October 15, 2013

“I have an anchor now.” – Post Permanency Services at Lund

Posted in Adoption, Foster Care Program, Program Spotlight, Project Family tagged , , , , , , at 8:05 am by Lund

Anjanette has been working with Katherine Boise, Post Permanency Provider, for about 9 months.  This is her story.

“I got a phone call during the holidays from someone at Lund who was doing outreach to check in with families who had adopted and they asked me if I needed any post adoption support. I asked her if she was an angel. I had been praying and crying and talking.  What am I going to do?  Are there boarding schools for a child like mind?  I was beside myself. I was really in need of some additional support and help.  It was perfect timing.

Since I was a little kid, I had always wanted to adopt or be a foster parent. My mother was an orphan and I have the intergenerational PTSD from children who never get adopted.  I know it all too well.  It has always been in my mind that there are many kids who get thrown away because they never get adopted or fostered properly and they have terrible lives with mental consequences. When Dejene arrived in my life, I had 16 days to prepare.    Someone I knew at DCF passed my name onto a social worker because he knew that I had worked in Southern Ethiopia previously and so I got an e-mail asking me if I could take a little boy from Ethiopia. In under three weeks Dejene was in my life.

I was single, divorced and it was just one of those things in life.  It wasn’t the right time, but here it is. I knew it was my son.  I knew it was my kid.  I knew it was my calling. There were too many coincidences, too many things coming together. I had the ability to take a child.  I did not even hesitate at all.  I threw myself into it.  I said yes. They rushed me through the process because they were facing having to put him in an institution because they could not find a home for him. I didn’t see a picture or know anything about his background until a day or two before he got here.  I had to commit before I had the information.  I committed without any clue.  It didn’t matter at that point what he was going to look like though I got a little nervous when I read the file and saw what I was going to be up against.

We had the honeymoon phase for a couple of months and I remember being so mad at people for reminding me all the time that it was going to end.   Do you have to rain on my parade?  It did, it came to a crashing halt.  For the first year or two, I didn’t really believe what I had done to myself.  He had so many problems.  I had a hard time understanding and identifying what was going on.  He had attachment disorder amongst other things. There were school problems, his English wasn’t as good and he was separated from his sister who had stayed with the original adoptive family and we had a really hard time connecting them.

We’re not the standard family.  I guess one of the things that was hard for me was that I did not have any support.  I was on my own.  DCF did some spot checks and Dejene was scared that they would take him away.  I knew and understood that they had to do this but it was so hard for him.  But other than that I have been on my own with this kid until Katherine. We have therapists and I have sought help from counselors and other people.  But Katherine is the first experience I have had with someone helping me regularly on a monthly basis and she will even come out twice a month if we’re working on something.

She has helped me across the board – processing and understanding what is going on with my kid, bringing me literature to understand attachment disorder, bringing materials  to try exercises and she is helping me with the school right now. She helped me with my subsidy to bring it to where it needed to be to support him.  We have identified more special needs that he has. We’ve had neuro-psych evaluations done. I don’t know where I would be if it wasn’t for Katherine.  She helps me to keep moving forward.  Even doing things like sending the first e-mail out to the principal of the school to get something going.  It’s so hard sometimes when you are in the middle of managing your child’s special needs, when you are dealing with your own emotions, your job, your family.  Just to have that little light saying I’ll send the e-mail for you can be such a big deal.   Even though sometimes it seems like small things Katherine is doing, they’re huge things to me.  But then she does very big things too.  She has been teaching me about higher cognitive skills and brain dynamics. This is the first time I have gotten this type of support.  I needed it all along but I really need it now he is becoming a teenager.  Knowledge helps you calm down.  When you understand what is happening with a kid, it helps.  I used to take it personally.  His reactions were so counter intuitive to me on certain things that I needed a neutral party to explain and help me understand. That’s been invaluable.

My son needs different sorts of provisions and so Katherine helps me to coordinate that. We have a team approach now which is really helpful.  I have a best friend, Doug, who is my knight in shining armor who has taken on the role of Dejene’s uncle. He is the extended family that has stepped up to help me with this kid.  I don’t have family here and I needed unlikely suspects to step up and become part of the family to help me raise this kid.  Katherine and Doug have been those people.   I never expected and they’ve been such a big help in raising him.

Katherine brought me an article about the difference between crisis mode, when they are operating in the limbic system and they absolutely cannot hear you or respond properly and how you work with them to calm down and use their pre frontal cortex and reasoning skills.  This has been one of the most useful things that anyone has taught me. I have to understand when he is in crisis mode, he really cannot hear me and cannot answer me.  I used to think he was just not cooperating then I would get all freaked out.  It’s not making excuses for him, but it’s so I don’t run myself  into the ground and deal with things the wrong way and set myself, more than anybody else, up.  My son said that he thinks I am doing better too, I am not yelling as much. I have a better understanding. I had to grow up too, learn, listen, change.  Katherine has really facilitated that. It has been the most dramatic help over the six years I‘ve had him. We have a great chemistry, I adore her and we work well together. I enjoy her company and feel comfortable with her in my home. She is here to work with me and not with Dejene and at first I thought it wouldn’t work then I realized that this was great.  I wanted to fix him but I needed fixing too.  I wanted him to change but I needed to change too.  I see him act different when I act different.  It’s amazing.  It’s unreal and so having her to work with me and not with him is the best things ever.  I didn’t need someone else to work with him.  I needed someone to work with me.  I love her, I would sing her praises from the top of a mountain, I really would.   I can’t say enough about her.  She is extremely good at what she does. I know I have an anchor now.

My relationship with my son and my home life are so much better than they were a year and a half ago.  You have to get outside help because if you keep things internal, it festers.  You need fresh ears, fresh eyes.  It can be scary. None of us want to feel like failures.  We’ve all made mistakes.  It’s a tricky game.  I was so passed being afraid to share because I was in such crisis. I was on my knees. I needed help. It’s vulnerable to open up and admit that you cannot handle your kid.  But if I didn’t have these things in place, I would be lost, things would get worse and we would start taking it out on each other.

It’s coming together in a good way.  I have had some of the darkest days going through this and I just keep putting one foot in front of the other.  I just try it a different way, I try to look at it from a different angle.  I would love to speak to other families because after what I went through I would like to be a support.  I had some dark lonely moments doing this alone, feeling like what did I do to my life? What did I do to myself? I will never be able to help this kid.  This kid is too much trouble for me.  This kid doesn’t respect me because I am not his mom.  He’s never really going to love me.   I have been through every one of those extreme painful feelings and the bottom line is now after all these years and everything we’ve been through, he’s totally my kid.

The bad days are lessening and the good days are outnumbering the bad.  It goes in cycles, like Katherine always reminds me, don’t feel bad if things are going well for a while and all of a sudden they go to hell.  You’ll work through a stage.  It’s helpful because you are so in it that you need someone to keep reminding you and guiding you through the process.  Without that I would feel very lost right now.  I have made so many gains.  I am not just saying this to make Lund happy.  I was lost.  I was really overwhelmed.  I’ll never forget when that lady called, I went into my closet to talk to her in private because I was like “What? You want to help me?”  I think I cried on the phone with her.  Things can get better, things can change.  Children are not fixed.

I would never trade it, even with all the horribleness, I wouldn’t trade it.  The only thing I would change is my preparedness.  If I had had Katherine from the beginning, I would have understood better, sooner.   If my life hadn’t turned this way, I wouldn’t have a kid at all and how good would life be like that?  He’s my legacy.  He’s my everything.  He’s my kid.   He’s the one I get to pass everything on to.  I never cared whether it was biological, I’m a scientist so I know that human beings are all very closely related anyway.  I wanted to be able to pass on my knowledge.  I wanted pass on how to walk lightly on the earth, compassion for others, love for animals, love for life.  I wanted to share my life with a kid. This is all I ever wanted since I was a kid. While I was not looking, it came.  It was meant to be.”

Anjanette and her dog Charlotte at their home in Huntington

Anjanette and her dog Charlotte at their home in Huntington

2 Comments »

  1. Stephanie said,

    Anjanette- you are so brave! Thank you for sharing your story. You are truly an inspiration.

  2. Joyletta V. White said,

    AJ I am so very proud of you for not giving up and for getting the support that you needed. Also I commend you for sharing your story it was very touching,


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