I didn’t want it to be true that a ten year old girl would be too damaged to live with her siblings.
I didn’t want it to be true that being with her siblings might actually be more harmful than helpful to her.
I didn’t want it to be true that a loving, stable home wouldn’t be enough.
It just shouldn’t be true that any child has experienced so much trauma that she may never heal. It just shouldn’t be true.
I fought it for a long time.
Meeting after late night after 2am sobbing after meeting after consultation after strategizing after researching after ice cream eating after meeting. What more can we give her? How can we help her work through these feelings?
We expected the first year to be the worst. But, even the trained professionals are telling us, “she is not reacting the way other kids in her situation act.”
All the things people know and see–that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
We did a lot of research before she moved in–we were as prepared as we could be for her stealing, lying, tantrums, manipulation, and shall we say, “shitty” expressions of anger.
We were not prepared for her behavior to decompensate so rapidly. We were not prepared for the constant crisis mode, with no recovery in between. While we were becoming licensed, we had a very short list of behaviors a kid could demonstrate that we did not feel we could handle. Zucchini has done or tried to do at least two and possibly three of them. That we know of. She has never shown remorse.
It is hard to imagine more natural community supports than the amazing friends and family we have. We spend playdates with the kids of other teachers and social workers. Our kids have a great relationship with our neighbors, and she will go pet their dog when she is anxious. But, our neighbors have watched our other kids while we deal with a crisis, or helped physically contain her during a crisis too many times.
The reality is: We can not keep Zucchini safe in our home. We certainly can’t keep her siblings safe with her here.
I never wanted to live in a group home–cabinets locked, doing room and body searches, on constant high alert.
But, I would have continued. Maybe for longer than was beneficial to my mental health. I have failed at other things in my life. I didn’t want to fail at this.
That Zucchini was robbed of her childhood is a tragedy. I would sacrifice a lot to try to repair the damage. But, I won’t sacrifice the childhoods of Pumpkin and Carrot.
I am glad we brought her here. I am glad we got to know her, and form a relationship with her.
What happens now? She is back living at her previous foster home for awhile while it is determined if day treatment and a change of placement will be enough for her, or if she needs residential treatment. The treatment center is on stand-by.
Remember when I said I would owe them more than I know? I thank “Aunt K” for her constant support of Zucchini, and of me. She has been encouraging me to let go for awhile. One of the things that gives me comfort is knowing that being with her siblings might be doing more harm than good for Zucchini. She is insanely jealous of their childhoods & being with them is too triggering.
(You know how even though you are 35, when you are at your parents house and your brother annoys you, you react like you are 12? Multiply times 100.)
We are going to remain a support to Zucchini. But, we are going to try to take a break for a little while. We have gone to visit her, but the other kids have not. In a few months, we will see if more contact is beneficial for everyone.
And we will work on holding on, and letting go. I have heard ice cream helps with that.