Saturday, February 25, 2017

the Cycle

I am stunned to see that it has been 18 months since my last blog post. So much has happened in these 18 months, but I am sad to report that (for one of our girls) not much has changed. We have been on a roller coaster ride since day one with her and as much as we all want off the ride, we are locked into the track.
In this post, I will cover several of the things mentioned in the "Reactive Attachment Disorder" video, including:

    #5  Destructive to self, others, and material things
    #9  No impulse controls
    #10 Lack of conscience
    #11 Abnormal eating patterns
    #18 Triangulation of adults
    #19 False allegations of abuse
    #20 Creating chaos

Bringing these girls into our family was a choice that all 4 of us had to make. As willing as my husband and I were to take them, it wasn't enough. It was only after spending 2 weeks together, and the girls expressing their desire to join our family, that we were allowed to move forward with adoption. Admittedly, I knew within the first few days that it would be a hard road. In fact, I wanted to back out. (That's something I've never shared with anyone aside from my husband and parents) I say it now to point out that I have always been fearful that this wouldn't "work" and also to point out that the struggle began immediately. My husband and I have been emotionally battered and bruised the entire 4 years we have had the girls. I often wondered why she said "yes" and willingly came with us and I wonder every day if she would have fared better to stay behind. I feel sure that some adopted mother somewhere is reading this and saying to herself "I've thought the same." It is because every blessing she's been given feels like a curse to her, every gift - feels like a punishment. She is tortured and miserable and it is because of me. It is because I brought her to America and taught her to speak English when all she wanted was to live in her native country and speak her native language. It is because my skin is white and hers is brown. It is because she is supposed to call me "mom" but there is a real person out there who already is. Although all we wanted to do was help, I wonder if we have only made things worse for her. This is the ugly truth of our story. As ugly as it is, I hope this truth will be helpful to someone reading this today. Just remember, you are not alone and it is not your fault.

The brawling began while we were in country, over the simplest of things, like telling her not to call her sister "stupid" or asking why she wanted to buy a vegetable at the store only to tell us she didn't like it when we got home. The reactions were extreme and involved locking herself in her room and destroying things we had given her. We always kept ourselves locked in the apartment in Colombia because of her attempts to escape. We are convinced that if we hadn't been on the 3rd floor, she would've climbed out of the window. By God's grace we made the trip to the states without incident. Unfortunately, about 3 weeks after we got home, she had a total irrational meltdown in a public place. It was just the girls and me, Blaine was at work. She had received money from Blaine's parents for Easter and I took them to the Dollar Tree to spend it. I explained the concept of "X" amount of items = "X" amount of dollars and when I asked to see her basket to help her count the items, she became angry. We were able to pay for the items and leave the store. Foolishly, I thought I could buy groceries after that, so we went next door to Walmart. That's when she ran. I was alone in a crowded parking lot, I had no idea what to do. I was terrified that someone would take her. I literally had no idea in which direction she went and she spoke no English. Shortly after Blaine arrived a police officer told us he had received a call from someone who had found a young girl. When they brought her to us they began questioning us as if we were guilty of something. They didn't understand why she was "afraid" to come with us and were reluctant to hand her over. I cannot express to you the utter humiliation we experienced that day. Ultimately, Blaine explained everything to the officer and he and the other party left while we LITERALLY wrestled her into the car as she was screaming and crying. The next obstacle was getting her into the house once we got home. As soon as Blaine opened the car door, she darted down the street. When he ran after her she picked up a stick and said "don't you come any closer or I'll scream rape!" After much tackling and dragging, we FINALLY got her into the house. For 2 weeks, the only person to leave the house was Blaine. Every door and window remained locked until we were sure she wouldn't bolt.

What we know now, that we didn't know then, is that her behavior is on a cycle. We correct, she over-reacts (yelling, sometimes physically fighting), she becomes withdrawn and won't speak for days (sometimes weeks) at a time, she denies guilt, ultimately she "snaps" out of it - as if it never happened. In the beginning, the time between each cycle was short. As she has matured and we have worked with her, the time between each cycle has lengthened. We had recently made it almost a year without a significant meltdown, but our time of peace ended just over a week ago. What was meant to be a conversation about how she should treat her sister became WAR. She has not spoken to me in 9 days. Following the argument, she didn't eat even a bite of food for 4 days. She broke her "fast" when we went to a restaurant where she could buy her own meal and wouldn't have to accept anything from us. She hasn't attended family dinner since the conflict (9 days ago). She will only eat food she prepares and only eats when no one is around.

We are at a really low point right now. Every day is getting worse and worse because every day she sinks deeper into her withdrawal. It feels like she may never come out of it this time. It's like this time, she has made up her mind and there is no turning back. I hope I'm wrong. I pray that we can come to a place of peace. I expected that adopting teens would be difficult, but I never expected that we wouldn't be able to reach them. I always believed that, with enough love and nurture, they could be restored. For one sister, I still hold on to that hope, but for the other I am losing that hope. We covet your prayers for us as we seek God's direction.

"Criticize a person who is rude and shows no respect, and you will only get insults. Correct the wicked, and you will only get hurt. Don't correct such people, or they will hate you. But correct those who are wise, and they will love you. Teach the wise, and they will become wiser. Instruct those who live right, and they will gain more knowledge." Proverbs 9:7-9