Wednesday, October 28, 2009

No kidding...

This article was posted elsewhere, and I really had to put into words my thoughts on why this study bothered me. It concerns a recent study of a link between atypical antipsychotic medications and weight gain in children. I've read where Risperdal (and others similar) are being used for some anorexia patients, so that speaks volumes as to this being an issue. But the focus of the study was on CHILDREN in particular.

Weighing scales

[Abilify and Risperdal are the only two of the four drugs approved as pediatric treatments, for the severe mental conditions schizophrenia and bipolar disorder — and in Risperdal’s case, for some children with autism. More than 70 percent of atypical antipsychotics’ use in young children and teenagers has been off-label prescriptions for nonpsychotic conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to Stephen Crystal, a Rutgers University professor who studies the drugs. ]

I would venture to guess since ADHD is often misdiagnosed for what is actually early-onset or pediatric bipolar, the pediatric ADHD patients being prescribed antipsychotic drugs were actually presenting with aggression, mania and depression, but not actually dx with bipolar disorder. The doctors were likely treating the symptoms, but not labeled the disorder beyond what was an ADHD dx. The article makes it sound as if parents and pdocs are jumping all over these medications for "non-psychiatric" behavioral/attention problems, when I am feeling certain that is not the case. So the public perception is going to be very skewed by reading this article. Where is the study on how many children are indeed bipolar, but being labeled as ADHD because the DSM-IV is light years behind in recognizing that adult bipolar presents differently than childhood bipolar?

My son is on Lamictal, which is an anti-seizure medication, also used off label, with a black box warning to treat bipolar disorder. It's not approved for children under 18 in the treatment of BP, but is approved for seizure disorders in children as young as 2. It also carries less of a risk of metabolic issues and less monitoring for physical side effects, which is why it was the first choice of my son's pdoc. It's not without it's own serious risks however (Stevens-Johnson), but it hasn't caused him to gain significant weight and has improved his quality of life - enough to keep him from being hospitalized. If the Lamictal ceases to be effective, we'll have to look to other medications - maybe even Risperdal or similar. I can say, having experienced life without a mood stabilizer for my child, I would take a weight gain and a rolly-polly kid (and the potential health problems that may come with that) over losing my child completely to a mental illness that caused him to think it was acceptable to tie a jump rope around his neck on his bunk bed, or throw a skateboard at my head. There's no easy answer for parents of children with serious mental illnesses and disorders that can potentially take your child from you or take away any chance at a normal life. You do the best you can.

I can't imagine that most parents take medicating their child with antipsychotic drugs lightly, but rather hate that they are forced to make difficult and scary choices that they and their children can live with. Surely most parents whose kids are on these medications are fully aware of the side effects, and hate that these medications have side effects at all, but they have no choice. It's either the risky medications or a psychiatric hosptial -- where they'll give them the meds anyway and maybe even dope them up to a point they can't function any longer just to stablize them.

A study like this comes as no suprise to most people who either prescribe, dispense, and take the medications. We know the risks. We also know the risks of NOT taking them. It does however, place one more misguided perception (we're over-medicating our kids, we are lazy parents, we don't want to deal with the issues, etc., etc...) on families who are already living with the stigma of a raising a mentally ill or neurologically-disordered child who needs medication to function.

Instead of studying weight gain in these children, why not take those dollars and instead fund a study to find a way to help them get properly diagnosed and treated and included in the DSM-IV?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"That's the way I roll"

"That's the way I roll"

This was what my son said to me yesterday when I was gushing over his two Es (the 1st grade equivalent to an A) that he got on a spelling and a math test. Oh yes he did! It's a huge thing, but he acted like it was really no big deal. Deep inside, I knew he was beaming. ;-)

He is still doing fantastic so far this year in school as well as at home. He still marches to his own beat, but he's changed so much in regards to his behavior, his motivation, his self esteem and his progress in school. It's all finally come together for him and he often randomly says "I'm so happy, Mom", or "I love you so much" or other positive things out of the blue. He's finally feeling and knowing what it feels like to be happy, confident and stable for the first time in his life. Finally. He is on a roll.

Thank you God. Please let this last.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

More from Anita

Removed from her site, but copied from Google cache:

We Can't Trade In Our Children or Husbands

Anita Tedaldi | January 04, 2008
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"Hard to believe, but a Dutch couple returned their adopted Korean daughter after seven years. The parents adopted the little girl from South Korea when she was 4 months old. Reports of how the situation unfolded were contradictory but it appears that the girl was given over to the care of the Social Welfare Department in Hong Kong, where the man is a diplomat, because they could no longer care for her. The couple explained that the girl was emotionally unresponsive and all attempts at therapy failed.

As an adoptive parent, really as just a parent, I can't justify this couple's behavior under any circumstance. I don't think these people are monsters, though the result of their action is monstrous because they chose to follow their selfish and unloving side instead of choosing to tough it out and love their daughter no matter what. Sadly, the impact on this child will be devastating.

Perhaps they had good intentions when they adopted, most likely they did, but something went wrong along the way. These parents were probably unprepared to deal with some difficult aspects of adoption. It's easy to imagine only the best of a new family member, just as we do with our biological children. No one envisions mediocrity, let alone problems. I have imagined perfect things in the past only to discover the road to family or marital bliss requires lots of hard work and an effort to practice unconditional love.

Anyone can have unrealistic expectation not just parents. It's easier to envision perfect little kids who excel in everything, or a flawless husband, an exciting job, but most of the times these things require hard work.

From personal experience I can say that adoption can be challenging. But so can a biological child who has issues, or problems in marriage, or work-related difficulties. When our adopted son Matteo started having health issues we had to consult several specialist and it was hard for him to be around his sisters, it became challenging. This doesn't mean that my husband or I ever had any second thoughts about adopting Matteo, or that we considered him any different than our biological children. My husband's intense deployments have been difficult for our family, but my husband never wanted to leave the military, and I never wanted to "exchange" him after many years of marriage.

Adoptions, friendships, marriages, even the military lifestyle, are easy when things are going well. But it's much harder when the going gets rough. There's a reason we say that character is revealed by trying times.

I hope this girl can find a loving family who can help her overcome her traumatic loss and that all of us no matter in what area of life we are struggling can continue to renew our love for children and families even when it's tough."

This blog entry was published just one or two months before she gave her own adopted child away.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Call me Judgmental

This story makes me thoroughly angry, and the "back pat" sympathy from readers, even more so. I had to turn off the Today Show yesterday morning quickly so my son would not hear this story. His biggest fear? His behavior causing us to send him away to another family. He's living in the shadow of knowing about E leaving our family, even though we've tried to explain over and over how and why that happened, so that he doesn't feel as though it could happen to him too. Especially after suffering such huge loss in his life already. I'm sure there's some adopted child out there, somewhere, that did see this story and is wondering and worrying if they are not good enough to be loved forever.

Unless the family's safety or the child's well being was involved in some serious way, I can't see disrupting an adoption... any adoption. Even then, I'd work to find a solution that did not involve terminating my long-term parental relationship forever. It takes a huge amount of courage for a mother to place a baby for adoption and recognize that she's ill equipped to raise the child. But for an adoptive mother to go through an adoption process and raise an infant child for 2 years, then give it up because she hasn't bonded? I will not understand that. I don't even want to.

She's justifying her reasons publicly, and assuming no responsibility for what she's done and treating it as if she's given him some gift by giving him away. She makes no apology. She makes it appear as if it is the baby's fault. The burden is on the parents to try to make it work and put the time in to do so, the burden is not on the baby to bond with the parents. She comes across pretty cold about it. And talks of her feelings towards him in the past tense. As a temporary thing. Even birthmothers who placed babies, and moms who had children die, don't stop loving their children because they are not raising them or never had a chance to. Love is something you carry in your heart forever.

She comes across as very self-centered in her blogging. She wanted another baby, she wanted to "adopt" and she brought a special needs child into a family with an absent dad and 5 young siblings already. That the children sat there watching Sponge Bob and absent-mindedly said good bye FOREVER speaks volumes for how that baby was integrated into their family after 18 months. We fostered an 18 month old for ONE WEEK as an emergency placement, and had Dallas for only a few months himself (with attachment issues), and he sobbed his little eyes out in saying good bye. That's the day we decided that we had to put our license on hold and focus on him.

That family has some problems that go way deeper than mom not bonding with baby. She admitted it was only a few months into his placement and she was ready for him to go. A few months is a drop in the bucket and bonding can take time. If your mind gives up early, your heart is never going to follow. I hope that the little guy thrives in his new family, and I'm glad he is hopefully with people that know how to work with attachment and bonding issues. But... newsflash... It WAS NOT HIS FAULT. He was not defective.

It is kind of a sensitive issue for me. I'd never willingly give up any child I loved, no matter what the issues, so I cannot relate to this mother at all. She just pisses me off.

You know, bonding (to me) isn't even about hormones and visceral connected-ness, at least not right away. It's about learning to love another human-being as much as you do yourself, if not moreso. Loving a child is supposed to be about giving of yourself unconditionally, not about whatever rewards may come out of it.

Biological, step and adoptive parents don't always instinctively bond right away. Even some fathers don't until some time after the mother does. It takes time. With a challenging or hurt child or baby, maybe even longer. Maybe some don't ever bond as deeply as others do, but they still love and care for the child they are raising. Committed parents hang in there, and most fake it til they make it, and are happy enough for the internal rewards that come from caring for and loving a child and watching him or her grow and learn. When my son finally connected to me as his mom and bonded to me, it was my biggest reward. It didn't come right away, and I WORKED hard at helping it to happen. It is still a work in progress.

I think this lady expected more of a reward -- more intense feelings toward and from this baby -- than she received right off. So she gave up.

I don't know how any mom with two small infants already, no matter how maternal she thinks she is, could possibly think she'd instantly bond with a special needs 9 month old she's never met. Or expect to put the time in that is necessary to help the child bond with her. Why did she even adopt? I don't get it.

Any why are agencies not educating and thoroughly screening potential adoptive parents about attachment and bonding issues in adoptive children, and providing support afterwards?

Why was this baby failed so miserably during the most critical bonding period in his development? Has it become so fashionable to adopt from overseas that parents and facilitators are ignoring or downplaying the very real issues these children face, in favor of some pipe dream of instant gratification, be it parenthood or money?

It makes me angry and it makes me sad. At the same time, I am relieved that this mother didn't hold onto a child she says she loved, but couldn't love as her own.

It's just so sad. But she gets no sympathy from me. I've worked damn hard for my motherhood.