It is the time of year that I used to hate as a child ~ going back to school. I remember being so anxious and worried about my clothes and hair and having brand name school supplies. At least to me at the time, that was most important. Although, I went to private school and wore a uniform, so more important than brand name clothes was having trendy shoes. This was a hard feat to accomplish growing up, although having 2 older sisters didn't hurt. I got a lot of hand-me-downs or re-runs as I used to call them. As a parent, I remember these things growing up and go to quite a bit of trouble to make sure that Jeremy has K-swiss tennis shoes and brand name clothing and backpacks. Does this make me a snob? I suppose, but there are worse things to be called, right?
Also, as a parent, I find this time of year very exciting. I absolutely loved having my son home but I am eager for him to learn and become the person I know he can be and sadly, since I was not blessed with the patience or skills of being a teacher, I sent him to the professionals at school. I am eager to see how he will continue to change and grow and prosper in school and in life.
The past few weeks have been very exciting and challenging simultaneously. Our foster daughter is continueing to grow and excel in our home. We have had the worst part of the evaluations done this past week and the less invasive and more standard exams are up this next week. She has been poked and prodded and to me, almost abused all over again. I have seen things I have never wanted to see and heard stories that no mom should ever have to hear. But they are a thing of the past!
As a foster parent, we had to take our beautiful foster daughter to social services for visits with her parents. First up was her mother, mom's boyfriend, and her brother, who we got to know briefly from staying with us. I received a brief glimpse as to what this little girls life was like for the past 2.5 years and it broke my heart. Any of you who know me and really know me, you know I am not a crier. It takes a lot to bring on tears and usually it is done in private. In a dark room with double pane glass I had the priviledge of watching the interactions and I have never wanted to jump through glass and rescue someone as badly as I did last week. And what got me most upset is that these people knew they were bring watched and were on their best behavior! The audacity of the mom's boyfriend to suggest that we start introducing her to the musical potty seat they had bought for her. Are you kidding me? What about the fact that this child does not eat any solid foods, walk, or talk, or has some obvious medical concerns? Potty training is the furthest thing from my mind!! They really didn't even seem to care that she was even in the room.
After that visit was complete, there was another visit with her dad. This broke my heart because her dad, as disabled as he was, got right down on the floor at eye level and interacted the entire visit. He brought her a book as a gift and provided the social worker with a whole photo album of pictures including her birth pictures in the hospital. He was so proud of his daughter and to my shock, when he said "No, No," she stopped what she was doing and responded to him. He whipped out his cell phone camera and began taking pictures. You could just tell that he genuinely cared about her. Even when she grabbed his cane, and in play, smacked him really hard across the head with the cane, he didn't react or yell at her. To me, that is a real dad! I am not sure how much I am allowed to say, so I will stop here.
We also had her tested developmentally and all of her scores were between a 4 month and 11 month old. We had her tested for genetic abnormalities because she has some interesting features and did not resemble mom at all. I was relieved to see that she does resemble dad quite a bit. So we are very hopeful that everything will come back negative, but it is always good to be able to rule things out when assessing this type of situation.
Last weekend, we attended 2 birthday parties! The first was a pool party and I was nervous about how our foster daughter would do in the water. She was hesistant at first, but soon warmed right up. I knew it would be good exercise for her little legs and it was a small enough pool so that in a netted inflatable, she would be safe and always within arms length, but still able to float freely and explore a little bit. I had purchased 2 bathing suits, but not knowing very much about little girls sizing, I trusted the tag on the hanger and didn't question it. That morning, I pulled out my 2 adorable swimsuits to discover that one was a 9 month size and the other was an 18 month size. Thank goodness I have a good friend with 3 daughters who was able to lend me an extra swimsuit for the day!
I continue to receive compliments from friends, family, and strangers alike about how much she looks like Jeremy. I am learning to smile and enjoy it. We have fallen in love with her and are eager to fill her emotional voids from the last several years. AND, after throwing Jeremy a great 3rd Birthday Party, I get to throw her HER own Birthday Party! Since she has never had solid foods, she has likely never had cake! I cannot wait to see how she does.
Many people have asked about pictures. We are not allowed to share any pictures on Facebook but I am not sure about blogs. I would assume it is the same. We have an email list going around, so let me know if you would like to have your name added to it. For some reason, hotmail addresses all seem to get returned to me.
On another note, I received the most thoughtful and heartwarming gift from my good friend, Laura. We were best friends in high school at Regina Dominican in Wilmette, IL. Throughout the last 15+ years we have moved several times and gone through many life changes, but somehow always managed to stay in touch. In fact, we were able to keep our high school pact of being each other's maid of honor in our weddings. And we got married 6 months apart! I love her dearly and consider her family.
Laura has been working on her artwork. I knew that this was a passion, but similar to my dreams of dance, becoming a wife and mom takes a priority and any individual interests seem to fall to the back burner until retirement age. Not Laura! She has developed her skills and talents and has sold some of her pieces at local art shows. I was honored that she chose to make a masterpiece for me in honor of Savannah. It is a ballerina tutu with ballet shoes and ribbons. The shoes are in the shape of a heart and the ribbons have Savannah's name on it. It is so special and meaningful to us because it reminds us of our Ballerina, dancing among the Angels in Heaven. To us, it is not just a painting. It is a constant reminder similiar to a cross in Church or a picture in your wallet. It is amazing and we placed it somewhere where it would always been seen.
We finished the week by taking a family trip to Water Country, the local waterpark. Since it closes for the season on Labor Day, I knew our time was limited if we were going to try it out. I was nervous that it might be overstimulation for her and chaotic since there are always so many other kids. AND, being that it was the end of August, it was very difficult to find any type of swimsuit at all, much less one in her size. I was able to find one at Target on clearance for $4.98. I know some of you who know me really well and probably even some of you who don't, but this really was the ONLY swimsuit I could find anywhere and it just happened to be ballerina. I swear this was not planned. Besides, summer is almost over and then I can start fresh in the spring. Stop rolling your eyes!! I wish I could share a picture or several or a handful of the over 300 I have taken over the last 18 days, but until I ask about what the rules are, we don't want to do anything to jeapordize her privacy. It took me no time to find her mom's FB page or mug shot online, so I'm sure if she tried hard enough, she could find my blog. Our priority needs to be protecting her privacy, which is why I have not mentioned her name.
So enjoy these last few days of summer! I know we will but we are looking forward to the school year ahead ~ the holidays, the birthdays, and showering our foster daughter with everything her life has lacked - mostly love and attention. The improvements are coming fast and I think it is only a short time before she will be walking unassisted. I am very hopeful and so are the doctors that her legs and feet will straighten out on their own and she won't need leg braces. Her teeth are nothing that a good cleaning and later down the road braces cannot fix. I just cannot wait to see the progress and growth of this young lady in the weeks and months ahead. I am confident that she will overcome each and every hurdle and grow up to lead a normal, happy, and healthy life. And if people want to think that she and Jeremy are twins ~ I'll take it! You won't believe the Halloween costumes that have already been purchased and the coordinating outfits for Christmas Cards!!
Thank you for bringing our family into your lives and hearts. Each new day brings about new challenges and opportunities but many joys and much happiness as well. We are so blessed to have each other and as much as our foster daughter is blessed to have us, we are so blessed to have her in our lives.