Saturday, June 28, 2008

Did I Know?

Probably the most asked question I get about adopting Little Man is did we know about all his problems before we adopted him? I am always at kind of a loss for words about that question, because it is a huge question.
Yes, we knew he was a drug baby. And yes we knew he might have special needs all his life. The drug babies we knew that had been adopted by friends were pretty normal kids. So no, we didn't expect the extent of his problems.
He was an extraordinarly difficult infant. He never slept, and as he got older, he could throw a 3 hour long temper tantrum. He seemed incapable of calming himself and was capable of crying for 8 hours straight. No parent dreams of having a child with handicaps, or dreams of all the things they won't be able to do someday. We were normal parents with normal dreams of what someday would be. In spite of his sleep problems, which didn't get addressed until he was 18 months old, he met most of the normal milestones. He walked at 10 months, said a few words. He smiled and laughed and seemed physically normal. His eating was a problem always, but not hugely. We had to fortify his formula as a baby to help him gain weight and we never could advance him on his textures in baby foods. I guess it never occurred to us how strange it is that this was a baby that rarely put toys or anything in his mouth.
He was 2 1/2 when Bi Polar was first mentioned. The medication they started him on was nothing short of a miracle. By the time he three we also were working on adhd meds. The miracle of those meds gave him speech, the ability to slow down long enough to make a sentence. It was amazing.
The first years, I was fine with all the things the doctors said were wrong with him. We never expected to adopt a perfect or "normal" kid, and given his prenatal drug exposure, it wasn't surprising that he had problems. But as the years moved on and the doctors kept saying more and more things were wrong, the tears and the grief started to flow. I remember one time in particular, when he was about 5. We had been sent to the Dysphgia clinic. The clinician told me he was unable to chew correctly. I drove home from that appointment crying my heart out because my poor little boy didn't even chew right. There have been many more appointments and disappointments. The tears have flowed freely as more bad news is announced. No parent ever wants to hear that something is wrong with their child, and we are no exception.
If someone had plopped this foster child at the age of 10 into our lives, we could have given him back, immediately. There is no way we could have handled all of this if it were just handed to us in one big chunk.
But God is wise and is true with most parents, you don't really get to pick one out, and you don't know what is going to happen. The most perfect child in the world can get very sick or have an accident that affects them the rest of their lives. And parents deal with it.
It is hard. Don't get me wrong, it is struggle every day to meet his needs and not lose my patience. But there are moments that help brighten things up. The laughter, the fun times. This child is a cuddler extraordinaire. When he snuggles up to me at night to go to sleep, he curves his body to fit to mine, and we breathe together, him and I and we are content, to just be. I love those moments. I love to smell his hair right then, and kiss his head and just remember how very much I love him.
Little by little we have grown into being our son's parents and even though we didn't know, I don't regret, ever, loving this child, or bringing him into our lives.

8 Kids Who Want To Play:

bon said...

Touching. This post is so touching, and is what parenting is all about. The hardships sweetened by those fleeting moments, and could you ever love them any less because those moments are just a little harder to come by?

Never.

Maggie said...

Your love for this boy shines true and clear, Jo. What a beautiful and honest post this was.

When Slugger and I were going through a rough patch my sister once said to me that it's better dealing with these hards things when it's your biological child. If anyone else had said those words to me I would have been livid. LIVID. But she's my sister and even though her words could have been taken as non-PC, I knew what she meant. She meant that if you have a child with you from birth, you get things handed to you piece by piece and it's easier to deal with. Her son (my nephew) has bi-polar disorder and went through a few very dark years. She knows what she's talking about. So, as bad ad her comment sounded, she meant that she felt badly for me because I got all of Slugger's problems in one fell swoop without any of the easier times leading up to it.

But I can do it. I want to do it. And, Jo, you're amazing with Little Man. You may not have chosen it, but I guarantee to you that if he came to you at his current age and in his current condition, you could have done it. And you would have done it with flying colors.

elizasmom said...

Aw, you just made me all weepy. Thanks for writing this. I have wondered the same thing, actually, from time to time as I read about the amazing set of challenges Little Man, you and your family have dealt with. Anyway, bon said it really beautifully already — so true.

Deb said...

oh, jo...you touched my heart with that post. i can actually feel your love for that child coming through in your words. i think its safe to say, you all got lucky to have gotten each other.

Jill said...

Little Man is so blessed to have you as his mommy!

Holly said...

Jo, well said. You love your boy so much, this I know. Your answer to "the question" is so well put. I get the same question and very often don't know the "right way" to answer.

PeWee said...

*tears... Isnt' love grand? Beautiful.

Gawdess said...

bang, you hit it right on the nail head!