Everything Has ChangedTuesday, February 16, 2016
Two weeks ago, our lives changed forever.
We got our boys.
For legal reasons, I'm not able to give out too many details yet, so in the meantime, I will refer to our 2 1/2-year-old as Little Guy and our 4-year-old as Big Guy.
Here at the two week mark, it amazes me just how much is different. And how some things are not anything like I expected them to be. And how some things are so much better than I expected them to be.
We've had some really great moments, like when Big Guy started calling me "mom" two days after we got them, completely unprompted (we had just been referring to ourselves as Tom and Alex), and now they both call us mommy and daddy; nothing has ever been sweeter to my ears than being called "mom" by my kid (it's happened a few times in my line of work -- I even got a "papaw" one time -- but it's definitely not the same). We've had hugs, and kisses, and snuggles, and "I love you"s. Those parts are by far the best parts so far.
But we've also had some rough times.
The tantrums, potty training issues, and seemingly out-of-nowhere meltdowns have not been terribly fun. Additionally, both boys have speech and comprehension delays (which is definitely not a huge deal, but it has caused some issues). Big Guy attends a developmental preschool and a weekly session at a speech therapy facility. Little Guy was evaluated for First Steps a few months ago, but since they were planning on moving him with us (he was in another county), they didn't start him. I'm actually meeting with his coordinator tomorrow, and we're going to set up a transition meeting since he's now old enough to start with the school system's special needs program. This has definitely been a big adjustment for us. Although I work with young children, I have not worked with many special needs children, and most of the special needs children I have worked with have ADHD, so this is a whole new ballpark for me. What's frustrating is that I keep asking what we can be doing to help them at home (we're already doing the basic talking to them, asking questions, reading books, etc.), but nobody has really given us anything to go off of. Little Guy's speech seems to be more severely delayed (at his age, he should be able to say between 50-100 words; he says around 5), but Big Guy's comprehension seems to be worse (though it seems like he understands something sometimes, but not other times, and since he has trouble communicating what he understands, it's hard for us to know what he's understanding).
Parenting in general is a process. Parenting a special needs child is a process. Parenting a foster child is a process. Parenting a special needs foster child? It's definitely going to be a process (though one that we are certainly willing to undertake as we learn how to better care for our boys). I know that we just need to be patient, and that with time and a little experimentation, we'll figure out what things work for our boys and our family, and what things don't.
I'd be lying if I said it wasn't already overwhelming.
Going from no kids to two kids who already have personalities and opinions and trauma (I'm not sure what all I'm allowed to say -- and even I don't know the whole situation -- but their situation, bad as it was, could have been much worse, and I am very thankful for their sake that it wasn't) has been a lot more difficult than I thought it would be (though I certainly wasn't expecting it to be easy). I mean, we get the crying, cuddles, poopy diapers that you get with a baby, but with a side of screaming, throwing things, and the occasional "I HATE YOU!!!" whilst in the middle of a full-blown meltdown. I think I may have mentioned before that we had long ago talked about adopting older children once we had already had some parenting under our belts, but we weren't able to get that experience in as we had once thought we would (what is it they say -- "you plan, God laughs"? Something like that).
We're the fifth home they've been in. We want to do the best we can to provide a stable, loving environment, but there are definitely times when it's hard not to throw a tantrum myself. Sometimes it's so overwhelming that I start questioning whether or not I can truly handle this.
But then Little Guy flashes me his intoxicating smile (he is SUCH a little flirt -- we may need to invest in a rifle to keep the potential suitors at bay), and Big Guy climbs into my lap, and I realize that no matter what else is going on, these are our boys. They are home. They are perfect.
And they are the absolute best thing that has ever happened to us.