Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Yet Another Long Overdue Update

My deepest apologies to all of you who have read and commented on this blog in the past (is there anyone left out there?). For a number of reasons, I have been unable to post for a very long time. I also have been very neglectful in reading all of your wonderful blogs- believe me when I say I have missed you and your blogs terribly.

Hoss and Little Joe are now in a new foster home. They left about a week ago. We had six (almost 7) months with them and those months were a whirlwind of drama- both good and not so good. The boys did come up for adoption and we seriously considered adopting them into our family. It was a heart wrenching decision to make, but in the end we decided that adoption was not the best decision for either us or the boys. There were a number of factors that brought us to that difficult decision, many that I cannot blog about publicly. However, I can say that, while we saw tremendous progress with both boys during the first three or four months that they were here things began to get increasingly difficult as time went on. Truthfully, since my last blog post in October I have spent a majority of my time working with therapists, counselors, and special education teachers as we all tried to find a way to help the boys with their myriad of issues stemming from the abuse and neglect that they were subject to in their birth home. As time passed, and Little Joe turned 2, we began to see the emergence of more and more autistic- like behavior that alarmed and dismayed us. Hoss, on the other hand, was in intensive physical, occupational and speech therapy (I have logged in more hours at the hospital than I care to consider) that was slowly but surely helping him get closer to his chronoligical age developmentally. Unfortunately, we also endured some very difficult behavior problems with both boys, and were unable to "explain away" behaviors that, quite frankly, scared me to no end. Through the help of the boys' pediatrician, we were able to locate a therapist in the area who has a lot of experience working with children who have suffered trauma and who was qualified to diagnose Reactive Attachment Disorder. Hoss was diagnosed with RAD (he hit every marker for RAD but four that he is not old enough yet to exhibit).

A lot of soul searching, tears, research, and prayer went into our decision to let the boys go. The reality of parenting a child with RAD and a child on the autism spectrum, in conjunction with the abuse and neglect issues and the developmental delay issues both boys have, was a difficult reality to face. There are parents in this world, I know, who are able to rise to the challenge of the boys needs and have the resources to meet those needs.

The cold hard truth we had to face was that we are not those parents.

The boys left without a look backwards and I am told that they walked into their new home with smiles on their faces and hugs for the new family. After six months in our home, neither boy have asked for us, cried for us, or even mentioned us.

We, on the other hand, are working through our grief and struggling to find a way to forgive ourselves for not being the parents that the boys need or deserve. There is some comfort in knowing that we did, at the very least, help the boys become more like little boys who play and laugh and less like the lost, bewildered, beings that they were who had no idea who they were or how to interact in the world. We did, at the very least, get them the educational assistance that they so desperately needed, as well as the therapies necessary to help them with their fine and gross motor skills (including the braces for their feet they both really needed) and their language skills.

Ah, but they need and deserve so much more. So, in the final assessment, we must face the fact that we did, in the end, fail to meet their needs.

A tough, bitter pill to swallow.

our house is quiet, the toys that did not go with them are put away, and the only reminder that they were here is the framed Christmas photo on the mantle.

As for our Vietnam adoption, well, we did get the call to put our dossier together to send to Vietnam. At the time we got the call, we were still planning on adopting the boys, so we asked to have our application put on hold.

Right now, we are not sure where we are headed or what will happen next. There is a little five month old baby boy bouncing in an exersaucer nearby me that came to us at three months through the foster care system. [yes, for awhile there I had two high special needs toddlers and an infant to take care of. that, my friends is why I never blogged] At this point no one knows what the future holds for him, all we know is that he will be here for at least six months, probably more.

He does need us, and we can, at least in his case, meet his needs. We cannot, of course, send our dossier to Vietnam while we have a foster child in our home.

And how can I look into that adorable face- those big blue eyes and chubby cheeks - and send him away?

To read about abused and neglected children will tear at your heart. To live with the devasting effects of abuse and neglect will shatter your "love can fix anything" hopes, wear you out body and soul, and put your back together again into a person you never knew you could be- one who somehow holds onto the real hope that time, love, care, and hard work can make a difference while still holding on to the dark reality that there are children that have been so hurt, so damaged, that they will never completely bounce back. And the heavy burden of deciding how far one can go, how much one can do, and finally, when to let go is as much the reality of foster care as the exhilerating moments when a child, against all odds, hangs tough and reaches out to love and grow and trust in themselves, others, and the world again.

There are somethings in life, no matter how tough, that once you encounter them you cannot walk away from.

Right now, for us, that "something" is foster care.

And that enlivens me and frightens me terribly both at the same time.

So, we have not traveled far from my last post, have we? We still do not know what direction we are going, what will happen with our Vietnam adoption, and what our future holds.