G is 16. She has been with us since she was 6. We had a 3 day honeymoon when she moved in and then BAM. It was over and life was a struggle. Gracious, the behaviours, the lies, the manipulation…..bad memories. After several years, we had had all we could handle. I could not physically do much because she may be short, but she had grown in strength and was starting to get physical. We made a tough decision to send her to military school 3 1/2 hours away…..for 22 weeks. We had one visit for a few days, over July 4th, weekly phone calls that lasted about 2-3 minutes, and letters/emails.
As a family, we stepped back and we began to heal. Military school was not what we thought it was going to be. She gained more weight while she was there because the kids found ways to get out of PT. Her excuses ranged from she was going blind to she was lame. I finally had to forbid her to go to the nurses station 12x a day. The nurses also, unbeknownst to me at the time, forbade her from going because it was excessive. She watched movies that we would NEVER allow that are 100% inappropriate for adults, much less, troubled teens. I had to let it go. I started looking at it as a break. A much needed break for all of us.
We took this time to reconnect, heal, talk about things, work through some things, and focus on peace. We had forgotten what peace was like. The kids wrote letters/emails to each other and my prayer was that healing would begin and bridges would be built. Bridges were not rebuilt. My kids disclosed such painful things that they had kept to themselves. It hurt my heart and frankly, I didn’t want her to come back. During her time away, our baby was diagnosed with OPSOCLONUS MYOCLONUS SYNDROME and was hospitalized for 2 weeks. There is no way I could have handled G and being 4 hrs away for 2 weeks. I also had surgery and was able to recover.
When time grew closer for her to be done and come home…..I had already mentally and physically prepared it. I had already set in motion a few places that she could go because I anticipated that things would not be different. It broke my heart, but my other kids were afraid, the baby was not well, and I was spent. I had had enough and my tolerance level was in the negative.
Bart went to go and get her….well, go to the graduation and then bring her home. I was only 2 weeks out of major surgery. My big girls had to work and my sister watched the baby. They got home and after an hour or so, she made her way upstairs to my bedroom, where I had been resting. It was not a “Little House on the Prairie” reunion. It was stoic and tense. I laid out the law for her. I was not going to yield, I was not going to put my kids in danger, I was not going to deal with what I had been dealing with. It was a one strike and you are out policy.
It has been 2 1/2 months since she has returned home. In that time, I can count on 1 hand how many times I had to have a conversation with her or correct her. I can count on 1 finger how many times things escalated to an almost point of no return. For the most part, she has been able to self regulate. She is NOT medicated. She was on a lot of medication and mood stabilizers before she was gone and during most of her time at military school. I took her off of two before she left and she ran out of one at the end of her time there. When she came home, I was recovering, Bart didn’t know where her meds were and neither did she. She has done incredibly well, shockingly enough.
I once thought she had torched those bridges and relationships with her family…like ashes and then a wind storm and it blew the ashes from here to there. I now see, that she just singed them pretty well. It has taken a bit of time for some of the kids to warm back up and allow forgiveness to take place, but there is still healing. Her relationship with Big Daddy has gotten a bit better. She accepts discipline, she self regulates, she is getting her schoolwork done, she is quick to do what is asked, and she laughs again. We all do.
For a gal that is 5’1″ tall…she gained weight while she was there. Since she has been home, she has been continuing her PT twice a day and we’ve thrown in a 3 mile walk several days a week. She has lost 14 lbs since being home. Her skin has cleared up, she is learning proper eating, she has stopped stealing food/gorging, she has cut out soda, and she has learned portion control.
All in all military school was not as disciplined as I thought it would be, but God is bigger. He gave us all a time apart to gather ourselves and to realize that, somewhere deep down, there was still love. Don’t get me wrong FASD still sucks. RAD still sucks. I have to “parent” her more than what I should, if that makes sense. Chronologically, she is 16 but mentally/emotionally/physically she is between 8-13. It just is what it is. I’ve accepted it and she has accepted it. She just asks a LOT of questions and I don’t get irritated because I think she “should” know the answers….because she doesn’t.
I feel like a huge cloud has lifted off of our family. I know that it will not always be easy. I know that we will have bad days, but I also know that I remember why I chose her, through adoption. Her eyes sparkle when she smiles. She is tenacious. Her laugh is infectious. She tries really hard and she is wonderful with the baby (most days).
So, this is what it is like to have 7 abnormal kids 🙂
Maybe, I need 8 abnormal kids…..who knows…..