Parent Panel Speech

I just got done speaking at a cross-training seminar for various county agencies who provide services for at-risk youth on the “Parent Perspective”. The idea was to give counselors, special education teachers, MR/DD workers, county protective service case workers, etc, etc the perspective of the parent utilizing these services or involved with these agencies. A lot of times when these people are working with parents, they are so busy taking notes and developing plans and ideas of what they can or have to do in their head while they meet with the parents that they don’t always HEAR us. The ladies leading the training wanted them to do nothing but actually listen to the stories, behind actual cases.

When I was approached about this I thought it was an excellent idea. It still is an excellent idea. In fact – I recommend it. Brilliant! What better way to cut through red tape and get people from all these different agencies to realize how great the sum of all their parts is put together.

I guess I just didn’t realize how emotionally exhausting it would be to really relive the story of Pickle. It’s been such a long road. It’s so hard to talk about everything from the day I met my pickle, raising a child traumatized from a sexual assault, raising him as a step-parent to adopting him, his “Dad” walking out & now helping the Jedi, another traumatized child, cope from the exposure to inappropriate behaviors and aggression, and Pickle having to leave the home.

It’s difficult to share with a room full of strangers how to reconcile the dreams of the family you thought you’d have or even the ideas of what others think a family is, with the reality of what it actually is and living it day to day. I’m sure every mother/wife might struggle with that to some extent, but not everybody is dealing with having an adopted special needs child with such severe cognitive/psychological issues that impact the literal safety of the other children in the home that the adopted child must be removed and the overwhelmingly sense of guilt and failure the accompanies.

I got to tell them what services worked for me, what didn’t, what could work better. It’s hard to find enough words to express to the group how I might be another case they are working, that they can put away for the day and go home….but for a parent living it…this is my life, this is my child and I live it everyday and I do need help…lots of it….and so hard to admit it to yourself, much less ask for it.

I really hope the points came across and at the very least the prospective helps…someone…anyone…a little more.

That will be worth it.

Same song, different room.

I finally got a connection in this hospital room. Interesting discovery. But it’s still a hospital room with the same beige walls and same smell. What is that smell anyways?  I am once again sitting at the foot of another hospital bed, with rails up and green sheets waiting for Pickle to fall asleep to watch for any incoming seizure on another EEG.

I’ve been here since Saturday.  I just don’t know how I got here.

For some reason today, I’ve just been thinking about all the events and decisions that led me to here.   Not the hospital but, being in a hospital room with this child (not biological), while my children are sleeping sound in their beds, being well watched over by a father (not biological).

Did you get that? It’s strange. How did all this responsibility get so shifted around and why?

I’m not trying to present like a martyr or even a victim. That’s not what this is about. It was a vague observation that got stuck just swirling around in my head. Most likely because I’ve had to go through Pickle’s medical history over and over and over again with the doctors and it always ends the same way.

So, now you have full custody of him?”

Yes“, I respond.

Wow.

People ask me, “Are you sure you want to deal with this for the rest of your life?”

Well what other options are there, dummy? He’s MY son in every sense of the word. His “egg donor” isn’t worth anything, doesn’t have the capacity to care for him and who even knows where she is…who even cares anymore? Ok, in all honesty, I can see in the problems he’s having that what it really amounts to is that she REALLY didn’t have the mental capacity to be a mother. I’m not saying that as an insult. It’s a fact. There was something wrong cognitively with her. Much like there is with Pickle. He can’t connect the dots. She probably couldn’t either. Then his “Dad”? Well, I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

I think it just boils down to selfishness and lack of compassion. Lack of love? I mean isn’t love really the concept of realizing that something other than yourself if real? El Chuba definitely doesn’t get that. And then there’s me. Sure it’s not the ideal situation. Sure, I’d much rather Pickle get to have THAT relationship with at least one of his biological parents. It just seems like a great injustice not to. I’d feel differently if he had been adopted at birth but both of them WERE a part of his life and …. bailed, for lack of a better word.

I never saw myself here, but most Moms whom have children with disabilities don’t. We deal. Roll with it. I almost said that, I’m not the one forced to live with the disability, I’m just observing it, guiding it and trying to lessen the burden of it. In the end, Pickle is the one who has to deal with its impact, but that’s not true. We ARE forced to live with it and we are dealing with it’s impact.

I haven’t seen Jedi or my Diva since Thursday when they were shuffled off to my husband’s father, whom they have coined “Grandpa Doug” so that we could prepare everything else to have Pickle admitted Saturday morning.

Jer and I. Two people who couldn’t have been on further life paths from Pickle when he was conceived … born. Pickle’s visitors have consisted of myself, my husband and my parents. Jer brings me dinner, holds me and plays with my hair. Plays video games and colors with Pickle.
I don’t know.  I’m tired. I’m rambling.

I’m off to sleep on the plastic couch in the corner.

Sherwood

Darryl called yesterday afternoon. We talked for over an hour. There was a lot of laughing involved and it felt really good. I am so grateful to be able to have that connection back with him that I once had to sacrifice. I guess it’s true what they say. Boyfriends come and go but friends are forever. Maybe the key is truly to be friends first.

I didn’t fall asleep until 4:30 this morning. I just couldn’t sleep. I’m sure it has to do with still having this pain in my neck and also the fact that my husband‘s biological father will be arriving for a weekend visit from North Carolina Friday.

To make a very long story as short as possible….

Hubby‘s Mom had an on again off again relationship in high school with a guy we call “Repeat” (see Fat Albert). Sherwood was her friend with whom she grew up with. While on a split from Repeat, her and Sherwood hooked up and thus my husband was conceived. Sherwood’s family was very well-to-do and well-known in the city, it was a really big deal so they forced Sherwood to deny the whole thing and stay away from MIL. So, by the time he was born, she was already married to Repeat and packing to move away to wherever the Army put him. Sherwood agreed to abide by whatever MIL’s wishes were and since Repeat was not all that happy about the situation, he was told to stay away. Repeat and MIL had two boys of their own but divorced in the late 70’s, after a lot of abuse and then her affair with John. Mother in Law remarried John who later adopted all the boys as his own.

My husband considers John his Dad and he has been a very good one. Well, provider wise, maybe not very emotionally available thought. Of course, my husband always wondered about Sherwood but his brothers always made him feel like he would be betraying John by trying to find Sherwood, but like I told them…they know their father (Repeat), they know he’s an asshole and they CHOOSE not to have anything to do with him and my husband has the same rights. So, I decided to be the bad guy and hunted Sherwood down online without telling anyone. I contacted him a few times via e-mail but got no response. I finally gave my husband his phone number and he would get drunk and call him and hang up. And finally, while addressing Christmas cards in 2001, we decided to make one last attempt by sending him a card with some pictures in it. Well, Sherwood’s wife got the envelope with a female’s penmanship and decided to open the envelope herself.

I guess Sherwood had always had some doubts about paternity because of the situation with Mom and Repeat always on and off again, but once they saw those pictures, his doubt was gone. He had his wife call me and clear a path for him to make contact with husband later that night. It was two days before Christmas 2001 and a week later they paid our expenses for us to drive to North Carolina and meet them and spend New Years with them. It went well and it wasn’t weird at all. There seems to be no hard feelings and Sherwood told him he would never want to even try to replace John’s place in his life but hoped that they could really become friends and that’s how it is between them. They are very good friends and confide in each other.

As when anybody visits, I’m doing that mad cleaning dash thing that all women do. Why do we do this? I mean our houses are never this well put together  at any other time, so why do we drive ourselves to the brink of madness making it look like that is the case? Isn’t that lying? or at the very least being fake???

(((sigh)))

Off to clean!

Parental Rights

There are issues that I have been avoiding talking about. Not only here, but IRL as well. I talk to the people who need to know and then I kinda shut it down. I shut down the fear and the worry and the anger.

Most of you that have known me for sometime, know that I am currently in the process of adopting my step-son, the Pickle. That’s a term I don’t ever use with him. He is my son in every way except for legally. This legal process and the new birth certificate with my name on it won’t really change anything between him and I, but it will keep him safe.

My boy has had a hard life. He’s seen more things in his 9 years than people should see in their lifetime. And mostly because when his “egg donor” had custody of him, she didn’t give a shit. He was her paycheck and meal ticket. As soon as my husband took her to court and received custodial rights and she stopped getting child support, she saw him a handful of times, not even using the full time she was supposed to spend with him and then it dwindled to just phone calls and then she just completely bailed out of him. That was three years ago.

As of July 1st, a public notice ad will be running in the newspaper of her last known address as notification of my intent to adopt.  This worries me. I would surely not put it past this selfish witch to show up and cause problems….just to cause problems. I mean c’mon after three years of not even giving a shit about your kid while someone else is feeding him, clothing him, loving him, taking him to the ER when he has a seizure, finding the right doctor to help out with all of his developmental and psychological problems…..wouldn’t it just be VAIN to show up and have your name kept on a birth certificate???

Our attorney says that is exactly what it would look like to a judge and that most of the time even if a parent does show up to contest an adoption, if they haven’t had ANY contact in over a year, the adoption is still granted.

But, I can’t help my worry.

Besides the fact that my son has to go to the courthouse that day and just seeing “her” if she shows up would be emotionally scaring, I worry about what would happen if the adoption isn’t granted. Then I get angry thinking about “her” EVER being able to cause him anymore pain and confusion than she already has.  As his mother, I have a right to protect my child. It’s like a basic animal instinct or something. But, for his sake I can’t exactly punch her lights out or do any of the other things my gut tells me to do. I just have to sit and wait and hope that she doesn’t know, she doesn’t show and that justice prevails, allowing me, finally, to protect my son.

bad news

Unexpected, shocking news.

My Uncle is in the ICU in GRAVE condition, they say he probably won’t make it through the night.

It’s just so UNREAL. I just talked to him on Thursday.
What struck me as strange, no actually it’s absurd, was that my Uncle has always questioned his place within the family. He felt like the odd man out.
If he could only see now.
How distraught everyone is, how concerned everyone is for him.

I feel like God knew this blow would be hard for us all and he orchestrated us all exactly where we needed to be. My grandmother was in town for the weekend. That allowed her to have her own emotions without having to worry about anybody else. My aunts were all at a baby shower together at church. Just absolutely phenomenal how God can work, in different states, in different time zones.

Lord, please be with him.
Don’t let him go until he’s ready.