Sunday, February 5, 2012

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY - Part I, The Good

Where to begin?

I have all sorts of posts rattling around that actually have some slight merit to them - an idea, you know....  However, seems like an update is called for....several updates.  Here is the first:

The good.  Maxim is living with us again.  For those sort-of new to this blog, Maxim is the foster son we had in our home for three years.  Unfortunately for everyone, this was before my awakening, before I understood even the basics of how to deal with a radish or child of early trauma. I just had Sergei, and Zhenya, the perfect children - and Anastasia who up to that point in time, had had occasional tantrums, but otherwise was easy to deal with.

I can see now that Maxim had some significant PTSD issues, and depression.  I didn't recognize them, but just relied on intuition and must say I didn't handle everything entirely badly.  But, I handled enough things badly that we all had a much harder time than we needed to.  And my husband, who like many husbands, feels the need to be authoritative and so forth, didn't "get on" with Maxim at all.  All this was exacerbated by the fact that Maxim did not choose to be adopted by us.  I can now see that it was because he had been in so many homes, and has such an optimistic nature, that he clung to a kind of "magical thinking" that the perfect home was going to come along.  "Perfect" was a place where he was the only child, and where he and his new parents lived in a mini-mansion.  Unfortunately, his best friend in 8th grade had this very sort of situation....so of course it seemed quite possible.  Our family ("all these kids") and our surroundings were, oh-so-far from this vision.

And because he wouldn't let us adopt him, working with "the State" was another issue - always an irritant. Different people all the time, not offering help, but being disapproving.  There is nothing like having people come in all the time and committing to paper the things they find "wrong" with your home and parenting.  For example, in the excitement of  adopting Ilya, we certainly told our regular social worker but didn't make a special written report to the licensing worker.  They "cited" us for this omission.  Now, I frankly figured that if they found this worth "citing" us for, then I really didn't care about their silly citations.  I have a tendency to only feel badly at criticism I agree with.  But, it made Craig hopping mad.  We were cited again when we forgot to tell them that Lydia moved out.  And again when we changed bedrooms around.  Really.  We are supposed to let them know who is sleeping in what room.  Anyway, the whole thing was annoying.

Really, it was worse than annoying.  Their approach created the bad outcome that resulted.  Because I'd had the feeling - totally wrong!, totally, that these social workers were in the picture to help us succeed.  To give us advice.  To point us in the direction of good books, good strategies, etc.  No.  I made the mistake a few times of calling Maxim's worker when we had a problem.  If she had suggested I read Heather Forbes, or had given me Karyn Purvis' website, if she'd come by to let me vent, if she'd done anything at all helpful...... well, things would have been so much better.  Instead, she'd always jump to the conclusion that we were calling to have him moved. I'd share an issue - not unlike the way I do on the blog  - and instead of sympathy, or advice, I'd get this question "So, you want him moved?"  It made so little sense to me that she'd ask that, after presenting my end of the conversation, that I figured it was some sort of requirement that they ask this question at the end of every call.   I do not know why we persisted on this track of complete non-communication for so long, but we did.  I continued to be committed to this boy in a radical way; I continued to call to ask for advice how to better parent him.  They continued to figure we would be perfectly happy to have him removed from our home at the drop of a hat, and to respond to any call I made to them by calling some big group meeting.  I cannot remember what those meetings were called, but they could be nasty.  And nasty or nice, they were totally inconvenient and unhelpful.  Truly - until we had the third one of these nightmarish events, I did not realize that it was me setting the whole thing in motion.  Really!  

Meanwhile, what with the citations and Maxim's anger-management issues, and these "big meetings" Craig was pretty adamant that Maxim move to a different foster home, which, at the encouragement of a counselor from "the county", he did.  In retrospect I can see that the counselor, a great lady and a good counselor as far as it went, really knew less about dealing with traumatized kids than I did.  It is hard to forget that so many of these approaches (Dan Hughes, Heather Forbes, Karyn Purvis, etc.) were really new.  By the end of our time together, I was giving her resources.  But, she feared for our marriage, I think, if Maxim stayed, and just happened to hear about a family who was willing to take a teenager.  So away he went.

 But the folks in his new home were more clueless than we were.  It was a terrible setting for him.

I refused to be part of this boy's life of abandonment and rejection.  I told him, and meant it, that I was committed to him.  I would stick with him.  And  I've done it, through some pretty radical ups and downs.
So, I've always had Maxim in the background.  I've not mentioned it here, because some local people read this blog and I felt that Maxim was old enough - and not even in my household - so it would not be quite fair to write about him, let alone the people he was living with.

ASIDE:  I am seriously considering staring a new blog with a different title, writing under an assumed name, and using nicknames for the kids, so I can continue to blog, but with a bit more openness.....I begin to feel troubled that even regarding the other kids, it is not fair to write about them when they may be in the classrooms or homes of people who read this blog.  I wouldn't like it, and the golden rule still applies.  

There have been a lot of ups and downs, fearful situations and tears, nearly miraculous close calls, but Maxim graduated from high school and - was dropped from the foster care program.  He was only 18, and should never have been dropped, but it seemed pretty clear to me that the reason was his worker's anger at my intervention.  (A long story I'll explain some time.)  In any case, he ended up with no where to live.

Another sort of miracle occurred, which shall never be described, and the result was - Maxim can come home.

He's grown up a lot. He has a lot more self control.  It isn't all easy sailing, as neither Sergei nor Ilya are very happy to give up any portion of their rooms for him.  And, Zhenya, who was pretty traumatized by some of his behaviors when he lived with us before, doesn't like him to be living with us....  But, I think it will somehow work out.

He hopes to start at the community college this summer, and he'll have a full tuition scholarship through the state and an allowance.  (There are some perks having been a foster child, for sure.)  At that point he may move out, but at least we can all feel that he is forever connected with our family, and not totally alone in the world.  Thanks be to God.


19 comments:

Hevel Cohen said...

I'm so glad you gave us an update on Maxim! I have been wondering how he has been doing. I hope things will go much better this time around.

Hevel Cohen said...

Also, you might want to follow some others to Wordpress if you decide to start up a new blog. :)

Milena said...

Thank you for the update on Maxim! I too have wondered about him, although I have understood from passages here and there in your posts that he has been somehow present in your lives for a while.

I hope, with your new knowledge, that life with Maxim will be better this time around, and that Zhenya especially but also the others will not feel like they are somehow less important than him.

(And I so hope I would be allowed to read along if you change blogs! I'm on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean :-) an I most definitely don't know any of you IRL!)

Sarah said...

I'm a bit worried about the bad and the ugly, but enjoyed hearing the good about Maxim! :)

kate said...

That's a BIG update! I think there are merits to new blogs and anonymity.

Keri said...

I loved reading this and love hearing that he is back with you. I wish the whole damn social services part of our govt were torn down and rebuilt from scratch. i know it will never happen, but thats what NEEDS to happen.

thisjourneyofmylife said...

I'm glad to hear such a positive update on Maxim!

Renia said...

Am also happy to read an update on Maxim- I always hoped he was doing ok and he looks very grown up now. I am so happy for you that you can help him transition to being an adult- I have been reading your blog a long time so remember the tough years that he was with you originally x

on our way today said...

sounds like a good update. I think a new blog would be more freeing for you with assumed names etc..

MyGirlElena said...

I am so happy for you and for him. I feel sorry for Maxim and am so glad he was brought to your family!

Rachael said...

Glad to hear this update, and hope it continues to go well for all!

I'm struggling with blogging and privacy issues for my kids too. They are getting of the age that I have to second guess everything I write, lest they or someone they know stumble upon it. Yet, so much good comes from blogging! Catch-22!

Cléo said...

Wow, Maxime is the spitting image of a young man in our parish, the 'rebel' from a very devout big family, but with a good heart. They could be twins. Good to hear such positive news.

Tamara said...

I'm so glad to hear about Maxim. I too have been thinking a lot about him lately...wondering how he was doing. I'm glad he's back with you, even if it is just for a time. :)
As far as the blog is concerned...WordPress may be an option. They let you password protect individual posts...AND they're not doing the wonky privacy stuff that Google is getting ready to do. I'm SERIOUSLY thinking about leaving blogger and moving to WordPress... if I could just figure out how to customize the background. I LOVE to customize my backgrounds. ;)

Ohiomom2121 said...

So happy to hear of a reunion with Maxim! Hopefully as he realizes that freedom is more fun with a family to stand behind you, some of the stresses of the past years can be eased, although even "perfect" boys are still a bit wacky into their early 20s so I look forward to hearing about a few more roller coaster dips. But, when fathers and sons make up as adults, I don't think they ever go back; I bet Maxim and Craig forge ever closer bonds. Blessings to you all!
Sherry

Annie said...

You know, I just don't go read Word Press blogs myself, so I can't see myself going there. I tend to "lose" the people that do move over. There is one exception - Ciska! because somehow I accidentally pinned her to my screen. Happy accident!

Also, I do love personalizing the "look", too - though you wouldn' think so, would you? TIme for a new look now, I think!

Hevel Cohen said...

Annie, you read me, and I'm not even on WP.com, but a self hosted WP! :D

AdoptaMama said...

I've been wondering where Maxim has been. Thanks for the update on him. Glad he was able to feel welcomed and that he seems to have grown up a bit. Hoping for a harmonious household.

mamaporuski said...

Glad he is doing well, although I know what the undercurrent of PTSD feels like in the home. Praying for all of you to continue to grow in knowledge, wisdom and grace! HUGS today my friend!

Annie said...

Hevel - I am not sure how it happens, but your blog shows up on my dashboard and that makes all the difference.