Wednesday, February 3, 2010

5 years ago...February 3 (a little late)

Five years ago today Corazon joined our family. For all my years of foster parenting and experiences with all kinds of children I had NO idea how much my life would be turned upside down and right-side up by her arrival. We met on January 25 and 8 days later she moved in at the age of 4 1/2. My life has never been the same!

Corazon is a precious and wonderful soul--generous, kind, stubborn, intelligent, engaging, charming, easily frustrated, funny, athletic, thoughtful and loving. She has had elements of all this from the moment we met but she has had a bitter struggle with issues of trust, trauma and RAD. It has been a difficult battle but she is so much closer to being the amazing person I know she has been destined to become.

This year has marked tremendous progress for her. Her good days consistently outnumber her "bad" days. She still struggles with trust, control, hypervigilance, lying, sneaking and stealing but the last three happen mostly when she is feeling unsafe or vulnerable. Yet she is also very attached to me and shows genuine care and feeling. Her moods are much more stable, rages are non-existent, and meltdowns are few and far between now. This is a big deal for her because 3 years ago we still had regular rages and almost daily meltdowns! There are still days when she cannot get it "together" no matter what and she will spiral downward without any way of bringing her back up. Most days, redirection helps her get back on track. But most importantly, she can TALK about it. It's funny to think that a mom can feel "proud" when her child feels embarrassment, hurt, sadness and just plain disappointment, but I do feel proud of her at these moments. These are feelings she has had a hard time feeling and naming and perhaps most importantly these are feelings that used to manifest as anger and rage and were completely debilitating. Now, we can usually process them and move on without it ruining both our days.

Corazon loves reading and books ... reading and books... reading and books and oh yes, gymnastics. She will read ANYTHING and EVERYTHING but her favorites are still biographies and historical fiction. She also loves mysteries--Nancy Drew, Goosebumps and Hardy Boys-- plus anything by Lois Lowry, Jerri Spinelli, Andrew Clements, Pam Munoz Ryan, Wendelin Van Draanen, Erin Hunter, Jean Craighead George, and Christopher Paul Curtis. A trip to the bookstore or library is like Christmas morning for her. Her eyes light up and her brain starts racing. She begs for more and more books and is grateful for every book she gets. She is easily lost in her books and will read and re-read them countless times! Corazon's excitement about learning is contagious. Dozens of times each day I am "interrupted" by her need to share something she has learned or to ask a question about something she has read. She absorbs information quickly and will recall it at the drop of a hat. She is currently carrying on a love affair with fractions. She loves everything about them--equivalent fractions, dividing fractions, mixed numbers, etc. A few nights ago she had about 45 minutes before bedtime and she asked me to give her some math problems with fractions. I asked her if she was feeling ok and she said "MOM! I love fractions!"

She loves her little sister Milagro and if given a choice would probably be torn between playing with Milagro and reading. They can play together for hours and engage in conversations that only the two of them can follow. Whenever she hears Milagro express even the smallest need, Corazon is there to try and meet it. There is a gentleness and a genuineness in her manner with Milagro that just melts my heart. Milagro loves Corazon back. There are days when I have an unconsolable toddler because we just dropped Corazon off at the gym and Corazon "forgot" to hug Milagro goodbye! She currently "tolerates" her brothers who do much to drive her nuts. Despite the fact that her older brother is usually mean and rude to her she works so hard to help him and include him with tremendous patience and kindness.

Corazon still loves her heart pillows (she gets one each year) and this year reminded me countless times to make sure I wouldn't forget it was the first present I ever got her. She loves playing with her stuffed animals and baby dolls, board games, horses, drawing, writing, making cards for people, activity books, country music, her bike, scooter and skateboard, being outdoors, most sports, the Dallas Cowboys and New Engalnd Patriots, her MP3 player and Amelia Earhart. She can entertain herself for hours and has developed a silly side. She is most serious about her gymnastics and still emerges from the gym after a 3 1/2 hour workout looking energized, relaxed, and happier than ever! She recently started taking trumpet lessons and after 7 sessions her teacher told me she now knows 20 notes which apparently is a big deal for a beginner. She now wants to try volleyball and tennis and told me yesterday she wants to start collecting stamps.

It is hard to remember the kid who didn't really know how to play with toys without destroying them and trying a new sport/lesson/activity usually meant doing something unsafe, harmself or minimally attention-getting. She could join a team or class and not know anyone's names but could tell you much about the teacher/coach's business because her total and complete focus was on the adults. It is wonderful to hug her now because she just melts against me. We can now spend time in the same room doing "quiet" activities independently without her constantly needing to get my attention. I treasure our nights just before bed when everyone has headed off to bed and we "close down" the house for the night. She seems most calm and at peace when we are together and she has become my best "helper" around the house. There are honestly days when I could not get through as easily without her help. There are times she walks up to me and just touches my arm or kisses my hand and the look on her face is full of love. I trust that she really means it when says she missed me and doesn't want to go to the gym because she would rather spend time with me. All the drama and trauma we have been through these past 5 years seems so worth it when she crawls into my lap or cuddles next to me on the couch and I know that there is nowhere she would rather be. All the work we have done and all the pain we have experienced have brought us to where we are today and I completely believe her when she says "I love you more than anything, Mom" or "You're the best mom in the whole world!" How did I get to be so lucky?


GB's Mom said...

What a wonderful tribute to an awesome kid!

SocialWrkr24/7 said...

What a fantastic little person you have there - and adorable to boot! :) Wishing you many more years of healing and happiness for your sweet girl!

BT said...

Dia. This is such a beautiful tribute to Corazon's five-year anniversary. P is 0.75 years older than her, and our five-year adoption day anniversary is coming up in two weeks. I swear this post could have been one I wrote about P (except for the gymnasitcs). His trajectory of healing has been very similarly timed.

Here's to your/Corazon's next five years!! If possible, may they be even more incredible than these past five.

Mama Drama Times Two said...

Oh. Just beautiful! What amazing growth.

Lee said...

What a beautiful tribute and a beautiful daughter.

J. said...

glad to of provided a little inspiration, day by day they gorw and looking back is sometimes so helpful.

ohchicken said...

beautiful, this made me cry. she's so lovely. and you are such a wonderful mom.

we must make this meeting thing happen. soon. let's chat?

here's a post i'd really like to read someday, btw: the balance of parenting b/w you and c, and how you make it all work. x

Mom 4 Kids said...

"but she is so much closer to being the amazing person I know she has been destined to become."

I love love love that! That is how I feel about my Miss too. Your daughter is beautiful and amazing!

Lisa said...

I cannot wait to see the great plans that are in store for Corazon. She is indeed an amazing girl and fully expect her to do great things in her life. Heck! She already has! :)

MomInTheTrench said...

Thanks for sharing this! I'm happy for both of you.

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