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Monday, March 26, 2012

Book Entry 151: 1981 New Plans for our Family Part Two

We were being asked questions like would we be willing to take a child of mixed race, or unknown race.  Would we take a child with an extra finger or a clubfoot or cleft pallet?  Our Social Worker was asking what imperfections, if any, we would be willing to accept in an adopted child.  I laughed out loud saying, "We have three beautiful kids and none of them are perfect." 
Our worker went on to tell the story of a family who had requested a baby with blue eyes and blond hair.  This couple had been called to the hospital to see a beautiful newborn baby.  The baby was perfectly healthy.  The baby was one day old and they could take her home with them that very day.  She had blue eyes and curly red hair.  When the couple saw the baby's hair they refused to take her.  I couldn't believe my ears.  A childless couple would pass up a beautiful healthy baby girl because she had the wrong color hair.  Perhaps that baby would be their only chance and they refused her.  At first I was mad at the couple and felt sorry for the baby.  Later, I felt sorry for the couple and relieved the baby had not gone to them. 
We signed all the appropriate papers specifying we’d consider a child with a handicap we could work with.  We weren’t comfortable taking a child with a catastrophic problem because we had other children at home depending on us.  We had to keep their future secure.  We’d take either a boy or a girl as long as he or she was younger than Adam.  It was important to us to keep the kids in age order.
Our worker filled us in with a little more information on the brothers we had refused.  They had been living with their grandmother in a trailer.  When neighbors noticed there hadn’t been anyone in or out of the trailer for a few days they had gone in to find the reason.  The grandmother had passed away.  She had been dead for three or four days.  They found the little guy snuggled with his grandmother in her bed; his diapers hadn’t been changed for days.  The older boy was foraging for food in the kitchen cabinets.  The refrigerator was open.  Milk in the carton was spoiled.    There was an empty bread bag and an empty box for cereal.  They had eaten just about everything available. 
Months later we found learned these boys were currently undergoing therapy to recover from their trauma.  The therapist said it could take years for them to fully recover because as they grew older they would understand more clearly just what they’d been through.  The decision we made turned out to be the right one after all.
It was early in the evening at our next meeting when our social worker pulled us aside and asked if we’d like to see a little boy who had just become available.  She told us he was eleven months old.  Diapers and bottles flashed before my eyes.  I’m sure we were standing with our mouths open in shock.  My mind was saying “Oh no.  No way, not a baby, not all that work!”  At the same time Larry and I both blurted out, ”Yes.”
We got Justin the next weekend, nine months after started the process.  Somehow that seemed fitting to us.  All our other babies had taken nine months too!  Our social worker called and asked to come meet Justin at his foster parent’s house.  When we arrived we were told he was a bit destructive.  They said he continually tore the sheets off his crib and threw the toys out of his play pen.  We stayed for a while to visit noticing all the little glass figurines and collectables around on the tables and display counters.  When they brought Justin into the room and placed him on the floor he took off crawling at full speed as if to get away.  
It was an odd feeling visiting a home and seeing a child that was being offered to us.  It felt like we were intruding.  Even when we left Larry and I commented to one another how odd it felt.  Justin never smiled at us even once.  We were afraid he might not like us!
The next day we kept the kids out of school and made the day into a great adventure.  When we arrived at the home the next morning the kids couldn’t wait to get to the door.  Adam said to hurry and ring the bell because his new brother was waiting for us.  Heidi and Robin couldn’t hold still or quit giggling.  When the door opened and it was like a wave of cold water covered all of us.  The smiles stopped, the giggling stopped, the questions and pushing stopped.  We entered, introduced our children to the woman and to Justin.  Justin had a diaper on and a T shirt he’d outgrown a long time ago.  There was no need of a visit this time.  Our social worker took Justin from the woman and handed him to me.  It felt as though she was handing me any one of my other children.  It felt so different from the day before.  Now I was holding my child and I wanted out of that house!  Justin was eleven months old.
Larry asked if there was anything we needed to do and we were told to go home and enjoy our family.  When we left the only thing we were given other than what Justin was wearing was a bottle half filled with milk.  When we left Justin didn’t cry or even look for the woman who was suppose to be his temporary mother.  Any one of my kids would have gone kicking and screaming if they’d been taken from me.  I couldn’t even fathom the indifference Justin felt for that family or they felt for him.  As I left the house I asked the woman if I might have a couple pictures of Justin as a baby for his baby book.  She answered by saying they never took pictures of foster kids.  It seemed so odd to me that she wouldn’t want to remember the little ones that had been in her care. It didn’t take long for us to realize he had never been played with or nurtured, only fed and clothed.  He’d never been cuddled, only put in his crib.  He’d never been worked with, only put in his play pen.  He’d been put in and tied in to one thing or another all the time.  No wonder the little guy tore the sheets off his bed and threw his toys.  He was begging for someone to hold him or to play with him.
While the older kids piled into the van and began putting on their seat belts I started to put Justin into his car seat.  He didn’t mind me putting him in the seat but when I started to bring the brace down over his head that would hold him he began to churn like an egg beater.  He tried everything to not be trapped in that car seat.  I’ll never forget the look of terror on his face as he realized what I was doing.
Our first stop with our new boy was a children’s shop in Turlock.  We had nothing for him so we needed everything.  Justin was eleven months when we got him and as far as we could tell had never been worked with as far as teaching him to walk or even to communicate.  He didn’t use any words and he never changed his blank facial expression.  While we were shopping he crawled under one of the clothing racks and banged his head.  It made such a loud sound everyone in the shop heard it and expected a scream to follow.  Not even a whimper came with the goose egg lump on his forehead. 
When we slid Justin into a walker we noticed he didn’t straighten out his legs toward the floor.  His legs remains curled up under the walker.  He had never even been in a walker before!  I got tears in my eyes and said I couldn’t believe a family could have a little child in the house and never try to teach him anything.  Heidi came to my rescue.  She said right away she was glad his old family didn’t teach him anything because that meant we got to teach him everything.  I really appreciated that statement. 

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Thank you for sharing in my life's journey. If you don't leave a comment I have no way of knowing you stopped by. I do hope you enjoy reading of my life as much as I have enjoyed living it! Joyce