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Monday, May 31, 2010

F-5 WARNING

In my feverish, restless sleep, I heard her come quietly into the room. So as not to disturb me, or more likely - not to get caught, she carefully opened the cabinet door. I heard the rustling of papers, books thudding against each other and all I could think was "Why doesn't she just watch TV!?!" Gently I raised my eight pound head off the too warm pillow just high enough to see over the settee at the end of the bed. On the floor in front of the bookshelves I spotted her squatting. "TJ." My voice sounding like a trombone with the cup stuck in it. She shot up, twirled around, and flung open our extra long stapler to a perfect 180. Staples flew every where! I heard pings on the mirror, off the door, the computer, lamp, desk, pictures! Pings raining from the ceiling! "CHRISTINA!" My head throbbed. "This is what I was looking for Momma." "TJ . . .use tape, sweetie." Too painful to yell, too tired to fuss, out of the bed I slid. Down on my knees, back on my legs, heavy head on the floor, aching eyes searching fibers for tiny arrows. . . this the beginning of a down-hill day.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Front and Center

Forty 5 year old children lined up in three squiggly rows in the front of the Media Center in East-West Elementary School. In her mastery, TJ was positioned in the center of the front row, wearing her Itsy Bitsy Spider hat with its eight dangling legs. Her eyes searched the crowded room looking for Bob and me. When finally our eyes met, up popped her hands, waving as if she were giving flag directions which sent spider legs twirling around her head like ribbons on a May Pole. Since I was standing during the program, I moved several times hoping to find a better vantage point. This sent TJ into search-find-wave all over again. After the program ended, she said good bye to her friends and teachers, we said our thank you's and then she raced for the front door of the school. Out side, running ahead of us still, she yelled, "The car's over here! Follow me. Are you coming?" She held tightly to the large envelope clenched under her right arm. The twinkling star on a stick, Humpty Dumpty, and a paper pail of water clenched in her left hand. Bob smiled and sighed, "She deserves so much better than us."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Post-Nesting Life III

The foster care application process is very, very s l o w . We began in January and were finally approved in June. During those six months I had to take a lot of time off from teaching in order to be home to meet with DHEC, the Fire Marshall, various workers from the Department of Social Services (DSS), and what seemed to be myriads of others involved in inter-county placements. My principal, Colin Taylor, was none too happy, but there were no other options. In the meantime, Anna was thrilled with the prospect of having a home. Although somewhat hesitant, I was just as thrilled to have her as part of our family. The only other possibility for her was to live with her adoptive grandmother who, according to Anna, had too many health problems to care for a teenager. One afternoon while eating lunch with some of the girls, one of them blurted out, "It would sure be nice if Anna and I were sisters!" Anna and Anya had been quietly plotting. Their names were similar. Anya was one year older. People who didn't know would think they really were sisters. The facts that one was black and one white and they had different last names (not all that unusual), but had the same parents, made them giddy. Imagining the quizzical looks they would get set them into hysterics! Bob and I went back on our knees . . .again. It wasn't long before Anya was going to be a part of our family as well.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Post-Nesting Life II

I quit my job. I was exhausted both spiritually and physically so I quit. That was seven years ago. I thought I would never teach again and was perfectly happy working at Walgreen's doing whatever anyone needed me to do. But once again, God intervened in my complacent life. In September of 2004 I was hired on as a math teacher at a residential school for at risk children. I LOVED IT! Children in grades six thru ten came from all over the state, their parents hoping for a miraculous change in their children's behaviors and attitudes. Many of these kids had been expelled from their home schools, were judicially ordered, had just been released from the youth detention center, or, as was more often the case, their parents had just had it and wanted them out of their houses. It was not uncommon to have one or two children each year that had been adopted and mom and dad wanted to 'unadopt'. Anna was one of those children. In September 2008, Anna showed up in my 8th grade math class. She was very likable, smiled and laughed easily, got along well with almost everyone, and appeared to have a stronger sense of responsibility then others her age. Since our classes were very small, only 3 - 5 students, I was privy to the intimate details of their lives - mostly because I eavesdropped on their conversations! It wasn't long before I began to think of Anna as a part of my life. In prayer, I expressed my concerns for her future - at 13, who would have her? Before long, foster care and adoption became part of my prayer. In December Bob and I began to talk about it and how such a big step would change our wonderfully easy life. In January 2009 we began the foster care process.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Prayer for TJ

O God! Today TJ goes for her forensic medical exam to see if there is any vaginal or uterine damage. I cannot imagine the terror, fear, and humilation that five year old little girl will be facing. I ask that you will protect her from nightmares past and make the exam pass easily and quickly. Heal her, God. Heal her heart, her emotions, her spirit, and her thoughts. Make her whole as only You can do. Amen. Amen. Amen. It is done.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Post-Nesting Life

30,31,32,33 . . . these are the ages of my children - three boys and one girl all gone and living in the southeast. What a life Bob and I had: kids gone, almost at the top of our teacher pay scales, free to go on weekend trips whenever we wanted, and wonderful two week summer vacations. We moved away from the congestion of town and our tiny little lot, bought 25 acres 30 miles away, built a nice 2300sq. ft home, added 50 chickens, 6 goats, one peacock, 2 more dogs, 2 more cats, and a pair of parakeets and the closest neighbor is almost 1/2 mile down our dirt road. WHAT A LIFE! Bob and I are blessed! For reasons known only to God, He had chosen to bless us with more than we could ever think. So the question that kept circling my brain was 'why?' The answer was slowly unveiled.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

 
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The Sleepover

Last Tuesday Anna invited TJ to a sleepover. Painting nails, watching movies, and eating popcorn were all in their plan. Anna thoughtfully ordered two jumbo cupcakes from the bakery and requested blue frosting with red spiinkles, just exactly as TJ would have liked. But for TJ,the most exciting event of the entire night would be entering the 'holy sanctum' - Anna's room! For a week she told everyone who'd listened about the sleep over in her big sister's room. In order to convey the importance of this invitation she always ended with an emphatic "SHE'S A TEENAGER"!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tj has returned to the happy child we had before the 9th of this month when she had her visit with her mother. She wakes up joyful, playful, follows the morning routine with the ease of a champion skater, and chatters like the local DJ on pop radio. She is FUN! Another phone call. . . . Since her mother did not call to confirm her visit with her children it has been postponed for one more week. Relief! Anna- We have growing concerns for Anna. With only three weeks left in this school year she decided she needed to change high schools. In her first days at her new school I have had phone calls from a teacher, two counselors, an assistant principal, the school nurse and her clinical therapist. Anna had skipped a class and when confronted about the impossibility of the tale she told, still maintained her stance . She is also telling the staff and friends that she is five weeks pregnant. She"s not.

Friday, May 21, 2010

We had a meeting with TJ's therapist, Ms. C, yesterday afternoon. Using her five year old imagination and Junga blocks, TJ built towers, towns, and castles fit for princesses. Immersed in her construction, she was oblivious to the conversation Bob and I were having with Ms. C. After ten days of terrible behavior, she has finally returned to the little girl we have grown to love. The temper tantrums and screaming have subsided. Her sassiness and back talking has been replaced with a sweet 'OK Momma'. Once again she is asking before taking things that don't belong to her and taking a 'no' with as much grace as is possible for a five year old girl. Bob and I are now breathing easier and enjoying the rhythm of our family of four once again. The call came after dinner: TJ will have another court ordered meeting with her biological mother in two days.