If you can't feed a hundred people, then just feed one. ~ Mother Teresa
She turned three here. We had a birthday party for her. She grew and flourished in our home. In her young life she has been seen homelessness, food uncertainty, mental illness, poverty, abandonment and addiction. It's a lot for a little life to carry. She has a great survival instinct and overall a very cheery personality. She's a fighter, for good and for bad.
I wish I could say that it was fantastic. It wasn't. It was hard and great at the same time. To their credit, my girlios were amazing. They loved, flexed, showed grace and took her in as a sister. S missed her mom and was angry about it. She felt comfortable enough around us to show her feelings. It was good for her growth because she could vent and learn to control some of her emotions. It was hard on us because of the physical nature of her emotional outbursts. I don't think she was used to boundaries. It's hard on everybody to catch up on those.
She came in February. It was cold and snowy. My girls love snow. S didn't exactly know what to do. We taught her how to play, that it was okay to play, and that it was okay to get dirty. The first time we took her to the park I took for granted that kids play at the park. She didn't want to step in the mulch. She didn't play in the sand. She didn't climb or slide down the slides. When she left in June she did all the things kids should do at the park. She slid, climbed and played with sand. I believe strongly that kids need to play for development. She loved being outside.
She tried new foods. She tried new things. She had new experiences. We took her on vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains. We took her to Pittsburgh to visit my sister. She loved going to soccer practice, and we got her her own ball. She showed some delays, but she also showed that she was capable of catching up. She could carry a tune better than all of us in the family combined.
She is highly verbal and often it made my eyes twitch. She couldn't track with all the words in a sentence that was said. It was hard. It took us a while to figure out that if she repeated the sentence after us she could understand what we were saying. She wanted to be prayed over every night. I still pray over her, and I think of her everyday.
My sister-in-law recently adopted her 24th placement. After walking in her shoes just this one time, I admire her even more. She's my hero. Talking through some things with her was so helpful.
So what did we learn?
We learned that sharing, really sharing, especially the things we love the most is hard. We love our family, so much, and sharing them was difficult. We learned to dig deep. And at points we learned we were pretty sucky at sharing. More than once we prayed for strength, grace and help, sometimes in tears.
We learned about love as an action word. We want to love and be loving. That takes action and faith to step out. So many people have encouraged us and told us what an amazing thing we were doing. I don't feel amazing. I do feel we made choices to live as we believe. Taking those steps of faith, day-in day-out loving is hard. We were blessed but growing involves stretching, tearing and healing. We learned about love.
So would we do it again? Yes and no. More to come. Our story isn't over, but you'll just have to wait.