Today he still struggles with many issues but all of them are issues to a lesser degree and some are completely gone. At times the healing he has done is incredible to believe. Other times I find myself exclaiming in frustration "Why are we still dealing with this?!!!!" On this day I want to honor how far Tortuga has come. He can read. He no longer rages. His meltdowns are few and far between. He is kind. He is caring. He can read and write above grade level even though his early assessments indicated he was borderline MR. He loves to read, write, draw, poetry, play guitar, sports, legos, chess, learn about history and science, going for hikes, riding his bike, skateboard, and scooter, help our elderly neighbors, and spend time with the family. He can spend hours focusing on one activity and he has begun to learn to laugh at himself. This doesn't mean we don't have major struggles with rudeness, trust, meanness, fear, anxiety, bad judgment, impatience, and aggression. We do and we know he still doesn't trust us. He still uses information as a weapon both against people (when he has it and uses it) and against himself/us (he withholds vital information until it becomes a major issue). But he is healing.
When he came home we were told by therapists and social workers "no one would blame you if you didn't adopt him." It seemed unfathomable to us that at age 7 everyone would have already given up on him. It was clear he had given up on himself. So much of our struggle with him has been to help him recognize that he is a good person, that he can nurture the good in himself and express that. We have had to help him see that there is much he can accomplish if he sets his mind to it but that he has to let go of all the "stuff" that gets in his way. It is hard. Very hard. He is no longer 7. He is almost 14. Each day we struggle I go to bed wondering if we can keep doing this. Each morning I remind myself that we have a new day, a new opportunity to try again, a new chance for success. Some days, he surprises me because he goes back to being that child who behaves like a trapped and wounded animal. Other days he surprises me because he rises about that and he move beyond those primal feelings. Today, I am most proud of him because he keeps trying. He is still willing to try. He still fights us on many levels. He still doesn't trust us. Yet there are glimmers of hope. I know he loves us. Three years ago he would have said that he didn't need or want us. Today, he cannot imagine living anywhere else and talks of being with us forever (we will have to cross that bridge when we come to it. :-) ) I don't know what the future will bring nor do I know if it will be enough but for today I honor and celebrate the progress and the hope. For today, that is enough.