*Warning: Proud mommy post! Not the bragging conceited type of pride. The from-the-bottom-of-my-heart-you've-done-so-well kind of pride in this child!
One year ago this precious little Piper girl was 6 years old and finishing kindergarten. She lived with her foster family in another state. They are wonderful people and loved her above and beyond the call of duty. But she was severely wounded in her soul. Her birth parents abused and neglected her, yet she loved them. They were the only parents she had known. I know they loved her too, but they didn't know how to be parents. They were too crippled by addiction and mental illness to do what they needed to do in order to get their kids back. One year ago this little girl was fresh out of her final visit with those parents. She was learning about adoption, and finding out that she wouldn't be able to live with her foster family forever. She was hurt, scared, and ill-equipped to handle the emotions that would render most adults useless. She was physically tiny for her age, and struggled with constant nasal drainage.
In July we brought her home to become a member of our family. We were impressed by her warm heart--a heart that was starving for love, consistent care, security, stability, and permanence. She did really well at adjusting to life with a new family, a new home, a new community--all in a new U.S. state. But school was rough. She did fine in kindergarten with her foster family, but she was not prepared for 1st grade in our state, which holds its students to higher standards than the state from which she came. PTSD, ADHD, and adjustment disorder affected her ability to learn. The first trimester was a nightmare for Piper. She struggled to keep her head above water. There were questions about whether she would pass 1st grade. She was that low. Her wonderful team at school partnered with me to develop an accommodation plan for her, which helped. Slowly, we began to see changes for the better.
In January we returned to her birth state and finalized her adoption in court. That gave us the freedom to begin treating her ADHD. It gave her the freedom to tell us everything about her past that she had been holding in until she knew for sure that this family was forever and that she would never have to see her birth family again. It all came out and we were horrified at what our daughter had been through. She was willing to do anything necessary to deal with the fear and pain. With the help of our amazing therapist, Piper valiantly fought the demons of her past and has experienced tremendous healing. She's a different kid. At the end of the second grading period, she had shown significant gains in school. She was still below grade level, but was on the right track.
This morning I had the final conference of the year with Piper's teacher. I was beyond delighted with the results!
901. Straight A's on her third report card. Y'ALL!!! She saw at least a 5% increase in every subject, with an 18% increase in Language Arts!
902. National 93rd percentile in math on her latest benchmark test!!!
903. National 60th percentile in reading on her latest benchmark test (up from 9th percentile in September)!!!
904. Solid skills in reading and phonics
905. A reading focus shift from decoding strategies to fluency!
906. A happy, content child who no longer loses focus and zones out in class
907. A bubbly, joyful child who regularly tells her teacher about how much she loves her forever family
908. Freedom from the fear that once stalked her mind and made it difficult to concentrate at school
909. A delightful pair of friends (Sarah and Mady) who the teacher tells me are the sweetest, most loving and solid kids in the class
910. That Piper is well-loved by every child in the class
911. A healthy body that has grown 5 inches and gained 5 pounds since July, and a drainage-free nose
912. Sleeping through the night with no bad dreams or bed wetting
913. No more signs of adjustment disorder or attachment problems
914. The ability to do things for herself: shower, fix a sandwich, tie her shoes, read a book, complete math homework, change her sheets, fold and put away her laundry, ride a 2-wheeler, etc.
915. Generous, spontaneous hugs and kisses without pulling away
916. Solid, sustained eye contact
917. Disappearance of food problems (hoarding and gorging)
918. Tears in the teacher's eyes as she described the transformation in this child over the school year
919. Adoption: a gift for Piper and for us.
920. Unconditional, unreserved promotion to 2nd grade!
I shake my head and marvel. Foster care adoption is not for the faint of heart. But the rewards SO OUTWEIGH THE DIFFICULTIES!!! I love this amazing little girl as though she had come from my own body. I am so proud of her strength, courage, and determination. I am proud of her achievement at school, because she has worked so hard for it. I am proud of her kindness and sensitivity. I am proud of how she has learned to love and trust again. I am proud to call myself her mom.