Posted in Foster Parenting / Adoption

The Hornet’s Nest

I thought things would be less drama-filled in our lives after the termination happened.  But that was far from the truth.  Maggie’s grandparents wanted so much to adopt her.  She’s their only grandchild and they love her dearly.  It seems every situation has an upside and a downside.  The down side here is that they’re older, he is in his early 70’s and she in her mid 60’s.  Maggie is 3.  So no matter how you do the math.. on fingers and toes or with a calculator, it just isn’t good in the long-term.  The upside is that they love her.  And every child needs someone who loves them in their lives.  Maggie’s grandparents were retired and devoted every minute to this little girl.  Of course they parented her as they had parented their son, whom they had also adopted many, many years ago.  Their parenting style was old school.  The Department of Human Services parents in the new school style.  They didn’t always see eye to eye on what was best for Maggie.

Maggie was nearing two years old but she still relied on her binkie.  Yes, I know what you’re al thinking as you shake your heads in disbelief.  I don’t think a child of that age should have a binkie either. BUT that binkie had been her comfort, her constant in an ever-changing world.  A two-year-old needs something she trusts and can depend on.  For Maggie, that was her binkie.  While Maggie was on a weekend visit with her grandparents, grandma made the decision to cut up Maggie’s binkie and throw it away.  That defining moment in her short little life, changed her completely.  Her security had been stripped from her.  Her most delicate and painful memories were no longer being held at bay by her comforting binkie.  The hornet’s nest fell from the tree and broke open.

Everything she could count on in her life has been removed from her in the past few months.  Her mother, her home, her toys.  Her mother was having visits but since the termination her mother had completely disappeared from her life.   Maggie had gone through eye surgery.  She would go from our home to her grandparents and back every few days.  There was nothing safe or constant in her life.  Nothing but her binkie.  And now it was gone.  Maggie’s reactions changed over the course of a couple of days.  First, she raged.  It wasn’t a temper tantrum.  It was panic and anger.   Frankly, she had every right to feel that way and express it in the only ways she could.   I tried everything I knew to redirect her to more positive things.  But she was having none of it.  I can’t blame her.

It began with a phone call from daycare.  During nap time, Maggie was unable to self comfort enough to fall asleep.  The daycare staff tried patting her back or rubbing the side of her face or singing quietly to her.  It didn’t work.  At bedtime, I resorted to my old tried and true relaxation methods.  After a bubble bath with lots of play toys. Warm and buttery cinnamon toast. Followed by a story time.  After I’d turn the lights down, I’d turn on her favorite music to play softly as she would fall asleep.  My ‘tried and true’ was a bust.  Eventually, Maggie wouldn’t eat either.  She was in crisis at 3 years old.

I had worked at the hospital as a psychology assistant to a child psychologist.

I called her and begged,  “I know you don’t usually work with children under age 4.  But I’ve got a little one in big trouble.”

I called the foster care social worker to get permission to take Maggie in that afternoon.  The psychologist had a cancellation.  But the social worker for our case was on vacation for the next two weeks.  I asked for her supervisor.  And I got permission.

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7 thoughts on “The Hornet’s Nest

  1. It surprises me that Maggie’s grandparents are so rigid. As a seventy-year-old grandparent, I have learned to pick my battles … a binkie would not be one.

    How sad for Maggie.

    Blessings – Maxi

  2. Her grandparents were trying so hard to do what they felt was right for Maggie. They just didn’t understand all of the losses she was experiencing. Having a binkie was the very least of her troubles.

    Hugs and Happy Easter!
    Jeannie

  3. Self soothing is something that very few adults learn in life. I cannot imagine a child needing to learn it in such a tornado of a time. Like you said, the grandparents were tying to break a “bad habit”, they just forgot to look at the time table of why she may need something like that for just a little while longer. It was not done out of malice, I am sure. What a tough little life.

  4. Maggie did have a very difficult time as a toddler. Her grandparents didn’t realize the scope of their decision. But they loved her right through all of her difficulties.

  5. Thank goodness you understood what was happening to her Jeannie…poor little Maggie and yes she was loved. We all do our best no matter what, but sometimes the actions are misguided..love to you xxxxx

  6. How sad, Jeannie… People tend to look at problems from the ‘outside’ instead of experiencing them by putting themselves inside, ie imagining themselves in the child’s place… I hope this has a good, positive ending.

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