Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Feeling Like I've Been Replaced...

Danielle has now been down to her new foster home.  Some of you don't know, part of Danielle's treatment is to live in a foster home.  It sounds terrible, but we still have custody of her, she is not a ward of the state.  With her down in Salt Lake, it gives her the time away from home, get into a specialized school that has a doctor and counselors that she works with everyday, along with small number of students in each classroom, structured, away from the main streaming of high school which was terrible for her.  Danielle does not do very good in large crowds, she has a tendency to have high anxiety. 

But knowing she is safe and this is good for her, I have been miserable.  For 16 years I have been her champion, her protector and her educator.  And I feel I have had my title removed, even though I know I will always be her mom.

There has been big adjustments not only in my home but also with the family she is living with.

A couple of weeks ago, Danielle and I had an appointment with Dr Lewin up at the University of Utah.  She is in pediatric genetics and specializes in FASD, she is top in her field nationwide, we were pretty lucky to get with her so fast when normally her waiting list is close to a year.  So with Danielle's history, photos of her growing up and photos of her birth family, along with several measurements she was finally diagnosed as FAS!  You have no idea how relieved I was to finally have a diagnosis instead of all these years guessing.  After Dr Lewin gave us her report I started crying because I felt like a huge weight was taken from my shoulders.  Her other disabilities are secondary to the FAS.  I am just waiting for the final report and all the recommendations Dr Lewin gave me, there were so many I can't remember all of them.

The family Danielle lives with are Tongan and I just love their culture.  They have accepted Dani into there family as if she was their own and believe it or not, she feels like she belongs.  She  feels safe...which just hurts me to the core.  I have so much guilt because I could not provide her a safe home.  I was thinking the other day that I should not have gotten married so soon.  It should have been just her and I for awhile, but I fell in love, still love my husband very much, imperfections (I'm not perfect either). So now Dani and my husband have to learn to live together, God willing.  From the time Danielle moved in with this family, they were preparing for a HUGE family reunion and they included Dani in their native dances.  She was so excited and so was I because I was invited to attend to watch Danielle.  So a couple of weeks ago I went with Danielle, there were close to 500 family members and I had a blast.  It was great to see Danielle feel so comfortable and all these people who gave her hugs, so much acceptance.  But again, my heart aches and I wonder if she will want to come home.  I guess I have to take one day at a time.

The hardest thing for me has to been to give up being so involved in her life.  I believe with all my heart that no one can take care of a child but his/her mother.  And with Danielle with another family, I worry that she is not being taken care of as if I was with her.  I think I was driving the family, Danielle's case manager, counselor crazy with my constant texts, emails, etc.  Not only was I driving them crazy, I was driving myself crazy.  So a couple of days ago I decided to back off and let things be.  This will give me time to concentrate on my health and my marriage. Time will tell!

This is her foster family, Lucy, Sepo and Mehli.

Mom and Danielle at the Family Reunion

Danielle getting the  final touches on her costume.  Her foster mom's, they are two sisters, made this costume for her.

Danielle and her room-mate are finally in their full traditional costumes, just minutes before they went on stage with about 50 other family members.  I was so surprised that she learned this dance and she performed it with such grace.  I was SO proud of her!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Where Have All The Good Times Gone?

Since my last post, Danielle has been placed in a proctor-home, not a foster home like we would think because I still have custody of her.  But this home is suppose to give her structure, rules, they are suppose to watch for her behavior that happens here at home, get her services and new evaluations (neuro)...well?  Not yet!  It's been close to 6 weeks and really nothing but a lot of frustration for mom!  At first she takes almost everything she owns, then wants me to bring more like her bike (which I said no) the right hand and the left hand don't know what is happening because within the first two weeks, no one knew about the special circumstances of Dani.  Talk about being frustrated.  Her foster mom (for lack of  better words for her title, which she is a very sweet and loving lady, couldn't ask for a better foster mom for Dani) didn't know that Dani could not be by herself so she sent her on a walk.  Dani doesn't have any sense of  direction, so I went driving around looking for her and getting more panicky because I could not find her.  Then I saw her coming back to the house, about a block away, pulled over and we had a conversation, she thought (her brain owie) Lucy said another thing, I was a little upset after I left because I had felt my daughters safety is being compromised. So I called the two heads of the foundation, left messages for her case manager, etc to arrange a meeting of the minds.  The meeting did happen and I was able to get things off my mind and there were reassurances, etc.

Well since that time, Dani doesn't like coming home because of the conflict between her dad and herself, she is not willing to own up to her part of the problem, like following our house rules, etc and I realize that it may be part of the FAS but where is the cut off, when is she suppose to take responsibility for something?  A couple of weeks ago, there was a major blow out with her dad, that on the way back to Salt Lake she was crying saying she had wished she never had a dad and that I shouldn't have remarried and it should be just her and me.  I was devasted, not knowing what to say...then we get down to the dance studio where I am to drop her off at, she immediately leaves the car, no backward glance, walks into the studio and gives Lucy a hug and continues her night with her new big family, leaving me at the door with my mouth wide open and tears getting ready to spill.  Lucy had to remind Dani to give me a hug.  On the way home I cried, balled my eyes out, thinking and feeling I had just lost my daughter.  She feels save in that big Tongan family, not safe within her own family.  I am still reeling over that, the feelings of loss are extreme.    There is just so much more that has happened that it still makes me cry so at this time I won't go into it.  Maybe my next post.

She came home this weekend for her eye appointment, new glasses and it was the same thing taking her back.  I can't help feel regret, where has the time gone, my time with her on a daily basis is probably over, what good have I done for her over the 16 years, why the problems now, I still tear up, even when I am typing this paragraph. 
This coming week, we do have an appointment up at the University of Utah to see one of the top genetic doctors in the nation to get a genetic workup on Dani.  I can't wait to hear what that report turns out.

On a positive note, Dani did go to Girls Camp.  She had a wonderful time, took on leadership roles, was a positive influence on the younger girls in her group, I was very proud of her.  One of the visitors and speakers was this young lady named Hannah.  She has multiple disabilities as you can see in the picture, but what an inspiration to not only me but to Dani.  Dani cried finally feeling and realizing that she wasn't alone with her disabilities.  I was grateful for that young lady and the inspiration she gave.

The picture above was the afternoon we dropped Dani off at her new home and the second picture is of her and Hannah!

Well to sum things up....I told the high powers of  being in this group that Dani is not to come home until we start some kind of family therapy.  I was told we couldn't necessary do that because that is part of the wrap-around program after she comes home.  My response was that something has to be done so that both Dani and my husband feel safe and somewhat secure in their father/daughter relationship and that I don't go bonkers.  The post-adoption specialist suggested/recommended that I get a hold of the FAS Network, which I have been involved with for years, but my husband hasn't.  The education will do him good because of Dani's brain owie (don't know how to spell that word, sorry).  I've already made contact, we will see, more details to come!  Stay Tuned...