Saturday, January 5, 2008

Adoption Story, part II

Just one week after our home study, Tuesday, I received the phone call that we had been selected as foster parents for a blonde two-year-old girl. Zillah had wild curly hair and an endearing, spunky personality. She was also clearly traumatized by all the chaos and change in her little life. Within hours of her arrival at home she decided that I would suffice as a mother figure and she clamped onto me--literally and figuratively. In the weeks that followed, I slept in her bed to comfort her fears. If I left the house, she cried at the window until I returned. If I sat down, she was in my lap. If I was unavailable, she stood in the corner until I returned.

As Zillah gradually became comfortable in our home, the more mischievous she became. She was one week older than Levi, and the two of them became Double Trouble. They taught each other all the mischief they knew. They fought jealously over toys and attention. While Zillah’s demands wore us out, we also admired her determination. I loved her with a mother love.

But another trial of Zillah that I hadn’t expected was her birth parents. Like her daughter, Zillah’s mother, Carrie, was prepared to fight--even when fighting was unnecessary or counterproductive. At times she tried to fight against or discredit me.

As I watched Carrie reeling from the pain of losing her daughter and desperately seeking to get her back, I realized how easy it was for Carrieto resent me. I had so many things she didnt’t: a house, an education, a car, a stable marriage--and her daughter. The state had officially determined that she was a bad mom and that I was a good mom. Not only could I see why Carrie might resent me, I could see how it would feel so good for her to hate me. The more Zillah relied on me--even though doing so was in her best interest while she was in my home--the more Carrie feared.

In the five months Zillah lived with me, Carrie and her husband did many things that hurt my feelings. They made complaints against me, they criticized me, they were rude to me when my entire life was turned upside down as I tried to help their family. But I learned that in this experience, it wasn’t about me. My feelings or reputation were lowest on the scale of priorities. Their need to vent or rail against me changed nothing and, really, it hurt nothing. I learned to respond to rudeness without rudeness, to ignore opportunities to be offended.

On the day I delivered Zillah back to her mother, my feelings--as they were often throughout those months--were split. I missed her and wanted her to stay with me forever. I was grateful her parents had done the work so she could return. I was elated at the new freedom and ease my life would have.

Stay tuned to find out how the crazy experience of fostering Zillah led to our happy adoption of Haley...

4 comments:

  1. Angela, Thanks to your dad's christmas letter, I've found your blog and I'm reading your Haley's adoption story with interest, I was wondering about this and I'm glad you're posting the nitty gritty.
    can't wait for the next segment...
    Mary

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  3. Joe, all names have been changed so I'm not airing other families' dirty laundry online.

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  4. This is such a great story. And thanks for the heads up about changing the names...I was thinking I had totally forgotten one of your foster children.

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