Mental Illness Labels : Alphabet Soup Poem

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Yesterday I commented on a post by blogger Myloudbipolarwhispers about mental illness labels. In the comment, I explained how one of my foster kids once had a therapist who talked about the dangers of “alphabet soup”, which is when people start collecting so many labels (ADHD, ADD, ASD, PTSD, SAD, OCD, DID, BPD, RAD, and so on and so on) that they lose sense of themselves as a person or even worse, those treating them lose sight of their humanity and just see them as a list of diagnoses.

I shared in the comment that I even wrote a short poem about “alphabet soup”, which ended up in my book about foster care (From Both Sides). Myloudbipolarwhispers mentioned that she would like to see the poem, so I figured I would just share it in a post here, since it definitely fits the themes of this blog:

Alphabet Soup
By: Maranda Russell

Some good old-fashioned RAD,
a touch of PTSD,
just a hint of OCD,
a generous helping of ADHD
and a pinch of ODD
to taste.

Add it all together
and what do you get?

Alphabet soup…

and a kid
made entirely
of labels.

New YouTube Video – “Behind the Scenes of My Foster Care Book”

This week’s video is a “behind the scenes” look into my popular book about foster care entitled “From Both Sides”. In this vlog I discuss the inspiration behind the book and share a few short excerpts.

I hope you will check it out! Feel free to comment and let me know what you think. You can also suggest future topics if there is something you would like to see me talk about.

NEW paperback version of popular foster care book “From Both Sides”

From Both Sides Cover

I am proud to announce that I have just released a NEW paperback version of my free verse memoir ebook about foster care entitled “From Both Sides, A Look into the World of Foster Care From Those Who Know it Best”. I have gotten quite a bit of positive feedback about the ebook, mostly from current or former foster youth and foster parents. Some of them have requested that I release the title in traditional book form so I finally decided to do just that!

For a little bit of background, this book is actually written from two different perspectives. The first half of the book is written from the point of view of children in foster care. The latter half of the book is written from the point of view of foster parents. While writing this book, I used my own experiences as a foster parent, as well as the experiences of many current & former foster children and other foster parents. Many of these poems were inspired by things that were told to me while I did these confidential interviews. The result is a book that tries to be brutally honest and create further understanding of the many struggles, frustrations and occasional joys that go along with the foster care experience.

I wrote the book in free verse style because I think that makes the emotional impact of the messages it contains stronger. It is almost like reading a diary or journal in some ways because it is so deeply personal. Writing in free verse also made it a short, simple book which I figured may make it easier for teens in foster care to read. I know many times it can be hard to get a good education while being moved around in foster care, so foster kids may sometimes struggle with reading. The book does contain some more mature material, so it is recommended for ages 13 and up.

If you haven’t checked this book out already, I hope you will! It is currently available from Amazon for only $5.39! It is still available in Kindle version too for only $2.99.

PS…I am looking for ways to promote this new book, so if you happen to have a website/blog or some other public platform and would like to feature me or this book in any way, feel free to contact me (contact information can be found on the “About Me” page of this website).

Ebook Release, “From Both Sides, A Look into the World of Foster Care from Those Who Know It Best”

From Both Sides cover

I am very proud to announce the release of a book that has been in the works for quite awhile now. This project wasn’t just another story I wanted to share, this was a very personal, intense book for me to write in many ways. As a foster parent who has undergone much heartache and frustration navigating the foster care system, I wanted to share a bit of that experience with others. However, I also wanted to give a voice to all the many kids who seem to fly under the radar and get “lost in the system”.

To achieve both ends, I divided the book into two sections. The first half of the book is written from the point of view of kids in the system. I did use a few of my own experiences with my own foster kids in this section, but also interviewed many current and former foster youth which really helped to open my eyes to the way foster kids really feel. Of course, since some of the questions I asked were rather deep, I interviewed kids that were at least nine years old, which I’m sure influenced some of the content. My husband and I have always fostered preteens or teens as well, so you may want to keep that in mind when reading this book. My heart really does ache for the older kids in the system because they are the ones that usually fall through the cracks and sit in the system for years or until adulthood. Even if they do get put up for adoption, it can be very hard to find adoptive families for older kids.

The second section of the book is told from the point of view of foster parents. In this section I did use more of my own experiences, but also included stories and feelings from other foster parents I talked to. I openly tackled subjects such as mental diagnoses, attachment problems, prejudice, abusive foster parents, loss and the reason behind why I personally chose to be a foster parent. In many ways I laid my own soul bare for this project, but I felt that the subject matter deserved no less. The book itself is written in an autobiographical prose/free verse poetry form that is very easy to read and understand, but gets quickly to the heart of the matter and the deep emotions that the foster care system often evokes.

My hope for this book is that it will inspire, encourage and comfort foster kids and foster parents in some way. I hope that they will read this book and feel like saying “Yes! Someone finally gets it!”. I also hope that those not directly involved in the foster care system will read the book so that their eyes can be opened to the real challenges and injustices present. Only by bringing attention to the problems of the foster care system can we hope to make some positive changes. As I said in the dedication of the book, “Here’s to hoping that someday EVERY foster child can find a happy ending, no matter their age or circumstances.”

To read this ebook for yourself or find out more about it, please visit the book’s Amazon page. Right now “From Both Sides” can be purchased for the Kindle for only $2.99.

Book Review of “The Adoptive & Foster Parent Guide”

Although I normally only review children’s books, I do occasionally make an exception for a book that I can really relate to, and I can definitely relate to “The Adoptive & Foster Parent Guide” written by Carol Lozier, MSW.LCSW.

As a foster/potential adoptive parent myself, I can say that far too many resources written about the subject of adoption and foster care are clinical and boring. I have read many of these books in hopes of finding some useful, practical information about the issues I face daily working with troubled kids, but have often been disappointed. However, “The Adoptive & Foster Parent Guide” did not disappoint in any way, in fact, I found it to be one of the best resources out there.

So what makes the book so great? First off, it is accessible and easy to use. As the introduction explains, the book is formatted with a magazine style that makes it easy for busy, stressed-out parents to browse through when they want a little inspiration or need information on a particular subject. I did read the book cover to cover, but there are parts of the book I marked and highlighted that I know I will likely return to again and again.

Secondly, the book is filled with advice and knowledge that real people can relate to while they are in the trenches fighting to help the traumatized children who have come into their lives. The part of the book on the various attachment styles was excellent, in fact, I wish it was required reading for every person who obtains a foster or adoption license. Far too many well-meaning people go into foster care and adoption with no real understanding of attachment issues. Without this crucial knowledge, it is nearly impossible to help traumatized children or create a healthy home life for the entire family.

Lastly, the book addresses issues that cause many foster or adoptive parents to burn out or even give up. Self-care is sometimes entirely left out of the equation when parents try to solve problems, but the truth is that if you don’t take good care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for others in a healthy way. If you continue to neglect your own physical, emotional and mental health, you are bound to add to the problems you and your family are facing instead of solving them.

Overall, this is a great book, one that I would whole-heartedly recommend to anyone who works with troubled children or wishes to do so. For more information about the book or to order a copy, please visit www.forever-families.com.

Review of ‘Man Shoes, The Journey to Becoming a Better Man, Husband & Father’

Even though I normally only review books for children or young adults, I jumped at the chance to read and review Tom Watson’s new book, ‘Man Shoes, The Journey to Becoming a Better Man, Husband and Father’.  As a foster parent myself, I love to read inspiring true stories of former foster children who have beat the odds and went on to break the cycle of abuse and neglect.

As Tom Watson describes in his book, he definitely had a rough start to life.  By the time he was five years old, he had already been in 13 different foster homes and suffered severe neglect and abuse, both at the hands of his biological family and from some of the foster homes that were supposed to be helping him.  Mercifully, at the age of five, Tom finally found a real home, one that would eventually adopt him.  The Watson family showed Tom all of the love, acceptance, kindness and support that he had always lacked.

Of course, no child changes overnight, so over the remainder of his childhood, Tom struggled with many of the same issues many other children with traumatic backgrounds endure.  Even with the love and support of a stable home, it wasn’t until many years later that Tom Watson started to really change from the inside.  With the help of his wife and later his own children, Tom finally grew into the person that he was always meant to be, a great man, husband and father.

Of course, no life journey is without its tragedies and failures, but overall this story is an inspiring, beautiful story about healing and the search for a better way of life.  This book touched my heart in a way that is rarely achieved, and gave me hope that the children I am sharing my life with will have the opportunity to grow into the kind of adults I know they could be.  Tom Watson is a great example of what loving foster and adoptive parents hope to do for the life of a hurting child.

I would definitely recommend this book to any parent or spouse, regardless of whether they come from a background like Tom’s.  I truly believe that anyone could find encouragement and wisdom within the pages of this great memoir.

To find out more about Tom Watson and ‘Man Shoes’, please visit the book’s website, www.manshoes.net.  You can also visit the ‘Man Shoes’ Facebook fan page.

Interview with Jennifer, foster and adoptive mother

For my second personal interview, I have chosen Jennifer, a devoted  mom who has fostered over 40 children in the past six years, and ended  up adopting 5 of those kids.  Though she has been through a lot,  Jennifer keeps a positive outlook and has been able to help many kids by  offering her home and heart to them.

Q: How did you become involved with adoption/foster care?

A: I had always been interested in these children that needed help. A  couple from church fostered and adopted and I always looked up to them. As an  adult, all I wanted was to be a mom. When I found out I would never have  biological children I knew it was just meant for us to help these kids. We  called our local DCS and began classes almost immediately…

Continue reading on Examiner.com Personal Interview #2 with Jennifer, a foster and adoptive mother from Indiana – Dayton Adoptive Families | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/adoptive-families-in-dayton/personal-interview-2-with-jennifer-a-foster-and-adoptive-mother-from-indiana#ixzz1NK0xel4Z

Right about now wishing we could change judges for our foster son…

It may not be the same everywhere, since counties and states often vary  widely in their children’s services laws, but in many counties here in Ohio,  when a judge is picked for a case, you are pretty much stuck with them.   Nobody, including the family, foster family, caseworkers, therapists or  attorneys can request a different judge.

So why is this a concern?  Well, first of all, judges often go against  the wishes of all the professionals in a case and just do whatever they  want.  For instance, even if the caseworkers, therapists and attorneys  are strictly against a child going home, the judge can ignore all of those  testimonies and send the child home right away if they wish to do  so.

This may not seem like such a big deal, but when you look more closely it  creates an alarming pattern…

Continue reading on Examiner.com: Should children’s advocates be able to request a different judge? – Dayton Adoptive Families | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/adoptive-families-in-dayton/should-children-s-advocates-be-able-to-request-a-different-judge#ixzz1MlL3rw3n

Interview with a real adoptive family #1

Although social workers and other experts can tell you a lot about the foster  care and adoption process, they can’t give you the nitty gritty details about  the experience.  Only someone who has been through the foster care or  adoption process can tell you what it is really like.  Of course, each  individual experience will vary, perhaps to a great degree, depending on  the personality and unique problems of each kid.

Our first personal interview in this series will be with Rebecca, an adoptive  mom who stepped in to help out her own nieces and nephews…

Continue reading on Examiner.com: Presenting the new foster care and adoption interview series – Dayton Adoptive Families | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/adoptive-families-in-dayton/presenting-the-new-foster-care-and-adoption-interview-series#ixzz1MRVxXOIH