What a difference a year can make! Giselle came to live with us 3 weeks before her 8th birthday. As you can imagine it’s not an easy thing to move into a new family, especially as an eight year old. Giselle was very shy and it broke our hearts to see how worried she was that this home might not be her last.
When you adopt a foster child you can’t make any promises to them about being their forever family because typically when they move in with you their parental rights are not yet terminated.
During this time of transition just focus on being the best parent you can be. Assure the child that you love them and you will do everything in your power to help them. Remember that everything your child is experiencing is new. This can be scary for an adult let alone a child. They have to adjust to new friends, new school, new pets, new home, new parents, new siblings, new bedroom, new clothes, new foods… new, new, new. My point is to go easy and try not to introduce too many new things at once.
It’s like starting a baby on new foods. If you give them carrots and squash on the same day you won’t know which one they’re allergic to. It’s important to ease them into things and pay attention to their reactions. If she hates tennis, take her out. Just because you’re a ballerina doesn’t mean your adopted child will ever want to dance. You get the idea. Put yourself in your child’s shoes and see the transition from their eyes.
With Giselle we could see that she had several talents that had not been encouraged. Because of her shy nature it took some coaxing to get her to try new things. At first she was hesitant with each new thing, but eventually she let down her guard and began to enjoy these new experiences.
This week Giselle celebrated turning 9. She has blossomed so much I barely recognize the girl who moved in a year ago. She’s still shy, but only around new people. Most of the time she’s a spunky little loud mouth who loves to giggle and joke with her siblings. She’s made tons of friends at school and she’ll try any new food at least once. Giselle both adores and fights non stop with her older sister Savannah (as sisters should). But the biggest change I’ve seen in her this year is her growth of self confidence. I wept tears of joy as I watched her last month perform on stage at the school talent show. Giselle decided she wanted to perform and she choreographed a dance routine along with her friends. She was glowing with pride at her accomplishment after her performance and so were we.
Though we are still not legally a family yet she knows we’re almost there. With parental rights terminated she’s not worried any more if we’ll be her forever family (and thankfully we don’t have to worry anymore either). She is such an amazing girl and she’s already overcome so much in her life of nine years. I see how much change has happened in only a year and I smile thinking of the powerhouse of a woman she’ll become someday.
There is truly nothing more rewarding than being a part of the positive change in the life of a child. It’s not an easy road to get there, but the reward far outweighs the struggles of the journey.
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