Our sweet girls came in August of 2012. We'd been through all the training. We were ready for the crying and sadness of the separation from the family. We didn't experience that. Our three year old was sweet and cute and funny and precious. She didn't tantrum when she left visits. She was compliant. She woke up each day with a smile. This foster care thing is pretty easy...
Then October came. I guess she was comfortable. Ever heard of the Terrible Twos? Whoever made that up never had a three year old. Our sweet, funny, silly girl changed. Tantrums like nothing I have ever seen came out of the blue. Screaming, hitting, kicking, and spitting were happening multiple times a week. It came in waves. We'd have some good weeks, then back into a cycle of screaming fits.
Intellectually we could understand how confused she was. How awful to be torn away and kept away from the mommy you want to be with. We felt for her. We wanted to help her. In the moment, with the screaming and the kicking and the spitting, it was a bit harder to be objective. The more upset we got, the funnier she thought it was. We tried to remain calm. We are the adults. We've had training. We have this all under control.
Until one Sunday morning on the way home from church. I don't even remember what set her off. She was mad. She just started screaming at the top of her lungs. Not words. Just screams. Loud screams. I tried to reason with her. I tried being firm. Then I did what every mature, trained adult would do. I just started screaming with her. Loudly. AHHHHH, AHHHHH, AHHHHH....It shocked her into silence for a moment. It shocked my husband who was driving. Thankfully, he didn't run us off the road. He started laughing. I started laughing. She continued screaming. Not my proudest moment.
Over the time we had her we learned to be less reactive. Sometimes it helped. Sometimes we were just worn out. It was exhausting at times. Our case manager gave us some wise words, "You can't fix in three months what she's lived for three years."
Through it all we loved her. We still do. A picture of her or a story brings a smile to our face. The way she loved her baby dolls. The new name she gave herself and wanted to be called. The way her smile could light up a room. The sassy way she'd put her hand on her hip for a picture. How she loved Taylor Swift songs and could sing every word to "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together". Her sweet little laugh. Her prayers at dinner.
This foster care thing is NOT easy. We're dealing with broken hearts. Confusion with no possible way to understand. I'm learning. I'm hoping to be better. Honeymoons are nice, but they end. Then you have real life. The good, the bad, and the ugly. We experienced a little of all of those. And as always, it was worth it.