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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Guest post {Ruby}


Hey y’all! First off I’d just like to say how pleased I am that Nancy has chosen me to guest post onto her blog—Thank you Nancy.

Now, to introduce myself…my name is Ruby. I am a 22-year-old adoptee. I lived with my real family until I was 14 then placed in foster care where I was officially adopted at 17 ½. Before being adopted I had a few failed adoptions and time in the state foster system (as if it were jail or something)…but really it wasn't that bad! I am currently a full time student and working part time on the side. I run my own blog as a “journal," almost, to my healing and love to write!


As I am on the opposite side of things than most of you.  I want to take this opportunity to give you the perspective of my side. Honestly, though, I never really know what to say. What do I say to a bunch of adoptive parents seeking to help their child heal from loss and trauma? What do I tell them to help them understand their kids a little better? I don’t really know. So, today I’m going to talk to you like I wish someone would have talked to my adoptive parents, and all prior too.

At 14, I re-entered a world in which I never knew existed. Everything I was familiar with changed and the things I was comfortable with, gone. I didn't know what to do, and especially didn't know how to handle it…so I retreated and withdrew. With every move, I withdrew more and more. I stopped eating, stopped participating in “family” events, became volatile and mean…but no one stopped and asked me what was really going on. Instead, the reaction was that of disbelief, anger, and hostility towards me. Because of this, and my behaviors, I went through 4 failed adoptions—including my last.

When I started withdrawing, I wish someone had offered to sit with me, despite the awkward silence and lack of desire to communicate. When I had night terrors, I wish someone had scooped me up and held me close, told me I was safe and talked me through it…despite my flailing arms and shaking body. When I had become volatile and started spewing garbage, I wish someone would have told me that despite my anger, they still loved me and had me sit by them…instead of sending me to my room. When I refused to eat certain foods, I wish someone had asked why, or simply respected it, instead of becoming angry and calling me a manipulator. I wish, that when they found out about my self-injurious behaviors they had offered to sit with me, instead of threatening to send me away or freaking out. But mostly, to combine everything, I wish someone had taken the time to truly get to know me and not my Dx’s…because after 17 ½ years of trauma, love looks different. After 1 month, 2 days, 5 years, 18 years, 2 days, 14 years of trauma... love looks different.
Trauma bends love.

For me, after being taken out of my home…I often sought chaos (and still do) to fill the void of love that I once had. I tried to make my adoptive/foster parents hurt me or hate me. I made it look like I didn't want them because I was so convinced that one day, they too would leave. I fought their desire to connect and refused to indulge in their efforts…which in turn led them to leave. My latest parents sent me away to school in a place that I couldn't cope due to size because they didn't want to be around me. After a night of begging my adoptive mom not to send me she confided in me that they didn't know what to do with me and whenever they were around me they felt angry and bitter so they didn't want to be around me. I failed out of that school and took a job from my first attempted adoptive home. Because I quit that job out of fear of hurting the kids, my adoptive parents asked me to never come home or they would institutionalize me. NO ONE understood me, and no one took the time to understand ME…. And that is what I want for you guys to do for your kids. Instead of asking how to stop your baby's anger or volatilizes, their self harm or any other behavior, ask what is causing it. They may not be able to tell you…I can’t even do that sometimes and I’m 22, but it's that you are working to truly understand them. Pick up your child, no matter the age, and rock them. Sit next to them when they turn you out. It’s not easy, I can only imagine…but work to understand your child and not your child’s behavior. I don’t doubt that you are trying…I just really want to reiterate. I say all of this knowing that this is what I needed because finally, after 22 years, I have that.

After being kicked out of my adoptive parent's lives, I moved to a new state and started my life fresh. I have mentors, in which I refer to as my sister and aunt, here that work to understand me. My behaviors here have far outweighed any of the behaviors I ever exhibited in my younger foster/adopted years. I have done my best to push them away…but they aren't going anywhere. They work, everyday, to understand me. If I am angry they sit with me and pull it out of me (sometimes it’s not pretty, sometimes it involves a bit of yelling and screaming). If I shut down they sit silently with me moving closer every once in a while…until I give them the go to get out. If I am hurting myself, they offer to sit with me…giving me someone who is willing to hold all the pain that I’m trying to release through the blood. So many times its so counter active of what they know….but in the last 2 years, I have come further than I ever thought I would. I am happy. I am able to hug people. I am able to sit in the same room as people without completely shutting down. I am able to go to school full time and finish my semester with all A’s. I am able to, most of the time, handle them leaving for short periods. I am able to function. Because my environment was shrunk, my support sought to understand, I didn't feel like I had to hide the things that were going on inside of me, and people refused to give up…I am finally okay, I finally feel understood. I still have my days…I still regress and need to be held like a child, have a fit like a toddler, and sometimes just don’t understand everything I've been through and lost, but I know now that I’m not alone in it…

Ruby

29 comments:

  1. Ruby, thank you so much for sharing this piece of your story. Wow. It gives me so much to think about as a mother--and as a mother of the two children we adopted. There is such valuable advice here. Thank you again and again for your honesty and willingness to share.

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    1. Thank you, Rita! I'm glad that you were able to pull something out of it! :) Sometimes it is hard to know what to say--and how to say it. Thank you for reading!

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  2. Ruby, you can't possibly know how much this post means to me as an adoptive mother of twins. Some days I just don't know what to do and now I know. I will just be. I will just be with them in those moments when I know nothing else to do and I will think of you and your brave soul. Love to you and best wishes. I know your story has the brightest and happiest of plot twists in your future. xo

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    1. TWINS!!! WOW, that's awesome... I am so glad that you were able to pull something from this piece that you can take with you. One thing, remember that even if you're not a perfect parent...or perfect at just being...that it's okay! That you are still an awesome person/parent! No one can be perfect always...and to parent a kid, let alone two, with trauma is tiring. It's okay to be tired and throw your hands up sometimes... it doesn't make you any less awesome. Thank you also for your kind words...they are very well appreciated!
      ~Ruby

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  3. Ruby you sound like an AMAZING young woman that possess a beautiful and fighting spirit. It is so wonderful to see "adoption" from another perspective. Adoption while yet beautiful, it's all about loss. This post is insightful and very enlightening. Everybody has a story, everybody has a journey. Praying for a continued life journey filled with happiness and understanding. You are so deserving and I know you are a blessing to all that come to know you.

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    1. Snekcip,
      Thank you for your sweet words. I love your, "everybody has a story, everybody has a journey." SO true..and I think that's something many of us sometimes forget. Adoption is hard..for everyone. It rocks the world of everyone involved...but adoption is also beautiful. Thank you again for your uber sweet words...and thank you for your well wishes! I appreciate them more than you will ever know. :)
      ~Ruby

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  4. No words...but may God bless you with continued healing.

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  5. Brave young woman you are. Thank you for sharing your story and words of experience. There is power in a hug and just sitting. You bring a very powerful reminder that as a mom I need to slow down and listen to the silent requests to "be" with me.

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    1. Thank you, M&M Girls...I'm so glad that you were able to take something from my writing. You are SO right... I can't think of anything more powerful, for/to me, than for someone to just truly be present with me (even though at times it gets tough)... Thank you again for reading and commenting, I appreciate it so much!
      Ruby

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  6. Good morning Ruby - wow - one painful story - and while it doesn't make it any easier - I'm one that is sorry for the pain you've had to endure in your short time!

    But dang - you really bulls eyed it with this one! And you did it in three simple words....

    "Trauma bends love."

    This should maybe be required reading for any potential adoptive parent - because IMHO there is no such thing as a "non-special needs" adoptive child, they ALL have one commonality, they have (by whatever means) been orphaned in some fashion...

    And that loss brings pain that they will carry for a long time.

    Glad to "know" you - looking forward to more insights!

    hugs - aus and co.

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    1. Aus, thank you. While my story is a pretty painful one, there is also lots of beauty. I struggle at times to see that, but there is. I am where I am today and that in and of itself is a beauty! :)

      Thank you for such an awesome compliment. It rattles my nerves a little to know that someone feels that my writing should be required reading... I take great pride in that and thank you with the deepest gratitude.

      I think you hit the nail on the head in that there is no such thing as "non-special needs"...because loss so easily debilitates a person...and when it happens at such a young age, it is debilitating without the proper means of understanding/dealing with it.

      Thank you again for reading... I hope you'll follow along with me on my blog! :) Have a GREAT day!
      ~Ruby

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  7. Thank you SO much for being willing to open up your heart Ruby! We are soon to be parent through adoption of two sweet kiddos (2 and 3). While I have no clue of the things they may be going through at such a young age, it is a blessing to see what they may need as they get older. Thank you so much again!!!

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    1. Oh wow, Sara!! Congratulations, to you and your soon to be kiddos! I'm sure you'll make a pretty great mom! Also, remember that even at 2 & 3 they are going to need these things. I missed 17 years of my childhood before I was finally adopted and had to wait until I was 20 to actually have a childhood...so MANY of my behaviors can stem back to being 2 or 3. One thing that I greatly recommend is not diagnosing your kiddos too soon. Diagnosis's can be helpful, but they can also get in the way. If it is necessary, do it...if not, wait. In my personal experience, the parents were too soon to DX and too late to connect. The DX became who I was to them...like if I was cutting it was a form of manipulation in RAD, ect... and that is something that I don't want for you and your kiddos!!! You're going to make an amazing Mamma...
      Thank you for reading my post and pulling things out of it that you feel you will be able to use. :)
      ~Ruby

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  8. Your story will help so many others! Thanks for sharing and God Bless you every day!

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  9. Dear Ruby,
    Thanks for being brave by sharing your so-far story. The Internet is full of adoption stories/blogs maintained by parents (very useful!) but a little harder to find the voices of children who've been through it themselves. You are providing insight, encouragement, hope and healing not just for others, but I pray for yourself too through your sharing.

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    1. Sharon,
      I'm sorry for such a late response...I thought I had responded. Thank you for reading. I find, too, that it is difficult to find adoptee blogs. A lot of the ones I do find are more for very specified areas in adoption, ie: adoptee rights, RAD, psych disorders, etc. Thank you for your kind compliments... some of my best processing comes through writing. :)

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  10. You are a brave fighter! Thank you for sharing- I find at night my daughter really tries to open up about her adoption and sometimes just cries- I just lay and hold her- it feels good to hear that's what she needs!

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    1. Anon-
      I'm glad I could reinsure you in what you are doing. :) I think that's awesome...really! Sometimes all it takes is having someone there to listen...and it's so neat that you are willing to be that someone for your daughter!
      ~Ruby

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  11. wow!def required reading....mostly I guess you are saying "don't give up"
    I'm not sure who I should ask, but I would love to put this piece in a newsletter I edit. I print it for Amish/Mennonite adoptive families who mostly don't have internet. I would give you credit and include your blog addy etc.
    Could you let me know? adoptionnews@windstream.net

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    1. Hi Chris,
      IN case you don't check back for this comment, I'll email you also! BUT yes, it would be an honor for you to publish this piece. :) A little nerve wracking...but no one got anywhere by taking the easy road, huh?

      Yes, on of my big points of this is not giving up, whether you are the child or the parent. But I think the biggest point that I wanted to get out is to just take the time to get to know your child without their DX or judgement. So many parents fall trap to diagnosis's and then every behavior, including the good ones, fall under a diagnosis. As a child, that doesn't feel good...and for me, non of my adoptive parents took that time to know me for me. They never asked WHY I was doing what I was doing or how they could help me out of it. I felt pretty unheard, unseen, and unloved. I think Heather Forbes said it best when she said, "For so many of our children, it was in the context of the relationship that pain occurred. Thus, it is within the context of the relationship that healing occurs"... SO, just be, learn your child, and love yourself. :)
      Thank you so much for reading... I will email you as well!
      ~Ruby

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  12. So many times I've wanted to give up and second guessed God making me DD's mom. And we were considering sending her to residential treatment because we wanted help for her and I didn't feel I could help her. But my husband wouldn't agree, afraid she would feel abandoned. I honestly thought she would be better without me and maybe could heal better away from me. I still think once she's on her own she will get better in ways she can't here, but she's given us enough glimpses now that we are making imperfect progress. And God is working where I can't. "Trauma bends love." Perfect. Thanks for providing insight into the "shutting down" that renders me just dumbfounded. Thanks for the hope.

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    1. Roman5:3-5,
      All I can say is don't give up...and don't send her to residential. I don't want to be a bad guy and agree with your husband...but I've gotta be. It really doesn't have to be about abandonment but more about self worth. Another reason I say not to send her there is that she needs a mom, not a dr or caregiver. Even if she fights you, she needs you. In residential they are placed with other kids with similar behavioral issues where their basic needs are met as a whole...and their emotion needs in therapy. I think you are right to believe that there will be a healing in which you couldn't provide, but remember that proves true in any case...crazytown and normalville. Don't give up on yourself...that's what I'm seeing here...is you giving up on YOU. Don't let that happen...because there was a reason you are her mom...and maybe she wont heal 100% in your home, but don't let that be because you gave up. I can only imagine how hard it must be to love a child who doesn't love you back...but don't give up... there is hope. There is ALWAYS hope. :)
      Email me anytime if you have any questions: traumatotreasure@gmail.com. You're gonna make it and your daughter is too...don't be afraid to walk into the unknown...because sometimes the unknown holds the most answers.
      ~Ruby

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  13. Thank you for your wonderful post. I am a mom Ti an adopted son & 2 bio girls & we are in the trenches currently of the foster adopt system with a sibling group of 3...dealing with lots of grief now w/one child in particular which manifests itself in raging tantrums. Your post gives me more encouragement to keep loving (even when its hard) until she let's the love in.

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    1. Anon,
      Thank you. 3!! That's great...but I can only imagine the difficulties. In days of absolute craziness, when you feel like you're going to lose your mind...think to yourself that you are doing the best you can and that their actions are "normal". Thank you, again, for reading!

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  14. Ruby,
    thank you for opening your life to us and letting us take a peek inside. You are so strong and courageous, and a very gifted writer! May God bless you and keep yo, may He shine his face over you and be gracious to You! I am encouraged and challenged to be a better mom because of this. love to you
    Bibi

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    1. Bibi,
      Thank you for your kind word and well wishes! They are greatly appreciated. :)

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  15. Ruby,
    thank you for opening up your life to us and letting us take a peak. You are strong and courageous, and a very gifted writer too! May the Lord bless you and keep you, may he shine His face over you and be gracious to you! I am encouraged and challenged to be a better mom because of this. Love to you!
    Bibi

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