Yesterday I achieved a goal I have had for quite some time. I presented at the Ontario Association of Infant & Child Development Conference at Caesar’s Windsor. It was my first time presenting at a conference and surprisingly I wasn’t all that nervous. The topic was Our Journey: Finding Hope and Courage Through Family Centered Care.  It was a small audience but that’s okay since it was my first time. It went over very well and several people told me it was their favourite of the whole conference. That was very pleasing and humbling.  Oh and I should say that Corbin gave me permission to share some of his story. In his words, “people need to know”.  I hugged him for that one.

In case you are one of the people that heard me speak – welcome. I also thought it would be easier if I put a link to one of the pieces I wrote but didn’t have copies for you at the conference.

The War I Want to Wage

I hope you will stick around, ask questions and enjoy reading about our journey.


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Checking In

So I haven’t blogged for several months. Honestly the summer flew by, we only got to go camping in our new pop up trailer twice and both times were unbearably hot and humid – like sit in your own sweat all day type humid. Our niece Teegan came down for several weeks and she was Corbin’s support person in the evenings. He loved having someone his age to watch movies with and she even managed to get him to go for walks. We loved it because we weren’t inundated with a million requests.

Corbin also found his way onto this blog. I knew it would happen one day. I have tried to be careful what I share but when I asked him if it was ok for me to continue to share about him he answered “someone has to tell what it is like”.  I teared up over that one.

Corbin turned 18 at the beginning of October so we have been knee-deep in paper work for Ontario Disability Support Program and doing the Supports Intensity Scale (SIS) through the Developmental Services Ontario (DSO). That gobbledygook means we had to prove to two different arms of the same government that he qualifies as having a developmental disability (also known now as Intellectual Disability). Oh and we also have to prove to the federal government that he still is disabled to continue to receive the Disability Tax credit.  We have heard back from ODSP that he qualifies but we are waiting to hear from the DSO. This leaves us in a bit of a pickle as Corbin has paid supports during the week and when you turn 18 the funding stops and you have to get support through DSO. We are running the risk of losing Corbin’s workers – one who has been with us for almost 5 years. I try not to think of it, as there is not much we can do but wait.

Also in the works is that I am speaking at a conference about Our Journey: Finding Hope and Courage through Family Centered Care.  It’s partially about my family’s path with Corbin and also looking at some research and best practices for Family Centered care. The conference starts tomorrow and I speak on Friday – hence why I am writing here, I am putting off going over my presentation.  Please come back and check in – I plan to do more writing again once the conference is over.



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Harder Than I Ever Thought it Would Be

We worked long and hard to become parents. Years of infertility filled with tests,
needles, examinations, surgeries and the loss of dignity. We moved on to
adoption and were again met with questions and the need to prove ourselves. But
finally the day came and we welcomed a wonderful 3 year old boy to our family.
We were so proud and excited to start our new life together.

I was new to my job so Adam took a few weeks of parental leave while I finished up
my probationary period. From all accounts, they had a great time each day just
hanging out and playing and setting up a pool for Corbin.  I was so excited to be a stay at home mom,which is what I had always seen myself as doing. From day one it was hard.
Harder than I ever imagined it would be. He didn’t listen to me and I was on
the go with him the entire day. I had been so excited to take him places like
swimming and the Early Years Centres and they all ended up with him screaming
and crying and my face flushed red in embarrassment. I knew I was nearing the
end of my rope when I found myself crying over socks in the department store. I
knew it wasn’t about the fact that I didn’t know what size socks my boy took.
It was much more. I tried to talk to friends but they chalked it up to being a
new mom and told me I was doing great. Great. I might have been doing great but I didn’t feel great.2002-08-11-021

Any spare moment I had I reduced to tears. I made sure my son didn’t see me and I didn’t
open up to Adam. I felt like if I admitted that I felt sad and depressed
during a time that was supposed to be joyous it would make me seem ungrateful
and an unfit mom. What I didn’t know is that adoptive parents can have post-adoption
depression. The internet wasn’t like it is today back in 2002 and I had no idea
that opening up to my doctor might have led to a conversation about possibly
needing depression medication, maybe just for a little while. Instead I
soldiered on, oblivious to the help I might have had.

Eventually I went to therapy and that helped. I was able to explore how I had been
parented and what kind of child I had been and reconcile that with the
knowledge that my son not only wasn’t me but that he wasn’t some dream child I
had created along the way in my mind. Instead he was a very troubled little boy
who would eventually have multiple diagnoses. By then I was much more prepared
to parent him and the depression surrounding his adoption had lifted. I felt relieved to know that I wasn’t feeling depressed about him but rather it was situational. I write
this hoping that other adoptive parents might see this and realize that there
is no shame in admitting you are struggling and that post-adoption depression
is a very real thing.

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Out There

I have been submitting writing to other sights and then losing track when they are posted. So here are the last two (that I am aware of, lol)

on Rage Against the Minivan

and The Mighty

So enjoy and please leave a comment if you are so inclined.


Happy Canada Day Everyone

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Daring to Dream

Corbin is struggling in some of his classes this semester – he doesn’t get along with one of his teachers and it has always been an issue. If Corbin doesn’t get along with them he tends to fall apart in their class. It’s just the way it is.  He is in danger of failing two classes and he has been doing so well up until now that I find it hard to accept that he might just fail those classes. I mean – we are so close to graduating next year!

I see what I did there

“WE are so close to graduating”. It’s true – this isn’t just about him anymore. I am wrapped up in his grades and whether he walks across the stage at graduation next year and picks up a real diploma as opposed to a certificate of attendance. He’s worked hard. WE his parents have worked hard. He deserves to graduate. WE deserve for him to graduate. I already have plans for a graduation party and announcements pointedly sent to people in the past who didn’t believe in him.  I haven’t decided whether to write “Stick It!” or “Suck It!” on the announcements. I guess I have some unresolved anger going on.

But all kidding aside. He has worked hard and I really am invested in seeing him graduate. He has an Intellectual Disability and Tourette’s and OCD and ADHD and Autism and and and AND he WILL graduate!! If it’s the last thing I do!

I maybe need to back off a little – it’s hard to determine what is productive encouragement and what is making your kid live your own dreams. I get that. I keep saying I just want him to be happy. Is it wrong to think that graduating would give him a sense of accomplishment and make him happy?  I’m not ready to give up yet. I have to believe that he is capable of this!


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A Full Year and Counting

The first part of this story can be read here

After reading the first part over again I have to say this: the truth is I am not now who I used to be prior to my hospitalization. My experiences and the medication have made me a new person. Whether I like it or not. I spent the better part of a year trying to get back to where I was. People would comment how quiet I was and were wondering if I was ok. And I was. I was doing ok but I also felt lost. I had a horrible memory and almost zero motivation to do anything. My favourite thing was to have a nap – I would come home on my lunch and curl up on the couch and be dead to the world for a full 45 minutes.

My head felt foggy and I wasn’t sure of myself. The medication gave me a hand tremor and I felt so unsteady I stopped taking the stairs at work for fear of falling. My doctor assured me that most of these symptoms would soon stop. For the most part they did. I can make it through the day without a nap, the tremor is almost non-existent and the fog has mostly cleared. I’m still more tired now than I was before my hospitalization – it’s just an unfortunate side effect of the many medications I am on.

What I notice now is that the thoughts that were once whirling around in my head frenetically have slowed and the remarkable thing is I tend to have one thought at a time. One thought at a time. I didn’t even know such a thing was possible. I think this has been the biggest change I have seen (aside from the lifting of the depression). This change though is hard to get used to. I have spent 40 years with my thoughts whirling and twirling around in my head. I often thought of it as a train going around and around that I couldn’t quite catch. The filter between my thoughts and my mouth was often missing. People knew I was a straight shooter – often reacting to things spontaneously while others gave it careful consideration. I also wasn’t the best listener as my thoughts would go off racing in a zillion different directions when someone would tell me something. I’d already be thinking of my response before they were finished talking. That is not good listening.

So now I am a better listener but I don’t feel like me. That often makes me pause and wonder if the side effects are worth it. One of my main complaints before was that I couldn’t handle the racing thoughts – they drove me crazy – literally. Now I find the quiet in my brain eerie and disconcerting. Adam constantly wants to know what I am thinking or why I am being so quiet – he thinks there is something wrong. It is that I have no thoughts. I never knew it was possible to have nothing to say. Now I know.

All of this to say that I am not the person I used to be. Just like all experiences we have in our lives – I have come out the other side a changed person. Some for the best and some not so much. Overall I think life is going well now – I just need to get used to the quiet in my brain.


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Advice to Myself as a Young Mom of a Child with Disabilities

  1. This a marathon, not a race. Slow down and know that all those phone calls and letters can wait until tomorrow. He won’t know that you refrained, just barely, from calling his school Principal an idiot or that you successfully had his suspension rescinded.
  2. Get more sleep. It’s tempting to stay up after he is asleep to have some “me time” but in order to work with others you need to be rational and well rested.
  3. Put down the mop and just spend time with him. Teach him how to bake and let him eat the batter. Play board games over and over. Go to the park. He will remember the wind on his face as you pushed him higher and higher on the swings. If he remembers anything it will be these moments of closeness. It’s these small moments that will carry you through the hard times.2006-06-17-200412
  4. Get a Babysitter. He is a handful but you have a couple of people willing to be with him. Lean on them. Hire them once a week to give you time alone with your husband. You will grow apart as your son’s needs overwhelm you and it gets worse every year. Don’t let it happen.
  5. Let your husband help you. Tell him you need him. Open up about how overwhelmed you are feeling. Talk to him about taking over some of the responsibilities with your son. Don’t just use him as the enforcer at school meetings – have him do some of the follow up to the letters you write and the phone calls you make. He is kind and capable. Let him help.
  6. Try not to Ugly Cry in front of service providers. Tearing up is ok, deep heart wrenching sobs are not. Maintain your composure but be genuine. People will respond favorably when you show them what it feels like to be in your shoes. Certain people will thank you for giving them a glimpse of what your life with this spirited boy is like.
  7. Write about everything – what has happened, who said what, how you feel. Writing is your outlet and even when it is very raw you are thankful for having written it. Don’t stop or let being overwhelmed stop you. Writing is the key to processing for you and thus is necessary in order to move on.
  8. Take care of yourself. Take time away from the family, get a pedicure, get your haircut. Be kind to yourself. Do basic things for yourself like going to the dentist and your family doctor.
  9. When depression creeps in be sure to talk to your family doctor early on. Maybe if you treat the depression early on you can avoid some hospital stays. Go to therapy and stay in therapy, even when things get tough stick it out.
  10. Love yourself! You are a dedicated advocate for your children but don’t just define yourself by your advocacy skills. You are so much more than that . . . You are a mother, a wife, a friend, a writer and so on. You are amazing.
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