Three years ago today, I struggled with an uneasy mind and nervous stomach as I waited for my daughter to bring her children to me. They had been missing for over a week, and I worried whether she’d show up or not. I worried how to handle her constant begging for money. I worried about what the children would have with them. The answers to those worries were: yes, she showed up; Yes, she begged for money, and I gave her a store gift card instead of cash; and the children had one backpack of clothes between them and two small bags with a haphazard assortment of toys. Victoria did not have her glasses or her ADHD prescription. Amari did not have his car seat. But they were finally safe with us.
Yes, today is our form of what adoptive parents call their Gotcha Day. For us, it’s not an adoption day–we have temporary custody–it’s the day two of our grandchildren came to live with us.
At the time, I don’t think any of us thought the children would still be here three years later. We hoped for a different outcome. Unfortunately, that hope has dimmed to a small pinhole of light as the days, weeks, and months have ticked by.
I’m amazed at the changes in the grands–not just physical but behavioral and emotional. I can’t begin to tell you how far we’ve come. In fact, it’s hard to recognize our progress in the day-to-day schedule we now live. But here we are, Victoria a middle-schooler and Amari a second grader.
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating, Amari was so delayed in his development that he rarely spoke at the age of four. Most of the time, he moved his lips without making a sound. When he did speak, his speech was indistinct and younger than expected from a four year old. Since he often didn’t react when we called his name or spoke to him from across the room, we worried he couldn’t hear. Turns out he could hear perfectly well. Now, we have the opposite problem–getting him to stop talking!
I try to remember that his continuous chatter is a blessing, but in the moment that’s not always easy.
With Victoria, we struggled with the unexpected shift in roles. No longer were we the fun, spoiling grandparents. We became the parents. None of us enjoyed this struggle. If someone refers to me as her mom (it’s easy to do when you’re being the mom), she’s quick to tell me I’m not her mom. Then I remind her that I am the parent. Hard to argue with that point.
She’s moving into the adolescent years, and I’ve already seen the attitude that goes along with it. Joy, joy! Still, she has changed a lot over the years. She’s much calmer, does chores, knows how to be polite (that’s still a work in progress), and, most importantly, she’s learning to relinquish her responsibility for her brother. It’s unfortunate, but most older siblings take on the parenting role when their parents have addiction problems. None of this is perfect, by the way. But I can see headway.
So, our journey continues. No idea where it’s going, but one thing is for sure–it won’t be boring!