Prior to becoming a foster-adopt parent, I had read a lot of books about trauma and attachment issues (including Heather Forbes' Beyond Consequences books, which were especially helpful in increasing my understanding of how problematic behaviors are rooted in fears and anxieties). I believed that I had a pretty good grasp of the challenges we were likely to encounter, and I believed that my husband and I were up to those challenges. I underestimated. I really could not have imagined just how challenging the first year would be. Ashley entered our home with a lot of emotional baggage and behavioral issues. In the beginning, we experienced melt-downs almost daily. She swore at us. She threw things. She destroyed things. She hit.
But after each one of these melt-downs (and she wasn't always the one having the melt-down -- sometimes it was me!), we would find our way back to connection, and she learned that we were going to stick with her no matter what. We weren't going to send her away (as previous foster parents had done) when she "misbehaved." Over time, the difficult behaviors decreased and the good days increased. Eventually, the good days became the norm. Today, she is a different child. The aggressive behaviors are gone, and the truly amazing child that she is has emerged.
Would I go back and do it all again? In a second! Yes, those early months of her placement with us were difficult, but the joyful outcome is worth every one of the challenging moments.
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