Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Information . . .

I was reading a post over on another blog and began thinking about sharing "too much" about our kids. I have been kind of "chewing" on it ever since.

This parent is the adoptive parent of a pretty difficult kid. They fought a removal notice and successfully adopted their daughter. During the process, the child began displaying some rough behaviors to deal with. The writer opined more than once that she should not adopt this child. She didn't really want to adopt her. She was pretty honest. She knew that it would be a hard road, but her spouse insisted. She acquiesced and did the deed. She regrets it. She is constantly writing about how long it is to her birthday. To be perfectly honest, I don't read that often because it really is a drag. It makes me sad, sad for them, sad for the child and sad in general. I will not link to her because I don't want to draw negative attention her way. She is hurting and I respect that (and to some extent respect her), but I struggle with it to be quite honest. . . and well, this is my blog so I can say so.

What got me chewing is that she is always talking about telling this person and that person about her child's negative behaviors. The neighbors, the school, friend's mothers, a friend who is a social worker(not the child's), the teachers, friends, old friends she just reconnected with, etc. Some of these people are even brought in to give the child "the business" about her behavior.

I suppose I need to say that I understand it is her blog and she can vent how she chooses just as I do. I understand that some of these people do need to know what the child is capable of so they can stop some sort of manipulation that may be happening. I get that sometimes "it takes a village" to raise a child. I also understand that I air all my dirty laundry on here as well. I suppose that is why I am asking, for myself as well, "How much is too much?"

I want to educate the world that Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a "hidden" disability. I want to spread the word that drinking during pregnancy can and will cause organic brain damage. I offer my child as a prime example of a child who has lost the chance of a "typical" life because of the selfish choices his mother made. I want to shoot that from the rooftops. He knows what he "has". He knows what his mother did. I say it in front of him. I have heard him more than once say, "I am special needs." I am okay with that. This hidden disability makes it hard for people to understand he is different. Is that too much to share?

I share that he has schizophrenia with close friends so that they can support us in the hard day to day work it takes raising this child. It explains why we cannot let him out of our sight at gatherings and why he is a danger to other children if left alone with them. We share that he is moderately mentally handicapped and that means he has a low IQ. We share that he is more like a 5 year old than the 15 year he appears to be. Is that too much to share?

We share with family that he was severely physically abused and sexually molested in his past. They need to know that he could and has made false allegations against people. They need to know that neighbors have made allegations after hearing some severe flashbacks he has had. They need to support us and act as a back up in the vent that we need a break. No one else can watch him. Is it too much to share?

I am by far anonymous on here. I was turned into city code enforcement after a post I made on here late last year about a door lock. I was unaware it was against code. Someone decided to turn me in instead of telling me that I was in violation. It was a turning point for me. I have struggled to blog since. I was in a store not too long ago and Dustin was with me. He was being quite rude and really pushing the limits. Those of us who deal with this know there is a short window of time to reign that in before it becomes a full blown, wallowing on the floor, ugly screaming, running fit. I was in his face and adamant that he straighten up. A lovely woman approached me and told she was a blog reader and was happy to meet us. I was mortified. I was embarrassed that she had witnessed that and I was honestly frightened it would look bad. Then I realized, if she reads here she probably understands. But did she? Was it too much?

I worry that the good (allowing people to better understand our kiddos) I am doing putting it out here, is not outweighed by the bad. I struggle to make sense of whether what I am doing is good for my son or not.

I do know that if I had not found the blogging community I am not sure Dustin would be with us today. I am fairly certain he would be in a residential or institutional setting. Had Kari not found me and commented here, I would've taken a lot longer to realize there are so many of you out there. While our children are very different, we all have similar struggles. Jo's dear son is very much like Dustin. We share similar experiences. We commiserate on facebook quite a bit. Lisa has the best ideas and is willing to try anything with her girls, and has one miracle and one more in the making. I cannot wait to meet her face to face in 30 short days. Linda and Mary never give up. In the face of great challenges, they plug away day by day and still find joy in small things. Linda, Theresa, Claudia and Cindy have large size families that have many behaviors we deal with and I am amazed at what they go through. Essie and Mom in the Trench have kiddos who don't always choose to control their bodily functions. Essie has a wicked sense of humor and Mom has a great faith. Reighnie, who struggles with her adopted nieces and nephew while dealing with her quadriplegic husband, boggles my mind with her strength and her grit. Barb and her great struggles with her oldest send me screaming for the hills and yet she endures. Torina is dealing with a transitional plan for a very tough daughter and has great taste in music. Yondalla raises much older boys, but always has a kernel of knowledge for everyone. Atlasien is looking to add another child into her home and I applaud her patience. And of course the lovely Christine who has a wonderful outlook and great hair! I am sure there are more of you out there I have forgotten.

I would be remiss not to mention the ones that has disappeared and I still miss, Antigone Lost, Bumpy Road to Motherhood, Baggage and Bug, Princess Shine Pages, and Journey to the Heart. I learned something from all of you.

I would not be where I am without you all. So I suppose I share more than most, but not as much as others. I guess I can be the only judge of what to share and what not to share with those in our lives. I will try make those decisions for our family the best I can.


obladi oblada said...

Awesome post. You mentioned many of my favorite bloggers! I will have to check out those that I dont already read.

I think sharing is important when support is needed. I try to stay annonomous with names, etc...but there are people out there who also know me in person. My kids dont have really big issues to share, but they are still from the system and there is support needed for that alone. Keep doing what you are doing..a lot of people learn from you too.

FosterAbba said...

The owner of the aforementioned blog doesn't mind if you link. Comments, both positive and negative, are part of living life in the blogosphere.

zunzun said...

I strugged with how much to reveal and the older she got the worse it was for me. In my case I also had the added problem of a husband whose job could be affected by what I wrote and even after taking pictures off and trying to be semi-annonymous it really didn't take much to find us. I couldn't reconcile it so I stopped blogging.

I was worried about others (specially husband's work) finding us and him losing his job in this economy, about her growing up and others eventually judging her, about those who might know us pathologizing my child instead of seeing the good in her...it's tricky.

I know of what blog you speak of and theirs is a hard burden to carry...mostly because I don't think that people truly understand what is going on...this is not just an obstinate, difficult teeanger but one who has some serious issues that has turned that home up-side-down so most of the "advice" people offer doesn't really work (plus the worry and fear that someone you live with will "blow up" at any point is stressful...I'm surprised they are still married!LOL! Hope they weather this...I know that I had some "issues" in the beginning because the husband didn't "see" what was going on...until it started happening to him!). Granted....sometimes I stay away for a while too only because it's difficult to read.

At a gut level I'm uncomfortable with them disclosing so much BUT at the same time they deal with a child that is a chronic liar and if they don't disclose they run a bigger risk of someone reporting them to CPS...if those others know and see the behavior then they are more likely to understand and less likely to be bamboozled by her antics. could have cost them their jobs

Ok..I'm all over the place today...I better to self medicate with chocolate and see if it makes me more coherent!LOL!

FAScinated said...

I have struggled with these same questions, Sheri. In fact, I came very close recently to taking my blog private.

I started my blog as a way to express and sort out my feelings and to keep in touch with a few adoptive families I already knew along with a handful of relatives. Then I connected with people like you. I never expected that to happen and it has been a blessing to me in so many ways.

The last thing I want people to walk away with after reading my blog is that my kids are bad kids. I want people to better understand the reasons that they struggle, where some of their difficult behaviors stem from and what we can do to help them. They are worthy of care and respect just as much as a child with cancer or vision loss. I want people to understand how difficult it is for families like ours when supports are few and blame is abundant.

I hate the stigma that comes with FASD and I think that the only way to educate people is to make it real to them and to help them care about people who are affected by it. But maybe it's time to be a little less visible...I don't know.

Thanks for this post. You said so much of what I've been struggling with. ~Kari

Sheri said...

Abba, always so gracious. I didn't want to "make a stink" because I wasn't pointing to you as much as to myself. Thanks for getting that.

Torina said...

I heart you and Dustin and your mini beatles and your hot husband. We are all in this together.

Essie the Accidental Mommy said...

Well I can say I have learned a lot from reading your blog and I have appreciated how honest and open you have been! You were one of the first blogs I read that wasn't all pretty perfect and I thought--- phew!!!
I code everyone's names and such but if someone wanted to find us they could. Well, they could anyway even if I didn't have a blog, from listserves, or email. But I try to put as much out there as is reasonable. When I started my blog I was going to tell it like it is, and it ain't always pretty. But for anyone that thinks they are terrible parents or they have messed up their kid, or their kid is the only one, well I would hope that maybe they would find me and at least know it is not only them.

Thorn said...

It's a really tough balance, all the more so because your name and location are public (not that I delude myself into thinking I'm not findable). I've wondered what that lock situation would do to your mentality; I know myself and I know I'd be hit with panic and worry about that every time I sat down to write a new post.

There's absolutely a benefit to letting children's problems and needs serve as teachable moments for people in the general population, and that's one thing blogs even do. I know I was very careful to tell Rowan's story in a way that I explained why I think it made sense that he ran away while he was with us and why I'm sympathetic to him and not upset with him, because I was so annoyed with hearing over and over when people asked how the visit went and we had to say he'd run away that they'd be upset on our behalf or mad at him. I think it would have been a disservice to him if I'd let people go on saying that he was foolish to throw away a great opportunity, etc. So I guess all I'm trying to say is that framing matters.

Yes, it does matter why Dustin does things in that he's not just being petulant but he's got real reasons he can't do things other 15-year-olds can do. I think the way you explain this can be empowering toward him rather than just seem like ranting ABOUT him. As far as I can tell, you do a great job keeping that balance.

I feel I've learned a lot from you. I know I'm not the only one.

MomInTheTrench said...

All of the comments here already say it so well. I guess what I'd say closely mimics Essie. I read most of whom you listed, and you, because I need to know there are others doing it and surviving. I get ideas, encouragement, and direction.

Even from the negative things happening in your homes.

Especially from them.

I struggle with the information being out there too. I chose semi-anonymous for that reason. I still don't share everything. And I know that my family is still easily recognizable if someone who knows us IRL finds the blog. Being honest about our personal struggles and thoughts and feelings is so important to helping other parents, though. It's a tough spot.

I am very thankful you and all of these others who do share. I don't know how our kids will feel about it. Will they realize that we've helped each other be the best parents we can be?

I am a better mom because of you and those you've listed.

La La said...

I don't think that you are sharing too much. Not at all. I am a social worker with a foster family agency which places mostly special needs children and so I know from experience that there are not enough people willing to take these children and love them because they just don't understand what that entails. Maybe, if you continue to blog about it others will be inspired as you were. We can hope, right?

Lisa said...

There's nothing I can add here so ditto to everyone.

You da bomb Sheri!

Missy said...

I love this post! If I posted everything my two girls "got into" I would be picked up! Maybe not! I may be given an award or something... LOL
I love your hair!!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed at what makes a truly 'popular' blogger (aka duuce). I refuse to follow anyone who uses profanity in every post. Among parents of children with diagnoses there are controversies of cause, treatment, and advocacy.

I hope you keep blogging. Barbara

Reighnie said...

Thank you for the kind words Sheri!

I constantly struggle with what to share and what not to share. It's tough, especially as they get older. But then I remember how relieved I was when I first realized there were other people out there in the same boat and a name for what my kids did. I also remember the first time J did videos for tapping and such and the kids were drawn in by her and the knowledge that she was struggling with some of the same problems and overcoming.

I struggle with my decision to adopt. I tell Hubbins that no matter what the outcome is, I believe my biggest regret will be adopting the kids.

I say that because I often feel that I'm not the best person for this job, especially now that I have RA. I feel like there are probably better people out there who could do so much better than me. I feel like I'm behind the ball because I seem to have my own attachment/abuse issues I wasn't aware of.... maybe guilt that I'm not a mother or something... anyhow... I guess my point is that
we are all on very bumpy roads wearing custom made shoes. lol!

Miz Kizzle said...

I hear you. Oh boy do I hear you.
I used to read that particular blog almost obsessively because it had the qualities of a bad road accident that makes you slow down and gape at the gore, even though it made you feel queasy.
Here was the misbehaving teen who had had a miserable early life. Here was the spouse who threatened to leave if the other spouse didn't agree to adopt the kid.
Here was the unhappy blogger griping about the spouse's spending habits, the spouse's frequent car crashes, the various slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and most of all, the teen whom she didn't want but who was officially her child.
And oy! The whining and the petulence! (I'm talking about the blogger, not the teen.)
She didn't feel like letting the kid have a friend sleep over because the kids would be up all night making noise and the blogger wouldn't be able to get a good night's sleep.
She didn't want to take the teen on a road trip to visit the teen's family members because it wasn't her idea of an enjoyable vacation.
The teen was being greedy when she wanted several expensive gifts for her birthday.
And on and on and on.
I have three kids and much of what they want to do is not my idea of a jolly old time but I do it because I love my kids and I love to see them happy.
I know that a blog is a reflection of an individual's personal feelings but there was nothing positive thee at all. As far as Blogger was concerned, life had handed her a big old dish of lemons and not only was she not about to make lemonade, she was going to carp and moan with every single post.
The kid wasn't a day at the beach but the she was no axe murderer. She was a kid with problems and the kicker was, she kept asking the blogger who obviously wished the kid would disappear if she loved her and missed her when she wasn't there!
That broke my heart. Of course the teen knows she's not wanted by said blogger. She knows the blogger loathes the sight of her.
How awful.
I don't read the blog anymore. I hope and pray the teen somehow goes on to have a good life but I sincerely doubt it.
Sheri, your make it clear that you love your kids, ALL your kids. You keep trying no matter how bad things get. That's why I respect you.

deb said...


i'm the woman who knew you from your blog in the store. please don't spend any more time worrying about what "I" thought about you/the kids in the store. i didn't think anything except how nice you were, and how nice it was to meet you in person!

and yes, from reading here, i do realize what a struggle it is for you to raise dustin. i think you are a strong, brave woman.

all the best.

Anonymous said...

Really great post. I can relate SO much.