The First Birthday … After…

Today is my darling daughter’s 11th birthday.  I say “daughter” because she’s part of my new family, my new reality and she’s grown herself into the depths of my heart.  She’s not biological but nonetheless, she’s the breath of fresh air every single day. I am so honored her parents agreed to allow me to raise her after their passing.

Today I get to have lunch at the school with her. I get to bring her a cupcake and a little bag of treats. I get to see her smile, and hear her laugh. I get to see the happiness that will bring on her face, and part of me feels guilt because it’s not her momma.  Not her real one anyway. I cannot help but think Jennifer, her mom, is up in heaven wishing beyond all that is natural that today it could be her in front of her daughter.

Often, I bow my head and I cry. Not for me.  For the loss the two of them must feel.  I only hope that the gifts I buy, the cakes I serve, or the numerous silly kisses will wash away the pain of understanding that this is the very first birthday without either of her parents.  Will she think of them? I hope so. Will she be sad? I pray only moments.

Today I feel blessed. Completely and utterly focused on raising her and her two siblings the best I can. It can be so overwhelming. The challenges of raising three traumatized kids, but my husband and I wouldn’t turn away from our responsibility no matter what. We love them just as though they’ve been with us since birth.  That won’t ever change.


When to Give up and Get Help

When you have a special needs child like I do, (three actually who lost their parents this past year) and one acts up, several factors come into play. 1, is this a behavioral issue? 2, am I missing something physiological? 3, is this a maturity issue? or 4, is this due to the loss?  Asking yourself that upon each and every need for redirection can be quite daunting.

I realized this when my son, who has Autism, was a young man.  I am up to the task, so I begin to list the several factors that could play into the reaction from the child.  What I find is that when I couldn’t put the behavior into one of those categories; it was then I knew I needed professional help. I found an amazing therapist for the child.

What I also found is that if a therapist is goal oriented as ours is, the parents have just as much responsibility as the child does. So, with that said my homework if you will was to watch the mad, sad and glad moments throughout the course of one week. Which I did with enthusiasm.

In doing so I noticed patterns that were not obvious to me, throughout my taxi driving, cooking dinners, picking up the umpteenth million sock or shoes off the floor or any number of tasks that line up for me upon pickup from school.  What that did was allow me to give credible feedback to the therapist.  That in turn led to a different outcome than we had been leaning and I may in fact helped my child find moments of joy in her life.  This week has been a resounding success after the session. We’re on our way I can feel it.