Saturday, January 30, 2010


Kids are starting to be transported out of Port-au-Prince again.  In case I was not clear about this in the previous post, the Haitian and American governments put a stop to evacuations effective last Monday.  There was concern about the process, mostly I assume the receiving end.  Now there is a very stringent process in place which apparently will take many hours/days to get thru.  As the rules seems to change daily, even hourly, I can only pray I have all that I need when our time comes.  Right now I am praying that our time will come.  Like others, I feel that time is of the essence.  There is enormous politcal pressure surrounding the evacuation of these orphans, who were orphans before the quake, who were matched with American families before the quake.  Please pray that Stevenson ("Estivenson" in Creole) will soon be reunited with his sisters and with his new mommy. Please pray for our PAC group, that all these families will be reunited, and soon. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Topsy Turvey

What a topsy-turvey week this has been.  Been told to expect our babies home at anytime since Friday, running around desperately trying to finish my homestudy update,  having the chruch raise the entire amount for the adoption fees (!!!!) and then having the entire process put on ice.  Sickingly wondering if they would ever come home.  Hurting for myself, Stevenson, the girls, Lucas, and all our friends going thru the same.

It's been the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows. Yesterday I was so depressed I could barely function. And yet somehow I knew we were not done yet, no matter how discouraging the news.  So I held on to that gift of deep knowledge. It really is difficult to go thru all these extremes.    Right now it looks as though it's all going to work out.  The State Department and USCIS and the Embassy in PAP, and the Orphanages, and most of all, individuls on the ground, in ways big and small, working now to resolve the issues, move forward, and get these kids home. 

Pray for us.  We need all the help we can get!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Our Kids In Haiti

I'm scrambling around for paperwork and funds.  Please, please pray that it all comes together.  My son is coming home, and Lord, I have to be ready.

The situation on the ground in Haiti is as I feared it would become.  Beyond bad.  The Joint Council released news last night that was very discouraging.  Running out, some orphanages completely out, of food and water and fuel.  Difficult to transport kids, and dangerous.  The embassy is surrounded by people desperate to get in so they can get out of Haiti.  There is no food, water, or 'facilities' at the Embassy.  HOWEVER! We have a wonderful advocate gaining entry into the country today.  Marie has been working on her end of the paperwork and this person will eventually be processing the kids out of there.  There is much work to do in between and some of it is dangerous.  There is no way for these kids to avoid danger at this point, so we must pray for their safety and their release.

For me specifically here is my biggest obstacle(that I am aware of)...I redid my fingerprints in March.  They are in the database at USCIS...somewhere....old case is closed, but those fingerprints are not 15 months old...FBI says new fingerprints are two weeks out even expidited...USCIS are the people that need the prints.The irony is  they actually have them from my previous case but they don't know it and/or can't/won't use them; how crazy is that?  Do they not get that this is an EMERGENCY?

Haiti fatigue.  It's setting in even as the situation gets worse down there. 

Monday, January 18, 2010

Our Local Church

Saturday we had a church meeting, in which I asked the Youth Pastor to pray for Haiti and gave him a short synopsis of the situation with Stevenson.  I knew they were planning on praying for Haiti on Sunday and I wanted to jump in the loop. I was asking for the Lord to smooth the way for Stevensons journey home.  We need all the help we can get!  Wesley called me later and asked me if it would be ok to make the donation request specific to Stevenson and our family.  This is the blog post they sent out on Saturday eveing.


I’m sure your hearts have been heavy as you’ve heard and seen the devastation in the aftermath of this week’s earthquake in Haiti. Our immediate reaction at seeing something so tragic is wondering how to best respond to help alleviate the suffering. You may be wondering how we as a church can respond to this tragedy.

Tomorrow, at the end of our service we will be taking up a special offering for Haiti. We have a unique opportunity to reach out in a way that is very personal, and will make an impact for years to come. Please come ready to be generous tomorrow as our Pastor, Jim, shares with you the opportunity we have as a church to be generous and reach out in a powerful way.

James 1:27 says “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”

Compass, tomorrow we’re going to get as pure and genuine as we can get. I can’t wait!


The response was overwhelming, both in terms of moral support and monetary means.  I am so grateful and overwhelmed!  God is great and God is moving! I will write more about this later, but I just wanted to SHOUT OUT to God for his grace and mercy.

Compass Church, you rock!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Today's Letter to the Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton from the Joint Council

The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary of State

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street N.W.

Washington D.C., 20520

Dear Madam Secretary:

First and foremost, we would like to thank you for your outstanding leadership in

coordinating the United States' humanitarian response to Tuesday's tragic earthquake in

Haiti. This is one of the greatest human tragedies in recent history. We understand that

the focus of immediate efforts is to ensure that all who survived this terrible disaster have

access to life sustaining necessities such as health care, food, water and shelter.

As you begin to construct the next phase of the United States' and international response,

we urge you to consider the needs of orphan children. As you well know, these children

are already among the most vulnerable and in circumstances like these, are at even

greater risk. Our experience has been that a natural disaster of this magnitude can not

only have serious effects on children previously orphaned, but sadly, also be the cause for

additional children to find themselves displaced or orphaned.

As we understand, there were approximately 20,000 children living in Haiti's 187

licensed orphanages prior to this disaster. The vast majority of these institutions are

located in Port-Au-Prince and the surrounding region. In a small percentage of cases, the

children are eligible for international adoption and have been matched with American


With this in mind, we respectfully request that you give every consideration to

employing some or all of the following options for assisting Haiti's orphaned children:

 Ensure that these children are a high priority in all U.S. evacuation and relief


 Coordinate with U.S. based faith based and private relief partners to help

channel relief an appropriate level of relief to orphan children.

 Identify opportunities for temporary care and shelter within Haiti or Haiti's

border countries where these children could be safely evacuated.

 Exercise broad discretion in the issuance of humanitarian parole and temporary

visas for orphan children who have connections (adoption or familial) with

American families.

 Identify opportunities for orphan children to receive temporary care and shelter

within the U.S.

Attached please find a list of orphanages we know to be in the affected region. We hope

that this information and the above recommendations are useful as your team devises a

course of action. If we can be of any further assistance to you on this or other matters of

mutual concern, please do not hesitate to let us know.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Well, I was private for two whole posts, and luckily I got alot of things out of my system.  But our world has changed drastically, and so here I am again, open to the public.  With my two private posts tucked quietly into the draft file.

I heard it said that the word has not yet been invented for what has happened to Haiti on January 12, 2010. It's incomprehensible.  And sadly, I know that things could get worse for so many before it gets better.  So that makes me crazy-hyperviligent.  I have worried and cried for Marie and the children in PAP, for Veniel and his family and staff. It was such a relief to hear that they made least, most of them.  Veniel lost some staff members, I'm not sure who.  And I just saw a blog that had a picture of the collapsed Guest House, and it's unrecognizable.  Grief, frustration, helplessness, worry, obession.  These are the emotions that have wracked me since Tuesday night.  For all the people of Haiti. For the ones I know.  Particularly for the orphans, including especially the new ones.  For the families stuck in adoption limbo now that the buildings that house the files and the people that move them thru the system are gone.  Incomprehensible.

The plight of the many existing orphans of Haiti has not gone un-noticed by Govt. officials, and for that I am grateful.  A thinking person can only surmise that the orphan population of Haiti has exploded over the last few days.  The ones in orphanages, and especially the ones that are matched with families may be the lucky ones after all.

One of those is my son.

I am glued to the computer, hoping to hear news of any sort on his well-being, as well as the direction of the State Department in terms of getting him, and the ones like him, home.

We were in the later steps of the beginning of the process.  It seems the US Govt. is moving to bring home the kids who were slated for passports and visas. It seems that those that have finalized paperwork are going to be processed soon also.  We were not at that stage yet, but I remain hopeful that we will be processed in some way in due time. Perhaps even faster than due time, because of the magnitude of the crisis.  Before the earthquake, the orphan situation was often described as dire.  Now it's...?  Incomprehensible?  I'm not sure that word covers it anymore.  Before the quake, it was estimated there were 1 million orphans in Hait, in a population of about 9 million.  Now?  How many?  Rough estimates on the ground say the number has at least tripled.  All of Haiti is now officially a humanitarian crisis  of epic proportions, and the children there are the most vulnerable.  Especially those that have no family. 

It's beyond fortunate that Stevenson is at the Les Cayes facility.  Having been thru an earthquake of this magnitude I know they felt it, and they may have even sustained some damage, but the word out is that they are safe, they are fine.  I'm relieved for that but anxious for the future.  So I'm sure I will remain glued to my computer, searching for news of the next right thing to do to get my boy home. 

If you wish to donate to our orphanage in Haiti, this is the link for that site.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Dry Season

This is classic Elle Marie.  She goes pedal to the metal till she conks out.  Doesn't everyone sleep in the car with their bookbag on as well as their BICYCLE HELMET????

Ava has not had a melt-down in 6.5 days, although she was considering it this morning.  That's quite a stretch considering how the last 3 weeks have been.  Maybe we'll get through the week-end unscathed, I can hope.  Although I have to say, before she started doing this on a daily basis, week-ends were the most likely time.  Something about close proxcimity and not being on as tight of a schedule.

I do appreciate all your thoughts and prayers, your support, your emails, and sharing your experiences.  I know many of us knew our adoptions would be hard, and we did our best to prepare ourselves, but I don't think anyone knew what we would really be dealing with.   I'm talking especially to you, my fellow Haitian-Baby Mamas.  You know who you are!

My sister is coming on Tuesday to stay for two weeks, and I'm looking forward to that for alot of reasons.  My battery needs to be recharged.  There is nothing like being around the people that love you unconditionally,  for that.  I was not kidding when I said I felt like I had lost a part of myself in all this mess.  I've lost my baseline optimism, and my capacity for joy is buried deep inside me somewhere.  I want to find these things again.  They propel me thru life. I need these things back.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Damage Control (Long)

It's difficult to know where to begin. I never intended for this blog to go private. I wanted to use it as a public advocation for adoption.

Instead, of course, this blog really became an outlet for me, more than anything else, especially as I was waiting for the girls to come home. It gave me a place to pour out my hopes and my dreams, and sometimes my frustrations. But since they have been home, and I am parenting in real time, there is so much less time for that.

I never dreamed that we would be in the position we now face. But again I find myself in the place of needing to arrange my thoughts and feelings in print, and hopefully hear some encouragement and/or sound advice. It's very tempting to remain in isolation. Not so much out of pride; over the last few weeks I feel I have been robbed of my optimism, my faith, my resources. Even though friends and family have been 'here' for me, and in spades. Intellectually I know God and angels are working for the greater good, but I have felt robbed of joy, or any capacity for it. That has felt especially ironic during Christmastime.

These are issues that for the most part, experienced adoptive parents, and even more particularly adoptive parents of older children are going to understand. Or fear.


Both of my girls are strong willed. Both of them seem to have come from a relatively healthy first-family background. While their development is somewhat delayed, they react with 'normal' behaviors to situations. And so, some behavior has been very difficult, because they have reacted in a way that would be 'normal' for most kids that face relinquishment, orphanage life, and cultural relocation. They have both reacted differently because they are different personalities. For now, the focus is on Ava who is the older sibling of the two.

In Haiti, Ava appeared to me and others as having a cool, sweet, somewhat shy, good-girl, lady-like demeanor. I wondered if that would change when she got home. She went through the typical honeymoon period (as opposed to her sister, who was a pistol before she ever set foot on American soil---and I say that with love!) which I tried to take advantage of by bonding and teaching. She did display some early tantrums that were intense regarding schedules. She does not/did not like getting up 'early' and getting somewhere on time, and had several meltdowns over the summer regarding this very thing. She is very stubborn (they both are, I believe it is a Haitian tradition or maybe a gene??? No offense Glady, if you're reading this!) and I found she REALLY liked having things go HER WAY. Naturally this has led to a power struggle at times, because getting to school on time and/or taking prescribed medicine is not negotiable. Her stubbornness manifest itself in alot of other ways as well, but those have developed into the two main (unfortunate) power struggles. We have been late for work/school many times over the last 6 months. I have tried it all: time in, time out, love-fest, incentives, reason, bribery, manipulation, 'consequences', and yes, some spanking. But nothing has worked, partly because it seems to me that her stubbornness, which usually leads to tantrums (which is LOUD and very long) is not only about her inflexibility, but very much about being in control. While most of the outright grieving has gone underground, I realize it is still there and this is one of her ways of manifesting it. For awhile it seemed that the behavior was at least stabilizing, but then about 6 weeks ago, it started escalating. Where previously she might have a melt down every 10 days or so, they became closer together and very much more intense.

A little more background. Ava has adjusted well to school for the most part, although I think lately she has some problems with peer relations. (She will befriend someone, or allow someone to befriend her, but once she gets mad at them for a little thing, they are no longer her 'friend'. This goes on and on with the same kids, to the point that they seem less inclined to try to befriend her lately. She also 'tells' on them---tattles) She has had some chronic stomach problems that have caused pretty severe constipation and tummy-ache. She does exhibit some hypochondria but she's also had real problems, so it is a tricky tightrope to walk. She likes the attention she gets to get the problem diagnosed, but she does not want to follow up always with the correct medicine. Her stomach problems as well as the behavioral problems associated with it (refusing her medicine, suffering with stomach pain) have led to her to having a more intense-than-normal relationship with the guidance counselor and the school nurse. I have been confronted by the school on numerous occasions about her significant tardies. (I have also been confronted recently by my boss about my significant tardies and received my first ever write up. And that is pretty stressful. Who at this time can contemplate losing their job???) At any rate, the guidance counselor is aware that Ava has difficulty waking up in the morning, and put her on a incentive program that has helped somewhat with her behavior. Every morning that Ava makes the bus, she gets a sticker on a chart, and she gets a toy after 10 in a row. So she sees the counselor quite alot.

One day about 2.5 months ago, Ms. Kelly (counselor) called me to tell me that she'd had quite a discussion with Ava that day. Ava had told her:

She did not have any clean panties in her dresser-drawers, the idea either stated or implied that she came to school in dirty panties.

She did not have clean socks

She did not have a blanket for her bed

I sent her to school without snacks

None of this is true, of course, and I told Ms. Kelley that. Ms. Kelley kept insisting that they had all those things available to me if I needed them, (offering charity) and I had to insist that Ava had all those things, because she does!

I picked Ava up early that day for a doctor's appointment, and I while we were in the car alone I confronted her.

"Ava, Ms. Kelley called me today and told me that you had a talk with her. She told me you said you did not have any clean underwear in your dresser to wear to school"

A look of shock came over her face and she immediately started to cry. "I did not tell her I did not have any clean panties!" It was interesting that she used the term 'panties' when I had used the term 'underwear' so I knew they at least had the conversation. I continued to calmly go down the line of allegations, and then said, "you know that's not true Ava. Why did you say that?" She continued to cry and insisted that is not what she said. I asked her if she thought I took good care of her, and she said yes. I told her that she could not tell people things that would give them the wrong idea about me taking care of her. I told her that if anyone at school had questions, she needed to tell them that they needed to speak to her mama.

Not sure if she was absorbing any of this, I later told her that at worst, if the school thought I was not taking care of her, they could call people who could take her and Elle away from home in a police car, and they would go to live with strangers. To this day, I don't know if she understands that. You may think that is a harsh thing to tell a child, but it is unfortunately true, and I could see her careening dangerously down this disastrous path in the quest for special attention. The next day I called Ms. Kelley, and told her I had confronted Ava, and she had said that she did not say those things. Ms. Kelley, for her part, told me she had sat down with Ava and gone over the list of items again before she initially called me, asking her if these things were true. To which Ava answered affirmative to all. Knowing Ava, she is not aggressive in these situations (she may challenge my authority on a regular basis, but she would not do it in an institutional setting) she may have only nodded her affirmation. Needless to say, I was shocked, flabbergasted, and a little angry over this, but it faded quickly.

Fast forward to the beginning of December.

Ava's tantrums/power struggles with me intensified suddenly, and started coming a few days apart. I can't remember them all, there have just been too many, but one I remember came on because she was pouting in a store about something I would not buy her. (Hello! Budget! Another tough concept for these kids.) She was acting mean to her sister in her 'pouty-pout' which I put the kibosh on, which made her even more angry. Trying to cajole her out of it, I asked her why she had on her ugly face. That made her even more angry, but she controlled herself till we got in the car. During the short ride home she escalated into a full-blown tantrum. I had to physically carry her into the house, where she proceeded to plant herself in the kitchen (where I was working) and scream. There is no reasoning at this point. None. An hour and a half later when she was coming down from it, she finally yelled at me that I had called her 'ugly'. I don't know if that is how she really heard it or if that was an excuse to escalate her bad mood, but it took awhile to convince her that was certainly NOT what was meant by that statement. (BTW, her self-image seems to be intact, she informed me repeatedly during this that she WAS NOT ugly, to which I was of course in total agreement) I vowed to be more careful with my metaphors. But part of me to this day thinks it may have just been her excuse to take her tantrum to a grand-maul level. Because with her frequency and intensity lately, it just seems she has to have them. My gut tells me she has 'normal' levels of grief, rage, and denial going on inside her, which she has tried to suppress by being a 'good girl', and in control.

A few days later she melted down one afternoon when I found I had to go back to work for a few hours. Lucas was going to watch them; they've stayed with him for short periods of time in the past, so this was not new. But she could not handle the change of plans. At that time, it was the worst tantrum she ever threw. Sometimes she wants to go to her room to do this, but most of the time she wants to be in some body's face, braying and screaming as loud as she can. All the while, she is totally unwilling or incapable of talking or reasoning. It's just full-out rage, and whoever is in the way, (which is the whole family) gets the brunt of it. I put her in her room, to which she rebelled. She sat on the floor screaming, looking like a wild animal, threatening to urinate on the floor. I stood at the door, she kept on, but finally after about an hour, I HAD to go back to work. I had just received that write up, and another manager was working overtime to cover me.

Lucas is a trooper and has dealt with this before, with aplomb. But I did not get a mile down the road when he called me and said she had locked herself in her room and was threatening to break everything (including mirrors and windows). I turned the car around and went back. Her door was now unlocked and open. She was still sitting on the floor. Her eyes were vacant, but she was still screaming at the top of her lungs. I told her I was taking her to work with me (a risk and a big NO-NO, but I had no choice) and that it was NOT A REWARD but that we would talk about that later. She became quiet almost immediately, and I took the long way to give her time to compose herself. We talked about it a little on the way. She always tells me she does not know why she acts the way she does. I told her that for a little girl she had alot of anger inside her, and considering everything it was understandable, but we were going to have to find a way to get that anger out. I realized we were going to need a counselor of some sort. I found out later that she bit Lucas during that episode, also.

5 days later, she had another 'grand-maul' episode. Hard to decide if it was worse that the previous one, but very bad, and led to very bad results.

She woke up mad at the world, fighting me. Elle was already dressed and ready for the bus. She refused to wear what she had picked out the night before, and I had to force-dress her, which sent her off the edge. But we were on a schedule to catch that bus. To miss it would make me late for work (again) which would be very bad after the write-up. I went to get her socks and when I came back she had taken 1/2 her clothes off, bunched them up, and threw them in a corner. She got a spanking for that.

Now...let me just say, I'm not much on spanking. Not even my dogs. But there have been times that every one of my kids have gotten one, or a few, and they came out of it a better behaved kid, and no harm at all done to our relationship. And they never attempted those out of control or dangerous behaviors again. However, on this day, after it was said and done, I decided I was not going to spank Ava anymore. Because it was not effective. I had no idea how I was going to deal with her behavior, and I've tried all that I know. But I felt that continued spanking was going to damage US.

She was pulling away from me, lying down on the floor, squirming. I managed to get her decently dressed, but she was wearing a dress, and she was lacking tights, and it was 28 degrees outside and she HATES to be cold. I got socks and shoes on her, but she refused to wear her coat. By now it was time for the bus to come, so I handed Elle her bookbag and her coat and asked her to carry them. I marched her out to the end of our drive, trying to shield her from the cold but hoping she would get cold enough to relent and put her jacket on. She never did. She cried, screamed, and brayed, and tried to get away from me, but I held her shoulders firmly, standing behind her. When the bus came, I marched her across the street and put her up on the first step of the bus. She had quit screaming but she was crying. The bus driver talked her up the first step, then SLOWLY up the second. She finally made the decision to get on, and off she went to school. I went back in the house and looked at my face in the mirror. It was bright pink all over and I have never seen that in me before. I knew my blood pressure had to be out of this world. That is when I decided not to spank her again, and I resolved to find a counselor or psychologist. I went to work. I had an appointment for Ava in Atlanta that morning to see a pediatric GI specialist for her stomach/bowel problems, and we had waitied 5 weeks for this day to come. But my boss still had not approved my time off and I did not know if I was going to be able to keep the appointment or not. It was a terrible feeling. When my boss arrived around 9, I told her I needed an answer one way or the other, and she let me go.

(I have worked for the state for nearly 14 years. I have 1000 hours of sick leave accumulated. 327 hours of annual leave in addition. And 100 hours of comp (overtime) hours. But all of that is another rant for another day.)

I raced back out to our country school to pick-up Ava and make the drive to Atlanta. I asked her if she was ready to spend the day with me and she seemed over the tantrum and happy to be with me. The wind chill was up, and when I looked at her poor exposed little legs, they looked ashy. I had some lotion in my purse and she put it on. I also got horribly lost on one of the 5 Peachtree Streets in Atlanta and was horribly late and almost crying from the stress of it all, but the doctor agreed to see her anyway. And we actually got a diagnosis! And a treatment plan!

Basically she is chronically constipated, and her lower bowel is stretched out and not working well at all. It takes her days to go, accompanied with sometimes severe stomach pain, and it also causes leakages in her panties which she has no control over. Even though, three weeks later I still struggle to get her medicine in her, she is doing much better. She promised the doctor she would take her medicine everyday. But she has not kept her promise. However, her condition has improved, because he taught her how to reposition herself on the commode, and so we are having some positive results.

Anyway, back home again, picked up Elle, grabbed some dinner, went back to the school for the Christmas program.


I wish I was done with this story, but unfortunately there is more to come.

The next night after work/school, I had the girls with me as we were picking up a Christmas Tree. They mentioned that a lady had come to the school that day and asked them all kinds of questions. My heart sank. I asked them what kind of questions. They said she asked them about their spankings, how often, did I ever leave a mark? About their sleeping arrangements, about Lucas. Elle helpfully volunteered "and she put it all in the computer!"

I was literally sick to my stomache. It was a Friday night, and I had no hope of talking to any official from the school or children's services before Monday. I was not happy about that, but I also needed the time to compose myself. I asked Ava if she had told Ms. Kelley that she had gotten a spanking and she said no. I did not believe her.

The next day after talking to another adoptive mom about it, I sat Ava down and had another talk with her. I told her that after the tantrum the other day I had decided I was not going to spank her anymore. I told her that did not mean she would not have consequences, but that spanking would not be one of them, because it just seemed to make us more mad at each other and it was not helping. I told her we were going to go see a person called a counselor that was going to help us work it out. Then I said I did not know what she had said at school but whatever it was brought the lady with the computer, and that was not good. I told her that this is what I was talking about when I had said earlier that if the school and the state did not think I was taking good care of her, they would take her and Elle away from me in a police car and they would live with strangers. I asked her if that was what she wanted, to which she replied "NO!" I also told her that if it continued it could cause Stevenson to never come home to us. I told her 'this is not like Haiti'. Most of this did not seem to make a dent in her physche. I don't know if she does not understand or if she just magically thinks it will go away, but there seems to be a definite lapse in her comprehension of the seriousness of the problem(s). However, I had several crying spells thru-out the day which I just could not get a handle on, and this totally freaked her out. She begged me to quit, saying if I did not, she would have to cry to. Which she did. I managed to get us both calmed down eventually.

But I was devastated. I have been thru some things in my 1/2 century of living, but I have never felt like that. Devastated isn't even really the word, it's the only one I can come close with.

I tried to go on with business of living. Ava almost immediately regressed after our talk and crying session. To about 5 years old. Baby talk. Immature behavior. My heart was breaking for her. My heart was breaking for me. And underneath it all, I knew I was angry. While I intellectually knew she was and has been struggling with issues no child should ever have to, I felt completely betrayed. By someone who had no real comphrehension of her actions. I worried for our bond, and I felt disconnected and distant. She sensed it and has had a tantrum nearly every single day, often crying that I don't love her anymore. Assuring her I do, but not knowing how to help her. Things started getting a little better around right at Christmas, at least with the regression and the insecurity, and the re-establishment of some bonding. But she raged almost everyday of our two+ weeks of vacation.

But---anyway, back to the story. The following Monday I called the school to speak to Ms. Kelley who would not return my phone calls. I finally got her on the line, to which she told me she could not discuss
the mater with me and referred me to the woman at DEFACS with a phone #. By this time it was 12:30pm. I could not reach the woman but left a message with her main office. She finally called me back later in the afternoon, and we agreed to meet at her office at 5 pm. She apologized for not calling me on Friday, stating that one digit on my phone # that she had been given was incorrect, so she was glad I had called and left it that day. I wondered how many years I shaved off my life going thru that week-end not knowing ANYTHING.

Later at her office she read the 'charges' which indeed had come from the counselor (although she was 'not allowed' to tell me who filed the report. I knew.) It seems the day of the school bus incident, Ava had gravitated into Ms. Kelley's office and said I hit her all the time with a belt, I yelled and her all the time and was mean to her all the time. Reporter said she exaimined child for marks but did not find any. Ava said she had stomach problems and I would not take her to the doctor in Atlanta to fix them. (Reporter said in statement she was confused because adoptive mom did indeed come that day to take Ava to Atlanta to see special doctor) Reporter said Ava had some issues with body odor and was not sure she was properly bathed. Then there was a statement from the teacher that misconstrued a conversation I had with her which added to the body odor issue. (I will give the teacher the benefit of the doubt and believe that she misunderstood what I said in that conversation) Reporter also stated I had a gun in the house that Ava knew about. (Ms. Kelley and I had that conversation earlier in the semester when she called me about it, concerned. This is apparently another thing Ava has told her. I assured Ms. Kelley it was not loaded, and that we did not even have any shells for it in the house. Which is true.) Ava also said I slept in every morning and that is the reason she is late for school so much (!!!) Reporter stated at the end that she just did not know who to believe anymore and was turning it over to State authorities.

I think there was more in there, but that is the main stuff, and pretty much what I rebutted on. I told the DEFAQS woman about the incident getting ready for the bus that morning. Also said Ava had alot of anger, alot of tantrums, and I had come to conclusion that we needed some counseling to resolve these issues. I told her that she had bitten Lucas and that her tantrums were disrupting the entire household. I told her about the GI specialist's diagnosis, and that is what I believed was causing the body odor. I said my 16 year old son owned a shotgun but had no shells for it, and I had already discussed that with Ms. Kelley. (BTW this is perfectly legal in Georgia) I told her that I got up every morning between 4-5am and had for the last 10 years, at least. (That seemed to shock her)

She said that my account of the school bus incident matched what Ava had told her when questioned. Ava admitted to taking her clothes off and throwing them in the corner. She asked me if I'd had any counseling before the adoption and I said no, it was an independent international adoption and I had not used an agency, but I had self-educated as much as possible. It's funny, she never asked me how I did that or what books I'd read. She said that lack of counseling surprised her, considering that we were a 'blended' family, she thought it would be required. She also asked me if this was an open adoption, and I said no. She said 'why not?' and I informed her that international adoptions are generally not open. This really seemed to confuse her. It was as if she almost wanted to argue with me about that.

I told her that Ava obviously had alot of anger inside of her and I was very concerned about her lies. That I planned on seeking counseling and that I wanted to help her, and help me to deal with her as effectively as possible. She did ask me about my support network, and seemed satisfied with that. She said she needed to come to the house, and also that she needed to interview Lucas. We decided on Thursday at 5:30pm. That gave me 3 days to give my house a major housecleaning, with the help of some friends. It also gave me time to find a counselor for Ava that my insurance would pay for. I was dismayed to find that the 'adoption experts' recommened by the social worker, as well as by the local adoption resource website were not covered by my insurance. I ended up choosing a woman who's main focus was child and adolescent behavoir. It turns out she also had some experience with adoptive families and those very special behaviors. I secured an appointment for January 4th. With the holiday upon us, it was the best I could do.

The home visit was fairly uneventful. She looked at the house (appropriate), the food supply (ample), and talked with Lucas briefly. She asked me about counseling and I told her I had an appointment. She wrote down the name of the phychologist. She said she would be wrapping the case up before Christmas, as soon as she talked to my two references. She did mention that she was not too concerned.

Ava, as I stated earlier, melted down almost every single day of our vacations. Some tantrums were the full out crazy version. Others were a bit more mild, exhibited as just extremely defiant remarks and behavior. Sometimes I would just hold her to restrain her while she was screaming. One time when her behavior got just outrageous, I took her bike away from her and told her she would have to earn it back. Which she did. The next time I took her doll away, same drill. She was very angry about this.

No matter the intensity of the tantrum...and they are ALL intense on some level...they share similar charactoristics. They last about 90 minutes. After about an hour (give or take) she'll ususally get to a point where, even though she is still upset, she becomes reasonable. This is what I consider the window of opportunity to discuss briefly how is she feeling, why is she angry, (do not always get answers here) and what 'we' are going to do about it. Then she flips back to being a pretty much delightful child. Night and Day. Jeckall and Hyde. And just that fast.

During these times, she has threatend to hurt Elle, threatend to urinate on me, threatend to climb out the bedroom window and 'run away'. She has gotten down on the floor and rolled her freshly straightend hair in what ever kind of debris she can find. She told me during her last 'big one' that she wanted to 'go to Jesus' and in case I wasn't getting her meaning, she said she wanted to die. Also during one of her big ones, she told me she wanted to go live with her first Mama in Haiti. I have told her on many occaisions this is not going to happen, at least not while she is a minor. She argued with me about that, saying her first mama wanted her back. I had to remind her that she had been relinquished. In love, but relinquished by her parents, none-the less. She said no, that's not what happened, that the orphanage director had asked for her and thats how she ended up adopted. I had her relinquishment papers in my brief-case, I had just seen them again that day, looking for some other important papers. Those documents always make me so sad. But I knew in her state of denial, that even showing her those papers with her first parents signiatures and the court (Haitian) stamp, that she would never believe me anyway.

Elle sees this going on, and unfortunately has been trying to emulate her lately. So this is an unfortunate turn of events. Elle came home out-of-hand, and I worked for months to get her straight. I am upset to see this regression. Ava, for her part, did not have a tantrums the last 2 days of vacation, and so now she has been tantrum-free for 3.5 days. Elle, however, has turned up the volume.

Ava and I saw the psychologist on Monday. It was a preliminary appointment. She and I met privately for most of the session. She is rightly concerned about many of these behaviors and plans on doing some baseline pychological testing. Ava was very introverted when she came in to talk. She sat on my lap, would barely talk, and said she wanted me with her for our sessions, which I was relieved to hear. The phychologist told her she wanted to know all about Ava, and help her to be happy here in her new life. Next appointment, next week.
BTW the social worker has yet to 'wrap' this case, and send her letter as promised. Feels like cruel and unusal punishment.


I'm not really a 'counseling' type of person. I've had some, particularly before and after my divorce. While I found it at times to be somewhat beneficial, I never found it to be overwhelmingly so. Personally I have seen more lives changed by the power of Jesus Christ than anything else. And certainly, I am praying. And if you are the praying type, I ask you to do the same for our family. But, that said...I'm certainly not against counseling, and I am up against the wall. The state is involved. The girl's custody could be in jeopardy. Ava is telling 1/2 truths and outright lies that could damage her, her sister, and prevent her little brother from joining this family. Her behavior affects Lucas, and it certainly affects me. I realize that Ava is not the only one that needs as much help and support and she can get: so do I. And so, here we are. Living the life, fighting the good fight, and waiting for the next step.

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