The kids have been with us for almost five months. In some ways it is still new and surprising to have two little lives depending on us, and in other ways it feels like we've been a family forever.
At the beginning, it seemed like every day had some gigantic change, adjustment, or revelation. Piecing together their somewhat mysterious past, discovering crazy things that would set them off (S, for example, has a meltdown every time she hears the Sesame Street song), and navigating the complicated foster care system.
It's such an enormous change for everyone involved -- the kids, their bio family, us...it's been difficult to know what behavior was a result of their trauma (and resulting stability from being in our home) and what is a natural developmental milestone.
Over the last couple of weeks, it seems like they have finally settled in, and since we are (at least temporarily) on a more even keel, I've tried to take a step back and appreciate how far we've come.
- After wetting the bed more nights that not, J's brain has finally clicked and we haven't had an accident in two weeks. What's weird is that it was an overnight thing -- one moment he had a 50/50 chance, and the next he was dry each morning. I realized this morning that I didn't even think about it when I woke up -- I just took it for granted. That is HUGE.
- They are playing *together*. I think this one might be more of natural developmental milestone for S -- in the past, they would play in the same area, but not together. In the last week, they's played together each afternoon. Right now, their favorite game is "pretend to take a nap and then wake each other up and scream" (see photo above). The screaming part isn't my favorite, but as long as they are entertaining themselves....
- Potty training is progressing. It's going hand-in-hand with a new independence streak where "I do it MYSELF" is the most frequently declared sentiment, so it's a long and arduous process. I seem to spend half of my time helping S out of her clothes and the other half struggling to get them back on again.
- J has nearly caught up to his peer group in terms of age-appropriate learning. He finally knows all of his capital letters (a few still require some hesitation and consideration) -- and we owe a gigantic debt of gratitude to Janie, who practiced with him for two weeks straight. His fine motor skills are coming along, and he now draws a person with a body (not just legs springing from a circle-head). He will likely need some additional help/services when he starts kindergarten in the fall, but I'm more confident than before that he'll be "mainstream".
The court date (the big one, where the judge will decide on termination of parental rights and decisions on custody petitions from extended family) is less than a month away. Of course, it was supposed to have been decided in January -- before the kids even arrived at our house -- and then in April -- when it was cancelled at the last minute. So I'm not totally convinced that it's really going happen this time around.
One of the things that they don't tell you in the foster care training is that the closer you get to the court date, the more craziness appears. And it's certainly been the case. I won't get into it, but my patience and confidence in the system has been tried several times recently, and I came within a few seconds of a full-on panic attack a couple of weeks ago when a visit went off the rails.
So...all in all, quite the rollercoaster of emotions. I'm happy to have the slower pace of summer, the long evenings after the kids go to bed, and some fun side projects to help take the edge off. And hopefully, soon we'll have more answers to give the kids on their future (and ours).