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My Crazy Unsexy Wild Toad of a Ride Life

Dear Parents,

Guess you are a bit frustrated at being bombarded with all the bad news and little of the good news.  There is good news.  And there are strategies.  Believe it or not, I think my kids are doing pretty well considering their early childhood and the slightly misanthropic ways of their adoptive mom—me.

For example, my daughter turned 21 last week and there was zero rowdy alcoholic binging.  My son, who lost 10 pounds in out of home care and brought home bed bugs, is looking forward to getting to work at the California Conservation Corps and with his sister part time while he waits.  My daughter and boyfriend, admittedly with my help, started a handyperson business—Handy Humans.  They are working blistered-hands hard every day.

My kids are doing it their way.  It is nothing like my way, but it is creative and geared toward the level of skill they have. Given how hard it was for them to get through school and figure out how to be productive in society, I am dazzled and deeply proud of them.

Last week I purchased a serious fixer house in a less than beautiful neighborhood for them to make their own.  This is a big step for me and for them.  We will see how it turns out.  This is y thinking: if I own the house, they cannot get kicked out.  I have spent thousands of dollars on deposits, firsts months, and last months to know apartments are not living solutions for my children.  They have a hard time following other people’s rules.  They have to live and work on their own still.

Attachment Help

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

Maybe one day when more prefrontal executive function kicks in, it won’t be like this.  Until then, I will continue to coach them (by request and sometime by parental necessity) on how to live on their own in the world.  I will continue to pick up the pieces that sometimes fall around their ankles.  I will continue to love them with all my heart.  They are my life–my crazy, unsexy, wild toad ride of a life.

Love matters,

Ce

Attention regular monthly support group attendees:  

Our Monthly Support Group for Therapeutic Parents will not be held on the 2nd Wednesday in September, 2016.  We will have an alternative group meeting on the 3rd Wednesday of September, which is September 21st at 6pm at our office at 3406 American River Drive, Ste D, Sacramento, CA. My apologies for not realizing this hitch in the calendar until just now.  

You capicture of covern find my book on Amazon.com or on my website. Don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon.

To sign-up for free Wisdom for Adoptive Parents blog delivered regularly to your inbox, click here.

Follow on Twitter @lovingradkids and @Attachmenthelp or Facebook.

Next Therapeutic Parenting Class is scheduled for October 8, 2016 from 9am to 5pm.  Sign-up on attachplace.com.  

10 Questions With An Adoptive Mother

This article appeared this week on a Mommy blog–Urban Suburban Mommy–for prospective adoptive parents. Thought I would share it with you, but you already know it because you are an adoptive parent, too.

  1. Why should couples consider adoption?

People adopt for many reasons, and adoption isn’t for everyone.  It is, however, for singles and coupes who feel they want to bring a child into their lives who needs everything they have to heal a hurt and hurting heart.  Adopting a child gives parents a super-sized mission and purpose.  It takes a lot to parent children.  It takes more to heal deep emotional wounds while parenting children.

If you have passion, a secure emotional base, resources, and love like a mountain, sign up to adopt a child.  Hurry, there are 400,000+ children waiting for you in foster care right now.

  1. What is the biggest myth surrounding adoption?

I wouldn’t say there is one “biggest” myth.  There are some pretty good ones afloat.  Maybe one myth that can be a personal hurdle for people considering adoption is the notion that you have to be perfect to adopt a child. Not so.  You can learn how to be a healing force in the life of a child who has lost biological parents and maybe even been harmed by those who promised to love.  Perfection is definitely not required.  It does take more than love to heal, but ordinary people with ordinary lives are the best hope for the job.

  1. How can couples benefit from adoption?

Let me answer that with another question: How can bringing a child into your life not be a benefit?  Children bring energy, delight, purpose, hard work, joy, play, passion, and more meaning to a couple.  If you are looking for that, adoption is a bonus investment.

  1. What barriers might couples face while considering adoption?

Family members may not quite understand your passion for adoption.  Why?  Why?  Why? you will be asked.  Get your narrative well established because you are going to tell that story over and over to well-meaning family and friends.  It’s okay though; your coherent narrative will serve and sustain you during the tough parenting times.

  1. What is best age to adopt children or is there a better age?

Every age is the best age for an adopted child to come home to a loving family. There are adoptable children of every age waiting for you.  The best age is the age you think you would really enjoy.  Even older teens want to be a part of a family.  The best age is up to your personal circumstances and desires.  Adoption agencies are tremendous supports in determining what age is best for you.  Don’t be afraid to be honest.  If you cannot imagine parenting two children, the most darling of sibling pairs is not for you.  If you have a large house and plenty of resources, go ahead and reach out for a set of 3 or 4 siblings that need to stick together.  If baby’s rock your world, hold on; there are babies needing adoption, too.

  1. If a couple adopts a child as a baby, should they tell the child that he/or she is adopted? Is there a good age to have the conversation with your child?

In my opinion children fare better when they know from the beginning that they are a gift of adoption.  A coherent narrative about how you came to be where you are, how you are, and how you feel is essential for positive mental health later in life.  If parents celebrate adoption day, as well as a birthday, children will delight in two whole days every year devoted just for shining on them.

As for best age to have the conversation, I think it begins with reading adoption books to your child when very young.  It will be part of their awareness from the beginning of consciousness that some children come by stork, some by marriage, some by relatives, and some by adoption.  Children will eventually ask you the age old question, Where do babies come from? Most wonder this around 3 or 4 years old.  That is the perfect time to tell them their adoption story.  Tell it beautiful, because it is.

  1. How do you make an adoptive child comfortable with their new family?

You must be as safe as possible.  Use therapeutic principles to parent—high structure, high nurture approaches.  Frankly, parents need to put away traditional means of discipline and employ kinder, gentler styles because building a safe relationship with an adopted child is the first order of business–not disciplining poor behavior.  Children need to be physically and emotionally safe before they can heal from their traumatic life experiences.  Get support for learning a new way.  You will be glad you started out on the right foot.

  1. How do you deal with an adopted child who wants to seek out his/her birth parents?

First consider the circumstances that brought your child to you.  If they were relatively abuse free and your attachment is strong, then supporting investigation can make sense in the teen years.  Not all adoptive parents want to be found, so be sure to investigate first before involving your child.  If the circumstances were abusive, I am in favor of waiting until the children are adults.  Full disclosure:  there are many divergent opinions about this.  The level of attachment the child has to you needs to be considered before making promises that may not be followed through on.  If your attachment is weak with your adoptive child, seeking out the birth parents is not wise, as it will likely cause even further distance in your attachment relationship.

  1. Why is there still a stigma around adoption?

In general, many believe that you are gambling by bringing an unknown adoptive child into your life.  Who knows what you will get? Frankly, bringing biological children into our lives is gambling, too.  We never know what the child we bring into our lives is going to present.  We just love and care for them the best we can. That is the nature of being a parent, adoptive or otherwise.

  1. Why do you love being an adoptive parent?

I love my children. The fact that they are adopted has nothing to do with that.  The journey to heal their broken hearts was a challenge for all of us.  And, it turns out, we were all up for it.  Now our dinner hours are full of stories, laughter, chatter, and true affection for one another.  Nothing is better to my ears than that wild and zany family sound.

Alternative Ending

Funny thing: I wrote this article late week when things were on a happy upswing with my kids.  Wouldn’t you know that trauma drama life has happened since then and we are once again engaged in the attachment trauma parent child dance. Around and around we go.  Where it stops nobody know.  I still love my children. The fact that they are adopted truly has nothing to do with that. And it turns out, we

The Attach Place

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

are all still up for it.  Not this week, but often, our dinner hours are full of stories, laughter, chatter, and true affection for one another. Nothing is better to my ears than that wild and zany family sound.  Still true.  It will come around again.  I can put money on it.

Love matters,

Ce

Monthly Adoptive Parent Support Group is free and open to everyone. Meets the second Wednesday of every month from 6pm to 8pm.  Group and childcare are free. Please sign up at www.attachplace.com.

You capicture of covern find Ce’s book on Amazon.com or in The Attach Place Shop. Don’t forget to leave a review.
To sign-up for free daily Wisdom for Adoptive Parents blog, click here.  Follow on Twitter @lovingradkids and @Attachmenthelp or Facebook.

It Was A Sweet Book Party!

Dear Parents,

Many of you were able to make it to the book launch party on Saturday and I was so happy to see your beautiful faces.  I wanted to put pictures of the party in this post, though all you will see are empty rooms, me and only one of my lovely colleagues.

My husband (very quiet, unassuming, introvert) was the DP (designated photographer) for the day.

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At the start I told him he couldn’t take random pictures because there would be some parents here.  He took that to mean he would be taking pictures of food, empty rooms, and me, plus an office mate here or there.  So cute, he is.

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Despite how this picture looks, there was a lovely group of celebrants and I had a wonderful time.  I hope everyone else did, as well. Wish you all could have been here for the cake because it was to die for.

Thank you for all the love and support.

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Jen Nguyen, LMFT,  being the hostess with the mostess; and baby makes two. The quilt in this picture was handmade for me by two incredible, adoptive parents.

Love matters,

Ce

The Attach Place

The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationship

The next 8 hr. Trust Based Parent Training is scheduled for April 23rd and 30th from 12noon to 4pm.  $200 per couple.  Childcare available for $30 each day, second child $10 additional. To sign up email Jen@attachplace.com and she will register you.

TIME CHANGEMonthly Adoptive Parent Support Group is every second Wednesday of the month from 6pm to 8pm.  Group and childcare are free.
To buy your very own copy of Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents by Ce Eshelman, LMFT, go to Amazon or www.attachplace.com/drowing-hair-fire. Please be so kind as to leave a review on Amazon.  Thank you.

Perspective

What if you looked at your child as perfect?  Would you be different?

The Attach Place

The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships

Love matters,

Ce

Parents Are Amazing

Dear Parents,

You are amazing.  Every day I sit in my office with you and feel the despair, frustration, desperation and love you experience while living through the ups and downs of raising your challenging children.  I feel big love for you.  Without your tenacious therapeutic practices, your child would continue to have difficulty managing emotions, developing regulation, experiencing success, and healing deep within.  Unfortunately, you will only see little snippets of that growth here and there over a long period of time (well into adulthood).  That is the nature of a healing parent’s life.

Stay strong. Press on. Get support. Take respite. Find quiet. Seek love. Go play. Then pray. Keep calm. Carry on. Breathe deeply. You matter.

The Attach Place

The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships

Love matters, too.

Ce

 

The next 8 hr. Trust Based Parent Training is scheduled for April 23rd and 30th from 12noon to 4pm.  $200 per couple.  Childcare available for $30 each day, second child $10 additional. To sign up email Jen@attachplace.com and she will register you.

 
Monthly Adoptive Parent Support Group is every second Wednesday of the month from 5:30pm to 7:30pm.  Group and childcare are free.
Look for Ce’s Upcoming Book
 

picture of cover

Drowning With My Hair On Fire

Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents
 
Drowning with My Hair On Fire is a compilation of over 175 daily support letters to parents of adoptive children and other children from difficult beginnings.  With a forward by Dave Ziegler, Ph.D. and a brief personal memoir, this publication is a response to blog-reader requests for a book of letters that can be easily returned to day after day, when inspiration is hard to find.
Praise for Drowning with My Hair On Fire
This woman saved our family. This book will save your sanity! After years (and many therapists) of getting it wrong, Ce Eshelman got our traumatized family on the right path to attachment, sanity, and big biglove. Ce’s unique therapy is grounded in the latest brain research, her own struggles raising traumatized children, and work with hundreds of families like ours. Her stories, contained in this book, are our stories: full of pain, confusion, hope, faith, love and practical magic that really works.
Elaine Smith, Adoptive Mother
Ce’s daily blog has been a lifesaver, particularly when days are most dreary and hopeless.  Not only have her words of empathy proven to be priceless to our family, but I have often forwarded them on to others.  Such a comfort to feel understood, with no judgment.
Patty O’Hair, Adoptive Mother
In a real sense “Drowning with My Hair on Fire: Insanity Relief for Adoptive Parents” is a daily mediation of struggle, success, failure and getting up and trying again.  If that sounds like too much to subject yourself to then don’t adopt a challenging child.  And one more thing, shouldn’t we require prospective adoptive parents to read “Drowning with My Hair on Fire: Insanity Relief for Adoptive Parents” rather than another ‘All they need is love’ manual?
Dave Ziegler, Ph.D., founder of Jasper Mountain Center and author of many books on raising children from difficult beginnings.

I Didn’t Cry

Yesterday my son was all grief stricken and in tears over the end of a favorite show on TV that triggered his own personal grief and loss about his difficult beginnings. Today he watched the recorded ending again and shared, “I didn’t cry this time.”  Shocker, kid.

This lack of theory of mind is one of the things I often see in children from difficult beginnings.  Children with theory of mind can access the part of their brains that extrapolates one situation to another and makes sense of things.  Children with complex trauma often cannot access their executive functions in the pre-frontal cortex until much later in life. They are not dull; they are traumatized.

Be careful of your judgments about your traumatized children.  They can surprise you if you keep your heart and your mind open to what is possible.  If you thought your child would be fully thriving at 28, though not so functional at 18, would you engage her differently?  I suspect you would.

Be gracious, patient, loving, and a tiny bit long suffering.  There may be a payoff down the road.  Wait for it.

The Attach Place

Love matters, Ce The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships

Toxic Stress Part 2

The only way to change the toxic stress that may be poisoning your family life is to get on board a huge parent self-care regimen for yourself, that I wrote about yesterday, and a daily felt safety diet for your child.

Felt Safety Diet:

  1. First and foremost: Well regulated parents who have an establishedSelf-care Regimen.
  2. A slow pace.  Pretend you live in a small sleepy town where no one feels the need to speed.  Then, don’t speed, rush, hustle, bustle, race, multi-task, or try to live three lives at once.
  3. Attune to your child’s needs for connection, engagement, attention, playfulness.  Play with your children.  Watching them play is not the same thing.
  4. Lose the concept of punishment and consequences.  Use structure and gentle correction instead.  If you use punishment and consequences, your child will fear you while continuing to do the things you don’t want them to do.
  5. Set the behavior bar low, so your child is successful.  Praise like crazy for achieving it. Setting the bar too high will cause behavior like giving up, throwing in the towel, defiance, opposition, or not even trying.
  6. Accept your child for who they actually are, rather than for who you wish they were.  This is a big one.  Stop working so hard to make them different.  Imagine someone doing that to you every day, all day.
  7. Never forget that your child probably has some kind of sensory integration issue because children from difficult beginnings usually do.  Give them a steady schedule (every two hours) of physicality, healthy food/snacks and big hydration.
  8. Finally, work very hard to be sure your child’s school is trauma informed, so your child isn’t inadvertently emotionally harmed.

And there you have it: a healing Felt Safety Diet.

Love Matters,

Ce Eshelman, LMFT

The Attach Place provides a monthly, no fee Trust-based Adoptive Parent Support Group in Sacramento, every 2nd Wednesday of each month.  Next group is November 11that a NEW time–5:30 pm. Join us.  Online RSVP each month required when you need child care. 

The Attach Place offers an 8-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course every other month.  Our next course dates areDecember 5th and 12th, 2015. Sign-up by calling 916-403-0588 x1 or email attachplace@yahoo.com.

The Attach Place supports The Wounded Warrior Project by providing free neurofeedback to veterans.  Feel free to send a soldier our way for an assessment and 20 session course of treatment.

Feel free to send this link to friends or family members who you would like to receive Daily YOU Time: Wisdom for Adoptive Parents.

Take a look at your calendar.  If the word respite does not appear there, get to it.

Toxic Stress

Even when you have all the information about your child’s traumatized brain, every bit of therapeutic parenting advice, tons of therapy, and book piles to stop every door in your house, something may still have a stranglehold on your entire family. When it gets right down to it, toxic stress is the real culprit.  Your traumatized child has it and you have it, too.

The only way to change the toxic stress that is poisoning your family life is to get on board a huge parent self-care regimen for yourself and a daily felt safety diet for your child.  Sounds easy, but you know it isn’t.  Also, this regimen and diet will be for life, so you have to embrace it every day in order to live an emotionally, toxin-free life.

Today’s post is about the most important thing in the world–your self-care. Tomorrow, felt safety.

Self-care Regimen

  1. First and foremost: get out of denial.  Your child has special needs.  You need to pay attention to your needs first.  Put your oxygen mask on before assisting your child.  
  2. Respite needs to be your priority after the basics–food, water, air, shelter, hugs.
  3. A trained childcare provider is a must and a miracle.  Get two or three; train them; and pay those folks as well as you can because they matter a lot.
  4. Schedule respite breaks for yourself every day on your calendar, in your phone, on your To Do list. Schedule respite like it is a hard to get dental appointment that you will be charged for if you miss it.
  5. Care about yourself.  Care for your body.  Care about what you eat. Care about your sleep. Care about your love life.  Care about your friendships.  Care about your garden, animals, hobbies, creativity, passions, missions. Yes, you can fit everything into your life.  If you cannot, then you do not have a healthy life.  Think about that.
  6. Think about this while you are at it.  Attachment challenged, traumatized children do not need a full schedule of organized sports, dance lessons, piano recitals, playdates, extravagantvacations, and the latest kid stuff.  They need at least one (and two would be better) well cared for, emotionally present parent.

If that is all they ever have, they will be rich beyond their wildest dreams.

Love Matters,

Ce Eshelman, LMFT

The Attach Place provides a monthly, no fee Trust-based Adoptive Parent Support Group in Sacramento, every 2nd Wednesday of each month.  Next group is November 11th at a NEW time–5:30 pm.Join us.  Online RSVP each month required when you need child care. 

The Attach Place offers an 8-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course every other month.  Our next course dates are December 5th and 12th, 2015. Sign-up by calling 916-403-0588 x1 or email attachplace@yahoo.com.

The Attach Place supports The Wounded Warrior Project by providing free neurofeedback to veterans.  Feel free to send a soldier our way for an assessment and 20 session course of treatment.

Feel free to send this link to friends or family members who you would like to receive Daily YOU Time: Wisdom for Adoptive Parents.

Take a look at your calendar.  If the word respite does not appear there, get to it.

Kindness Transmission Processes

Sometimes I am astounded by the kindness of my children.  A couple days back from vacation I came down with a virus.  Nothing terrible, just ugly to listen to and look at.  

When my son sees I am under it, he immediately says, I’m sorry you are sick again Mom.  I will do anything you need.  Do you need something?  Can I help you?

When my daughter hears I am sick after visiting her house (7-hour round trip) where my sleeping grandbaby had a virus, she says, Mom, I am so sorry you are sick.  I should have told you before you came here that she had a virus.  I love you, Mom, so much. Thank you for visiting.  It meant so much to me for you to see my new home. I miss you.

There were so many years when I was called upon to be kind in the face of anger, rage, rejection, assaults.  Mostly I managed to do it, though not always. This is the payoff.  My children are kind adults.  What more could I really ask for?

Love Matters,

Ce Eshelman, LMFT
The Attach Place Logo The Attach Place provides a monthly, no fee Trust-based Adoptive Parent Support Group in Sacramento, every 2nd Wednesday of each month.  Next group is November 11th at a NEW time–5:30 pm.Join us.  Online RSVP each month required when you need child care.
The Attach Place offers an 8-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course every other month.  Our next course dates are December 5th and 12th, 2015. Sign-up by calling 916-403-0588 x1 or email attachplace@yahoo.com.
The Attach Place supports The Wounded Warrior Project by providing free neurofeedback to veterans.  Feel free to send a soldier our way for an assessment and 20 session course of treatment.
Feel free to send this link to friends or family members who you would like to receive Daily YOU Time: Wisdom for Adoptive Parents.

Kindness translates well into the future.

Teenage Play Dates

I am a mother who had very few Mommy Moments in the raising of my children. You know, those sweet moments when a warm feeling blossoms up like a big Pink Peony in your chest? Pretty sure many Dads aren’t feeling the Pink Peony metaphor, so substitute here whatever the man equivalent of that is–Red Lamborghini Moment? Sometimes I like being completely sexist, so stop groaning. YOU may not be getting many of those sweet moments right now either if you are still in the daily trenches of humiliating Target meltdowns, broken dishes on the kitchen floor, spilled milk all over the restaurant, and bite marks on your forearms.
 
In the past, overnights and playdates just couldn’t happen without incidents of grand proportion, so they eventually got ruled out entirely.  I got tired of my kids losing already tentative friendships and trying to get into the good graces of parents who might give my kids another chance with their kids in the park or at the pool party or overnight in their living room (without locking up all the food, cell phones, wallets, and car keys.)
 
Now that I have six adult teens in my life (four of whom are previously diagnosed RAD kids),  I am getting an odd abundance of Pink Peony moments.  This weekend my house was taken over by boys eating, laughing, playing video games, going out for snack attacks, and coming home just to eat again. At the same time, one of the girls flew to and from L.A. by herself to visit family that previously refused to accept her into their home–even for a one hour visit.  She had a great, incident-free day. And yesterday, two others gushed over their beautiful, smiling daughter in pictures taken with the new iPhone I sent them in the mail last week–tag lines like I love you so much Mom and She is smiling because we are saying, ‘Smile for Grammy over and over.’
 
With attachment challenged, traumatized, and special needs children the Pink Peony moments may be delayed.  Wait for them.  I promise they arrive little by little over time until in young adulthood they have no trouble expressing how much YOU mean to them.  Wait for it.
Love Matters,
Ce Eshelman, LMFT
The Attach Place Logo The Attach Place provides a monthly, no fee Trust-based Adoptive Parent Support Group in Sacramento, every 2nd Wednesday of each month.  Next group is October 14th at a NEW time–5:30 pm.Join us.  Online RSVP each month required when you need child care.
The Attach Place offers a 10-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course every other month.  Our next course dates are October 10th and 24th.  Child care provided for an extra fee. Sign-up by calling 916-403-0588 x1 or email attachplace@yahoo.com.
The Attach Place supports The Wounded Warrior Project by providing free neurofeedback to veterans.  Feel free to send a soldier our way for an assessment and 20 session course of treatment.
Feel free to send this link to friends or family members who you would like to receive Daily YOU Time: Wisdom for Adoptive Parents.

Blue Carnation Moments?