Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bonnie's Story

In addition to a supportive home, sometimes additional resources, such as counseling or skill-building, are needed to help children in foster care gain stability or build new skills for success. That's part of the reason why Iowa offers a unique post-adoption support service to help families and children weather challenges long after an adoption is finalized. For today's National Adoption Month story, an adoptive mother shares her family's journey of patience, advocacy and love to provide a trusted environment for a child to succeed.

Bonnie's Story

"When our little girl  came to us, she was only three years old. Her diagnosis of severe Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) was soon substantiated. This little girl did not want to be touched, held, or rocked. If we tried to read her at bedtime story, she would push us off her bed. It took us a bit of time to figure out her boundaries and the triggers that would cause her huge meltdowns. We soon learned that transitions were very hard for her – whether it be shutting off the TV, taking a toy out of her hands when it was time to clean up, or basically any change in activity. At times, these triggers would send her into repeated screaming fits that could last up to an hour. I cannot even begin to tell you the number of times that I considered giving my 10-day notice. Her behavior helped explain why I was home #4 in the short 18 months she had been in foster care. 

However, there was something about this little girl that immediately captured our hearts. Day by day we began to learn more about her and see the sweet little innocence that laid beneath her thick exterior wall. I soon discovered that she was ticklish so I would swoop her up, blow on her tummy, and immediately set her back down so I wasn’t in her personal space too long; she loved our new little game and would giggle every time I repeated these actions.  This is how she began learning that our touch was ok. I also began researching RAD and attending as many foster care trainings as I could find about this disorder. It simply broke my heart to think how this little 3-year-old gorgeous blue-eyed child was fearful of close relationships and letting anyone into her tiny little world to love her. 

A note from Bonnie's daughter

But we did fall in love with her and as an experienced parent with years of parenting under my belt, I also knew that emotionally she would not survive another move.  Although I knew that she came with many challenges (including some developmental delays and ADHD), it didn’t take us long to decide that we wanted to adopt her once discovering that she would need an adoptive home.  We wanted to be her forever family and home. I remember approaching this then 4-year-old with the idea of becoming part of our family and having me be her new mom.  She looked at me with some apprehension in her eyes but still said she thought that would be ok (which I think was the best she could do). I promised her that I would always love her and that we would always take care of her. Then I held my breath until the adoption was final.

I cannot even begin to tell you of all the joys this darling little girl brings to our lives! This now 11-year-old is bright, loving, compassionate, and displays a terrific sense of humor. We give many thanks to the private Christian school we chose because the teachers and staff have been outstanding. We knew she needed a small student teacher ratio and teachers who were willing to build a close loving relationship with her because of her RAD and general trust issues. She has done so well that I many times forget where she started.  

Medication management is still a part of our daily routine and certain challenges can still arise but these are small prices to pay for the many blessings we receive. Two years after her adoption, we adopted another foster child who is as much her younger sister as any biological sister could be. Both of these girls are not just a part of our family; they are part of our hearts just as if I physically bore them myself. Don’t ever doubt what a loving home, proper medication management, counseling, and a trusting safe environment can do to heal the hearts and lives of these wounded children. Our lives would not be complete without these special children in our lives and in our hearts."

- Bonnie


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