Today is the first anniversary of when we moved N in with us to begin her new life. I remember driving half way across the state with M1 and M2 in tow to pick her up and bring her to the second adoptive and sixth placement she would have. She was really nervous as were we. I knew in my heart it was the right move but I had read her history and had not yet seen some of the really hard stuff that was to come. In hindsight that is probably better.
We packed her stuff into the back of the minivan and returned across the state to our home. I had no clue, really I did not. We had a fantastic Christmas and we had a lot of fun for the first few weeks. The unfortunately as the honeymoon ended we started to face the behaviors head on. N went from occasionally defiant to an outright pain in the butt at times. She could be loving and caring and at the drop of a dime, be violent and abusive. So many bruises later we started to learn how to manage so that we would not have to restrain so much, so she could talk about her feelings, so she could feel part of a family.
A family is still a slightly foreign thing to N, after all she spent 8 years living in an institution where staff came and went. She had several failed placements and trust me when she was acting out I could see how they failed!!!! I knew she was pushing us away because she believed we would dump her like all the others before us. If she shoved us away it hurt her less. She tried for months to do it and despite myself and M1 telling her that “family means nobody gets left behind” (thanks Lilo and Stitch), it would take her months to accept that fact.
When she finally accepted it there was no parade, no grand changes, she still at times was a pain in the butt. However what did change was her aggressive statements. She went from “I hate you I want to go back to my Hillside” to “I don’t know how to be part of this family.” Her swearing and name calling stopped a bit and even though she refused to clean her room most of the time, the number of prompts and threats if she did not were decreasing. It is a slow and uphill battle for sure many days but there is marked progress.
So happy one year anniversary N, welcome to our home and while it resembles at times some of the drama you watched on your portable DVD player know that there is never a lack of love, forgiveness and patience.