Saturday, August 30

What Is RAD??

Some have asked, "What is RAD?" Very hard to explain RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder), but here's my attempt:

Imagine if you can...
You feel physical pain when loved. You feel so angry and hurt that you can't stand to be in your body. You live your life knowing that you are unlovable and can prove it. You have never felt love, guilt, empathy or need. You are wasting your childhoook believing that every adult is stupid and needs to be controlled. You have no favorite blanket, toy, pet, or person because they are always taken from you. You must always be in control to stay alive.

RAD occurs in children that were traumatized as a young child. Here's a brainscan of a child who was severely neglected as my children were. This is the best way to show you show RAD starts:

RAD is common in adoptive families as well as families that were seperated for a number of reasons (hospital visits when the child was young, etc).
Here's some symptoms of RAD:
  • superficially engaging & charming - they can charm the pants off anyone!
  • lack of eye contact when communicating
  • indiscriminately affectionate with strangers
  • not affectionate on parents’ terms - not cuddly, don't like to sit in our laps, hugs, etc.
  • destructive to self, others and material things
  • cruelty to animals
  • lying about the obvious (crazy lying)
  • stealing
  • no impulse controls (frequently acts hyperactive)
  • learning lags
  • lack of cause and effect thinking
  • lack of conscience
  • abnormal eating patterns
  • poor peer relationships
  • preoccupation with fire, blood and gore
  • persistent nonsense questions & chatter
  • inappropriately demanding & clingy
  • abnormal speech patterns
  • triangulation of adults (pitting mom against dad or therapists/teachers against parents)
  • presumptive entitlement issues
Each one of these are over the top. All children go though phases, but what you realize with RAD children is that these are too the extreme and do not end like a phase would.
The hardest thing with RAD has been building their self-esteem while fighting the RAD, because you give them a compliment you risk them feeling closer to you and then you will see and explosion and them pushing away from you. It is very difficult and exhausting raising RAD children because you have to be in control, but making them feel like they are in control. You have to be a confidence booster but aware of what may be coming. You have to plan constantly and allow them to know what is happening next, because they MUST know or they feel out of control.
Our RAD child is improving, but it's a S-L-O-W process. It has improved with us, but has not improved as much with other people such as teachers, grandparents, etc. We still encounter plenty of RAD moments, but it's not 24-hours now - maybe only 2-3 hrs a day.

What's In A Name??

Choosing a new title for this blog has been very difficult for me, it's like naming a child. I am trying to encompass the many things about our family into the name. Here's a few of what I have came up with. Please vote to the right and let me know what you think.

HAND TO HAND - Eventually we will be communicating with Kimberly with our hands in her hands using tactile signing. We do this a little bit now after she is in bed, at the movies, etc. RAD is another thread that runs through our family and touching is very important and difficult for her. I also thought about how both of our children have moved from family to family to get here, thus going through several hands to reach our hands.

SENSE OF FAMILY - Obviously hearing and seeing are both senses that are lost in our family and also we are trying to give our children the sense of being a part of a family. Both children have to learn what that means to be part of a family.

THE BIGGER PICTURE - everything will need to be bigger for Rebecca, but also we are trying to instill in our children to look at the bigger picture of life. God is in control and there are other people who we are meant to serve. Life is not about me, me, me. Also think about our whole picture from birth to us, it's quite a portrait.

ADAPTATIONS - we are constantly struggling with the adaptations that come with Ushers as well as just helping our children deal with change in a better way. For my husband and myself, this whole journey has done a huge flip flop on our lives and we are adapting as well.

IT'S NOT THE END... - Adoption was not the end for us, only the beginning. Also, with each news that we are given we have to think, "okay, now what..." it's not the end, only a different beginning.

Other thoughts were... SEE the difference, Living the Big Life, RADical changes, Incredible Journey, What's Next?

Our family includes adoption, foster care, Ushers Sydrome, PTSD, RAD, ADHD, Bi-polar (mood disorder), constant struggle with change, CIs, hearing aids, eating disorders, etc. We are a Christian family and the holy spirit has guided us though each of our monumental decisions that have led us to here. We are on quite a journey and can't wait to see what is next for us.

If you have any other suggestions for the title of the blog let me know. I will keep the site , that part will not change.

Friday, August 22

Children Stories On Video

I found this awesome video about a month ago and I have been meaning to share it. It's the only website I have found like this and my children absolutely love it. If you know of more sites like this, please share.

Thank You PBS!!

Tuesday, August 19

Rebecca's Adopted!!

Well...we have reached the finish line, or the starting line, however you want to look at it. Court was incredible. We got the certified interpreter (yippee!!) and she was great! We had the same judge that our other daughter was adopted with, so she got to see our family come full circle. The girls CASA worker was there even though she has been off their case for years. CPS and our private agency case worker was also there. Then there was the court reporter, the interpreter and the 4 of us. It was pretty full. The judge first took us to private quarters, but it was too crowded, so we moved to a courtroom upstairs. The CASA worker recorded the whole adoption for us, she kept the camera on Rebecca's back and the interpreter so that she can watch we can all watch it back later. We took several pictures of the girls and the judge on the bench and then a picture of all of us with the judge. The interpreter came up to me afterwards with tears in her eyes saying this was the best and most rewarding interpreting job she has had in 30 years and thanked me for making sure that they had her there. She said that she has interpreted babies being born and thought that was incredible, but our adoption experience blew that out of the water. I loved her and I am so grateful that I pushed for her. Thank you Ms. Washington! You were wonderful and an answer to my prayers.

After court the girls ran out of the courthouse screaming (they had been quiet for an hour), "OH YEAH!!!" Rebecca screamed, "I'm adopted" at the top of her lungs.

Then we headed to San Antonio for a weekend at Sea World and the River Walk. The evening of our adoption we took the girls to the Hemisphere Tower for dinner. They enjoyed the scenic views of San Antonio. We crashed right after dinner at our hotel and then got up early for breakfast and Sea World. Sea World was very accomodating and the girls had a fantastic time both days! The last day it was sprinkling, so we walked down the river walk a little bit, drove by the Alamo and then headed back home stopping in Austin along the way so the girls could see the capital building. It was still raining, so we did not get out.

Thank you everyone for your prayers, thoughts and advise this past year. I am thinking of names to change the blog to, I would love any suggestions or thoughts - I haven't thought of anything that sticks really. Our family is kind-of crazy, I want it to remain about adoption and children in foster care because that's the heart of our family. One of my daughters has RAD, PTSD, ADHD, mood disorder (bi-polar), etc. and then Rebecca has Ushers Syndrome. We have a challenging family and try to face each day with dignity and faith. Let me know your thoughts.

Thanks again!! SHE'S ADOPTED!!!

Monday, August 11

Court Decision

Thanks to everyone for your support and great advice. I contacted the lawyer and explained to them again in great detail (thank you NAD) about Rebecca's rights and why I would feel better with a certified interpreter. I told them that I understand that finding an interpreter is difficult and I appreciate their efforts in finding someone to interpret for court, however I would like the best for my daughter as I am sure that they would want the same for theirs.

They mentioned that they didn't think that having a certified interpreter was crutial because Rebecca was not a sworn in witness to the case (I think those were the words that she used). I explained that it didn't matter if she was only in the audience, they would still need to provide an interpreter.

I told them that I wanted to expediate this adoption, Rebecca has waited long enough and I didn't to prolong it anymore. I want them to continue to look for a certified interperpreter, but if the CASA volunteer was all that they could find I would accept that so that we could complete the adoption. They later called back and said that they found a court level interperpreter and would know if she would be available on Friday tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed.

I think I got the point across to the lawyer and the court. I think the next time that a Deaf individual comes into their courtroom they will know the law better and that person will not have to go through the hassle that I just when through.

Saturday, August 9

When Is It Too Much?

I found out more about the interpreter that will be present at our court hearing. He is a CASA volunteer. He is certified, but not up to a level 3. I had several conversations with our attorney about this and CPS. I have told them Rebecca's rights and what we expect. I almost lost our attorney because she is so frustrated with our case, partly me and partly my private agency. They don't know if they can find someone by the 15th who is level 3 (or higher) or court certified before the 15th or if that person can make it on the 15th. At several points, I felt like I was fighting a losing battle and that we were going to lose our attorney and/or lose our court date.

When does advocating become not worth it and should I just accept the CASA volunteer. He is probably very good, he has a full time job and his wife is a Deaf Ed teacher. He has been in the Deaf community for over 15 years. I started to feel like I was just pushing too hard and they were going to have to put off the court date for another month, which would be after school starts which is what we have been trying to avoid all summer. It would also be heartbreaking to Rebecca if we lost the court date. We have a countdown in our house and she is really looking forward to next Friday. How important is it that we have a "legally correct" interpreter?

Tuesday, August 5

Court Date

We have our court date and they found an interpreter! Hallelujah! We will be traveling to East Texas on the 14th and will be in court on the 15th at 10am! We are so happy and excited. The girls can barely sleep tonight. Just 10 more days and she will be ours forever!

Saturday, August 2

Legal Rights For Court

I am about to confront, once again, the right for Rebecca to have an interpreter. Since, this appears to be a common thing (at least I find it to be) I will start blogging about how I fight this unjust and cruel world that we live in.

When I reminded Rebecca's attorney that Rebecca is Deaf and will need an interpreter, I got the same reaction that I seem to get a lot : "Can't you interpret?" I HATE THAT QUESTION!! I feel like if I say no, then they think, "How do you communicate with her then?" and if I say yes, then they are missing the point. I stopped answering yes or now and just advise them of her rights. Some people are persistant, but you have to be persistant back. Her attorney told me that sometimes I will have to be both the parent and the interpreter - like I didn't know this. I find myself in the interpreter role all the time, but not for court! I will not interpret for court!!! This is our families day and we all have the right to enjoy it together!!! URG!! Anyway, jumping down from my is what I will be sending the attorney and the court in East Texas to help me travel down this road...God help us!

State and Local Courts
To refer others to this page, please use:
People who are deaf or hard of hearing have a right to communicate effectively and to participate in proceedings and activities conducted by all state and local courts. Specifically, they are entitled to have courts provide and pay for auxiliary aids and services to enable them to understand and be understood. This right is based on a federal law, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134. The U.S. Department of Justice has issued regulations explaining the requirements of the ADA. 28 C.F.R. Part 35, 56 Fed. Reg. 35694 (July 26, 1991) (U.S. Department of Justice Final Rule: Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in State and Local Government Services).
The ADA protects all persons participating in court activities, including litigants, witnesses, jurors, spectators, and attorneys. It applies to any type of court proceeding in any type of state or local court, including civil, criminal, traffic, small claims, domestic relations, juvenile, and other specialized courts. It also applies to other activities conducted by court systems, such as personnel, educational activities, marriage ceremonies performed by court personnel or magistrates, and communication with clerks and other court personnel. This law also protects deaf or hard of hearing parents of minor children who are involved in court proceedings. Parents of a minor who is the subject of a juvenile proceeding are clearly “participants” in the proceeding even though the parents are not parties or witnesses. They are entitled to auxiliary aids and services, such as qualified interpreter services, during the proceeding. Furthermore, the ADA applies to “members of the public.” Therefore, deaf or hard of hearing spectators who are neither parties nor witnesses may request auxiliary aids and services, such as qualified interpreter services, from a court.
Under the ADA and its regulations, local and state courts are required to provide auxiliary aids and services to ensure effective communication with deaf and hard of hearing individuals in civil, as well as criminal, proceedings:
(a) A public entity shall take appropriate steps to ensure that communications with applicants, participants, and members of the public with disabilities are as effective as communications with others.
(b)(1) A public entity shall furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services where necessary to afford an individual with a disability an equal opportunity to participate in, and enjoy the benefits of, a service, program, or activity conducted by a public entity.
(2) In determining what type of auxiliary aid and service is necessary, a public entity shall give primary consideration to the requests of the individual with disabilities.
28 C.F.R. § 35.160 (emphasis added).
The U.S. Department of Justice regulation defines the term “auxiliary aids and services” for deaf and hard of hearing individuals to include qualified interpreters, transcription services, captioning, videotext displays, written materials, assistive listening devices and systems, or other effective methods of making aurally delivered materials accessible. 28 C.F.R. § 35.104. For deaf or hard of hearing individuals who use sign language, the most effective auxiliary aid or service which a court can provide is usually the service of qualified sign language interpreters, trained in legal procedure and terminology. For deaf or hard of hearing individuals who do not use sign language and who have good levels of reading comprehension, the appropriate auxiliary aid or service is usually the use of a system that provides computer assisted real time transcription (also called real time captioning, communication access real time translation, or CART). Through this system, spoken words are converted into text using a stenotype machine, computer, and special software. The text appears on a computer monitor or other display, which can be read by the deaf or hard of hearing person. In its Analysis of the regulation, the Department of Justice uses “computer-assisted transcripts” as an example of an auxiliary aid or service that might be effective in a courtroom for a person who is deaf or hard of hearing who uses speech to communicate. 56 Fed. Reg. 35712. For some deaf or hard of hearing individuals who do not use sign language, an oral interpreter may be needed to facilitate lipreading. For individuals who use hearing aids or who have cochlear implants, the appropriate auxiliary aid might be amplified or modified sound equipment, a courtroom with appropriate acoustic properties, and/or assistive listening systems. The appropriate auxiliary aid or service depends on many factors. Any time it becomes apparent that a person cannot hear effectively in a courtroom, court officers should confer with that individual to determine the appropriate auxiliary aids or services necessary to communicate effectively with that individual.
Some state courts still have laws that permit state judges to assess the cost of auxiliary aids or services, such as qualified interpreter services, as “court costs.” These state laws violate the ADA. The ADA regulation states that the individual with a disability cannot be charged for the auxiliary aid or service provided by a state or local court:
A public entity may not place a surcharge on a particular individual with a disability . . . to cover the costs of measures, such as the provision of auxiliary aids or program accessibility, that are required to provide that individual . . . with the nondiscriminatory treatment required by the Act or this part.
28 C.F.R. § 35.130(f). In its Analysis to the ADA regulations, the Department of Justice explicitly addressed the issue of court costs:
The Department [of Justice] has already recognized that imposition of the cost of courtroom interpreter services is impermissible under section 504 [of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.] . . . (45 Fed. Reg. 37630, June 3, 1980). Accordingly, recouping the costs of interpreter services by assessing them as part of court costs would also be prohibited.
56 Fed. Reg. 35705-06 (July 21, 1991). Therefore, states may not enforce laws which permit qualified sign language interpreter fees to be assessed as “costs.”
Courts are also required to make “reasonable modifications” in their policies, practices and procedures, when necessary to prevent discrimination on the basis of disability. For example, a court might be required to move a trial to a smaller courtroom with better acoustics to assist a participant who uses a hearing aid. A trial may need to be interrupted more frequently to permit a deaf criminal defendant to consult privately with his or her attorney, because the sign language communication will be visible to witnesses and opponents. Court personnel should develop a method of notifying a deaf or hard of hearing person that a case is being called, because that person may not hear a spoken announcement. Similarly, videos that introduce jurors or parties to court procedure should be captioned.
In conclusion, court systems are not accessible to deaf or hard of hearing individuals when they cannot understand or participate effectively in the proceedings. In recognition of this fact, the federal government has placed an obligation on state and local courts to modify their procedures and to provide auxiliary aids and services, such as qualified interpreter and computer assisted real time transcription services, at no cost to the deaf or hard of hearing individual.