Sunday, September 1, 2013
As Maya was getting older, we became concerned about how difficult it might be for her to grow up in an all white family. One of our other daughters , who was Caucasian had a lot of difficulty with the idea of not looking like anybody else in the family, so we thought, ' good grief, if she had this problem, than how would Maya handle it'.......she really didn't look like us! Maya has the most beautiful shade of brown skin....kind of like creamy coffee. I started to worry that as she got older, what if she had difficulty sharing emotions and thoughts with us because she didn't feel we could possibly understand. ( now that Maya is grown, I see that I worried for nothing because she's never had a problem with sharing with us)
So, when Maya had just turned eight , we approached our adoption worker and asked if there were any older girls, still younger than Maya, that were also biracial, like Maya that were available for adoption. I knew that there was a good chance because as a child gets older the chances of them being adopted become less.
A while later, the worker called....she said that there was this little girl, 6-1/2 years old. She had been in foster care for three and a half years......she asked if we'd like to look at her file and her life book....a life book is an album that foster parents put together for a foster child while they're in care. If the child goes to more than one foster home than the life book goes with them...kind of like an ongoing history.
We agreed to look at the information and one morning I went into the agency and picked up the file and book. I drove to Dons' work and we looked over everything during his lunch hour. We thought and prayed about it and agreed that we'd visit the foster home and meet this little girl.
Her name was Alexia,...she was quite slim, and very shy. She agreed to come to our house for a visit to meet the rest of the kids. Everyone was very nervous! We had never done this before....it was very strange to go through all the visits, and getting to know a new child this way.
In the year leading up to this I should mention about one of our older sons, Corey. We had a lot of problems with Corey that seemed to get only worse has he grew older. Corey had been seeing a pediatrician since he was five years old, and this doctor believed that Corey was ADHD.....the doctor put him on many different kinds of medication, so that, by the time he was 16, he was taking 4 different kinds , every four hours! At one point the pharmacist questioned all the meds, he said it was enough to drop an elephant! We also started taking Corey to see a counsellor.....he needed help....we needed help. Corey saw the counselor for many months, probably at least a year, but it really didn't make a difference. Corey knew how to work the system and knew how to give the right answers, the answers the counselor wanted to hear. We were at our wits end.
We heard about this place down in New York State....it was a facility that took youth who were getting into trouble and helped them to straighten their lives out. They had a very high percentage rate of kids that turned themselves around. We were desperate, Corey was getting into trouble at school constantly, at home he was always stealing from us, lying all the time, ....he was a constant stress that we didn't have an answer for......
We applied to the place in New York ...and, after awhile Corey was accepted...we were so relieved because we finally thought he was going to get the help that he needed to turn his life around. This placed required a certain dress code and we had to buy him all new clothes because certain things were not allowed, plus linens, blankets,pillows and towels and outer wear. We were shocked when we got there and they told us that we would have to pay something every month and we didn't know what we were going to do....we had already spent several thousand to outfit him to go there. We promised a certain amount, not know how we were going to keep that commitment. ( it turned out that whenever we couldn't make this monthly amount, my parents helped us and paid it...we were so grateful) .
Corey was there for a year and at first we did see a big change in him, for the better...but by the end of the first year he became very frustrated with the school work....it caused him to 'lose points' and he was penalized....he finally acted out so severely that the facility called us and told us they were putting him on a bus and sending him home! Corey was barely home for a month when he deliberately ignored the guidelines we had set out, plus there was evidence that he was doing drugs. We couldn't have that happening with the other kids in the house so we told him that we'd have to find someplace else for him to live. Before we could do that, he left, struck out on his own. The only good thing...if you want to call it good, was that we finally figured out that Corey had been misdiagnosed all these years....he wasn't ADHD, he was FAS....Fetal Alcohol Syndrome .....his birth mother had drunk alcohol during her pregnancy and now Corey was permanently brain damaged because of that.
If anyone ever thinks that they can consume alcohol during pregnancy and not cause damage to their unborn child then they should just come to me......it turns out that Corey wasn't the only one of my kids afflicted with this terrible damage....in fact, out of the seven we adopted, five of the seven have either full FAS or the FAS spectrum...meaning they show some indicators but not the full blown damage.
Corey lived with different friends and on the street for several years....but I'm getting ahead of myself.....back to little Alexia.
We started having regular visits with her, then weekend visits, and then finally , about three months later , the day after her seventh birthday , she came to live with us for good.
It was a very traumatic day for Alexia.
Don and I drove to the foster home to pick her up...the worker arrived...everyone was excited and happy....except for Alexia....she had buried herself under the chesterfield cushions and a blanket and had fallen asleep. When we woke her up she clung to her foster mother. We felt terrible but the worker said we had to follow through so we took her home. We had planned to stop at her favourite restaurant for lunch on the way, as a celebration but Alexia was so upset that we continued home. When we got home and I was showing her the bedroom and how we had fixed it up just for her, with all her stuff she became very emotional....to the point that she was physically sick. She spent a good part of that first day in bed, but the following days became better as she adjusted to her new family and we adjusted to her!
A few weeks, after she came, I was in her room with her....she had asked me to play Barbies with her( that was her favourite) and while we were playing she asked if she was going to get a new name....I was very surprised. I had secretly wanted to change her name but thought that it might be difficult. I also knew that she didn't know that we had changed the other kids names so I was surprised when she asked. I remember saying to her....why do you ask that....she said because she would like a new name....I had read this before about how some kids want a new name with their new life....that the old name had negative associations....so, I told her that we could if she wanted to....she said she did. So , we discussed the name that I had picked out....she liked it right away.....so, we started calling her by her new name.....Emma Rose Alexia......I thought it was very pretty...and so did she!