About Celebrate Calm

507143c0-5b2e-48f5-9478-897094919918I started this blog as a way to share with other families everything I’ve learned about understanding and parenting children with attachment issues as well as behaviors that manifest much like attachment disorders. Unfortunately I learned all of this too late as my 17 year old (adopted) daughter took her life in 2008. You can go to my Resources page on this blog or read my book, The Girl Behind The Door, for more detail.

I still get messages and emails years later from parents who, unlike me, recognized that their children carried serious baggage from infancy yet still couldn’t find them the right kind of help. So I try to share anything I come across that might be helpful to the endeavors of others. To be clear, these aren’t vetted endorsements. You will have to do your own homework to determine if any organization I feature is appropriate for you.

Someone recently tipped me off to a North Carolina organization called CelebrateCalm. Founded by Mr. Kirk Martin, this organization offers workshops, books and CDs aimed at parents and teachers dealing with children who have trouble self soothing. Though this is a classic trait of orphaned children, Martin’s work is aimed at kids, such as his own son Casey, with ADHD. Here is a link to a 2008 article on CelebrateCalm in The Washington Post.

This may or may not work for everyone but I believe when it comes to our kids well-being we have to try everything!

 

 

The Heartbreaking Story Of Amanda Todd

This isn’t an adoption story per se but I connect with any and every sorrowful story involving teenagers, and there are so many such stories. Recently I got an email from Carol Todd, Amanda’s mother, as she was reading my book, just to say how much she identified with Casey’s story.

Amanda was in high school in British Columbia when she found herself the subject of a bullying campaign, the result of an innocent mistake that anyone could’ve made at her age; it had gone viral over the Internet. She was ultimately driven to take her precious young life in 2012 at the age of 16.

Before she died she posted a Youtube video of her story told in her own words, but there is no sound. Silence is powerful. It’s gotten nearly 20 million views.

o-AMANDA-TODD-facebookWhat a tragic, tragic loss.

Dear Family and Friends

Now that Igor is in doggy heaven there is one thing we’ve wanted to do – a trip to Europe in summer, 2017. It’s less about seeing the sites because we’ve seen them, and more about connecting with people and seeing places we’ve missed. Here is a very preliminary itinerary: San Francisco to London to Edinburgh/Fortingall, Scotland. Then onto Manchester/Huddersfield/Liverpool. Fly to Brussels/Uccle and visit Bruges on my bucket list. Onto Paris/Chatou for a couple of days, then Bern, Switzerland to see the Brandenburgs and Regensberg, Germany where Erika was born. Lastly Poland – Krakow (another bucket list), Osweicim (Auschwitz), Wroclaw, Warsaw to see family and Mragowo to revisit where Casey spent her first year. Then Gdansk, back to Warsaw, London and home. About 30-45 days. We plan to stay in Airbnb’s where possible or family/friends as long as they can stand us (2-3 nights max). So we welcome any input on best ways to get around (plane, train, rental car) and lodging. Consider this our Amazing Race!

We Are Now Published In German by Beltz

A different book jacket and title that translates roughly into “The Car Is Parked At The Bridge. I Am Sorry. A Father’s Search For Answers To His Daughter’s Suicide.”

With over 80 million people, Germany is the largest country in Europe.

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An Ode to Igor – 2001-2016

1001 dog showCasey was an only child. Sometimes she pined for a sibling then changed her mind, preferring to get all the attention and possibly more Christmas presents for herself. Moon in Leo. But like so many kids she wanted her own pet who would be her loyal friend, who would never betray her and stick with her at her worst when she’d stomp off to her room to cry, scream and pound it out.

Erika and I stalled for time. We got her a pet rat named Banjo, but rats don’t live long. We had our cat Grimsby, but Casey looked at him as our cat. We got her a Tomogotchi digital pet. We went to dog shows and got her books on dogs which she devoured, falling in love with a half dozen breeds until she got to W – whippets. They’re sprinters bred to chase rabbits, 35 MPH couch potatoes, skinny, quiet and gentle.

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We got Igor from a gay couple in the East Bay who mostly bred boxers when they had a IMG_3706_2litter of 10 whippets from 2 champions from Ohio. Igor was born with a twisted foot, thus the name Igor, like Dr. Frankenstein’s crippled assistant. Casey was also reported to have been born with a twisted foot. But in both cases their feet were fine.

In our first month together Igor didn’t make a sound, and then he barked at something, a deep bark that surprised us all, probably over a squirrel. He loved going to the Mill Valley dog park where he’d goad the other dogs to play chase. They never caught him. One day he ran off to the far side of the park where a woman with fiery red hair and a white streak tended to her little dog. Casey ran after him and we saw her talking to the red haired woman. It was rock star Bonnie Raitt. But then Igor got attacked and bitten by other neighborhood dogs and he didn’t want to play chase anymore, preferring to stick to himself. Igor never ever bit or hurt a flea (well OK except for Sandra’s bird); he was a beta dog who loved to sleep under Casey’s covers up against her stinky feet.

Then one January morning Casey literally disappeared.

Igor became our prosthetic to survive. He endured injuries, more dog bites, heart disease and old age until his running days were over. He lost 10 pounds which would be like me losing 50 pounds. He labored for breath. Erika doted on him because she needed to dote on something. It’s so hard to read an animal in distress and Igor hung in there like a trooper until his enlarged heart and massive tumor in his abdomen made life too painful.

Igor July 29, 16Yesterday we sent him off to the dog park in heaven where he rejoined Casey, but also Grimsby, Lola, Ruby, Rosie, Dakota and Hunter, among others. He’s no longer in pain and can run to his whippet heart’s content.

As for Erika and me, we wake up to his empty bed and half finished food bowl. The house is still … again. We have to find new routines. And at least for now we can’t allow ourselves to fall in love with another pet only to endure the pain of loss again.

 

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You Don’t Look Adopted – A Must Read

4177gIUacTL._SY346_You Don’t Look Adopted is a memoir by Anne Heffron about her experience as an adopted person. I think I’ve read or tried to read every book on adoption and the adoption experience from the point of view of the adoptee. Some of the  adoption magazines sugarcoat adoption with pictures of happy families and stories of joy, and  many adoptive families this is true. But for a great many adoption can mean a lifetime of pain, regardless of how much love, affection and privilege is offered.

You Don’t Look Adopted is a uniquely raw account of what it means to be adopted –  the insecurities, attachment issues, identity crises and self-loathing from the trauma of separation from one’s birth parents.

This book is a vital read for any adopted person, adoptive parent or prospective adoptive parent seeking to better understand the mysteries and difficulties of what is a profoundly complex life experience.

On a side note, whereas it took me 3 years to write and bring my book to market, Anne wrote and published this work in a matter of months, a land speed record!

It is currently available only as an eBook on Kindle but look for a paperback copy soon.

My Upcoming Events For The Week of June 6th

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Thursday June 9th from 7-8PM. I will be speaking at Friends For Survival, a bereavement group for suicide survivors, at North Highlands Community Center, 6040 Watt Ave, No Highlands, CA. just off I-80 just north of Sacramento.

 

 
Copperfields-Web-logo-AnniversarySaturday June 11th from 7PM-8PM I’ll be speaking at Copperfield’s Books new store at 999 Grant Avenue in Novato.

 

PLEASE JOIN US, ESPECIALLY OUR SACRAMENTO FRIENDS!!