So it finally happened. My girl is old enough to start her first school program. After we relocated back to Georgia this spring I found out that a local church offered a program for 3 year olds. I was really excited to find out more about the program because our baby girl is always talking about going to school and seeing her friends. I had always had every intention of homeschooling; because it just fit our lifestyle better with my husband’s line of work. However, when she was approximately one and half we found the tv show, “Sid the Science Kid” and this little girl has been in love with going to school ever since. She loves to make friends and every child she sees is her “friend”. I kid you not, we were walking through the airport one day and she seen this little boy and said “hey that’s my friend”, this little boy looked up at his mom in a state of confusion. We passed them again and she repeated her previous statement about him being her friend. This time he asked his mom “do I know her?”. My husband overhead him and just smiled at him and said, no sir you don’t, she just calls every kid she sees her friend.
To see her so free spirited truly does warm my heart, because she has processed so much in the three short years that she has been on this earth. Most people don’t know her story and those that do, don’t really understand it. Very few people in her life really appreciate where she is right now socially. What you see now is a rambunctious, outspoken little girl who seems fearless and fierce. However, this hasn’t always been the case. There was a time that she would shy away from anyone that looked at her, let alone tried to talk to her. She didn’t want any part of anyone holding her and had zero intentions of unlatching herself from mine or her daddy’s leg when she encountered new people. Even people that she knew and was familiar with were kept at a distance. Leaving her with anyone was not even an option because she would throw an absolute fit if we ever tried to. For the first year of her life, she went into the sanctuary with us at church because we could not leave her in the nursery. We could sometimes get her in there, but one of us would always have to leave service because she would eventually start crying and would not stop until one of us came and got her. We finally learned to just take her after praise and worship because she really enjoyed that and it shortened her time in the nursery.
As she got older she began to get really fidgety in service so we had to figure out a way to get her in the nursery so that we could worship and get filled ourselves. After discovering her new favorite show that made school look fun and exciting, we thought we had found a solution. So Sunday mornings became a place where we could see our friends. Although she was still skeptical, she was making progress and we could see the growth that began to take place.
We decided to start going to a church that was close to our home because the one we had been attending was a good 45 minutes away. That drive made it difficult to get connected several times a week to be involved in various ministries. The first visit to the new church was tough because she just did not want to let us go. I reluctantly left her in the hands of the ladies in the nursery and stood outside in the hallway waiting for her cries of fear to go away. Eventually, they subsided and I was able to go into service knowing that she wasn’t freaking out any longer. I know what you’re thinking “good gracious lady, get a grip, let her grow, she will be fine yada yada yada”. Sure, that is easy to say when you are standing on the outside not knowing her full story. I eventually learned that the ladies in the nursery thought I was just an overbearing mom who couldn’t let her kid go. When the truth is, I knew the reason she was crying and it had absolutely nothing at all to do with being spoiled or being some kind of momma/daddy’s girl. Her cries came from a place that most of us have never known.
It’s no secret that all of my babies are adopted and that I have no children biologically. I get asked all the time to explain our family dynamics, which is kind the reason for this blog honestly. Anyway, when our beautiful girl came to us, it was through foster care. She was 3 weeks old and the most precious thing I had ever had ever seen. I immediately fell in love with everything about her. She was so curious always looking around with her big ole eyes that seemed so full of questions. We wanted nothing more than to protect her from ever being hurt again. She was loved, taken care of, had her needs consistently met and had a routine and structure that she was accustomed to. We had been told over and over by our Social Workers to settle in for the long haul because she would be in our care for a long time if not permanently. We heeded that advice and made sure we were planning accordingly and preparing ourselves for the journey. Only to have it come to an abrupt halt when the judge closed the case unexpectedly and ordered her back to her birth parents.
As you can imagine we were devastated and just could not seem to wrap our heads around any of it. I called my husband, who was working out of town, to give him the news. He didn’t even get to tell her goodbye. I broken heartedly packed up our sweet baby girl and took her to the CPS office to meet with her birth mom and Social Worker. I cried for days, I just didn’t understand what had happened. We had been told by so many people that this case would take a while and would most likely end up being a permanent placement. So we began to believe that and allowed ourselves to see her in our future. After the unexpected call to return her, I needed to get away because everything in my house reminded me of her. I decided to go and stay out of town with my husband for a few days to get my head and thoughts together. Needless to say it was the hardest week I have ever walked through. On the other side of that pain though, God had so much more for me.
The following weekend we had a barbecue at our home and invited several friends over, including birth parents and our sweet girl. They came and we all enjoyed the fellowship and tried to keep our emotions in check as we laid eyes on our baby girl after a week of her being gone. Something about her was different, she cried the entire time and nothing anyone did would console her. The little light that shined in her eyes seemed to be gone and she didn’t look as curious and inquisitive as she did the week prior. She seemed sad and lost, and this broke our hearts. We were allowed to love on her and care for her while they were in our home, so we did everything we knew to do just to get a smile out of her.
After everyone had departed we were left with just our baby and her birth parents. We were trying to give them some pointers on how to care for her. We just wanted her to be happy and loved so we were giving advice and offering our help in any way. This is where God begins to show us just how powerful He is in every situation of our lives. When we were so confused about the ruling and could not wrap our minds and hearts around the situation God comes in and blows us away. They say to us that they want us to take her back for a while because they needed to get themselves straightened out and get their living situation in order before they could properly take care of her. WHAT?!?!? Did I just hear you correctly? You are asking us to take her back into our care. Without a moments hesitation we agreed and worked out all of the details. It was eventually decided that they wanted her to just stay with us so we began the adoption process once they asked us to do so.
So what does all of this have to do with starting school?
When our little girl came back to us, she was very different. She was distant and untrusting. We had to regain her trust and the bond that we had made with her, You see, she had grown accustomed to her life with us, the routine, the sounds, the smells, the schedule, the love and consistency. She was safe and secure and care free. In a moment all of that changed for her and her world was completely turned upside down and thrown into chaos. The people that was meeting all of her needs were no longer there, there was someone new. The people she had a bond with were no where to be found. She was lost in a world that she was unfamiliar with and she didn’t know what to do. She couldn’t talk to ask any questions to help her understand, all she could do was cry.
We worked extremely hard to regain that trust and build that bond back with her. We were constantly reassuring her that she was safe, but she still had that look of distrust in her eyes. Anytime someone new came around she would hide her face, she would not let anyone hold her, hug her and if you tried to touch her she would pull away. We simply could not get out of her sight without her having an absolute melt down. Which is why we could not get her in the nursery unless her sister was on the schedule. She had to have familiarity in everything she did. Even people in our lives couldn’t get close to her, she limited herself to only those that lived in our home. We began to understand that she had a very real fear that we were going to leave her again. She was terrified of being abandoned again by the only people that she knew and trusted,
It probably took us a good two years to even get her to a place of acknowledging people in our life. I remember taking her to Six Flags and she was playing on the playground area just having a ball. I was standing off to the side never once taking my eyes off of her when all of a sudden she stops in the middle of the playground and just started calling “mommy, mommy, mommy” because she had lost sight of me. It was like she was frozen and would not move until she seen me, the fear in her eyes broke my heart. I wondered if we’d ever get her to trust us again to not leave her. We had several incidents where we’d try to encourage her to allow others in without any success. Then all of a sudden it happened, she gave someone hug, she let someone get close to her, she actually acknowledged someone speaking to her and didn’t shy away from them. This healing process for her began not quite a year ago, but the past 6 months or so she has really began to come out of her shell.
We have loved watching her grow so much that we wanted to help encourage that by getting her into a school setting; where she would be able to make friends and sit under the guidance of others. This is where the title and purpose of this entire blog entry comes from. We had our very first day of school this week and she was so excited. This day is all she has talked about since I enrolled her. I was excited for her because I have seen her growth and knew that this would be good for her.
Our first day of school began super early. I got her up so that we could get her hair done, get breakfast eaten and go potty before we left home. We get to her school extra early, because Momma wanted to get pictures. We spent our extra time walking the pathway just talking and praying over her day. She wanted to talk about the trees and the flowers, but we had some good quality time together before it was time for her to go in. As we approached her classroom, her little body could hardly contain the excitement. She ran into that classroom without a moments hesitation and never once looked back. I didn’t even get a hug or a goodbye :(. I didn’t cry though, I checked to make sure I didn’t need to do anything and walked back to my truck. I sat there a minute before I drove home just trying to process driving off and leaving her for the first time since regaining her trust.
Believe it or not I did not shed one tear. I got home and began to prepare dinner as my other two babies played under my feet in the kitchen. It hit me all of a sudden, should I be sad that she didn’t say goodbye? Does she not care that I left her? Does she not love me? Y’all know how the enemy likes to play mind games. Just then in His still small voice, God spoke right to my heart. He said “my child, do you remember where she was last year? Do you recall the scared little girl that wouldn’t let anyone touch her? Have you forgotten how far she has come in her journey of healing? She is happy and carefree, she is no longer afraid of you leaving her. Of course she loves you, you are her mother and the first one she cries for when she is scared”. In that moment tears sprang to my eyes because I did know her journey and I do know what a victory it was for her to overcome that fear that was so crippling for a toddler. God reminded me in that moment that even when I feel like I am failing, I am part of her journey of healing. He helped me see that we are doing something right because she is growing in the right direction. He allowed me to feel His presence right there at my kitchen sink as He touched my heart as if to say, you are doing a good job daughter, stop being so hard on yourself.
I am certain, I have many more hurdles to overcome when it comes to this little warrior princess of mine. However, with God’s help and guidance I know we will overcome each of them. As this new journey begins, I am trusting God to cover both me and her as we navigate unfamiliar territories. I am certain that as she continues to grow this Momma’s first day of school blues won’t get any easier. I will always be proud, and my blues won’t be because I’m sad. My blues will just be because the time is passing by so fast and she will be out changing this world before I know it.