Princess was placed with us from the state system at four months old. The first time we saw her at the foster home, she was dressed all in pink and had the most beautiful blue eyes. Looking back on it, there was definitely a sadness to them. But that day, all I saw was my little girl. My baby. I was so overwhelmed and honestly think I was in shock. I just could not believe my dream was coming true. We met Princess for that first time five days after getting the initial call from the social worker. My feet still had not touched the ground, I was so excited and anxious and nervous.
During the course of those five days, my husband and I narrowed our name choices to two with one being kind of a spunky name and the other being kind of a calm name. So on the drive to the foster home for that first visit, we decided that we would pick the name based on her behavior and temperment. She was so calm so we went with the second choice. Boy oh boy... if only I had known that the calmness most likely was her withdrawal due to neglect in the foster home. The spunky name definitely would have fit her better, but I convince myself now that the more "calm" name we gave her is something to strive for in our future. haha
Princess was exposed to drugs and alcohol and cigarettes while she was in utero. We were told this from the initial phone call. However, we were also told that she was very healthy and from the social worker's prediction, Princess had no lasting effects from her exposure. If only I knew then what I know now....
Princess was also exposed to domestic violence in utero, but it was testing positive for drugs at birth that warranted the involvement from dcf. She was released from the hospital and placed into a foster home with an older woman who specifically took in babies, specifically exposed babies. That impressed me and comforted me that this woman had done this for years and Princess would undoubtedly benefit from all of that experience. oh how wrong I was....
It was the only foster home our little girl was in and once it became evident that parental rights were going to be terminated, we got the phone call to start the adoption process. It was such a whirlwind. We received the initial call on a Friday and met Princess for the first time the following Tuesday. We took her for a weekend visit that Friday through Sunday. We had to bring her back to the foster home on Sunday. It was an incredibly difficult thing to do after having her in our home for three days. Then, we saw her again at a doctor's appointment that next Tuesday and the social worker brought her to us for good on Wednesday.
Twelve days from the initial phone call to her being permanently placed in our home under a "preadoptive" license. Twelve very fast, very overwhelming days. My husband and I went from being by ourselves praying and hoping for a baby to becoming parents in twelve days. I went from being a full time elementary school teacher to a stay at home mom in twelve days. We had a crib and a changing table/dresser and a bassinet in the house....just because. We had gotten the nursery "set up" in a bare minimum way to take pictures to add to the photo book we had to submit during the licensing process. In twelve days through the generosity of family, friends, and my co-workers we filled our house with a ton of stuff ranging from clothes, diapers, toys, and bottles. I have often looked back on that whirlwind time and still get a smile on my face from the generosity that was shown to us. I also get an ache in the pit of my stomach wishing I could go back and do it over. Of course, life doesn't work like that.
What would I do differently? I would have read so much more- about drug exposed babies, sensory issues, and most importantly attachment parenting of an adopted baby. I would have been focused on all of those things rather than on whether we had toys for her to play with. I would have held her all the time.... literally. I would have worn her in a wrap or a sling. I would not have so easily put her down because she pushed away from me and I wanted to do what would make her "happy". I would have attempted to breastfeed her. (I didn't even know that was possible until recently.) I would not have let anyone else hold her for a very long time. I would have done infant massage with her and would have gotten a co-sleeper for our room. Oh, if only I had known. I completely realize that none of these things would have guaranteed that we would not be dealing with some of the issues we have now, but I think it definitely would have helped.
What I would not change is adopting her. She is my answer to prayer, my miracle (my first miracle), one of my many blessings! I love her beyond words I could express, even with all of the challenges she and I face together on a daily basis. I strongly believe that God gives me what He thinks I can handle. I often joke that sometimes I think he has too high an opinion on what/how much I can handle, but I trust He knows what he is doing. I also trust that we are now on the right path in getting her the help that she needs.
I will tell more about that in a future post.