One month. Maddison has been a part of our lives for one month but it seems like she has been with us always. We have adapted to washing and sterilizing bottles, a thousand and one snaps on clothing and feeding and sleep schedules. So far, so good. In fact, it is pretty terrific. Even if we are both a little tired and our Sunday afternoon nap ritual seems to be a thing of the past
Being older parents is a trip. We have not been greeted as the grandparents yet, but since I’m letting my hair (okay forcing it) to go gray that may soon happen. We have stopped introducing our little addition as a foster child. She is just our child, maybe for just right now but definitely always in our hearts. We also take her everywhere we go. I didn’t realize that this was a thing older parent’s do until someone pointed it out to me. But it is true. No we haven’t taken her to our local watering hole and we will get a sitter for the KOL concert but she does go to Bluegrass Brunch with us every Sunday. And she is a BIG DEAL. Just yesterday she was a hit, so much so, I think the band was getting irritated with all the squeals and baby talk coming from the adults gathered around our table to meet and admire our sweet and absolutely gorgeous girl. We were told she will be Tybee Famous. I think I’m going to call her BIG DEAL from now on.
This phenomenon of people coming out of the wood work to admire and coo at our little girl happens all over the place. Thursday evening we went to Naan Appetite, our favorite Indian restaurant in Savannah, and BIG DEAL was promptly whisked away by the wait staff. She got a tour of the kitchen and the food shop while we happily enjoyed our butter and vindaloo chicken. And then there is Kroger and Publix. Forget about it. There is no quick run in and run out because we get stopped on every.single.isle. so an adult or three can coo and admire my happy, smiling, giggling little bundle of joy. Tim decided after this weekend that parenting BIG DEAL is like living with a rock star. We are mobbed by admiring fans everywhere we go, we can’t enjoy a dinner out without constant interruptions and quite frankly, we are the entourage, the hangers on, just staying close enough so that some of the star power shines on us.
Folks are commenting on how happy I am and it’s true, I’m pretty much over the moon. Tim is too but, well, his support network is nonexistent so they don’t know how thrilled he is to have this baby in our lives. They don’t know that he is singing nursery rhymes with the lyrics changed of course because, that’s what Tim does. They don’t hear him gush about the da da da’s he gets and that she has already picked up his greeting for everyone, a very gruff, monosyllabic ‘hey”. Or that he picked out her first real walking shoes, brown Mary Janes with pink trim . Mostly he just hears how he should stop doing this foster thing and how horrible the outcomes will be. Yeah, we tune that crap out. When people ask how we are doing, the answer is a resounding, “We won the kid lottery.” We both feel this way.
Thinking back over the past two and a half years I have to say, most of the kids that have been part of our home, even the most temporary of ones, were pretty freaking terrific. Yeah, we’ve had our moments of believing we are crazy for doing this and my mom, my sister, and Kim are on speed dial for parenting advice and sanity saving rants. Every day is not a picnic but every day is definitely an adventure.
I’ve done a lot of studying and reading about trauma and the effect on the developing brain and learned about behaviors kids who have multiple ACE (adverse childhood experience) scores can exhibit. It can be pretty scary. These kids in the “system” have seen and experienced the kind of heart stopping trauma that causes their brains to be wired to always react with fight, flight or flee responses. But by in large, we have experienced very little of that. The kids we have had have been amazing. Strong beyond anything I could have been at their tender ages. Brave beyond their years and hopeful and loving in spite of it all. It makes me sad when I hear the concerns people stupidly voice about bad behaviors in foster children. It makes me worried for our society that for years and years these kids have been labeled with behavior disorders and medicated without truly getting at the root of what causes these behaviors. I was told once that all foster kids are destined for alternative schools, saved for the worst kids, with the lowest possibility of success, where violence is expected and meted out despite our more enlightened methods of discipline. But that has not been our experience so far. We have had gifted kids, polite kids, funny kids, beautiful kids, smart kids. Kids with personalities that light up the room almost as bright as their smiles. We’ve had troubled kids that work hard to learn their triggers and overcome their natural responses all the while being charming and funny and entertaining. Foster kids are really the super heros in my eyes. And that my friends is why we will keep doing what we are doing. Thanking God daily for bringing these sweet souls into our lives. Praying for them while they do life with us and praying for them when and if they go home to their families. And just enjoying them. That’s something I have learned on this journey, to just enjoy them. Laugh with them, cry with and for them, pray for them always but just remember to stop and enjoy them.
BIG DEAL is so young and her trauma happened primarily in her first three months of life. From what little I know about her history I would guess she has an ACE score of about 6 or 7. That is huge. I pray that the early intervention and loving, safe and stable environment she has now will help to heal those wounds and give her developing brain time to wire properly. She was released from her neurologist last week but we will have to watch her as she grows and develops to report any neurological issues from head aches to blurry vision. The doctors also say she is very bright and a fast and that she will keep us on our toes. I am praying that God heals her completely and that she can beat the trauma odds.
Finally, thanks to those that follow our journey through this blog. Those of you that pray for us and support us with phone calls, texts and other words of encouragement. And those that jump in and help when we need it. Your support means the world to us and beings tears to my eyes. Thank you! We have a court panel meeting this week for BIG DEAL, please keep us and her family in your prayers.