K5 had a very strong relationship with an older girl that had been in the same foster home as K5. We had heard that this foster sibling (not a biological relationship) would be aging out of foster care in January. It broke our hearts that she had not been reunited with her birth family AND she had not been adopted into another family. This was a child facing adulthood without a concrete family to call her own. The hubby and I talked about it...mostly he talked and I balked, but in the end we decided to invite this foster sibling to visit us over Christmas. She had sent us letters and had kept in touch with K5 and it was clear that they were very bonded to each other. We contact social services, fought through some red tape and brought her to K5 as a surprise on Christmas Eve.
I will never be able to express in words what that moment was like. I had wrapped a giant empty box and left it in the living room for a week. The younger kids all took turns picking it up and commenting on how LIGHT it was considering the size. I told them that it would be super heavy by Christmas because I was filling it with LOVE everyday. On Christmas eve, we snuck K5's foster sibling in the front door, cut a hole in the bottom of the box, leaving just enough edge that she could step on it so the box would suddenly be heavy and dropped it over her head. Hubby would tap on the box so she could move her feet for the big reveal. We then called the kids up from the basement were they had been distracted with a video game. The kids headed for the big box and where shocked at how heavy it suddenly was. The moment my daughter realized that her foster sister was standing in our living room, she started jumping up and down and screaming. Her excitement was so much more than we could have ever imagined. It was also apparently more shock than her little system could handle since she went from screaming with excitement to collapsing in giant heartbreaking sobs against her foster sister. As I said, I can not do the story justice, so I will just let you watch the video, but I warn you...you might need some tissues.
After Christmas, well, we couldn't just send her home without offering to be some sort of support in her life. We talked with her a great length and she asked us if we would be willing to adopt her. She had been in an "Independence" program in foster care and so she had been living in a townhouse on her own for several months with just a social worker checking on her about once a week. She was excited at the prospect of being in our family and living in a home with lots of people. And that is how K6 came to join our family. She aged out of foster care and within an hour our lawyer had filed in the same court room a petition for us to legally adopt her as an adult. We helped her pack all her belongings and moved her to our state. We flew back to MO a month later to finalize the adoption. Studies of adult adoptions show that these kids can really struggle. Going from being essentially on their own, to being in a family, is very difficult. Our experience pretty much agreed with the statistics. K6 faced a lot of anxiety and frustration in our home. She just never allowed herself to belong...in many ways I think she didn't want to belong. More than anything she wanted the very thing we couldn't give her, biological connections. In the end, she ran back to MO as being a part of our family was just too hard for her and she longed for contact with her biological siblings. She broke our hearts when she left. She has since gotten married. I know that she struggles to understand where she belongs in life and I pray she finds the peace and happiness she is looking for. I will always love her, but I have to accept what I can and cannot help her with. She is a legal adult and I have very little say over her life. She does visit from time to time and I maintain hope that as she matures, she will one day understand the real love of a parent.
In July, a mere 3 months after K6 had run away, my husband sent me a profile of a waiting child from the Adoption Exchange website. I said no. Plain and simple. I was broken hearted. I believed my spirit was broken beyond repair and I just honestly couldn't stomach the idea of adopting again. My husband pushed me on it a bit and I remember becoming very angry and yelling that I had 6 kids...one of which hated me and I had done my share already. I remember telling my husband that the ONLY way I was ever adopting again is if GOD HIMSELF told me too. I was very specific! I said God had to drop a little boy off on my doorstep because I was NOT going adopt another girl, do a home study, and work with a social worker to go looking for one!!!
One learns in life that mocking God or challenging him in any way is generally a good way to end up doing exactly what you said you wouldn't do. I was no exception. One evening in August, I received a phone call from some friends of ours. They were part of the core team for the adoption support group that we helped facilitate at the church we attended at that time. There was a child in need and they were asking our advice. This child had been previously adopted but the family dynamics where not good and the adoptive parents wanted to disrupt the adoption. He was described by his adoptive family as aggressive, unattached, violent, mentally retarded and physically delayed. The family stated that they were afraid of this child. Afraid for their lives and the lives of their children. He was 4 years old. My eyes filled with tears as I heard this little guy's story and in my heart, I knew what God wanted me to do. Honestly, I felt DRIVEN to taken this little boy in. His adoptive family showed up at my house and dropped him off. They had never met us before. We had no home study or a social worker. We never went looking for a child. The only connection was that they had contacted an organization that had contacted our church. God had literally led this little boy directly to my doorstep...just as I had told my husband it would have to happen. Well, needless to say, six months later, we finalized his adoption and K7 became my next lottery winning. Well if you had opened the door and there was a baby in a basket on your doorstep, what would you have done?
What an experience to take in a child badly diagnosed and on numerous psychotropic drugs. Drugs he never needed and had only served to delay his growth and development. We fought with psychiatrists and social workers to pull the meds as quickly and as safely as possible...and it still took months. In fact, we even dropped one adoption agency because the social worker refused to support us on pulling K7 off medication. She went so far as to tell us that we were harming K7 and she even went back to K7's previous family and told them to take K7 away from us because we were not acting in his best interest. We maintained that if WE were going to be K7's family, WE needed to see what we were medicating. We finally "fired" that adoption agency and landed with Positive Outcomes to handle the relinquishment with social workers that agreed that the Psychiatrist and my husband and I should determine what medications he should be on. K7 came to us barely able to walk or talk. His little body shook so hard he could hardly feed himself. He was so heavily medicated that he couldn't grow and develop. Here is a brief article on the topic. K7 was on bi-polar meds, depression meds, meds to treat aggression, Iron supplements and then medication to counter the Iron so he could have bowel movements. His fear of punishment was extreme. He would sob in my arms for hours - telling me that he couldn't calm down unless I gave him medicine. And yet my most heart breaking moment was when he fell off the playground equipment and caught his lip with a tooth. The blood gushed and it had to have hurt...but he just sat there with the blood dripping down his chin. He never said a word. He never shed a tear. It was then that I understood the seriousness of his neglect.
I had been taught that children that had faced serious neglect might exhibit this behavior but I had never seen it before. The philosophy is that the child will learn that tears do no good because nobody will come and help anyway. His adoptive mom had told me out right that, per her therapist's and psychiatrist's advice, she would lock him in his room until he stopped crying...sometimes as long as 8 hours. When I asked her why they said to do this, she replied that from the moment he arrived in their home, he was inconsolable and nothing she tried would work. She got bad advice. REALLY bad advice. This little boy had been placed in her home at age 1 from another country. He had left his caregivers, his smells, his favorite foods, his language and sounds. Nothing was familiar to him...he was scared. What he NEEDED was for her to love him, to protect him, to help him feel safe, to hold him for hours until he collapsed from exhaustion. Needless to say, they never appropriately bonded as a result and the match was doomed to fail. In the end, I had to teach him how to cry in order to learn that I would wipe his tears with my kisses and hold him as long as he needed.
K7 has been with us over a year now. He still shows signs of the extreme discipline from his previous life. He has insecurities that he may never leave behind...but he is medication free. Now when he is upset, instead of begging for medicine, he cries big tears and says "mommy, I just need hugs and kisses!" He is a happy little guy that bounces everywhere he goes. He has no issues with walking or feeding himself and has no cognitive delays. He is in speech therapy and is getting a little help in kindergarten for reading. Beyond that he is a normal, healthy little boy. He is ALL boy and is seriously rough and tumble. Much more so than my two biological boys had been. I am astonished at how hard he plays and how many toys are destroyed in the process. But his happy twinkling eyes make me smile. And last week, when I dropped him off at school, he had to run all the way back to the car to give me "just one more" hug and kiss. Then he galloped (we are still working on skipping) all the way to the kindergarten playground yelling "I love you mommy!" and blowing me kisses. I thank God for sending me this blessing and reminding me that I am not in control because GOD has a better plan.