Saturday, January 23, 2010

Curve Ball

Life’s curve balls come in various shapes and sizes hitting your heart and soul in any number of ways. Curve balls do not always have to be negative in nature; I submit they are unexpected events of varying magnitude.

For this topic, the first curve ball, the inability to have children, thousands of dollars, tears, and years of stops and starts pursuing a goal my wallet and body could not produce. Which is fraught with irony.

So my body fights me and now time is not necessarily on my side either as there is a cap on age for adoption as well. With encouragement and support from friends, the universe granted me a break - my time waiting for a baby to adopt moved more quickly than anyone expected. Curve ball – premature child, hospital five hours from home, no medical reason to move the child closer to home and a recommendation not to move her as a precaution. As fate would have it there were no major medical issues to contend with, only questions as to what the future would bring due to 1.) low birth weight and 2.) the birth mother smoked during the pregnancy.

Time marched on, baby grew bigger, baby was small but showing signs of a sharp mind and healthy body. Infancy melts into the toddler years and before you know it, kindergarten. Over time signs emerge, signs that are not obvious to the untrained observer. These signs are merely age specific and developmental - or are they? First grade second grade, more signs emerge, emotional issues, problems writing and reading but a bright child shouldn’t be having this issues…. yet the teachers continue to advise patience it will get better. Third grade, it isn’t better, life continues to be hell at home and getting worse, curve ball after curve ball keep coming. One wonders, are they going mad? Imagining things?

By now how many curve balls have come? I have lost track. Diagnosis of a learning disability, evidence of fetal alcohol syndrome (undisclosed by the birth mother), evidence of brain processing issues, vision problems never caught by a doctor although time after time questions were posed about her eyes. Diagnosis of anxiety and depression – I am thinking can it get any worse? Months of tutors, eye specialists, auditory tests, on and on – trying to adapt parenting styles to what appears like a moving target – still no improvement. Now what?

Then the therapist basically says I am very sorry but your child has an attachment disorder that is common in adopted children. Especially if there was a lot of negativity around the pregnancy from the birth parents – all that bad juju goes into the baby. Stated simply, they have a hard time attaching to people. These words shattered every dream I had for this child. I have been watching them all fall to pieces a bit at a time over the years. Such a smart kid, so kind and yet so unhappy – all this potential and they tell me to be grateful if she makes it through high school without a drug problem or unwanted pregnancy. They say adjust (as in lower) your expectations. It will get harder, it will be harder, you don’t have a typical child and it will be hard on your relationship, and your friends and family will think you are nuts – because they don’t see the day to day stuff. The days you don’t know what child you’ll be picking up from school or you dread the weekends because you’ll be home with her hour after hour, or the lack of friendships in her life. The constant pressure on your relationship - the list seems endless.

This was no curve ball – it was an explosion. I am so sad – not sure how to help her outside of what resources that are already in place or are coming.  In the end, she has to do her part, it cannot be done for her.

My heart aches and I want to strangle the birth parents – my emotions are all over the place, overwhelming grief - it is like so one died. My heart aches for how hard life may be for her. My head is screaming for the therapist to be wrong on some level – it will be different, we can reach her. And then I wonder if I am being honestly with myself about this – am I really accepting that this is how it will be?  Should I hope?

It has been a long six years since this began to become clear it wasn’t developmental – it has been a drain on my relationship. I am fortunate to be blessed with someone who hasn’t run – who has been the voice of sanity in all this constant chaos. Who loving left me alone to write and try to process all that is raging through me right now.

So folks, go hug your partners, hug your children - pet your dogs or cats. I am hoping that later my child will accept the same from me and hoping I can open myself up to go do it even if she doesn’t hug me back. But as my acupuncturist wisely counseled me today – it is a window of opportunity to connect. My addition to that thought - do so without expectations, just do it and maybe a curve ball of goodness will come from it.

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