Over the summer Anthony turned 13. He is officially a teenager. Time flies. I still remember that little wild 2 year old that showed up at my doorstep. So wild that he was already rejected by his first foster home. So wild that we had a hard time taking him anywhere.
I recall one day he had a major tantrum in Walmart. I told my husband to take him out to the car. He looked at me horrified and said that he couldn't because what if someone thought that he was trying to take him. I told him that he could let security hold him for a bit while DSS was contacted. Haha, he wasn't up for that so we stopped shopping and left early.
He had so many hurdles. No communication, no one talked to him before he came into care. Benjamin is about the age now that Anthony was when he came into care. I couldn't even begin to tell you how many words Benjamin uses, complete sentences. Anthony knew one word, mom. He called everyone mom. He didn't have a bed, wasn't taught how to eat, didn't know how to play (he made everything into guns). He acted out in ways that a toddler shouldn't. He had seen too much in his short years. So much that impacted his behavior for years.
He was a wild child with thick skin and wild hair. They thought that he was mentally disabled. He was angry, so much anger for such a small child. Broken furniture and walls were the norm.
His biological parents handed him a raw deal. His mom drank and did drugs while she was pregnant. Someone along the way shook him. There is no telling who did that since they were living in a communal type of situation. If he had not come into care I hate to think of what type of person he would be today. His biological parents are in the same situation that they were when the kids came into care. When they met their dad he told them that he was glad that we adopted them because he still couldn't take care of himself. I watch for him on the streets and when I don't see him I check the jail. Often that is where he is found. Their mother went on to have one more child who was born with major medical issues. She signed the baby over to DSS because she wasn't prepared to deal with it. She is still on drugs and not in a good place.
I will be honest. In the beginning I did not have those love feelings. There were days that we were just hanging on. There were some very hard days, years. But we stuck. We took him to extra speech therapy. We got him all the services and testing that we could. We didn't think of passing him along when the furniture got destroyed and the walls got holes (OK, we thought about it but never acted on it because we knew that a move would be detrimental to him). We stuck and eventually we loved. When it was apparent that they would terminate the parental rights we already knew that we would adopt him. We didn't set out to do an interracial adoption. We set out to be foster parents. He came to us from a black family. No other black family in our county was willing to take him because of his behaviors. We are well aware that there will be challenges because of our different races. I will blog about that in another post.
He is my son, he is loved, sometimes I don't feel that I express that enough to him when we are in the trenches. I still see so many behaviors that I worry for him. However, we have also seen some improvements that have come with a little more maturity. His anger level has definitely decreased and this has been noticed by more people than me (a big woohoo). He also doesn't engage in the girls drama as often as he used to although he can be quite a sarcastic kid and sometimes he goes too far with it. He was delighted when we adopted Benjamin (we are now 4 boys to 7 girls). I am delighted when I see his compassion and caring with Benjamin. I love to see his growth and wonder what the next few years hold. It shall be an interesting journey.