Monday, August 18, 2008

Meeting Dustin . . .

I was reading Torina's blog today and I read her account of the first day she met her adopted daughter Tara. It made me think about the day we met Dustin and what took us on that journey . . . I decided to copy her . . .

Robert and I had been trying to conceive for about 2 years. No such luck. He had been married previously and had never had children (that we know about har-har) so we were not certain what the issue was. When he was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor in March of 2001 we were told that could be the reason and if it was we would be pregnant by Christmas.

Having a brain tumor puts your whole life in perspective. Robert was happy to have it diagnosed and removed and felt thankful that his life was going to be better. He came home one day and told me that he wanted to open our home to kids and give them a family. He wanted to foster.

We went through the classes, got what we thought was sufficiently scared (not even close) and got our license. Our agency called us the day our classes were finished and said, "We think we have a child you would do great with. He needs a family that's not tarnished. He's high needs, but is a wonderful boy". High needs? That should've been our first clue . . . RUN. We were told he had Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Early On-Set Bi Polar, PTSD from severe physical abuse, Sensory Integration Disorder, Attention Deficit Disroder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Reactive Attachment Disorder and had killed animals before. But we were willing to meet him. They sped our license through the system and he visited us the next weekend.

The morning we met Dustin was a cold and raining Saturday in May. We met his foster mom at a local Pizza Hut parking lot. We got there first. We were silent as we waited. We had talked and talked and talked about this and our expectations until we were blue, we were scared. When the foster mom drove up in her truck we saw a little boy in the front seat. He was tiny, just barely looking over the dash. He had on a dirty, ratty jean coat on and a much too large Spiderman raincoat on over it. He was wild-eyed and sucking his cheeks in. He had a multi-colored "snake" around his neck that was a weighted device to help keep him settled (yeah right) and a very badly done home-haircut in the shape of, you guessed it, a bowl. (which covered a horribly picked forehead, which we were told was from OCD and later turned out to be from the stimulant meds he was on which made him psychotic- he was actually eating his flesh UGH)

I heard Robert sigh as they drove up and he said, "Are you sure you wanna do this" I said, no and got out of the car. Dustin got in our van and we headed home. The following few hours consisted of him running around the house touching everything, me trying to keep the animals safe from his poking, prodding and pulling, and digging worms til he had decimated my front lawn. He refused to eat anything but chicken nuggets and french fries (for months), did not sleep well, fell asleep at 10:00pm (despite a full clonidine) and was up at 4:00 in the morning ready to go for the next day. I was exhausted, overwhelmed and stressed, and yet I had a peace that this was the child destined for our home. Robert was not so sure at first.

That first visit he was not super lovey. He did cuddle at bedtime, but he was wild and flitty most of the time. He did not develop his touchy-feely side until a while after he was placed with us. This child had been in 9 placements in a very short 2 year span. I believe he was so used to being moved from place to place that he waited to see if this one would "stick". Well, that and the fact that he was severely over-medicated (5 prescriptions - 21 pills per day for a 48 pound 6 year old).

His foster mom told us that he had everything removed from his room because he destroyed things. She said he had a mattress in a carpeted room for him. He had even torn apart the mattress. We gave him a wonderful room, with *gasp* mini blinds, *gasp* a tv/vcr, a toy box and *gasp* a real bed. He was thrilled. Pretty sad that he was thrilled to have a bed. Sure he poured things into anything and EVERYthing that would hold liquid, sure he cut the hair on his stuffed animals because he found scissors in the bathroom, sure he snipped the cords to the miniblinds, not once, not twice, but 3 times before we changed to roll shades, but he enjoyed his room. I think he felt like a "real boy". I truly believe that's what made him trust us, that's what made him know it was okay to love us. He knew we wouldn't give him up because he was "bad". And BOY-O-BOY was he "bad". We had so much to learn!

And by the way, the very day he was placed finally with us, he got a haircut.

One day in September, he climbed up into my lap in the computer room where I was sitting talking to Robert. He looked at me funny and held my face in his hands. I asked him what was wrong. He patted my stomach and said, "You're going to have a baby". The next day I bought a pregancy test and gosh darn-it he was right. We had never talked about getting pregnant in front of him, but he knew I was pregnant even before I did. Weird.


8 comments:

Torina said...

Awwww. You just KNOW, ya know? When you see them and are with them...you just KNOW.

Jo said...

You are AMAZING my dear. I think I would have run. But you didn't. Dustin is so blessed to have you. Little Man has moments that blow my mind too.

Robert Rouse said...

You've been bestowed with the Kick Ass Blogger Award.

Marla said...

I can't believe he knew you were pregnant. M "knows things" sometimes as well. Never ceases to amaze me.

Thanks for sharing your story.

Janine said...

Thankyou for sharing that special time - and how brave of you both, to take such a child for first placement. I've been offered similar foster children a couple of times, but refused, mainly because of keeping balance with the other kids in the family (well that was my reasoning, but maybe I'm just chicken) How wonderful that he finally ended up in your family, and it became his, after all those moves.

FAScinated said...

Thanks for sharing this story, Sheri. I loved reading about how your family started! ~Kari

JR said...

You did it, you put me in tears! I truly do respect you and the road you have chosen. Not enough people in this world are willing to do exactly what you are doing, opening your heart, soul, mind and home to another.

The part about him knowing you were pregnant, kids are amazing in their innocence.....my daughter knew my grandmother had passed away before we told her and she was only 4. She blew my mind. It was a very simple, "Grandma E is in heaven now, she is watching us"

Angie said...

Thank you for sharing. What a powerful story. Your family is awesome!