Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Hearing with clear eyes

I ate the saddest banana on Sunday. Saturated by summer heat, lounging by the pool and the whistling trees. We had just dropped our foster son off for the last time. He's all packed up and ready to go live with his Dad. It's been three years of this little kid and my heart is just breaking.

We've had two foster kids, one girl, one boy. The differences have been amazing. The girl came from a home where mom was largely disconnected from her daughter. Either through mental defect, selfishness or drugs, she wasn't always there. And if she was, it wouldn't last. Long term stability is not possible for the mom.  Which is why our foster daughter is now with an auntie.

I know this pattern of scattered connection affected our foster daughter. She never learned how to attach properly. As such, even after two and half years, I don't think she really bonded with us. In our heart of hearts, we believe she had Reactive Attachment Disorder. She bonded to those literally right next to her, in a superficial way. It was a good first few months with her. Attachment by reaction.

After a few months, she fought pretty much every attempt we made to love her. Kids with RAD don't understand that love is caring and nurturing. She saw us as people that gave her stuff and got in the way of her being in charge. Sometimes she'd settle and we'd see glimmers of true connection. But we don't know if that's true. Kids with RAD are great manipulators. It's how they survive.

Two and half years and we still don't know if we made a dent. I don't want to shame this child, here, in this blog. I'm merely working through what I was seeing and understanding. It's so sad for me and sad for her. Following the RAD paradigm, she bonded very well with her auntie when it came time  to move on.

There's a chance for our foster daughter, now that she's with her people. She felt it. "I'm finally leaving foster care!", she said. If Auntie proves to be solid and consistent, our foster child will have a chance of learning how to love and be loved. Not just to be cute and scam those around her. My heart is breaking and hopeful for her.

Bonding is huge. I think about my kids, how I birthed them. How they were glued to us for the first year. OH the months I spent on the couch...nursing and cuddling, nursing and cuddling... Then they start to walk and the cuddles become less. We're still attached though. We hover and helicopter with pride. We make sure their world is a good one, managing their needs from the time they wake up until well after bed time. Even when they're sleeping I'm aware of coughs, snorts and whimpers.

I'm attached to them and they're attached to us. They take us for granted. They run around carefree, knowing we're right here, bugging them to do chores.

For foster kids it's different. They showed up four years into their life. We have a big, friendly family and a pool. It's like a sleep away camp. But no matter how much we offer, after a while, they want to go home. So we hold them, rock them after nightmares and deal with behaviors. This is where attachment comes in.

For our foster son, he had a grandma who was always there. He understood love. Sadly, his grandma was not always stable. And managing a little boy is tough, especially if you can't right yourself. His mom would fade in and out depending on her drug addiction.  It was a lot for us to learn when we started helping out. Especially when it came to managing behaviors.

I'll never forget being 8 months pregnant in target, testing the waters of bringing him places by myself. This was a rookie mistake! He had a gigantic tantrum. I steeled myself, thought of all the frontier women who had gone before me. I commenced picking this writhing,  four year old child off the floor. Gingerly placing him in the cart and wheeling him out. All the while he was screaming..."I want...I want.." Then, in the car, "I want my mom."

It was a good 6 months before I brought him anywhere by myself after that.

We did behavior charts. We did bonding things like just being there all the time. Being there all the time and being super boring. Loving him to whatever degree he would tolerate. He got it. He bonded with us. Towards the end, I could take him anywhere and do anything. The bonding made all the difference. If you bond and love someone, you'll listen and behave for them. He fit in our family.

All of this was a stupid banana on Sunday. These kids came into our lives and made a complete mess of it. Then it straightened out. Eventually their extraordinary needs became routine, like every day kid needs. Signing up for soccer? Done! Hours long screaming fits? Done!  Checking off homework sheets? Done! Court hearings? Done! Pack lunches? Done!

Across from my banana sat Mr. Hall. Watching my eyes well up with tears. He knew I prayed to adopt our foster son. I prayed so hard. Of the two foster kids he fit the best. But he has a Daddy. A Daddy who loves him and is ready to take care of him. So off he goes and my heart is hopeful and breaking.

Then I just lost it. Sobbing and shaking shoulders, eating bananas by the pool. I told Mr. Hall I want to adopt. He knows this. And he said, like he has a 1,000 times... "We will when it's the right time."

And I think I heard him for the first time, with very clear eyes.

2 Left a message at the beep:

Bruce Johnson said...

Thank God For Mr. Hall!

Mrs. Hall said...

Amen to that brother!

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