Our girl has been with us 20 weeks now! We are almost to 5 of our 6 months waiting period before we can adopt her. She has blossomed in so many ways and shown great difficulty in others. We have done some research and are going to move forward with testing to find out if our concerns are correct. We are prepared that we may leave the next doctors appointment with an official diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Several markers pointed towards this as a point of concern; our girl has shown a serious lacking in her ability to concentrate on anything, even when she truly wants to, she struggles with word comprehension and has learned to repeat words or phrases with no true idea of the meaning. She has shown great struggle with her emotions, more so than you’d expect for her age. She has some physical features consistent with the diagnosis as well. In recent years a brain scan has been developed to help diagnose this spectrum and help parents and caregivers better understand what it is they could be dealing with physically to explain what is going on behaviorally and cognitively. This is of course a scary diagnosis, anything with the brain is though. Babies exposed to alcohol inutero can appear totally developmentally normal for a while until it becomes a hurdle they can’t get past. Our sweet girl does her school book with Ben and I every morning and retains very little of it. Seemingly simple things do not work in her brain. Her level of frustration over the fact that she can’t understand something someone else gets easily is heartbreaking and yet provokes in me a need to know how to better adapt information to her way of thinking. She is incredibly smart and understands some thoughts beyond her years and can’t others than are areas you would expect her to have mastered months ago. The brain is a fasionating, delicate machine of an organ that needs proper care to thrive. Watching my daughter struggle, even when she isn’t fully aware she is way off base on a subject, brings about a rage in me. The thought of this precious child being surrounded by drugs and alcohol during a crucial period of time in her delevopment makes me angry, sad, disgusted, and hurt that someone could be so self centered that they don’t think of the effects on this person sontotally dependant on them! And then I remember, if that person hadn’t been so self centered and cause this harm, my happy girl might be more aware of her absense in her life. While she has her share of frustration of her struggles, she is a happy child. She says with laughter “I don’t believe you” because she thinks it sounds funny and has no idea she is offending her brother. She can go from full tantrum to filled with giggles at the drop of a hat. She may be angry and fully not understand why her excited headbutt gets her sent to the calm down chair to take deep breathes but she is happy when she has made us happy by calming herself down. If this woman had not made the choices she did at this young age, my baby wouldn’t be here, snuggled in her pink room surrounded by unicorns. We would have lost out on the chance to know her. I pray one day the women who brought her into this world will be healthy and I will get the chance to thank her for choosing life. I hope by then I won’t harbor any resentment over the choices she made as a young, hurting adult living in her addiction. My baby will live a healthy life, she will know love, she will know acceptance, and most importantly she will know Jesus. Our girl has made significant improvements in areas like empathy, love, thinking of others, caring for others, developing her own mind, she has improved in the areas of eating and no longer thinks all vegetables are poison on her plate. I’ll never forget her little look of disgust when she asked why I peed on her plate; it took every ounce of personal restraint within me not to laugh.
She came to us with a very distinct name, not even truly fitting to her personality or her ethnicity. Her middle name was even more of a thinker than her first. We took the advice of fellow foster parents and social workers involved in her case to consider changing her name to something more fitting to allow her control over being found one day when she is ready to meet the people she shared DNA with. This is in no way an attempt to undo her past, it is merely an attempt to give her a future free from anyone unhealthy preying on any vulnerability she may have. She seemed so disconnected from her birth name, like she really didn’t hear it much as it was. We chose a name that incorporated her birth name, our family names and her personality. Once we had decided on it, we decided to wait to say anything about it to her. That worked well until I slipped and called her it. Twice. Both times were within minutes of each other followed by me apologizing and saying I didn’t mean to address her incorrectly. She ignored my attempt to pull my foot out of my mouth and went about her business. After about a week of me calling her by her correct name, she walked up to the dinner table and said she wanted to be called the other name. She proceeded to correct us and request (demand) we call her the new name for a few days before I contacted her social worker. The social worker said it was a safety concern to keep the original name and that if she wanted to go by the new name it was a fine nickname. Now that we are on the path to adoption, we have decided it will be her legal name once the time comes. If you ask her who named her she will say with pride she named herself. We got to choose the spelling and it was a name we had always loved so it was just a serendipitous choice. I hope this will provide her the anonymity to grow up free from drama, embracing her fresh start and even more so allow her the control to decide when and how she contacts her birth family. I hope as she grows she will see this as a choice made out of love and not to take her from anyone. I hope she understands that every choice we have made was to better her life and never to hinder her from knowing who she came from. We are thankful for the journey that she took to make it to us and pray she will heal form her scares she got on the way. I couldn’t imagine life without our sweet girl.
Psalm 91:14 ESV
Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name.