Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Who They Are -- N

N was so close to being 10 months old when he arrived, we might as well have called him that. As I finally find time to write this post, he is 11 months old, having been here for over a month.

He is super sweet -- he hugs and snuggles and "kisses". He lights up when the people he loves appear....and he has quickly attached to me and to our oldest biological child. He is attaching more slowly to Mr D and the other two kids. And when I say "lights up", that almost understates it. He grins with his whole face, his sparkling eyes nearly disappearing in chubby baby cheeks, and his chin lifts up towards the person he is greeting. He waves his arms excitedly or lifts them towards me in request to be held and he kicks his feet furiously. (He's not standing alone yet.) If he's in crawling position already, he will head towards me (or Peter) at all speed.

I'm not as concerned about his attachment to me as I was at first, because he has shown some normal, age appropriate "stranger anxiety" as well. When I drop him off in the church nursery, he cries as soon as he realizes I am leaving, but he is fine in less than 5 minutes. When strangers in the grocery store try to talk to him, he stares at them blankly for a few minutes before maybe granting them a smile, a "word", or some hand clapping.

He does not like to be left to play alone, which is also age appropriate. He will entertain himself with toys for short periods if someone stays nearby -- I see him checking periodically to ensure I haven't snuck off -- which at least makes it possible for me to put his clean clothes away in his room! Mostly, though, he likes to play with someone or to be on the go somewhere.

We've had an assessment for developmental delays, and he is very slightly behind in motor skills and on target every where else. So, we will begin physical therapy soon.

He sleeps amazingly well and wakes up happy. Although I can tell that he likes some foods better than others, I've still never had him refuse one. (He will refuse food when he's full, so I don't think this is a "history of nutritional neglect" symptom; I think he's just what my mother used to call "a good eater.") Seriously, still the easiest baby I've ever had.

The CPS investigation into his injury is "complete", but everything is in something of a holding pattern because the police investigation isn't finished. I'm a little confused by all this, because I don't see how a child abuse investigation can be complete if we still don't know if there will be a criminal complaint filed. This is our first case in which child abuse charges have been considered. I suspect we will never really know if his injury is the result of some terrible accident or the effect of someone reaching a breaking point at which they snapped and hurt him; it seems to be clear that it was not part of a larger pattern of consistent, regular abuse.

I am finding it easier than I expected to set the "why" aside. I have trouble imagining him being difficult enough to lead anyone to that point (and I'm not naive about how difficult infants can be -- I had one with colic), but I've discovered that I just don't think about that all that much. The "what happened" and "why" are not our part of the the process. Our part of the process is to love on this little guy; to care for him and to ensure he is safe for the time that he is in our home. And that is what we will do. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Still here

A quick, minimally edited, update to say that our latest little one ("N") is still here.

He's actually 10 months (not 9 months), which is close enough for foster care.

There's a medical issue that requires some follow up, but not much in the way of ongoing care. Just a few extra appointments. Oh, and a surgery. Which we've already done. It required an overnight stay in the hospital, so, of course, he is fine and I am still recovering from the night of regularly interrupted sleep.

He's the happiest, smiley-est baby I've ever met. His laugh is a delighted cackle that makes anyone within hearing distance grin. He sleeps all night long and still takes a long afternoon nap. He eats everything I've ever offered him.

He came to us from another foster placement. I was told on the initial call that it was just that the other family had taken in some relative kids and had to let him go. I've since had it hinted -- by multiple sources involved in the case -- that there were other issues with the previous foster family as first brush with a "bad" foster home. (I don't think there were concerns of actual abuse -- he wasn't yanked out of there fast enough for that. Just a vague feeling that there wasn't enough interaction, maybe? I'm hoping to learn more when I finally get a chance for a private conversation with his county caseworker.) His bio-mom has commented that he seems much happier and relaxed with me than he did with the former foster mom.

He came with a small suitcase of clothes, some formula, some baby food, about 12 diapers and one bottle. And no instructions. Nothing about how often he was used to eating or sleeping. Nothing about how much he would eat at a feeding. Nothing about what soothing techniques were helpful or whether he was used to being rocked to sleep. Nothing about what he was and was not capable of doing developmentally.

It's a reunification case and he's been in care for about 3 months already.

He cries when anyone except his bio-family, Mr D or Peter try to take him from me. He does not cry when his bio-family give him back to me at the end of a visit. I am immensely grateful/relieved to find that the bio-family sees this behavior as reassuring, rather than threatening. (I think they see it as a sign that I must be caring for him well since he trusts me so much. I would have completely understood, however, if it broke his mama's heart to see him reach for me from her lap. Maybe it does, and she's just self-sacrificing enough to swallow that heartbreak for his greater good.)

Unfortunately, I do not speak his native language and his bio-mom does not speak mine. (Bio-dad speaks some English, and the caseworker and CASA are both bilingual.) I'm learning a few key words and phrases in their language ("food", "milk", "more", etc) and doing some signing with him, in hopes that it will translate back more smoothly than only teaching him English.

It looks like he has an excellent CASA.

I don't know how long he'll stay. I do know there was an injury, the cause of which is being investigated, so I think it's safe to assume he will stay until that investigation is complete.I don't know what the case plans look like. I do know that both mom and dad have one and they are working them. I think mom and dad are together and I know there are 3 older siblings, who are not currently in a foster home. (I'm not clear on whether they are in a relative placement or not in care at all.)

So much to learn over the next few months.....