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November 4, 2021

Heavy and getting heavier: truth revealed on more than one level *may take days to read, no rush

I had a post ready to go. I'll share it another time. I wasn't sure how to start this post, but I decided I had to share the ending before any more of the leading-up-to-the-ending parts. Then Delilah called last night, a conversation that made my day and gave me a bit of clarity along with a few tears and some laughs, and I knew how to dive in here:

Life has been incredibly heavy lately. 

And, to top it off, I'm getting heavier. 

A step past the perfect dessert trifecta.
Mint Moose Tracks? Where've you been all my life?
My 'other' less significant truth to reveal:  I ate 4 desserts last night. I ate a chocolate ball. My usual, after-dinner treat. Then Mini barked at me while I tried to register her to take her 5 AP tests in May, so I hopped up and grabbed ANOTHER chocolate ball from the freezer. Yum.

* This is very unlike Mini, but she's giving us the silent treatment since we removed the door of her bedroom from the frame on Sunday, as in CLEAN YOUR SHIT UP. More on this later. Oh, barking is the equivalent of silence for teens who find they must utter words, in case you aren't familiar.

Then  Coach and I were about to go to the grocery store last night, something that really needed to be done, but BLAH. The fact that Coach offered to help me, well - be still my heart. Proof that it is, in fact, the little things. I grabbed a chocolate covered Greek yogurt bar to cope with the groceries even with a partner. 

After the store, I opened the ice cream that I'd just bought. There's something about ice cream that has become the PERFECT softness on the drive home from the grocery store. I must have a bowl, even if it's morning . . . also,  even if I've already eaten three dessert type foods. I usually buy cookies and cream or flavors I can't eat because they aren't GF. The gloves were off, though. The feed bag was on.

Delilah called while I was scooping my somewhat-melty ice cream and I learned that she has the SAME ice-cream-must-be-eaten-when-just-home-from-the-store thing too.  

The technically heavy part:  I like order. I intended to tell this tale in order, or die trying. Well, yesterday I decided that it really isn't worth dying over so I'm done trying.

Friends, and I do consider all of you friends as I so appreciate your interest, joy, support, hope, empathy, excitement, and concern through this entire process, we made the very difficult decision to return the boys to Indiana, Sunday October 10th. I drove them back on Monday the 11th while Curly was home to handle my babysitting.  

I thought I needed to describe what went on and what contributed to that decision, but I don't even know what tense to write in:  past, present? I'm also not loving how our struggle is coming across. I told Coach yesterday that I feel like we sound controlling and inflexible, and like we were too unwilling to accommodate their issues. 

Little reminders of some of the
happier moments are EVERYWHERE.
I have a sweet freehand Easter bunny
 drawing by Larry that says: 
LOVE YOU,  MOMMY
that I wanted to post here,
 but I can't put my finer on it.
Easter bunny in September, why not?
He reminded me that while we did have things we expected of them, we were also bending all over the place. Plus Indiana kept telling us that the boys needed our structure and rules. We tried EVERYTHING. So, if that wasn't coming across here - you'll have to trust me (plus, the worst parts haven't even been shared yet).

Things had become so difficult that we were really struggling to function. Coach would feel sick at work as the day went on and he knew the boys were home from school, wondering if I'd have to call him home AGAIN. Something I hadn't ever done in our previous 23 years as parents. The missing pieces to this puzzle, that I might expand on later because I still feel like they need to be explained, include:  

* the psychiatrist changed Larry's meds

I don't blame her. He was diagnosed with ADHD and she felt his meds weren't addressing that. I put her off for a week but when Larry had a few bad days, she urged me again to try Adderall. It was doing wonders for Harry. We now believe that Larry doesn't have ADHD. Symptoms can present the same as those associated with trauma. To say that Lar had a bad time with the new meds is an understatement. It took us 5 hours to get him to bed one night. Coach drenched in sweat and me calling every person on the team. At our doctor and Jo's urging, we called 911 another night. They wanted him assessed while in a fit. Once the 10 public servants talked him down, no assessment could be done, because he was just mad - no longer raging. He was suspended from school. He broke things. I needed to restrain him, something he NEVER got over, no matter how many times I explained that it was the dumb meds that were making him lose control and I had to hold him down to keep him safe. WE STOPPED THE MEDS AFTER LIKE 2 OR 3 DAYS AS SOON AS WE REALIZED . . . SO IT WAS A QUICK SHITSHOW, BUT THE IMPACT LINGERED. 

* feeling unsupported:  

     -  Indiana never pointed out the 1.-800 number we could use if we needed something during non-work hours. The weekend of the med change I called Jo's cell number REPEATEDLY. I didn't realize that this was a work only cell and that she and her boss, who I also called, wouldn't answer till Monday. I'm sure the 1-800 number exists somewhere in a pile of paperwork or in some obscure email, but FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS give people the number and make them understand the importance of it before you hand kids over. 

     - We asked for respite care (foster homes that give families a break so they can regroup or go on vacation- oh, vacation sounds dreamy), but Jo told us our private agency didn't offer respite. 

     - The therapist emailed all of her patients to say that she'd taken on a strenuous workload, more patients than ever before (she only does adoption related therapy, this trauma informed parenting stuff). She cancelled therapy one day because she needed to take a mental health day. She also pointed out that she wouldn't be responding to emails and text messages outside of work hours or even during work hours maybe - if she was too busy. Fair enough, but can I just point out that I DIDN'T ASK HER TO TAKE ON MORE THAN SHE COULD HANDLE AND WE WERE BANKING ON HER HELP AND I FELT SCOLDED FOR NEEDING MORE HELP THAN SHE COULD OFFER. She even said in her email that some of her patients weren't doing that well . . . me, raising my hand - OH HI, THAT'D BE US. 

     - The TBRI class that was supposed to help us learn how to deal with them, was bumped back a month from mid September to mid October. It ended up starting the Saturday after we returned the boys. The therapist had a few families who wanted to take it, but they couldn't start as early as September. Ouch. She gave us handouts and tried to give us a tutorial, but this was something we should've been trained in MONTHS before the boys ever showed up here. 

* different schools of thought:  

The psychiatrist is all about the meds. The therapist is all about parenting kids who have been impacted by trauma differently. My social worker is all about reading into things too much (not wanting to wear a collared shirt because deep down he isn't wanting to be part of a new family because that means he won't be part of his original family) and assuring us that things were going well. Indiana didn't even know what trauma informed parenting was. 

* not enough/ inaccurate info:  

     - Indiana didn't really recognize what behaviors and challenges might result from the trauma the boys faced. They weren't as forthcoming with the info that they had. Debbie had told them stuff, but they sort of brushed it under the rug. They only heard what they wanted to hear. 

     -  Larry's misdiagnosis of ADHD alone really hosed us

     - in the 11th hour, I reached out to the boys original therapist. Debbie said this woman, Carly, known the boys longer than anyone in the system. She no longer works for DCS (dept. children services). I called her Sunday night the 10th while Coach was dealing with Harry's meltdown. He was in my study ripping up every piece of paper he could get his hands on. Carly told me about the conditions the boys were living in. Staggering. Indiana never shared the extent of this. She also said that the boys had one of the worst cases of RAD that she'd ever seen. Reactive Attachment Disorder. Another friend, who has adopted kids from Haiti, told me that RAD is, in her opinion, one of the toughest, most challenging diagnoses. We question how the boys could've bonded with Debbie if this diagnosis is accurate, but after awhile we just shrug and go WHO THE HELL KNOWS. 

  * We relied HEAVILY on what Debbie told us/too trusting:

This could be combined with the heading above, but it is so shocking I felt it needed it's own space. A few weeks before we opted to return them, I reached out to Debbie. Alice had encouraged me to ask her how long I could expect the homework nonsense with Harry to continue. He could cry about homework for 45 minutes when the actual homework only took 10 minutes. 

DEBBIE:  THESE ARE THE WORST KIDS I EVER FOSTERED IN 10 YEARS OF FOSTERING.

ME (after gasping for air):  WHY THEN DID YOU TELL US DURING OUT INITIAL ZOOM IN JANUARY WHEN WE ADMITTED TO BEING CONCERNED ABOUT THE BOYS' ISSUES OH, THESE BOYS WON'T GIVE YOU ANY TROUBLE?

DEBBIE:  (with a little nervous? laugh) WELL, YOU DON'T WANT DCS TO SLAP YOUR HAND FOR TELLING THE TRUTH.

ME:  (in my head) WHEN IS THE TRUTH WRONG?

We would NOT have moved forward with the boys, if she'd been honest. This tidbit I struggle with more than anything else. Such a disservice to the boys and such a disservice to our family. 

* We heard what we wanted to hear:  

     - When we had our initial meeting, I motioned to Coach across the room NO WAY. After the call, Alice told us I THINK THESE TWO HAVE POTENTIAL. She told us that often, some of the diagnoses could fade away as the boys found stability. We believed her. After trying to find kids that would be a good fit for YEARS, maybe we just heard what we wanted to hear.

     - Meanwhile, I spoke to my friend, Bethany. She and her husband have 5 biological kids. They adopted a sibling pair from foster care like a year ago. They worked with Alice, recommended her to us shortly after they'd taken the kids into their home. They started the process years after us, but Alice had this file come across her desk and it was a perfect match for them. Bethany told me that her kids supposedly had all kinds of behaviors, but once they had the influence of older siblings and they felt stability and love, they never saw those behaviors.  I called her towards the end and I described what we were dealing with. She said she was speechless. They'd encountered nothing like what we were going through. Her kids didn't take a single medication. Ours had 3 or 4 each. 

     -  When Indiana (and Debbie) assured us that these boys would do great in a big family, we believed them. The boys had lived in a pack and they considered the other kids in the drug den their siblings. They wanted that again. Well, no matter how amazing our kids are they needed MUCH more than a good example. 


The above video:  The hell with hiding identity. This is Curly. Classic. She swooped in from another room when Larry was starting to slam my desktop speaker in an attempt to break it, saying he wouldn't shower. This is the day after it took us 5 hours to get him to sleep. I didn't give him Adderall that morning but it would take a few days for it to completely work out of his system. It was a crazy low dose and we still were unaware that the meds could make him behave like this. He'd had several bedtime issues, just not violent - so we assumed he was just taking it to the next level. Larry was told that we might need to use respite care the same way that Debbie had. Coach was grilling dinner. He came running and stood between me and Larry at my desktop to prevent Larry from breaking it. Larry took this as a challenge and got more violent- that was all before I started videoing Curly. We didn't ask for her help. Watching her in action makes me cry. She was tight with Larry. 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

A SIL just told me the other day that I couldn't play the WHAT IF game, what if we tried this, what if those damn meds had never been messed with, what if Debbie was honest, what if Coach's hours had been adjusted earlier (his new 'no-evenings-for-one-school-year' hours started on Oct 11th when I drove the kids back), what if we'd taken or even known about the TBRI class in advance, etc. 

Me:  OH, BUT I CAN PLAY THAT GAME. TURNS OUT, I'M REALLY GOOD AT IT. 

Initially we felt numb. And relief. I felt like I could breathe again. Accomplish something in a day and not just put out fires and attend therapy, zooms with Jo, and check-in appointments with Alice. I have PTSD from the phone ringing and seeing the boys' school on the caller ID. Lad stayed home from work one morning to help me. Larry was having a rough morning and I wasn't sure if he'd throw things while I was watching babies. A mom with her 3 month old was already on her way to the house. 

That Sunday night, Oct 10th, I picked Curly up from basketball and I told her that if they could find someone to take the boys the next day that we were going to drive them back. She sobbed the whole way home. Not because she wanted them to stay, but in her words:  WHY? WHY, IF THIS WAS GOD'S PLAN WAS THIS SO HARD? WE'VE WORKED SO HARD NOT JUST FOR THESE TWO, BUT THE WHOLE TIME. 

At home, Mini burst into tears:  THEY JUST DON'T GET IT, THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE GIVING UP. THEY WILL HAVE NO FUTURE NOW. WE WERE READY TO GIVE THEM A GOOD LIFE. THEY JUST DON'T GET IT.

She's right. They don't get it, of course. They can't. They can't control their behavior and as much as I wished someone from Indiana would try to talk some sense into them during their zooms instead of just asking them what they like to play and what their favorite meal is, I doubt that wouldn't have done any good. Desperate times, though. 

It was a lonely process and I feel like it shouldn't have been so damn lonely and confusing and hard. We never knew if we were doing the right things or the wrong things. Life was beyond unpredictable. We had to think of our future and that of our family. After the medication issue, I began to wonder:  where will we be in our lives when one of them goes off their meds or has some other medication issue? 

Mini broke down one night at the end of September while she was eating and Larry was out of control. Coach was at work - this marks the first time that I called him home, after tossing Mini the keys and telling her she had to drive Curly.

Mini: (sobbing)  I CAN'T DO THIS ANYMORE, MOMMY. I JUST CAN'T. 

Harry came around the corner fresh from the shower, as I was holding Larry so he could stop breaking stuff. (I've since spent $130 to buy Reg new wireless headphones that Larry intentionally broke). I told Mini, I'M CALLING JO TOMORROW. (not because we were done, but because I wanted to ask her for assistance). Harry started screaming DON'T GET RID OF US, DON'T GET RID OF US. 

Mini jumped up from the table and ran to Harry while wiping away her tears. NO ONE IS GETTING RID OF YOU, MOMMY JUST NEEDS TO TALK TO JO ABOUT WHAT IS GOING ON WITH LARRY.EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OK.

That's what my kids were like here. Putting their emotions aside and trying to help. 

THE LAST NIGHT

compliments:  monster nation.gif
In the end, the boys went willingly. They'd spent a weekend at respite care after I called and in my best Sigourney Weaver voice from Ghostbusters when she is possessed, INSISTED that they make arrangements for the boys to go to respite for the weekend. I NEED HELP. THEY NEED TO GO SOMEWHERE ELSE FOR THE WEEKEND. MAKE IT HAPPEN. This phone call seemed to really jar Alice. 

Respite had helped Larry with some not-going-to-bed behavior at Debbie's, so we pinned our last hope to it. I drove them to Gary, Indiana the next day. A delightful foster mom took them to her farm for the weekend. I asked them to try to reset. Larry admitted he was able to do that when Debbie arranged for respite care. Knowing they still didn't get it and probably couldn't help it, I told them that to be part of a family they had to follow rules. 

Harry:  so is this a good visit or a bad visit?
Larry:  did you not just hear what she said? We have to figure it out. Duh. 

We called Debbie during our drive and she told them BOYS, THIS IS YOUR FUTURE.

They returned on Sunday venomous. Upset that we wouldn't let them play video games. I reminded them that we don't even own any. LAD DOES! I was like, WELL, IF HE DOES THEN THOSE ARE HIS IN A BOX IN HIS ROOM AND AREN'T EVEN HOOKED UP TO A TV. They claimed that I'd told the respite worker that they had to play outside and that they couldn't play video games. She later assured me that she'd told them it was beautiful outside and they could play outside while she mowed her acreage for a few hours. She and her husband had taken them to a pumpkin patch the day before. She told me that she had no problems with them, but she could tell that they were a lot to deal with and they required constant entertaining. 

Harry wanted a movie night and promised to have a fit until we gave him one. This was because he'd learned from Larry that we put a movie on during Larry's 5 hour battle with sleep that one night. 

boys:  WE'VE TALKED ABOUT IT AND WE DON'T WANT TO LIVE HERE. MOMMY HELD ME DOWN, NO VIDEO GAMES, etc. (it's so mind-blowing - they didn't mention any of the things they were crazy about at our house - having friends in the neighborhood, watching our kids play basketball, going to the beach, playing charades, looking forward to Yellowstone, etc.)

After driving back from respite where Coach tried to talk them off the ledge and Larry finally told Harry:  LET'S GIVE IT ONE MORE TRY, Coach took the boys and Curly and Reg mini golfing, then played catch in the yard. I made their favorite dinner. Now shower/bed refusal left us all sitting in the front hall. I looked at Coach and he looked at me. We'd spent the weekend discussing how we could adjust and try to implement more of the lessons from the therapist. We'd taken the girls to breakfast while Reg was a b-ball and reviewed the handouts with them, asking them to try a new approach whenever possible. We'd FINALLY gone out to dinner for our 25th anniversary. We breathed. 

Me: (boys heckling us in the background)  I'M DONE.

Coach:  ME TOO. 

I went into the kitchen and called the 1-800 number. Now on speed dial. Coach and Curly and Reg played memory with Larry - something that had worked for me a few nights prior. Harry moved to the study where he tore up all my papers. Larry switched back to regular mode and appeared in the kitchen after the game:  I'M GONNA GO TAKE MY SHOWER, MOMMY. GOOD NIGHT. LOVE YOU. 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

The days are long, not out of a shortage of diapers to change. I have today off. I'm still in my jammies. I might skip my workout. Who am I kidding? I'm not completely falling apart. 

Grief. Coping. Playing head games. It's hard. I never dreamt it would be THIS hard. Regular life stuff is still happening. Homecoming dresses, daycare kids turnover and interviews, college applications, dinner, silent treatment, etc. Gotta keep up. I broke down crying during one of Curly's school b-ball games the other day. Only Curly and her BFF know how to dribble or pass or shoot, so the games are something to behold, quite the two-woman show. We've still only lost one game, and Curly was totally off her A game the day they lost. Nerves? 

Anyway, she rolled her ankle and she kept playing while she was crying. I couldn't control my emotions. Reg was sitting next to me. He'd skipped his workout to attend this, the one game we assumed we 'd lose because we were playing a school twice our size. He whispered I'M NOT SITTING NEXT TO YOU AGAIN when he saw my tears. We won the game. I gathered myself. Temporarily. I choked up again though when cool-Mr.-High-School Reg charged onto the court to congratulate a limping 8th grade Curly after the game.  I also cried at he first school game, because the boys were looking forward to attending it.

compliments of giphy.gif

++++++++++++++++++++

Our loss is public. So many people knew. There is shame involved, even if there shouldn't be. Coach and I had so much encouragement from so many people, we can't help but feel that we've let people down. We feel we let the boys down. We never dreamt that we'd return them. We were in it no matter what. We just couldn't have imagined the 'what.' This was a dream we'd worked towards for over 5 years. Together. And it ends here. We feel bamboozled and we moving on. Trying to. How often does a couple BOTH decide to get on this crazy train? Shit. I could go on and on about how I feel, right or wrong, senseless or not, better days, worse days. How it comes in waves. 

This has gotten OUT-OF-HAND long and I haven't even told you why I'm mad at a few of my favorite SILs. I have some anger at the moment and God help the people who cross me. 

I'll be fine. Eventually. In the meantime, thanks for reading along and sending such warm thoughts, encouraging words, and comforting prayers. I appreciate this group more than I can express. 

44 comments:

Jenny in WV said...

I'm sorry. I hope the pain fades and happy memories remain.

ccr in MA said...

Oh, Ernie, I am so sorry. I had a feeling things were heading this way. Those poor boys needed so much more than you were told about, and you needed so much more support than you were given, and of course it feels awful but you had to do it. If ever a day called for many desserts.

Suzanne said...

I'm so sorry. This is so heartbreaking.

Ernie said...

Jenny - Thanks. I intend to put together a photo album for the boys. We did a lot together and I have so many pictures. It is my hope that they will look back with fond memories.

Ernie said...

ccr - Thanks, yes, they really need so much. We hoped to give them what they needed but it was becoming increasingly obvious that we were falling short. Hard to decide which day deserves extra dessert. Perhaps all of them until I feel better. :)

Ernie said...

Suzanne- It is. Our hearts are hurting and since the boys were not 'getting it' when they left, it is hard to imagine what they are feeling.

Cheryl said...

Wow.

You tried your best, but the boys are broken. Can they be fixed? I don't know. I guess the most important thing is protecting the kids you already have and your marriage. I so applaud your efforts as well as the rest of your family's, but sometimes you just cannot move mountains. You needed more outside help and info, and you never got it.

Bottom line, you tried and there is no shame in trying. It's not whether you win or lose..it's how you play the game and from what I can see, you and your family played the game right.

I have mentioned before, that I grew up with 6 siblings and a mom like you, who loved kids, even those who were not her's biologically and some even lived with us at times when their home life became unbearable. (A side note, I graduated high school during Roe v. Wade and my mom would say to me, "if you get pregnant, don't have an abortion, I will raise the baby"....um mom...I wasn't even having sex than...lol) Yep, she loved kids.

Now, put down that ice cream and give me 50 push ups, just kidding. You guys are going to be okay.

Bibliomama said...

I'm kind of glad you decided to cut to the chase, because the foreshadowing was difficult, and I would have been confused trying to plan how to post it too. I have a jumble of thoughts, in no particular order. I would also be second-guessing myself, but it seems like you tried really hard. I assume both people usually get on the crazy train together, because otherwise they probably wouldn't adopt together. I think most people would assume it would be very hard, and that's why most people don't actually try it, and trying it counts for something. As far as the whole God's plan thing, as a formerly quite religious person, based on my thinking and reading: assuming you know something is God's plan is a big assumption, and when waiting for a prayer to be answered, 'no' is sometimes the answer (this one really struck me when I came across it). I appreciate you recognizing that the boys are not able at this point to control their behaviour - that's one of the saddest things about traumatized people, especially children, that the residue of trauma results in self-destructive behaviour and you feel like if they could JUST get it under control, their lives would be so much better, but they can't, because, trauma. Also, the system is unbelievably fucked, and I knew that intellectually but seeing it in reality is something else.

Ally Bean said...

I'm not surprised to read this. Honestly you did your best and that's all that anyone can ask of you. I agree with your line regarding Debbie: "Such a disservice to the boys and such a disservice to our family." I know eventually you'll process this experience, but in the meantime be kind to yourself. You deserve it.

Anonymous said...

How heartbreaking for you all, everyone in your family seemed to have given all of the effort they had into helping the boys and incorporating them into the family. I hope you don’t feel like you’ve failed or that you’re being judged because it’s clear that you’ve used all of the resources you had, tried to do everything in your power. But ultimately you can’t put yourself, your marriage, and your current children at risk trying to save the boys. And no I never thought your expectations were too high, you said you hadn’t shared the really hard parts, and I also assumed out of respect for the boys and your family you were probably keeping a lot of things private. After reading here for a long time I know that you’re determined and hard working and would never take the responsibility of these boys lightly. We can tell by the way your kids interacted with the boys that they were well loved and I hope that they can eventually think of the positive things they got to experience with your family. Praying that everything works out for their best interest, that they get the help and permanent home that they need, and that you and your family can recover and maybe continue on this adoption journey with a better situation when you’re ready to.
-AM

me said...

You had a hard decision to make, and you needed to do what was best. I wondered about RAD -and that is a wicked thing to deal with. Your family will still be in my prayers, and I'll keep the boys in too. Hopefully IN will find them a home that can help them (instead of lying and minimizing their issues.)

Pat Birnie said...

I'm so sorry this is how it turned out - you and your family are so amazing-- that video of Curly is truly incredible. I hope you can forgive yourself; it truly was more than you could be expected to handle, nor put your family through.

I sort of get it: A little story: I have 4 kids - my boys' went through a lot; when they were 4, 5 1/2 & 7 their dad was removed from the house by the police. He came and went for a few years but ultimately chose alcohol over them. They had some trauma but NOTHING like what those 2 went through. They put me through the ringer for 15 years while they sorted through their anger. I also felt nauseous when their school showed up on call display. (In fact I admit to being relieved when the voice on the other end said "He is fine but xxx had a little accident". Yay -he's hurt not suspended!). Through their teens I said to myself that if I could go back in time I'd not have had kids, it was SO hard. I only tell you this to say that if I hadn't birthed these boys I'd have been unable to deal with them. (ps they are now, 30, 31, 33 and amazing men, but again what they survived doesn't come near what H & L have endured). You are not to blame - the system is so broken.

Sorry for the wordy comment, but I hope it helps you forgive yourself in some way. Hugs

Kara said...

You, all of you, tried your best and it was so hard. There is nothing else you could have done. No one would ever accuse you of giving up. You needed to keep your house safe for your children. It's not a selfish act. You were not given the right information or the right resources. Indiana was clearly trying to pass the buck.

I wish you peace.

Jenny in WV said...

Now that I have had time to re-read your post and collect my thoughts I have a few additional comments.

First, if you temporarily need to go to an all dessert, all the time diet, go for it!

Are Curly and Mini still sharing a room, if so how does Curly feel about the lack of a door?

ADHD misdiagnosis is a whole horrid thing in itself.

It seems like you guys were snowballed, sacked, and blindsided from nearly every person and angle. That just sucks! having BIG EMOTIONS about all of this seems quite reasonable to me and I hope you are able to stop playing What if, don't feel like a quitter, and find peace.

Charlie said...

Oh Ernie. Tears. Tears for the boys whose lives have been made so hard by people who don’t deserve the label of parents. Tears for you and Coach, who despite having very full plates, decided to offer love and shelter to those less fortunate. Tears for your fantastic kids who obviously have such love and respect for their parents that they bent over backwards to open their hearts and home and to share their parents. Not something all kids would do. I am blown away by the maturity and empathy from your daughter in the video.

Many years ago my husband and I tried to become guardians for our nephew. The placement lasted a week. We just could not cope with his needs. I felt awful, but I also felt that if it was that hard it wasn’t a good fit for him as much as anything, and I know the (non related) family he eventually lived with are much better for him than we ever would be. You tried so much harder than we did. You cannot do the what if game. You absolutely gave it all you have. But the fit wasn’t right. For any of you.

I’ll pray for peace of mind for you all. You are such good people and you have nothing to regret by trying to make this work x

Gigi said...

Oh! I am in tears. Sweetie, you and your family did the best you could under the circumstances; there is no shame in that. Sending prayers for you all and for those boys. My heart is broken for you all. xo

Nicole said...

Ernie, I am so sorry. This is so tragic and heartbreaking on so many levels. Allison said it best: "I appreciate you recognizing that the boys are not able at this point to control their behaviour - that's one of the saddest things about traumatized people, especially children, that the residue of trauma results in self-destructive behaviour and you feel like if they could JUST get it under control, their lives would be so much better, but they can't, because, trauma." Thank you for your honesty and telling us what happened.

Paula said...

I am an adoptive Mom. I am not sure how I came across your blog. I just want to reach out to you to give you a hug. It is hard to admit when things go wrong. You or your family are not to blame. It is the system that fails. I understand the feeling of being judged. We have two girls they have been with us for 9 years. We parent differently because we are blessed to have the support system that understands trauma. I pray for all the adoptive families that don't have support or knowledge of what it may be like to adopt children with such trauma. I hope that over time you will come to peace with your decision. I pray God finds the boys the placement they need. God Bless

Beth Cotell said...

Oh, Ernie. I am heartbroken for the boys, for you and Coach, and for your sweet kids. And I am angry with the system that failed you all miserably time and time again. I am praying that you can all rest and recover.

I am so proud of you and your family for stepping out in faith to care for orphans as we are commanded by God in the Bible. Please don't feel any shame. (I know, easy for me to say.)It sounds like you and your family went above and beyond to make it work with these boys. And the fact that your kids worked so hard to help these boys and to integrate them into your family is so heartwarming. To me, this is further proof that you and Coach are awesome parents and the boys truly did miss out an opportunity to become a part of such a wonderful family.

Busy Bee Suz said...

Can we give your kids a gold star? Or a trophy of some sort? Curly in that video; God bless her. She tries so hard to get through to him.
My heart breaks so much for all of you. I know the end choice must have been the hardest thing to ever make, but ultimately you had to make that choice.
You were not equipped or prepared for what these boys came with and what they need. I will keep them (and you) in my prayers. I know there is someone out there that will be able to give them what they need to overcome what they've been through.

Girl, eat all the damn desserts you want.

Anonymous said...

I hope you will be able to find peace with your decision. You guys did your best and put so much into those little guys! Your bio kids are rock stars!

I am a single mom of two boys I adopted. The younger one was 3 when he came to me and full of trauma. It has been 17 years and I still get a dented wall once in a while. It is hard stuff!!!

I have a ton of support in Michigan, but I know it is a different story for my cousin in Indiana. That state is messed up more than others.

Also, extended family can be really hard on adoptive parents. They have no idea what it is really like living with the kids. They see a very small slice of what real life is with them. I have learned to just let that stuff go; it is hard to change their minds unless you let the take the kids for a week!😊

kari said...

I have no helpful words to offer...just a hurting heart- for you and your family and all you've been through (and for the boys too, of course). I'm so sad and so sorry that you received such a lack of training and a lack of information about what you were trying to take on and especially a lack of support in it all.

Foster care adoption is like this more often than anyone wants to admit. :( And failed adoptions (even after the paperwork is signed and official) are all too common.

It is just SO hard and in ways that can't always be communicated to others. TBRI can be amazing and life-changing but it becomes a 24/7 full time job. And, like so many other therapies, it isn't a cure all or a guarantee.

Anyway, blessings to you & your family, that you may heal from the trauma you've all been through and find peace going forward.

Ernie said...

Cheryl - Thanks. Much appreciated. Your mom's comment cracked me up. I babysat for a woman who always told me to keep my pants on when I went to college. I was like HI, HAVE WE MET? THAT'S NOT A CONCERN.

I do agree, moving mountains is not possible. We sure tried though.

Ernie said...

Ali - I think my point about the two of us being on the same page is that here we were, ready and willing and the fact that we didn't get matched with kids who were more within our range to parent, now our willingness is wasted. Like, two kids could've had a home here. I don't think I finished my thought well. More like word vomit.

As far as God's plan, we put a lot of trust in God and we rely heavily on our faith, we felt called to do this. We also do grasp that sometimes the answer to a prayer is a NO. It is our hope, and this one comes from a sister in law who is more in tuned with her faith, is that God called us to be part of the boys' lives for this short amount of time and that our presence in their lives and their presence in ours will ultimately benefit all of us in the long run.

It is hard to not look at them and expect them to just follow along with our plan or our guidance because we know what will help them and they are children and that is what we are used to doing with children of their ages: THIS IS FOR YOUR OWN GOOD. But the confusing part is that they look the part, but there is too much unfortunate re-wiring involved in their traumatized brains.

Yes, the system. I wish I was smart enough to have the answers to fix it, but sadly it is just a mess.

Ernie said...

Ally - Thanks, I am trying to be patient with myself . . . the rest of the world, well - that's another story. Ice cream helps. ;)

Ernie said...

AM - Thanks for the encouraging and supportive words. I think writing the end of the story has helped to free me from the telling of things that were hard to reflect back on with a clear vision after everything ended so terribly. We don't plan to adopt again. I've heard the term burnout before and now I get it. We have plenty to focus on and enjoy and can't imagine going down this path again. Five years of devotion to a thing that ends like this is crushing.

Ernie said...

me - Thanks very much. We appreciate the prayers and good wishes. I've already talked with my worker so that she can share with Indiana what they need to know in order to find a proper placement for the boys. Like Larry doesn't have ADHD and the boys do not belong in the same home. Plus many other thoughts.

Ernie said...

Pat - Don't apologize for the length of your comment - in relation to my post, that was nothing. I so appreciate you sharing your challenging ordeal here. It does help. It blows my mind to look around in the grocery store and neighborhood and think of how easy it is for kids to get what they need as far as love and stability, and then how easy it is for a parent to mess with their basic needs. I makes my heart happy to hear that your boys are doing so well now. I give you so much credit as parenting them solo had to be so difficult.

Ernie said...

Kara - I appreciate this very much. It is tough because there are so many people who know the very minimum of what we were doing, but just that we were planning to adopt and now we aren't. They won't ever understand the whole story because they aren't privy to it. It doesn't matter, but it stings a bit.

Already we are feeling more at peace and the healing process will take time, but eventually we will be at peace with the end result. It was the only way it could be. Unfortunately.

Ernie said...

Jenny - Laughing at your permission to go to all dessert. Hee hee.

We are in the process of playing bedroom musical chairs. Curly has moved into the empty bunk bed room until Mini gets it together. She's done about 8 loads of laundry and we can now see the carpet and some of us are welcoming back clothing we'd lost. Hmm. Curly is living her best life. Never had her own room.

Hey, Indiana - don't diagnose a kid with ADHD unless you know. duh.

I would add BAMBOOZLED to your list. We feel awful about the way info was glossed over and misrepresented, etc. I told my sister when she called to check on my right afterwards that I was fine but that I expected it to come in waves. And waves it has been. Today I was able to articulate some of why I think my current self is struggling and I will share that soon. The realization of this lightbulb moment has helped me. thanks for the second comment. xo

Ernie said...

Charlie - Thank you very much. You raise a good point about my kids- I feel similarly, like WOW how did these guys turn out so great? This becomes important in the next chapter - that video of Curly was something I fell back on. As a mom- is there a prouder moment? And so many other moments, though not all captured on video.

I agree, not a good fit. We did ask Indiana to let the boys come for their whole spring break last school year but the damn red tape. Maybe we would've gotten a better idea, but still a week probably isn't going to give much of an idea.

Ernie said...

Gigi - Thanks so much, I appreciate that. It is heartbreaking. We had so much hope, but hope and tons of hard work was just not enough.

Ernie said...

Nicole - Thanks. It is so tragic. We really thought we were going to be able to provide a good home for these boys and give them what they needed. We just didn't have what they needed. Try as we might. Little children who've been traumatized still look like little children who haven't and when the differences appear it is staggering. Sadly. I honestly wish it would've ended differently.

Ernie said...

Paula - Thanks for sharing that and for understanding what it takes. I really wish the system offered more in the way of prepping people for what might be the reality of the situation. It's so hard. We expected it to be hard. We braced for the worst, but we just couldn't imagine how it would play out. So very glad that you have the support necessary to make things work in your adoption. Thanks for the prayers and kind words.

Ernie said...

Beth- Thanks for this. We have felt like we'd be a great family to welcome kids in need of a good family in large part because of how great our kids (usually) behave. They are welcoming, generous, and empathetic. It does sadden me to think they are missing out on what we hoped to offer them. It is hard not to feel like we failed and hard not to feel shame, but I am coming to terms with it. While my posts were feeling like WHY WAS THIS SO HARD? - it is easy to forget when you aren't in the moment CONSTANTLY. When I wrote this post, I felt like it summed up where everything was derailed. Your prayers are a comfort. Thanks.

Ernie said...

Suz - Have you not seen the trophy shelf that fell out of the wall and rained trophies everywhere after the tornado? I will pass on an extra trophy, but your high praise is much appreciated. My social worker was blown away by the video of Curly. I showed it to her when the next thing cropped up after the boys left. In other words: how do you think she got to be like this? In case there was any question.

The decision was hard but I was so glad that Coach and I were on the same page. We both felt there was no other way, in the end. Still, devastating. After so many years of working towards this. It seems so surreal.

Thanks for the prayers - I believe so much in the power of prayer. I know that we will heal and being held up in prayer by so many is awesome.

I also thank you for the encouragement to eat dessert. That ice cream is calling to me.

Ernie said...

Anonymous - Thanks for sharing your story here. I do believe that these guys had more going on than what we felt equipped to handle. My kids do a lot for themselves, but they still need us and the CONSTANT upheaval was unreal. I kept telling them it would get better, until we decided we weren't sure that it would. I know I'm partial, but I do think these guys are rock stars. I mean, one of my rock stars needs to get a handle on her dang room, but otherwise . . .

I wish I'd known how messed up Indiana is. I met two foster moms in the final week - both from Indiana. One took the boys for respite and then one took them when we returned them. Both of them confessed that Indiana was AWFUL to deal with and they told me some pretty horrendous stories. My worker always said we weren't allowed to adopt from Texas because her office had massive trouble with them before, I would guess that after our ordeal they will add Indiana to the mix.

Congrats on the successful adoption of your two guys.

Ernie said...

Kari - Thanks very much for this. Someone who speaks the lingo, huh? TBRI seemed like a lot of hard work. Initially our therapist told us that we'd just have to change like 30% of how we parented. We thought we could manage that, but nothing we did worked. Like NOTHING. We might've been too old to learn 100% new parenting style, if that's what they ended up needing. They can't be placed in the same home or in a home with other children. Plus Harry needs to be in a behavioral school. I appreciate your informed input and your kind words.

Anonymous said...

Ugh. I am so sorry for you, your family and the boys this ended this way. I have been following your story about the boys and wasn’t sure how it would end. I didn’t expect this and I am sure devastating isn’t an adequate word to describe it. I hope anyone in your in real life circle is nothing but empathetic and supportive to you. Try and give yourself some grace and time to process it. I’m sorry for the boys too, how sad for them too.
-Marisa

Ernie said...

Marisa- Thanks for following. I really only started sharing once I was convinced it would end on a positive note. That is how taken aback we are that it took such a dive.

My close friends have been nothing but supportive and tuned in as excellent listeners. I have one friend who doesn't really 'get it' who said SO ARE YOU GONNA DO THIS AGAIN? After I'd sent an email describing our heartache and how this chapter has closed for us. Times like this show people's true colors.
We are sad for the boys too because we had visions of what their future might hold. Of course we hope and pray that another placement might work for them so they can still experience a promising future.

Kari Wagner Hoban said...

I meant to leave a comment on Friday and left the window open, but Ellie had an online class and closed it. Gah.

I'm sorry this didn't work out. It was hard to hear your children's voices. Listening to your foster child was equally sad. That was the sound of his not having been raised in a stable environment his entire life. After all is said and done, I hope he and his brother may find a home that works for everyone. You and your family tried your best, and that is all you need to know.

I am sending you lots of love and ice cream your way. Eat your feelings, my friend.

Ernie said...

Kari - Have I ever mentioned how kids closing windows is one of my biggest pet peeves? True story.

I'm so glad I have a video of Curly doing this. It warms my heart and reminds me of how incredibly desperate things had become. We do hope they find a place that works. We've recommended that they not be placed together. They feed off of one another and it is toxic.

Thanks for the kind words and because I like to take advice from good friends - I sense you would suggest this and I hate another huge bowl of ice cream last night. Eat me feelings, check.

Debbie J said...

Ernie, I'm so so sorry to hear this. The system failed you and the boys. What were they all thinking? It is an appalling failure. The shame is not yours to bear.

I'm just in awe of birthmothers (like our child's) who choose to make an adoption plan for their babies rather than risk such trauma and pain for them. Such bravery.

I'd deliver ice-cream right to your door if I could! Be kind to yourself. Xx

Ernie said...

Debbie - Thanks for the ice cream delivery offer. So sweet, literally. Yes, it is hard to wrap my mind around. Too many issues to count and so many ways that things could've gone differently. Sad, for sure.