Monday, September 19, 2011

Returning Ashley to Miss D's

During that long, difficult time when Ashley was my daughter in my heart, but not legally anything to me, not even yet my foster daughter, thanks to a bureaucratic snag, I had to return her after each visit to her foster mother, Miss D. This stretch of time was difficult for all involved. Ashley had been told that we wanted to adopt her and didn't fully understand why she couldn't move in with us. As she began to bond with me and my husband, she began to separate emotionally from Miss D. This is a natural development and was her way of preparing to leave someone who had been "mom," if only temporarily, but it caused problems.

Miss D is a loving, strict woman who had been doing foster care since the early 1980s. She once told me that of all the children who had been placed with her over the years, Ashley was the most challenging. Ashley is a child to whom the words "obstinate" and "strong-willed" have been applied, though my husband and I prefer "free-spirited." In any case, she gave Miss D a run for her money, but Miss D, to her credit, never gave up on her as previous foster mothers had. Ashley and Miss D had adapted somewhat to each other, and things had been going relatively well in the months before my husband and I came into the picture.

Unfortunately, Ashley's way of separating from Miss D in preparation for the transition to our family was to begin acting out. The social worker explained that this was normal and happens frequently in such situations. It was a sign that Ashley was ready to move on. All would have been fine if only Ashley could have moved in with us at that point, but because we were stuck in red tape, she had to stay at Miss D's, even though it was clearly no longer the right place for her.

Oh, how I dreaded walking up to Miss D's door to drop Ashley off. Ashley didn't want to go. I didn't want her to go. And Miss D was overwhelmed with the stress of dealing with the behaviors that Ashley was exhibiting in her home. She would meet me at the door and vent. I didn't blame her. I was frustrated, too. But there we were, stuck in a situation that neither of us could change.

I am happy to say that when I walk up to Miss D's door now, as I occasionally do with Ashley when we return for a visit, it is with much lighter emotions. She is delighted to see how Ashley has thrived in her new, permanent home. She laughs and tells me how worried she was that my husband and I would not prove up to the challenge of parenting this particular child, and how happy she is to have been proven wrong. I in turn am grateful to Miss D, for the love and safe haven she provided to Ashley on her journey.

1 comment:

  1. I think it is just beautiful how you and Ashley were just meant to be together. It just seems as if your family was pre-ordanied and a perfect fit even though I'm sure it was a difficult transisiton for everyone. Thank you so much for sharing your families wonderful story!

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