In many ways, our Littles are blessed. The foster care system intervened in their lives when they were very young, and they will not have much (if any) conscious memory of life before us. They were 35 months, 10 months and 21 months when they arrived. However, they did have a life before us, and to pretend otherwise is to go around with blinders on. I call this the “old thread.”
Our 4-year-old (The Captain) has a few challenging areas. He has some attachment issues; I suspect some people think he is spoiled or whatever; we don’t care because we truly see that he is making great progress. For example, we have been working on eye contact and how you greet people. When he met his new teacher last week, he did look at her and take her hand, though “Nice to meet you” would not come out.
However, when he met a new friend from class, he dropped his head, stuck his lip out and retreated to the corner. Why? Because this was not his “old” friend, his “best” friend, his bosom buddy. That buddy has moved on to kindergarten, and The Captain’s rejection of this introduction was his way of objecting to yet another abandonment. It doesn’t have to make sense to others; it’s reality to him, and reality hurts.
His other main struggle is with language. Would he have struggled to talk if he had not been in foster care and been moved around so much? I do not know. Our reality is that this child is truly struggling to acquire age-appropriate language skills. Again, he is making amazing progress, and he still has a long road ahead of him.
Last year he started in the PEAR program in our local school district. PEAR stands for Preschool Expressive and Receptive language program. This program and its instructors are truly amazing. He has ebbs and flows of mastery, but the difference in him from a year ago is so remarkable. Today was his first day back, and we all can’t wait to see what the year has in store.
Before you adopt any child– particularly a foster child– it’s helpful to remember his past is a part of him. It’s not a “bad” part or a “broken” part or a missing part; these threads of the past make up the fabric that is the child of today and the adult of tomorrow. It is the fabric of challenge, testing, and defiance; but it is also woven in the trait’s tenacity and forbearance; it is the cloth of adaptability and self-determination. Embrace it, love it, and wrap yourself up in it!