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What Adopting A Child Can Teach You

January 1, 2017

Barb Barber
I have been thinking a lot about what to write up for this column. What kind of words of wisdom or guidance can I put out there on paper for you all to read? As I dropped my four-year-old off at daycare today and she started screaming and yelling and flapping her arms it came to me. I then decided that I would write about my experience adopting my daughter. So here it goes.

When Evalyin came into my life at 7 months old she was placed with my sister as a temporary foster home. My sister had a son the same age as Evalyin so I remember thinking how crazy she was for taking on this little girl. I quickly got attached to Evalyin. She was a child that needed extra love and attention so my family spent a lot of time with her. We would bring her places with us to give my sister a break as she was challenging from the start. I remember going to my sisters and seeing her and that smile as she would run to me and hug me. I think I loved this little girl from the first time that I saw her.

I never actually thought about adopting her knowing that she still had visitation with both her biological parents and to be honest my other children were 15 and 17 and I just got my freedom back and couldn't imagine starting over. As time went by it became evident that this little girl needed a forever home as she wouldn't be going back to her biological parents. She needed to be with a family who had the time for one on one with her and needed to be very patient and loving. My sister was having another baby so she couldn't adopt her. At this point my family already considered Evalyin to be part of our family so we decided to keep her. We became foster parents and then we adopted her a year later.

I think back on all the battles and struggles that we have had with her in the last 2 years I am not going to say that it has been easy but I can say that everyday it's worth it. Every day I have to tell myself that she isn't like my other two kids that she didn't have the love and attention from day one like my other two. I remind myself every day that each hug and I love you brings her closer to trusting me. Trusting that I won't leave her, trusting that I will always be here for her no matter what. As a four-year old, she already shows signs of low self-esteem and wanting to control every situation. She gets easily frustrated and can't handle certain situations like most kids her age can.

I have recently learned that she has SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) which is a condition that exists when multisensory integration is not adequately processed to provide appropriate responses to the demands off the environment. I can see in her face when she gets over stimulated; her eyes start twitching and her hands start flaring. It is very heartbreaking because she doesn't know what is wrong with her and why she feels so confused. When it's happening, it is very hard to control her and she is very spontaneous and will hit other kids or throw things.

Some days I just want to cry out of frustration both for myself and for her. The not knowing how to help her is very heartbreaking to a parent. We have recently started counseling and will be starting a sensory diet with an OT. I am also going to be changing up her diet because kids with SPD often get triggered more easily with certain dyes etc. I am really hoping that with all these resources that I can help her live a happy, unconfused life and to teach her how to cope and handle situations by using her words.

The biggest thing that I have learned from adopting Evalyin is that the first 6 months of a baby's life is crucial for their brain development. They learn coping skills and self-soothing skills which Evalyin lacks. What I would like for you all to take from this is that when you see a child acting out don't judge the parent because you don't know what they go through everyday just to get their child dressed or even their hair brushed or how long it took to just get out the door in the morning. How many meltdowns they have already had that day? Just because a child looks normal and is acting like a "spoiled brat” doesn't mean she is. You don't know what disability or struggle that this child is dealing with. Don't judge a mother who seems to be frustrated and in her own world. What you didn't know is that mother hasn't slept in weeks or you didn't see the mother of that child cry herself to sleep last night because some days she feels so mentally drained. I used to be one of those people that judged and boy, has this child taught me a lot.

Author: Barb Barber
Sally Sugarman (Club Member & Windmill Editor)

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