Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Happy Anniversary - Sort of

Today is a special day, but not one we really celebrate in our house.

Five years ago today I brought home one really messed up little girl.  She was with a fabulous family, but she didn't want to be there.  She did everything to let them to know, and she wasn't subtle.  At 4 years old she tried to choke an older brother, she screamed 8 - 10 hours a day, if she was hurt, she went to anyone BUT her mother for comfort and so on.

We had spent several months talking with this couple about "rehoming" their daughter.  We had already done respite for them several times, so we knew exactly what we were getting into, but we also saw something there that we had never (and still haven't) seen with our son - Hope.  She wanted a family, but she was angry at this family.  There is a very simple reason that she was angry and she could tell me why, but she couldn't get past it, no matter how much therapy they did, and boy did they.  This couple was so committed to her, but without change on HER part, it wasn't going to work, and she didn't want to change.

We met at a neutral location, which we always did when we were the respite family.  We did the "hand off" but something was a little different.  She came with a few more things and some personal things, such as her "baby book" (a scrapbook lovingly made by her mother.)

At the time we told her it was going to be respite, but we knew that wasn't the case.  We all think she did too.  We didn't want to tell her she was staying until we had permanent guardianship from the court, which took another couple of months.  None of us wanted to tell this little girl that she was going to stay if the court didn't agree.  She couldn't handle an adult lying to her.

If you look at a change in placement, it's a scary thing.  The child is being moved to yet another home (some kids can have 30 - 40 placements) with a family that they don't know who is telling them they love them and that they're going to be here forever.  Like we as adults would believe this, but we expect kids to.  We expect them to be excited to be in a house of strangers who proclaim love for them. How could they possibly love someone they don't know?

Things changed when our daughter entered our home.  She grew and flourished into a beautiful young lady.  It wasn't anything that we did that was amazing, it was her willingness to change and accept us as her family.

So while we are thrilled that we have gained a wonderful daughter, we hurt for the family she left behind.  They made the most loving choice they could for her and it hurt them deeply.  I know the pain of loving a child who no longer lives with you.  I still ache for them, and I wish they could have experienced the girl we have.  They did all the HARD work for her.  They deserved THIS girl!

So, before anyone thinks about criticizing an adoptive family who terminates a placement, think about how that family feels.  Their decision is made out of love, not out of selfishness.  No one would choose the pain of having a child leave their life.

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