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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

To Hell and Back

Well, it’s been quite the week.  Combine our couple-day getaway last week, with a few over-stimulating activities this week, and it all went to hell in a handbasket.  Make that a steamer trunk.

Last time we visited the grandparents this happened right afterwards.  Maybe it’s our sense of family, and the kids’ own personal loss, that this is how a loving family functions, and they somehow don’t fit in-?

First Mashenka flipped out.  At 13, it could definitely be hormones, but you know what?  I don’t care.  I. don’t. care.  She could be mentally disabled, physically challenged, have an I.Q. of –25 and I’d still want my child to be sweet and respectful.  Period.

Enough of the victim mentality.  Enough of still rehashing the past.  She needs to be civil and get a grip.  Take control of her life and her emotions.  Can you tell that I’m really fed up?

I threatened to call the police on her.  Oh yes, I did.  See, I’m too old for this, not necessarily in the chronological sense, but in the tolerance sense.  I have coddled, and soothed, and “understood”, and been strict, and been soft… for over two years.  Now it’s time for a little respect, and time for the kids (3 out of 4) to pull themselves out of the big, black hole that constantly wants to consume them.

We had a very nice life going, thank you very much.  Then they came along with the specific goal of deep-sixing everything good, and holy, and gracious.  If they choose the highway to hell, they’re not taking the rest of the family with them.

Then it started with Pasha, troubled soul that he is.  Not just a cup half-empty kind of guy, a bone-dry sieve masquerading as a cup.  His goal was to flip-out just as Petya’s 15th birthday approached.  He was nasty to everyone, didn’t want to join us for a meal, following in Mashenka’s footsteps.  Who knows, maybe we would poison him, or possibly medicate him?

Hmmm…. now that’s food for thought….

None of my children is medicated.  Four adopted from Russia at older ages, and all of them just “being themselves” in their full glory, unimpeded by the stupor of sedatives.  Might be time to rethink that.

Zoning out, ugliness, name-calling, refusal to do anything asked of them.  Asked him several times to snap out of it for his brother’s sake, the brother who prayed for him to come home, every day and every night for four years.  And he laughed, because to him, such a thing is unthinkable, and threatening, and scary, because it speaks of a love that’s beyond his reach, a love that cares for others more than self.  So he pushes us away, while coming back when he feels like it.  He has very sweet moments, but they are lessening, while the fury is unleashing.

Pasha realizes (because I reminded him repeatedly) that we have an exciting event planned for Monday-Tuesday, and you know what?  He’s not going.  A friend graciously agreed to step in and take him, lock, stock and barrel for three days.

Oh please, could it be permanent?

She knows it’s not for fun and games, and will act accordingly.  No vacation time, just schoolwork, homework, and nose to the grindstone.  No more lenience, understanding, and encouragement.  It’s bootcamp time.

So while I’m in this fairly-positive frame of mind, wondering how, when, and where I might accidentally lose such children after toiling on their behalf for years, I come across the website of “The Total Transformation” Program.  I never thought we needed a “program” to get our kids on track.  For the most part, they were on track, they are on track.  Usually.  With coaxing, and wheedling, and threatening.  I want my peaceful home back.  It’s not enough to go five days fine, and then break down for the next two.

Suddenly, the kids want to take it to the next level down in their hellish descent.  Fine.  I’m getting the program.  Benedetto called the phone number.  Turns out that the developer of “The Total Transformation”, James Lehman, MSW, was adopted himself, displaying severe oppositional, defiant behaviors as a child and teenager.  That led him to become a Behavioral Therapist specializing in helping troubled children, teens and their families for 30 years.

Currently, they’re offering the program virtually FREE to parents of boys, ages 11 to 17, with oppositional or defiant behaviors.  Go to their website for more info: http://www.thetotaltransformation.com/.  It could save your sanity, or your family.  We’re going to give it a try.

As a post-script:  both children are highly repentant and ashamed of their behaviors, and that’s a step toward embracing change.  But I’m still getting the program.  An out-of-control child is just as scary to himself as to the rest of the family.  They need tools to help them take charge.

And no, I’m not associated with the program in any way.




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26 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Gwendolyn says:

    I’m SO SORRY to read this!

    Last week, we went away for 5 days, alone together, the first time in the 3 years 2 months that we have been parents.

    The person we left in loco parentis told us that she would be fine. “I’ve got 20 years experience managing group homes for teens with dual diagnoses (like mentally retarded and schizophrenic).” And she already knew our kids. Well.

    This is what she wrote after 5 days, “As soon as you get home, I’m going home… My intentions were good. I tried, but to tell you the truth, being with D 24 hours Mon & Fri were just way too much.”

    So, neither you nor I is alone, nor is it some glaring flaw in our personalities… These kids can be TOUGH!

    Sending you a {hug}!

    • avatar admin says:

      Thanks, Gwendolyn, it’s a continuum with ebbs and flows, that’s for sure. I tend to feel like a whiner, because I know that there are so many families in TRUE need….

      Five days alone together– woo-hoo! That’s what people don’t realize when they say you might need a break: who’s going to take these kids? A regular babysitter doesn’t stick around for backtalk and belligerance….

      We called our serial offender to say nighty-night and he’s been an angel doing massive amounts of schoolwork (?) all afternoon (Sun.) at a friend’s house. As long as breakdowns lead to breakthroughs, we’re on our way. 🙂

  2. avatar Phyllis says:

    Oh, I’m so sorry. But I can thoroughly understand the total frustration! All August I was telling my three boys that after 2 and 1/2+ years home, it is time for them to start growing up. We head tomorrow morning to our Intensive Counseling sessions. 4 days this week with 3+ hour long appointments. Our place is overseen by Dr. Gregory Keck. Praying for some changes – for your family as well as ours!

    • avatar admin says:

      Thanks, Phyllis, and we’ll continue praying for you guys, too. That should be a wonderful resource with Dr. Keck. Let us know how it goes!

      Our two most problematic ones have come to me in tears (the ones who had problems this week), and asked me to help them. My evil side says that this is all phoney-baloney, trying to buy my sympathy and lenience, and my compassionate side says that this is truly their heart’s cry: they don’t know how to turn things around. So whatever tools we can give them, it’s worth it.

  3. avatar Connie says:

    Oh Alexandra…I feel your pain. I’ve actually had similar issues with my 13 year old daughter. It was bad for maybe three or four months, but it seems that things are getting back to normal (less frequent outbursts and fighting). I really think it’s age-related. I heard a lot of “it’s not fair”, to which I always said you’re right life isn’t fair. My sister with a bio 13 year old daughter has had similar issues.
    One thing I should point out is that both of my kids are super-sensitive when I compliment the other about anything. If I say your hair really looks nice this morning, the other girl pouts because I didn’t say anything about her hair looking nice too. Just a thought but could your kids be feeling the stress of having a brother who is an excellent student, good athlete, not to mention gets along great with adults? Petya is a great kid. It must be really hard to follow in his footsteps, especially for a brother only a few months younger. I had my girls in the same activities, because it was easier on me. I changed that up this year thinking the younger doesn’t need the pressure of being compared to her older sister. The younger was not having fun, she was not interested in sports, and hated going. Now she’s doing her own thing and loves it. It is much harder on me driving them here and there, but I can deal with it.
    Hang in there. They’ll be adults before you know it.

    • avatar admin says:

      Thanks, Connie, I appreciate your comments. The kids do feel like they can’t measure up to Petya, so I reassure them, and tell them we want them to be themselves, etc. They are in similar activities, but on different days. We build them up and encourage them if they so much as breathe, lol, but it’s like a black hole that takes, takes, takes, some days. Naturally, outsiders think they are model children, which they are, for the most part. When they feel like it. When it’s a good day. When we require little of them. Aiiiyyhhh! Adulthood, did I hear you mention adulthood? Grant it, Lord. 🙂

  4. avatar Kathleen says:

    You have my complete sympathy and understanding. We are right there in the same boat with you. Everyone keeps telling me to take a break, but just how do I do that? Who will watch these kids? Thanks for sharing. I know it is hard to talk about some of this, but it made me feel better to know that someone else has had the same experiences and thoughts I have.

    • avatar admin says:

      We’re an open book, Kathleen. Thanks for your support. I don’t know that these kinds of posts are encouraging, but at least they make ME feel better, too-! And the kids are back to really trying. We’ll be reunited with Pasha on Wed., and I feel like we’ve dumped him, but I looked into his eyes as I told him we loved him and that we all had to change and work together as a family. All of the kids are doing a special activity today to celebrate with Petya, whose birthday was on Sunday. So Pasha gets left out. We warned and warned him, and finally had it. A dear friend was “there” for us and took him at the last minute into her family.

  5. avatar Lisa says:

    Hi to all,
    Something in the air?? My daughter, home for 3 years, went down south on Friday. It is so frustrating because the progress seems so tiny in the face of this maddening behavior. I told her to quit writing gooey notes to me….I feel fried. I am sick of the sticky apologies, I want change. We made it known to her that she will be hospitalized for a night should she get violent. I don’t think she would be here if we hadn’t started her on meds a year ago. I am not the same person I was before…the refonement continues. Blessings to all of you.

    • avatar admin says:

      Oh, Lisa, I know what you mean. I find it really hard to accept all of the lovey-dovey stuff from the kids, and then they pull this awful behavior. Benedetto’s motto is, “Let it GO….” Some days I accuse him of being brain-dead. It just doesn’t bother him. Or he thinks I “have it out” for certain of the children, as though I have the energy to plot and plan. *Sigh.* He doesn’t accept any kind of disrespect or anything, but he just thinks that one “I’m sorry” cancels out a multitude of sin. He must be closer to God….

      • avatar Greg says:

        From another man’s perspective, I see my reaction very similar to Benedetto’s. When we have ugly behavior, I generally view it as a challenge to see what I can do to correct it/modify it/fix it. I rarely lose my “cool”-except for the one time I mentioned to you. LOL! But my goal for ugly behavior is to correct it (at the right time) and then use it as a springboard to head off the next incident. I guess that is the guy in me-not saying I’m right by the way. My wife responds entirely differently most of the time. I think the ugly behavior gets taken much more personally. I’ve spent a lot of time coaching Natasha that when we correct her it is out of love that we do that. I have several examples of this and I always throw one in when explaining this. It is easy to talk about the orphanage and something like “did anyone ever tell the kids not to smoke?” Did they not say anything because they loved you or because they really didn’t care much about the kids? Anyway, the whole point of this is to state that I believe your husband probably looks at the ugliness as a chance to fix something and you perhaps look at it like my wife…..a womanly response. Again, fellow readers please don’t read that I think the guys response is the “correct” one-I’m just contrasting it because it appears I’m the only male responding in this blog. I’ve made plenty of mistakes in parenting our bio-kids and our adopted daughter! We had five months of pretty ugly behavior and now seem to be much more balanced as we approach month 8. These kids can change. We can help them and preserve our marriages/families while doing it……but it might be a lot more work than any of us signed up for!

        • avatar admin says:

          You’re right, Greg, that the guys generally do see it and respond to it differently. So we hereby decree: you deal with it ALL! (since it doesn’t bother you…) 🙂

          I actually tend to think of myself as more male in my response (maybe that’s not true at all! hmmm….), because I’m looking for rational resolutions which are not forthcoming. THAT’s what makes me crazy more than the initial “problem”. That we need to go over, and over, and over the same things and everyone conveniently “forgets” or “can’t” do X, Y, or Z.

          And thank you for the “men’s response”. There are some who read the blog, but might be afraid of being shouted-down. You are brave!

  6. avatar Greg says:

    Bummer…..I hate to hear this. I don’t have anything to add that hasn’t already been mentioned. Just wanted to post a comment to let you know we’ll pray for all of you!

    • avatar admin says:

      Thank you, Greg, prayer is a big part of victory. I believe in the two-prong approach: that we as parents grow and stretch and become new and improved “better people”, while the kids likewise experience lasting change. Yes!

  7. avatar Lisa says:

    Refinement not refonement 🙂

  8. avatar Lisa says:

    Ah, thank you for mentioning this as well. The difference between men and women is striking in these situations isn’t it? My husband is a godly man and an engineer. He too says let it go…they will not ever be the mom so they will never understand completely and I accept this. I only ask that he believes me, always. He does, or pretends to anyway. 🙂
    I so appreciate you, thanks.

  9. avatar Sybil says:

    So very sorry, your pain over this is clear. I have heard of that program you are getting and see it advertised on TV in my area.

    Long ago, I came across some things that Nancy Ng who also works with adoption had to say. One thing she said to parents that is difficult but helpful was, ” If we run dry, our teens don’t have a chance.” So, glad you got a couple of days break from what sounds like a really tough situation. Now put on your mental gear , get back on your feet and get back into the battles of Afrussiastan. Remember, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. I know it gets very exhausting and seemingly impossible at times, but keep remembering that they are not the age emotionally they are physically.
    An aside, McKenna shares the same month/day birthday with Petya.

    • avatar admin says:

      Oh, that’s cool, Sybil… twins separated at birth-! Thank you for the pep talk. I am amazed and blessed, you have ALL been so kind to lift me up. I REALLY appreciate it. Some days we just need a word of encouragement, or a good kick in the pants. We can do this, and we’re all in it together. While we’ve been breathing easier for a couple of days without Pasha everyone in the family seems to miss him, and vice-versa, so we’re feeling really good about that. We’re trying hard to communicate that we don’t expect perfection, but that we all just keep trying….

  10. avatar Kerry says:

    Thank you so much for this post!!! Believe it or not, it was encouraging! I have a 13 y.o. daughter from the American foster system (yes, just one, so far) and I have days I feel very much like this. And DH (who doesn’t spend quite as much time with our daughter) does the same thing to me- “You’re making too much of this honey”. I, too have a hard time determining if this is blackness from her former life or just monster teen years. When you go through adoption training they blame so many problems on “a bad start in life” it’s hard to tell. In fact, we were blaming EVIL moods at holidays and birthday on the bad start or upset feelings about loosing birth family, and it turns out she’s HYPOGLYCEMIC!!!! We didn’t find out until an un-family/ holiday related event full of sugar that set off her black mood. Grandparents set her off too- sugar! I felt bad it took me so long to identify a health problem.

    We do still have really rough patches though, and I have days I feel every bit the frustration you express here. Thank you for saying it out loud. It’s nice to see that I’m not the only one! I want to adopt more children, but when I have days like this, I tend to beat myself up, saying “Wow, I can’t even handle one!” Thank you for revealing your struggles for the rest of us.

    • avatar admin says:

      That’s a good point, Kerry, to explore every possible explanation. Might be sugar, overstimulation, food dyes, etc. I’m glad you’re encouraged–if you have any further problems, send them to Greg! 🙂

  11. avatar meant2be says:

    As always I feel like a sister in adoption when reading your stories :O)
    This is where we were at right before school started after a very long summer. It built and built and built until I totally lost it. 13 yo daughter’s behaviors and complaining were constant and I had had it. Interesting she has been regulated again since school started.

    Another thing I find interesting …. my girls nearly never say they are sorry. But, instead they do try to change the behavior. I guess that is sort of like saying “sorry”. At any rate I need to appreciate that a bit more!

    Glad to hear things are looking up again. Parenting the older adopted child is hard hard work. I sure would like a big old sign from God letting me know if I’m doing a good job or not! :O)

  12. avatar meant2be says:

    Wonder if there is a way to make that my ringtone …. it would help to hear it often ;O)

  13. avatar Mindy says:

    I actually ordered the Total Transformation program after seeing your post and researching the website. It’s a great program. Thank you for posting about it. What seemed to work most about it was her listening along to one of the CD’s that I specifically chose for a longer car ride. And then I replayed it for a week. Haven’t really had to use much of the program yet as she seems to have left much of the victim mentality behind since then. But there are some great tools and ideas in it if needed for certain.

    • avatar admin says:

      Wow, Mindy, that’s tremendous! Quite a turnaround. I think it really validates and reinforces strategies that we feel would work, but we’re not sure how to implement them, etc. I enjoyed it and gleaned some good ideas from it… and I’ve heard just about every perspective to parenting there is-! Thanks for letting us know it helped.

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