What I remember most about when we first started keeping the girls for play dates was the feeling of pride at the end of the day when everyone had been fed and no one was hurt! I also remember it being much much easier to take care of 5 kids 4 and under when Jim was not home. Audrey was terrified of him!!!! Terrified really doesn't do it justice. This is what she did the minute she heard the key in the lock...
She would crawl over to me just as fast as her little legs would let her and cling to my leg screaming until I picked her up. Then she would stare at Jim with terror in her eyes! I sat her beside him at the table on purpose. The plan was for him to win her over with food. It did eventually work. Here is the picture of the first time she let him hold her, to see the snow...
This was not a quick fix...she still would scream and run when he came home. I remember one afternoon he was working on the computer and I had her in my arms and came and sat down in the chair next to him. I forgot for an instant how scared she was. She began shaking like a leaf. Her entire body was shaking and she was dead quiet just staring at him in complete and total terror!!! It was heart breaking.
It took months and months but eventually she grew to adore Jim and would pick him over me. But any other man that came near her that wasn't her Granddaddy or Jim she would either give the evil stare down to from in my arms or start screaming in pure fear (this often happened when a black man would pass her in the grocery store). She could not even sit in a room with a strange man without being held.
She also had a flat look to her...
It's hard to explain but anyone who has worked medicine will know what I'm talking about. No emotion, no sparkle in her eye...much more content to play by herself. Just flat. I remember a few people at church asking me if she ever smiled? I was concerned about her. But when she got around Grammy and Granddaddy she lit up like a firecracker. Laughing and playing. She was a different child, which gave me hope.
Now Gianna was a different story. I remember being so surprised at how well adjusted she seemed to be. She was happy and chatty. She would walk right up to anyone and probably would have gone home with them (this concerned me from the start). It seems she was very comfortable in new situations and with new people. She called everyone Mommy (me, my neighbor, Grammy...). She even did well the first few nights she spent the night even though she was having a terrible time sleeping at her home with Grammy (all this would make sense later).
There were some things that concerned me though. Often she would get a far off look in her eye. It was as if a cloud had come over her. She had no remorse for anything that happened. And we were seeing some sensory issues. Noise was a big one. She would completely come unglued if a car drove by the house. And you better be ready to catch her if we were on a walk and a car went by!!! She absolutely lost it!!! Screaming, clinging to me and shaking. She would also freak out if you tried to use a diaper pad under her to change her or if she had to step onto a bath mat. I mean she would be so upset she couldn't talk for a few minutes!!! It was as if she was standing on a snake!
All of this led me to buy a book at the Christian bookstore Adopting the Hurt Child by Gregory Keck. I consumed this book!!! In it there was a chapter on attachment difficulties and they listed 18 symptoms of attachment disorder. G had 10 that I knew of right then. Still I thought, "once she is staying in 1 home and not bouncing around so much she will settle down...it will be fine." So I really didn't look into it any more. Little did I know I would house a library of attachment disorder books soon enough!
This is how we rolled back in 09
I was having waves of guilt as I took care of these sweet girls. I had friends desperately trying to have a baby and here we were able to get pregnant so easily. I kept thinking "God, should these girls be with someone who doesn't have children? Where they wouldn't have to sit on the floor and cry while I changed 1 of the 4 diapers in the line?" But the truth was He hadn't even given them to us. We were just helping and praying that someday God would give them a stable family.
Jim also sat me down at the beginning and told me if God did give us these girls we were going to become their forever home OR we were going to help bio mom get them back...those were the only 2 options. We were not going to be another pit stop on their broken road. I was totally on board with that. I had no idea how hard it would be in the next few years to still be open to helping bio mom get them back but that is for a later post:)