Sunday, November 20, 2011
Raising Abel....Ya gotta read this!
I was privileged to be asked to review Carolyn's book on my blog. Wow, me, little ol' me, I feel like Sally Field did getting her award! Someone thinks I have something of value to offer! I was thrilled to say the least.
I received the book in the mail yesterday and after getting over my insane jealous feeling that this lady lives in California and I live in Texas, I ripped open the envelope and jumped in. Wow, oh my freaking, crap on a cracker, wow. This book has slightly over three hundred pages and I read it in about six hours. Riveting. Painful, funny, sad and inspiring, all rolled up in one.
That precious face you see on the cover? That is Abel...right after his first really big, "Hey, let me let you know the honeymoon is sure as shoot over, meltdown." I looked at his angelic face and thought of what I'd just read. Just kept flipping back to the cover and thinking,"How could they?!"
If you are parenting a child of trauma, be ready to have many ahha moments where you will be remembering your experiences while reading about theirs. There were so many parallels to our own son's behaviors and our family's experiences. The thing that was most helpful to me is reading that parts where mental health professionals treated Carolyn with kindness, consideration and respect and like they knew she wasn't crazy, permissive, lazy, etc. but was doing all she could possibly do. Validation, we so need that.
If you are considering foster parenting, this should be a primer for you. If you can read this book and say, "Wow, that really is such a horrible experience for him but his mom stuck by him and they worked through it together. Yeah, I can be that for a child," then there is a child out there waiting, you've got the right stuff.
I'm going to include a few quotes from the book that either just hit me like a ton of bricks or mirrored an experience I've had (and then hit me like a ton of bricks).
p.24 This is the day Carolyn met Abel
I let myself out, walked slowly to the car, and started for home.
Is he the one? Is he my son?
I couldn't quite get my brain around it. I go, meet a child, play with him a few minutes and then he's mine for life? I actually tried to argue myself out of it,. I'd wanted a baby girl. This was a three year old boy.
I started to smile.
That sweet, sweet grin.
I shook my head. He obviously had some issues. Did I want to deal with issues in my first parenting experience?
The way his arms came around my neck.
I didn't even know whether he would be my son. What if he went back to his birth parents?
His warm little body snuggling down in my lap.
Yeah, I was lost. There were no arguments that could cut through what had clicked and locked into place when I first saw him walk through that door. He was mine.
p.105 The morning after revealing his birthparents had both molested him.
"Yes-a?" I said cheerfully.
"I was telling the truth last night."
I stopped and looked down at him. "I know," I said solemnly. "You were very brave."
p.183 Abel is in third grade and keeps his room in a state where science could easily happen. Refuses to throw away an empty applesauce cup because it is his friend.
A week later I found the cup on the floor under his bed, little bits of dried applesauce still stuck to the inside. I groaned and reached for it, but as I picked it up, I noticed he'd written something on it in black felt pen: I buleave in you.
I put it carefully back under his bed.
I still have that cup.
Finally, p. 249 The psychiatric hospital intake worker hears a condensed version of Abel's first three years of life.
"You know," he said finally. "I've been doing this for 30 years and that's the worst I've ever heard. That poor kid."
With the help of her trusted therapist and Abel's therapist (along with others in education and the mental health profession that "get it") Carolyn has guided Abel through over eighteen years of therapeutic parenting. Reading about someone who is much older than my son and experienced even worse things than my son did and he's not living on the streets, not in prison, not living in a mental health facility and alive...gives me hope.