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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Things we wish would never happen...

One day last week, I heard the wail of an ambulance siren and knew it had been called for my own child.

One day last week, I pulled up to my child's school and knew the paramedics and police were there because of my child's crisis.

One day last week, I committed my child to a pediatric psychiatric unit.

Sometimes things don't turn out exactly as we hope...and when you adopt older kids with a troubled history, it's probably better to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. That's pretty much where we are right now.

Our new sons have been with us for 3 months and their transition has been increasingly challenging. Both boys have had problems adjusting to life in a family, following family rules, and being socially appropriate. Both boys have been really wild, especially at night when we're trying to get everyone ready for bed. A good night's sleep has been fairly impossible for everyone as the boys sought to control us all with their disruptive behaviors long past bed time; our home has been fraught with tension as Craig and I have struggled to keep order and enforce family rules. Both boys have had even bigger problems adjusting to school...neither one of them can be mainstreamed into a regular classroom at this point due to their anxiety, educational deficits, and behavior.

Madiyar is now receiving one-on-one instruction at school and is responding pretty well most of the time to a behavior modification system at school and at home. He's really trying to regulate his behavior and he has bonded well with us. We see him making progress even though many days it feels like he makes 2 steps forward and then one backward...but he's learning English quickly and the better communication is helping him to feel more comfortable now.

Unfortunately, the same progress hasn't really been made with Aniyar and it's now becoming clear that our youngest son has more problems than just cultural transition and language. Aniyar's behavior has been so inappropriate and unsafe that he had to be moved from the regular school where Tanya and Max attend to a program for kids with emotional and behavioral problems...and even that program has not been able to address his needs. Aniyar is sweet and charming one minute and then angry and aggressive the next; he has choked students, punched teachers, and tried to injure himself. At home, his behavior is marginally better than at school but still frightening; he lacks impulse control of any kind and has to be watched constantly to prevent behaviors that are unsafe for him or his siblings. We've tried everything we can think of...star charts, rewards for good behavior, therapy with our Russian child psychologist...and nothing has worked. As time has gone on, our other kids have regressed, expressing fear and confusion at their brother's behavior...and Craig and I have become more and more exhausted as we try to hold everything together.

Last Tuesday wasn't the first time Aniyar attacked one of his teachers and had to be placed in the crisis room...but this time, the teachers couldn't calm him down after 40 minutes of raging. When they called me to come and pick him up, it was clear that bringing him home wasn't an option. We had finally reached the point our psychologist had warned us about...Aniyar needed to be hospitalized in order to get some help. It took all day at the emergency room to assess his needs, determine that he was a danger to himself and others, and then find him a bed in a psych unit for kids. It was 7:30pm by the time we finally got him admitted and by that time, he was calm, asking to go home and telling me he would be a good boy at school the next day. Sad...

Where are we now? Aniyar has been in the hospital for a week now and we don't see much change in him. The psychiatrists tried him on a patch medication to reduce his aggressive behaviors and improve his impulse control but Aniyar wouldn't keep the patch on. They're trying other medications now...but Aniyar resists taking them. They also have him on a behavior chart...maybe they'll have better luck with that than we had. Sadly, even with meds and behavior charts, Aniyar is still acting out aggressively towards other patients and staff from time to time. We just don't know what will happen next.

As for the rest of us, we have an unnatural calm at home; evenings are much more quiet and bedtime is observed.The tension in the house has reduced greatly and we're all getting more rest. Madiyar misses his brother but seems to understand that he needs help; he seems to be trusting that we are trying our best for Aniyar. Since Madiyar has always been his brother's primary caretaker, this is significant; he has bonded with us enough to let us be the parents and to allow himself to be a kid.

We visit Aniyar every day; we miss him but are relieved that he is in a safe environment where he can be assessed and given the help he needs. We don't know what tomorrow will bring but we'll face it as a family...