Tuesday, March 5, 2019

March 5th Marks 20 Years


Today is the Birthday of Grumpy.  At 2:35 PM today, March 5, 2019  he turns 20 years old.

I wish that I was writing a post of celebration and joy in regards to the 20th birthday of my third youngest dwarf.  I am instead making a plea to our family and friends, to commit to praying for him today. For safety, for others to be raised up around him to guide and protect him, and for continued favor upon his young life.

As you know Grumpy spent January 2, 2018 through the 10th of January 2019 homeless.  The Prince and I did all that we could to help him find a meal, transportation (we provided him with two bikes)  places to stay, clothing, occasionally a shower or a car ride.  Sadly at every turn he would disrupt his opportunity because of his inability to follow the rules, fleeing and leaving all his belongings behind.  The further he got into his stint being homeless the shorter his stays became in the homes of those who were willing to take a chance on him.  He refused to get a job.  Opportunities for employment arose, even some of the managers of the locations he was applying went so far as to purchase work shoes or clothing for him, all resulting in him just never showing up for day one.

On January 10, 2019 the Prince made a two hour drive with a dwarf that we thought may be at the end of himself.  We found a ministry that specialized in men needing a fresh start.  Men that needed to disconnect from the environment that they were living in and receive supports and therapy to help them in a span of two years, reconnect with appropriate contacts in their life, learn job skills and work on learning to help themselves. 

Sadly, we report that while he managed to stay longer at this placement than any other over the last year, they have returned him to our home town area to a mental health facility.  We believe that he was baker acted, and hence has 7 days of observations at this location.  After that time, we are unsure what his lot will be.  He is soon running out of options.  Florida does not have systems in place for young adults with mental needs.

If we are being honest, Grumpy most likely needs to be institutionalized so that he can live his best life ever.  He needs to be in a place where he is told when and how to do things, and just has to follow the rules.  Where someone will wake him for work, remind him to do his laundry, enforce schedules and time management for him. A place where when you do not follow the rules, there is a consequence, and there is consistency until the offending behavior is regulated.

Please be praying for Grumpy today on the day of his 20th birthday. We know that we are only part of his story, and the Lord holds his beginning middle and end in His hands.  However, even though we know and trust this, we still need to be fervent in our petitions and prayers for this young man's heart, soul, mind and body. As you pray today with a hope for Grumpy's future, please include the following areas:
  • A secure and safe placement for him after his 7 days are up at this mental health facility
  • In the time he is in the facility, that they would see the true depth of his illness which may open up other options for treatment and/or programs 
  • That whatever needs to happen to Grumpy to bring him to the end of himself, would happen sooner rather than later
  • That Grumpy would desire change, want to work and function well in society
  • That he would not be placed back on the streets, homeless
  • That the Lord would continue to raise up men and women that would desire to pour themselves into Grumpy to give him yet another fresh start
  • That Grumpy will not forget that above all he is loved and treasured as one of God's children and that he has value. 
Just because we as a society do our part and adopt these children from foster care in no way assures them a healthy and productive future.  At some point in their lives their mental health overtakes their abilities to function inside or around the "normal" parameters of life and they disrupt from their safe and structured home environments.

I leave you with these statistics to ponder.   It is more than just and adoption issue.  It is more than just a homeless issue.  It is more than just a mental health issue.  As these children in foster care or that have been adopted age, it becomes a mental health issue for many, and homelessness or prison for many more.

The statistics  are a couple years old, however speak volumes to the situation in our foster care system, and the overwhelming increase in our homeless population across the nation.  Our states need to make changes so that we can appropriately care for those who have mental health issues. 


Estimates at the end of 2017 Fiscal Year indicated by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children Youth and families and the Children's Bureau indicate that the following: 

437,465 children were already in foster care at the start of the fiscal year
273,539 children would be added to the foster care system in that fiscal year
250,248 children/young adults would exit the foster care system in that fiscal year through aging out or reunification attempts (many to return again another year)
117,794 children would be adopted into homes during that fiscal year

Approximately 1/3 of the total homeless population includes individuals with serious, untreated mental illness according to a research summary compiled by the Treatment Advocacy Center.

"Serious mental illness disrupts people's ability to carry out essential aspects of daily life such as self care and life management skills.  Mental illness often also prevents people from forming and maintaining stable relationships or cause people to misinterpret others guidance and react irrationally.  This results in pushing away caregivers, family and friends who may be the force keeping that person from being homeless.  As a result of these factors and the stress of living with a mental disorder, people with mental illness are much more likely to become homeless." (National Coalition for the Homeless)



This is not the path that I ever thought I would find myself on, but as I journey I share, as we are not alone in this fight for our children, adopted or biological.








Statistics have been cited from the sources indicated


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

They say, "Sometimes even a blind squirrel finds the nut."

Much of our life spent parenting children, the typical and the not so typical, has been filled with quick change in directions, attitudes, and drama. Trauma to triumph in a minute, or vise versa,  so when a moment happens that makes us stand back just shaking our heads, with a small and crooked smile, on our faces that are a mix of joy, bewilderment  and a dash of "did this really happen?", well it just needs to be shared.

Understand this moment in time was an accidental victory.  Not one thing about the way this unfolded was "appropriate" or pleased the Prince and I as parents.  It went against all the safety nets and rules we had set up for this dwarf.  Yet in the end, amidst the sneaky behavior, the lie and finding out the truth, this dwarf caught a victory, and a rash of "what for " from the Prince and I. 

This is the tale of how even a blind squirrel can find a nut.  Our dwarf Happy will live with us forever as we are his legal guardians. He is 21 is diagnosed ID.   He has celebrated some wonderful milestones in the last year,  which included landing a part time position doing what he loves, landscaping. Yes, even in the hot Florida sun. That job has lead to a occasional work  mulching and mowing in our neighborhood.  He has sustained continued employment at his main job at a local grocery store for going on three years now.  He graduated high school.  He got his first cell phone.   He turned 21.  He has picked up a hobby, wood burning, and it turns out is very skilled at it!  He volunteers twice a week at our church to help with sound for events.  In all a stellar year for the dwarf!!

Out of all of the above mentioned milestones, the item that has honestly given us the most problem has been, of course his cell phone usage.  The prince and I have been pretty tireless in trying to monitor and delete and discuss things that we see in text messages, on internet searches and the apps he uses that are just not socially acceptable.  Learning the appropriate rules for snap chat, and texting is difficult to navigate typically, but when you miss cues socially it can be really tough.

Often on the app Let Go, and similar sites and apps, we would see him bartering with people for items they were letting go by posting for sale,  in ways that were not only a waste of the sellers time but also were getting him bad ratings on the site for not showing to look at items he claimed he wanted to purchase etc. He would offer all the money in his account $46.29 for a $200 item, or he would barter with them in other unreasonable ways like trade offers of things he had. 

Unfortunately, another one of this particular dwarf's challenges is lack of comprehension about money. Truth be told most young adults suffer with this one.  But for Happy, this is a hot topic at least once a week. 

Three Sunday's ago the prince texts me while I am at work.  He says did you know that Happy bought a scooter?  "What?! NO!!"   He proceeds to tell me that Happy came home from church on Sunday afternoon riding a motorized scooter. 

When the Prince inquired about the scooter, Happy indicates that someone dropped it off for him to "test ride".   But it seems suspicions that Happy is not riding back across the street to the church to return it to anyone. 

The Prince pulls up Happy's bank account and finds that his account is overdrawn by $550.  Now remember to Happy there is not much difference in his mind between $10 and said overdraft amount.   He regularly spends more than he makes. 

The Prince confronts Happy about the lie, the overdrawn account which indicates no one is waiting for him to return the scooter after a test ride,  and for yet another time, speaks to him about making purchases of such grand proportion without discussing his desires to do so with an adult.   Not much sticks from that conversation, as it is clear that Happy can only see visions of freedom in his eyes as he tries to focus and listen to his father. 

Understand, the Prince and I have been talking about the potential of getting Happy a golf cart, or scooter for small trips around the neighborhood and for him to get back and forth to work.  However we have not mentioned this to him yet, as the situation is a bit more complicated in the fact that Happy can not get his license, he will always live with us as we have legal guardianship of him for life, and we have not done any research about what is acceptable in Florida for use in the bike lane. 

Sunday, the scooter is affectionately referred to as the "$550 paper weight" as we are not going to allow Happy to ride it until we find out what the law is.    It takes the Prince a few days to sort out the Florida law.  And wait for it... this is where Happy lands on the good side of all these bad choices.  Drum roll please.... according to Florida law if you own a motorized scooter and it is a 50CC machine, you must register it, you may not ride in the bike lane, and you must have a valid drivers license. 

Happy's new acquisition?  Well this is the victory!  He unintentionally purchased a used scooter, behind our backs without the assistance of a sales person that would know the rules that was a  49CC machine...  Because it is a 49CC machine he can ride it unregistered, unlicensed anywhere that the speed limit is 25mph,  or any roads of greater speeds that have bike lanes!  As the Prince learns the rules, suddenly the scooter becomes a significant victory for our dear dwarf. 

With this purchase he can now drive himself to and from work. He can ride to and from church.  He can run for dinner, grab something that he needs at the store and last night he and friend even went to the movies. And while the distance was less than 5 miles from our home, the dwarf at 21,  finally has a great sense of freedom, pride in ownership, a feeling of being one of the guys.  Really, it makes a mom's heart swell! Well that swell is a little bit of anxiety truth be told! 

His job coach shared that at his work, people are noticing that he has more pep in his step, is working harder, and seems to be boosted by this positively "accidental" working out of his unauthorized  purchase.  He rides to his job, locks the scooter to the bike rack and takes his helmet to the break room.  He offers to run small errands for me, and today he even went for a haircut, that he scheduled on his own! 

If it were up to the Prince and I, we would most likely still be in the research stage of this idea to get Happy some independence.   While I have once again blocked all re-sale apps from his phone, and Ipad, and have been diligently checking for inbox messages from Craigs' list sellers,  it seems that this purchase was a great deal, (it came with the full size helmet ) he was not taken advantage of, the price was fair and the person he bought from was on the up and up!! 

Happy has made a large step forward in being independent and is starting to enjoy some additional freedoms!  I make him keep his GPS on at all times!  He has to check in before leaving anywhere, and has to report to us when he arrives at home or another destination, but so far he is following the rules of the kingdom and those of the Florida bike lanes!!




Happy is currently living his best life ever! You can't make this stuff up!!! 






Thursday, January 3, 2019

A Future with Hope

Today is the anniversary date of the removal of one of the seven dwarfs from our kingdom.  Last year at this time, I was a mess.  I was faced with a decision which required me to finally back up my three plus years of words, with actions.

For almost four years, the prince and I kept telling this particular dwarf that his life choices, his inability to do the right thing, to be a productive member of the family, was drawing neigh.

The parts of the story that are the in between, started over thirteen years ago. The meet and greet, smiles, reuniting of siblings, the adoption, the honeymoon period, the start of inappropriate behaviors, failing in the classrooms, questions on our end, testing, evaluations, twenty-six months of a therapeutic treatment facility. The RAD diagnosis and therapists, wrap around services, IEP meetings,  behavioral specialists, phycologists, psychiatrists, medications, an inconclusive FAS diagnosis. Walking through our days on egg shells for fear of setting him off, holidays,  birthday's, fights over homework,  manipulation, fights about nothing and all things, his cursing, his tears, our tears, the growing anger, the lying, the continual battles of wills, the lack of being tethered to reality in his life, his inability to make good choices.  All this pushed us, pulled us and challenged us to become his biggest advocate, his biggest supporter. Yet, nothing made the impact in his heart or mind to promote healing or growth in any lasting, tangible ways.  Still we carried on with equal parts determination, and hope. 

If you had told me when we started this process of parenting "special needs" children, that were classified as "special needs" because of the number of siblings in their grouping, I would have thought you were crazy.  After all these years of living in the trenches, battling daily, an existence that very few people understand or even try to understand, I sometimes feel like I am the crazy one.

While I am secure in the knowledge that is a path that the Lord has equipped me(us) for, there are certainly times in this journey when I have not relied solely on Him or His promises.  There have been times when for the sake of self preservation, I have gotten in my car and driven away. I have yelled until I was hoarse. I have cried.  I have locked myself in my room.  I have shuffled kids off to friends homes in the middle of the night so they would be safe so that we could spend hours de-escalating a situation.  The number of hours of my life spent in negotiations, battles of the will, steeped in worry and fear and the struggling with the unknowns for this one dwarf alone, are unable to be counted.

In the reflecting of those minutes, hours and days we did all this and more clinging to hope. We battled in the trenches for his spiritual, mental and physical being.  Hope for the next hour, the next day and for his ultimate future.

When it became apparent that this was a situation that was not changing for the good, only deteriorating, we were faced in that moment in time to say, enough is enough.  That day was January 2,  2018.

In the midst of this past year, I find that there is nothing harder than knowing the name of the homeless man on the corner.  Being torn between helping again, or running the risk of being an enabler.  Knowing when to walk away.  Knowing to not answer the phone.  When to ignore that pleas of strangers and police that want to reunify because they only have one skewed side of the picture. Remembering when faced with the stories about the worst of times that he was enduring, that at the end of it all he is a liar and a manipulator, who has had countless chances to change and has not.  How challenging and difficult it as been to stand firm in our decision to have him to leave our home. 

Even in this, when the path for him seems hopeless.  We, as his parents have hope.  In the midst of the past year, there has been growth in the other dwarfs,  in the absence of the one. Healing has begun for me personally.  The stressors in our home has been dramatically been cut.  As I write this update, tomorrow there is hope for this one too.  It is going to take a monumental effort on his part.  He will have to conform, and while he has agreed to this two year program, the hard work is going to have to be done by him.  If I(we) could have fixed his broken parts there would be no need for any of this past year to happen.

Please join us in praying for our dwarf.  While he has said with his words that he will participate, he is not yet there.  The journey is going to difficult.  He will be doing this alone.  It will be at least 13 weeks or more until we hear from him, and even at that, the responsibility of communicating with us will fall on him to set up and organize, with the staff of the program.

"The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for Him, to those that seek Him."  Lamentations 3:25

May this time away be for our dwarf the final stop in his tormented existence.  May he find peace from his past, come to terms with his current and find his own hope for his tomorrows.

Sometimes, I do wish that I was making this stuff up....