Tuesday, February 24, 2015

5 Things I Wasn't Prepared For After I Adopted My Child

As adoptive parents, we have to go through tons of training before we could officially adopt. It might be your agency's requirements, HAGUE requirements, or requirements from the state if you are fostering/adopting. I firmly agree that you need to go through every bit of that training to help prepare yourself for this event. I would even to go as far to say that you need to do more than the required amount-like check out books from the library, talk to others who have adopted, follow blogs, or even plan a day to hang out in a bookstore speed reading their adoption books. After all of our studying before we went to Poland, you would think we have all of our bases covered. Yea, right!

Here are some things that I have learned since we got home from Poland:

The first thing I wasn't prepared for was how tired I would be. It is exhausting to say the least. I'm not talking about staying up late at night rocking a baby to sleep. This is a physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. Yes, ALL three at the SAME TIME. You are constantly having to monitor every move your child makes, persistently showing them how to eat correctly or even feed them because they don't or won't feed themselves, take a bath, how to play with toys, help them to go to sleep when their bodies will not allow them to, learn language (international adoption), teach them to live in a family environment, go to the bathroom, teach them how to handle their emotions or express their emotions in a healthy manner and the list could keep going on. This past year I have completely lost my brain. Someone is trying to have a conversation with me and I have no words or I can't spit out my words correctly because my mind is exhausted. Depression can creep in and overtake you. I've recently posted about PADS. I think this is the number reason why I can't blog on a consistent basis. I'm too tired. It's hard to formulate a sentence sometimes. I have ideas for blog posts but finding the time when I'm not tired or not working at the pediatric office is hard to come by.

The second thing I learned is no matter how much you prepare your child for an upcoming event or change, they (subconsciously) would do anything to show you that they are mad or scared because of it. Recently, Wes and I needed to attend a meeting on a weeknight for about 2 hours. We hired a babysitter, explained to Smalls many times about the event and that we would be coming back. And this wasn't the first time we had done this. Smalls didn't like it. She protested because she couldn't control the fact that we were going to be gone without her for 2 hours. How did she protest? She (being my 9 year old) peed and pooed all over the toilet seat. It was her way of telling us that she was mad. In my pre-adoption training, I was taught over and over again to prepare your child for upcoming events and/or changes. Well I do a pretty good job of that with our weekly and monthly calendars, which we discuss almost on a daily basis. I wasn't prepared for retaliation. I bet you're wondering how I handled the bathroom situation. Well, I believe in natural consequences and letting Smalls learn by her own mistakes. Smalls had to clean up the mess that she made. And boy, she screamed and yelled because she was mad that she had to clean it up, of course I was right there with her making sure the mess got cleaned up appropriately. And this is why I'm tired ALL THE TIME. If there is one change or new event, let the pits of Hell open up and swallow us all. It's exhausting preparing for something and then have it blow up in your face almost every time. I'm beginning to the think what's the point of preparing her if she is just going to act out anyway, but I know that would not be appropriate.

The third thing I learned was that your adopted child might not like you at all. I understand that every adopted child goes through a transition period from where they were to your home and family. They are learning to live in a family environment and the child may or may not like the way your family does things because that's not how it was before. I get that. Smalls doesn't want to live with us still to this day. She would rather be back in Poland with her foster family. And that hurts me a little bit. Does she not realize that they did not want her? She was in terrible shape. She never went to school or to the playground, her teeth were awful, she was malnourished, and she was deemed mentally retarded! Why on earth would she still want to go back there and live after we have shown her things she enjoys so much? Why does she keep asking me to bring her back to Poland? You would think after well over a year she would want to stay with us because we give her everything that she absolutely needs and almost all of her wants. She wants to go back because her life in Poland was better to her. She didn't have to go to school, she wasn't required to think about others, she got to play in her room all day everyday because she was mentally retarded, and she manipulated the foster parents to give her everything she wants. I hope one day she would want to live with us and be a part of our family.

The fourth thing I didn't know was exactly the baggage my daughter came with. Just like marriage we all bring a "suitcase" full of history. Same with bringing an adopted child into your home. Smalls came with a huge suitcase! I wasn't prepared for it all. Each child has their own suitcase and we as parents have to figure out how to help them unpack some of the heartache or to help them carry the load. One example of this is that Smalls didn't know that we were coming to adopt her. The foster parents said they tried to tell her but she couldn't mentally understand. They also told her that they were the "real" parents and Smalls had no clue about her birth parents or siblings. So we were there to pick her up and a week later she asks questions about going back to her home and we figured out she had no clue about the adoption. Ummm, I don't remember learning ANYTHING in my adoption training on how to deal with that and I literally felt like I had no support in dealing with it. Wes and I dealt with it the best that we could. I just wanted to cry nonstop because it's hard parenting a child that thinks you stole them away. No wonder why she hates us so much and she wants to be back in Poland! We had to break the hard news to her. We had to do what other adults refused to do, which was to treat her like a real person and tell her the truth even though it was hard. And yea, she hates us for it, but I pray that she will mature and learn that we were not actually the bad guys in this situation!

The fifth thing I learned was that no matter how much studying I do on adoption, there's always more to learn. I am constantly learning about how to deal with children from the hard places. After you bring home your child, reread everything that you have because you will learn a new tactic that is specific to your child that you wouldn't have picked up before. After adopting, I have joined many Facebook support groups. Those people know what it's like to go through the dark times with a hard to raise child. They share resources that are applicable to what I'm going through. You are more than welcome to add me as a friend on Facebook and see the groups that I follow or to see all the articles that I share. Knowledge is power when raising difficult children. There are some wonderful tools out there for adoptive parents-USE THEM!

I'm sure I could add lots more to this list and I might even do a follow up blog post if I think of anymore lessons that I have learned after the adoption. For those of you who have adopted what are some things that you weren't prepared for when your child came into your custody?

Homemade Fruit Snacks

After having a kid, I find myself wanting to buy a lot of unnecessary, "convenient" snacks for Smalls. Smalls is getting involved in different activities and we are traveling more with her, so these convenient foods are really tempting to buy. I fell into temptation and bought a box of fruit snacks for $3 a box. The box had 8 bags of fruit snacks in it....what a rip! That's $0.38 per fruit snack and it probably didn't contain a single piece of fruit. Not doing that again. There has to be someone in this world who has come up with a homemade version of fruit snacks that are much cheaper and they actually contain fruit!

One of my favorite websites that I follow, hip2save.com, had a recipe for homemade fruit snacks. I tried it out and it was wonderful! These will definitely become a staple in my house. Click here for the recipe.

The first time I made this recipe, I only had 4 packets of gelatin and mixed frozen fruit, which both worked out fine. The second time around making these I used apples and lemon juice with 4 packets of gelatin and they tasted great. The only drawback to homemade real fruit snacks is that they will go bad if you don't consume them within a week or so, but you shouldn't have that problem because they taste amazing!

The cost of making your own fruit snacks are definitely cheaper than buying prepackaged fruit snacks. The most expensive item is the gelatin, but if you buy it in bulk you can lower your costs. And these fruit snacks are made with 100% fruit so there's no question about how much fruit is in them like the store bought version.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Post Adoption Depression Syndrome

This is a toughie to talk about, Post Adoption Depression Syndrome (PADS). What a terrible acronym. It sounds like a feminine hygiene product. I'm going to spell it out when I say it out loud (P-A-D-S). You've probably heard of postpartum depression which could happen after a woman gives birth, but did you know something similar could happen in the adoption world? PADS is not a common issue that is talked about. It wasn't in any training or books that I've read, and I've read a lot of books before we adopted! I got one piece of paper from our social worker about PADS and that was it.

PADS is a feeling that you get after you've adopted. Click here for a list of symptoms. According to the symptoms (and I'm not a dr.), I'm pretty sure that I had this about 2 months after bringing Smalls home. I felt horrible. I didn't want to be a mom, especially Smalls' mom. I really thought I had messed up by adopting. I had to review the reasons why we even adopted in the first place. I had ugly thoughts about adoption and Smalls. I didn't want to get out of bed. I literally just wanted to watch movies on my laptop all day and let Smalls be in the other room playing by herself and not bothering me. After all we had late nights and early mornings with Smalls-the child never went to sleep and she woke up very early in the morning EVERY single day, and she still does. It was emotionally exhausting getting use to this change in our lives. And trying to bond with someone who doesn't like you or even wanted to be with you was the cherry on top.

I eventually got through this terrible, awful feeling. I feel way better than I did about 7 or 8 months ago. If you've felt like this, talk to someone. Get help. Seek a counselor or therapist. Make sure you have time to take care of yourself. Find a hobby to do. If you are not at 100%, neither will be your parenting skills.

What helped me to overcome this feeling was finding a hobby that I enjoyed. I scheduled a time out or some "me time" from my [parenting responsibilities. I went couponing or took a walk in the park. I found activities that I enjoyed and I did them by myself. I needed some down time without Smalls around (don't worry, I had someone watch Smalls while I had me time). Taking care of myself helped me to overcome PADS.

Here's an article about PADS:

Let's keep this discussion going. Has anyone felt this way after bringing home an adopted child? Do you have any resources that are helpful on this topic? Did you schedule some "me time"?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Monthly Money Goal: February

If you've missed the post for January, click here.

February's goal: Write down all of your expenses.

Boy, is this one a toughie or what? Yes, you read it right! Write down all of your expenses. Anything you spend your money on whether it's the electricity bill, that gas station snack, or the early morning coffee run. Write. It. Down.

Yes, this monthly goal is a challenging one because it requires you to do something almost on a daily basis. I started doing this exercise back in December, not really the best month to write down all of my expenses because I love to buy gifts. Writing down your expenses let's you know where you spend your money and what you spend your money on. It helps me to stay within budget throughout the month. I can see when I've spent a lot in one category of my budget.

This month I'm challenging myself to continue to write down all of my transactions and since I coupon, there are a lot of them!