Wow, where did the year go? It seems like it just flew by. Summer is coming and our 5 yr anniversary of when the girls came home is fast approaching. I can't believe it's been almost 5 yrs already.
This month also marks the 5th year that we have known the girls. We first met them at a foster to adopt picnic, this month. I went back to my old blog and it shows we accepted the girls at our disclosure meeting on 5/31. But we had met them a couple of weeks previously. My mother had fallen and I had to go down to S CA to take care of her for a week so we were delayed on accepting them at our disclosure meeting. Hard to believe it was 5 yrs ago. We started our visits in June and brought the girls home at the end of June. It's sort of bittersweet as this is the month we met the girls, accepted their referral. It's also the month my mother was born in and the month she died in. So May is bittersweet.
The girls have some end of year activities going on too. LGA got invited to a classmate's party but I need to see if I should go with her because her whole class got invited and she has some issues with some of the boys, I don't know if I trust her to go on her own, but the mom included her phone number on the invite so I will call and ask. LGA's excited. We don't have too many birthday invites in our house, so this is great, both LGA and BGA got invites to parties this year. That way it makes it equal (because it must always be equal. LGA got to go to a movie and dinner while BGA was at her party, BGA won't get that because it's on a weekday, but LGA still talks about BGA going to a party and she didn't get to....well now she does get to go to a party).
Both girls have taken Girl Scouts after school on the school campus. They started in January and finish in June. This was wonderful for me as it allowed me to have two extra hours before I had to pick them up and they enjoyed going. BGA has gone since she came to live with us in first grade. She really enjoys it. I tried to get her into a troop when she went to a GS camp on one of the school breaks but the leader never called me back to help me get her into a troop. I wanted a troop that she could fit into easily. But at that time she was still having issues with the girls at the old school so I think she wouldn't have fit in so easily and the leader did not call me back to help me set it up. This campus GS sold cookies this year too and they enjoyed it. They brought home a notice that they will get awards on the last session of GS and inviting the parents to come to their assembly. That will be fun.
I have to say switching schools this year was a good choice for both girls. The school is still not in a great area (as was the previous school) so there are still issues. BGA's class teacher was brought in specifically to teach this class and she told me about a month ago that it's been a very tough class. She wanted to get BGA into magnet, telling me that felt that was a better chance for BGA. BGA's grades have certainly come up enough for her to probably do it. But we have had a positive experience school wise this year. The girls have made progress, both of them, so it's been a much better experience. I don't know what next year will bring, as both girls had excellent teachers and I'm not sure that will be the case next year. They have shown what a positive teacher can do to encourage them and they have both taken off. In the past we have also seen issues arise when they have not had a positive teacher to influence them and they have had a difficult year. BGA did have a semi hard year as she reverted back to some old habits when first starting in her new school and missing some of her friends/teachers from the old school. Her grades slipped and she lied about homework. But once she turned it around, she had the best report card she's ever had. Seriously. I think Dave and I were in shock. We'll see how she finishes out the year, and if she can maintain that report card. However, she brought her grades up to where they were last year so we aren't going to care too much if she slips a bit, because she did show she can do it. She has had a few instances of kids bullying her, but I feel the teacher and the principal handled it well. I just wish that they had involved us. We didn't find out (well Dave found out first but it was when my back was out and I just wasn't able to concentrate on what was going on) till later how it all went down and how they handled it. Also one thing we will need to work on with BGA is how to have her accept and be deserving of the proud moments. We didn't find out about a special thing she had happen to her, till a couple of months later. For some reason she didn't feel deserving and she tried to pass of not telling us by saying she thought we'd be upset she rode in a limo (SO not true, but in our defence we have been working on strangers and what not to do when a stranger approaches you, etc. so she thought that riding in a limo with the principal might upset us. We then had to have another conversation about teachers, principals, and what is/isn't acceptable behavior. Guess we weren't clear enough) with the principal for scoring 100% on TEN spelling tests in a row!! We were proud. But she admitted rather tearfully that she didn't feel she deserved it, so now we are concentrating on being happy and feeling deserving when something good happens. It's sad to see how fast our kids can sabatoge something and not feel deserving of it no matter how much we try to encourage them. This is something I imagine will get worse with puberty, so we are working on it now.
LGA has learned to read. Her school psychologist said at about 3rd grade she might just 'take' off in learning and that has been the case here. She will probably be due to be re-tested next year (and we have yet to meet her school district contact or the school psychologist). But her teacher this year was an older woman who with her husband, has 3 adult kids and grand kids and has fostered over the years. She knew just how to inspire LGA. I think LGA has had the best year she's EVER had. I have read where some people on the FASD FB group have said they want to keep their kids in mainstream classes, but LGA suffered. Her speech issues and her lack of maturity was hard on her. We saw more physical issues (hitting, throwing bark, etc.) in mainstream than we have seen this year. Putting her in special ed day class did show some regression (there were some downs/autistic kids in her class) but for the most part it's been a good decision. If she were to catch up she could go back to mainstream, but maturity wise I'd rather keep her in special ed day. I think the kids were harder on her this year, the mainstream. She was teased, she had someone put a 'loser' sign on her back (when we had the IEP we brought it up to the principal, who was not happy about that) and she was a bit miserable. However, within her class she had a couple of kids she played with and seemed to do much better in her class. So we'll keep her in special ed day. She will as I mentioned previously, go to summer school (and some of her buddies go too, so she is not alone. She might even get to see her friend E, who has downs and who she went to school with last year and misses, as E goes to another school). Her teacher this year will have all the kids go to the new classroom, meet the teacher and spend some time there so they are comfortable with the teacher and class.
The girls have come a long way over 5 yrs. And it's hard to believe we met them 5 yrs ago this month. When we met them it was at a foster to adopt picnic. The girls were not into it, I don't even know if they knew why they were there. We went and since we'd signed up with an agency, we had to participate in crafts and games with the kids. We were specifically meant to hang out with our girls, but they were very popular and all the prospective parents were trying to get their attention and hang out with them (ignoring the kids who really wanted someone to play with them. This really annoyed me as I felt that the PAP were just going to whatever kids looked the best and trying to interact with them). We were then reprimanded a bit as we didn't make any effort to hang out with the girls as we tried to fulfill the games/crafts we'd signed up for. The social worker from the county found our agency and then had our agency rep tell us to go spend time with the girls. I remember the first thing BGA asked for - a soda (which we do not have very much of in our house). When Dave was not fast enough in getting it to her, she said, "I want it NOW!" Ha. That should have been our first sign there of what was to come. LGA was just delightful and we fell in love with her instantly (ignoring the FASD we'd been told about). We spent about 30 mins with the girls before their foster mother came to pick them up. I didn't know much about attachment then, and when I heard BGA run screaming to the foster mother and say, "MOMMY!" I thought nothing of it. It was only when I talked to our agency SW and he explained about attachment, did I wonder.......would that be what she would try to call us, even though she would not know us very well? She did, but that's for another blog post.
We were smitten (or as smitten as you could be not really knowing the girls. We took a few mins to discuss the girls before deciding to go forward). We went with another "ducky" who was looking for her child and had driven a long way to go to this picnic. We went to an early dinner with her and talked about the girls with her, trying to temper our excitement but excited none the less. We met the worker for the girls at the picnic and we liked her immediately. We were lucky as both our SW turned out to be great and I leaned on them a lot in the first 13 mos before we finalized. I came to find out that was not the norm, but I am glad for that experience with them. Our county worker was older and may have retired by now, but she was a great 'mother' figure and while the girls didn't completely warm up to her like they did our agency worker, she was a great help to me in the months before we finalized. We decided to move forward and awaited our disclosure meeting. Unfortunately my mother fell and we had to delay the meeting a week or so because I went down to take care of mom. I was torn (as I would be from that time going forward) as my mom needed help and it was becoming apparent she could not manage on her own, even with my brother (who just thought she needed to get moving more and could never accept her deterioration) living with her at the time (which presented it's own set of problems because they did not get along very well). I was excited and nervous and taking care of my mother. I remember leaving her house to come home and being excited about our disclosure meeting for the girls. I had to wait another week for us to go to the meeting, and I thought I was not going to make it in anticipation.
On disclosure day (this is the meeting where you go to SW office and he/she will 'disclose' what they know about the child/ren and go over what they can/cannot show you in their files and you either agree to move forward or decline) we brought our agency SW with us as he didn't want to drive on his own and our house was on the way to the SW office. It made it hard to make small talk, but it did help on the way back as we were able to discuss the issues, pros/cons, etc. We (I) made a fast decision to accept the referral. Dave agreed. We moved forward. We were going to be parents! It was very surreal. It didn't feel real at all. We set about telling everyone and were scheduled for our first visit a week after disclosure (another blog post). It happened fast (as Heather and Rachel warned me it would).
So, 5 yrs later, I am a mom, doing mom stuff, parenting two girls and life as I knew it changed forever 5 yrs ago.
We will get through the end of school year but for some reason I think if the girls get awards for school I am going to be a bit emotional this year. I'm really feeling it this year.
I will write another post about the visits we had with the girls. But for now, I'm being a bit sentimental on our 5 yrs of knowing the girls anniversary.