I know this amazing family who when they heard a baby needed adopting because his young parents were not able to care for him said “We will love him.”
It took almost a year before the foster system would allow them to bring him home due to cross province adoption policy. When they brought him home he was diagnosed with sensory processing and attachment disorders. He screamed at the parents and his new sister twenty four hours a day. It was challenging, weaker people would have buckled under the pressure but they said “we love him.”
The day before the adoption was to be put before the judge to be finalized, they were informed the adoption was being challenged. For two and half years they agonized over the possibility of losing their son in private. Their son’s needs became more challenging as they agonized. Weaker people would have thrown in the towel but they said “He is our son and we love him.”
During the final months of their agony they had to attend a trial in which they heard testimony of their son’s tragic beginning. They heard stories of addiction, neglect and violence. At the end of a trial that drained them emotionally, they found out they would have to agonize just a little bit longer as the judge wrote his ruling. The judge informed them at the beginning of December that he would have his ruling to them by January. The agony grew.
January came and went with no ruling. February came and went with no ruling. In the third week of March they received a call. “The judge will deliver his decision by 10:30 a.m. the next morning.” At 11:37 the following morning they received an email informing them that he was their son. I had the honour of being there when they found out he would be staying in their family. I knew this family was in agony. Living in fear every day of being torn apart but I did not know the depth of their agony until I saw the mother finally break down in tears. Tears that released the private agony she had been suffering for the last two and half years of her life.
It is an emotional story. Every time I think of that family I am filled with emotion and gratitude. This is not the point of my story though. This mother privately agonized. The whole family agonized in private. They took their children to preschool and didn’t utter a word. The parents stayed strong for their children and suffered privately. As Early Care and Learning professionals we never know what a family struggles with in private.
I believe with that knowledge we are given choices. We can choose to connect with each and every person who walks through our doors. We can choose to put our judgements aside. We can choose to care for the parents as well as the child.