

Ally Bean said...

Good gravy, you do have your troubles, legitimate ones I hasten to add. I'm glad you've found a therapist who seems to be helping the boys. Good luck with your knees. Interesting that the boys wanted to be in a big family, shows that they have some self-awareness about how to make their lives better.

Where you send your kids to school is no one's business but your own. Honestly, I'd say something to that effect IF anyone challenged me on it. Personal boundaries are vital, especially with naysayers. Forget about being likable.

As for hateful stupid email, delete it upon receiving it. Doesn't matter who sent it, it's not worth your time to fuss with it. For a tug of war you need two people on each end of the rope... Just saying.

Ernie said...

Ally - Yes, when we heard of this therapist and she made space for us, we were relieved. Thought and hoped that would be the answer for us. The boys considered the pack of children that lived with them in horrible conditions to be their brothers and sisters. It was a mess and so much of it didn't come into light fully until very recently. Still, the people who are supposed to know stuff should've known better. Kids with issues like they have need a ton. They don't 'get' regular parenting. Such a mess. Honestly.

I like your tug of war scenario. My in laws know what we are up against currently and I just want to strangle them for these nonsensical emails. Can someone give me a break here? That's what I'm in need of, really.

Gigi said...

I *think* you can set a rule to automatically send certain email directly to the trash and you can DEFINITELY set a rule to automatically send certain emails to a file that you never, ever look at.

As Beth said, Coach is the one that needs to call foul with his parents. I know you've said he'd "never" but if he wants this nonsense to stop then he needs to take a big breath and just do it. Will it fix it immediately? No. And he will have to consistently reinforce it until they get it; otherwise they will continue to over-step their bounds.

These poor sweet boys. It breaks my heart to hear about all the trauma they've suffered at such young ages.

Kari said...


This is where a podcast would be very useful. Just trying to lighten the mood.

I feel so sad for the boys. They appear to need intense one-on-one parenting because of their past. I have no doubt you'd be an amazing mother, Ernie. My God, you're working so hard right now. I just feel like the system is failing them, and you're maybe feeling guilty because of it.

The silver lining in all of this is that you are providing them with care they have not had in their young lives. You're offering them affection they haven't seen in a long time. If that isn't Christian, I don't know what is.

Regarding your in-laws, I personally know them and am familiar with your FIL's personality. Delete that nonsense as soon as it arrives in your inbox. Block their email addresses as well. You don't need that kind of negativity. Then sage the hell out of the computer room and walk away. You have a lot on your plate. Don't add any more than is absolutely necessary.

Sending you love.

Anonymous said...

The Chewbacca costume is fantastic, as are the others you’ve shown us. One year my older daughter asked me to make her a sandwich costume, one of my favorites, and this year my younger daughter wants to be a snail, which I’m pretty excited about making.
The story about living with their parents is heartbreaking, I’m sure they have so much to work through after having that start to life.
As other people suggested, you can set up emails from certain senders to go straight to a folder that you can just ignore or periodically delete all. Although, your reply about unsubscribing made me laugh out loud!
Praying for you, your family and Harry and Larry.

Ernie said...

AM - Sandwich costume is so fun. Snail - good luck there. Oh, how I love the challenge of a good costume.

It is unreal. Incredible what some people can put their children through.

I need to get on that email thing. The other day was particularly bad because TEN emails in one afternoon. All over the top crap. Give it a rest. One ever once in a while is the norm, but that constant bombardment was a bit much.

Thanks for the prayers. Much appreciated.

Busy Bee Suz said...

Just the mere logistics of all the appointments you've been going through *sigh*
I can't even imagine.

Seven years old and he was in charge. WTF. So many people should not be able to breathe the same air as us; his parents included.

Sorry, but I had a chuckle at the Chewbacca "almost heatstroke" costume. You are the Queen of costume making and I bow in your presence.

Your inlaws are a piece of work. Can you just block their email address?
I would not be able to bite my tongue, so why bother? Are you going to offend them? Maybe? Then maybe they'll leave out of the stupidity that runs through their minds.

Ernie said...

Suz - The zooms themselves almost did me in. Therapy. Zooms with Indiana people. My worker's visits. Zoom with the psychiatrist. One the two people in Indiana we needed to zoom didn't both get on the zoom. The moron who missed it later emailed me OH, I COULDN'T MAKE THAT TIME. WHEN ELSE CAN WE DO A ZOOM BECAUSE I STILL NEED TO SEE THE BOYS. I chose very strong words when I responded. Get on the same page over their in corn-stalk-ville and don't make me re-do shit. Hard enough.

Their past is hard to wrap my brain around.

I miss the costume making days. Simpler times and with creative juices flowing and LOTS of excuses to do no housework and laundry. It was seriously so funny that it was crazy hot. That poor kid. This is Chicago, 95 degrees? Come on.

I am on your page, sister. Tired of holding my tongue. I hate pretending and to me, not responding or speaking up is a form of allowing them to think I'm in agreement. Puke. If nothing else, I've learned how NOT TO TREAT FUTURE DAUGHTER IN LAWS AND SON IN LAWS. Let's pause a moment and laugh about that because I could NEVER behave like them. I'm much more of a WELCOME TO THE FAM type.

Suzanne said...

It breaks my heart to hear how many people have failed these boys, in how many ways. I have faith that you and your husband are going to do right by them, whatever "right" is. Sending all of you love and light.

Ernie said...

Suzanne - It is very heartbreaking. 'Doing right' by them - that's a good way to put it. That's what we tried to do.