Sunday, November 8, 2009
A Storm Waiting to Happen
I saw his picture on the internet first. He was eighteen months old, in a medical foster home and released for adoption. His face melted my insides in a way nothing has before or since. I knew immediately that this was to be my son. My very first thought upon staring at his unsmiling picture, was that he looks like a storm waiting to happen. There was no question, no hesitation and I never turned back. I submitted my home study immediately and began a campaign to end all campaigns. I knew I had an advantage. He had some medical issues, and I was an RN with a strong pediatric back round. I used my humor, my intellect and my tenacity. There were hundreds of families that applied for him, and I had the very great fortune to be the one they chose.
On my first visit, his foster mom warned me that her sister had visited from Puerto Rico for a month and he never let her hug him or pick him up. She didn't want me to be discouraged if it took some time for him to warm up to me. On that visit, I sat on the floor, and after initially crying and hiding in his foster mother's arms, he made his way over to me. I gave him the Sesame Street sound board I bought for him and he LOVED that thing (that toy is still in my closet, I will never give it up). Then we started to play. He spent the next two hours in a baby drunk walk going in circles around the house and running into my arms for hugs over and over again. The family and foster care worker were in shock. I got a wet mushy kiss on the lips goodbye and I cried on and off most of the way home for having to leave him there. For me, it confirmed what I already knew instinctively. I knew this soul and he damn well knew me. It was a total of 4 months from first application for him to be on his way to his new permanent home. His room was ready and waiting and a stack of wrapped Holiday presents were awaiting his post holiday arrival. We drove the two hours in a bit of a rush trying to beat a winter storm that was supposed to have already begun. We came off of our exit to home when the snow began. I laughed and decided immediately that this storm waiting to happen that was buckled in his car seat, and the storm that waited to happen until we were home safely confirmed it. He was named Storm, an S name for my Grandfather Saul, and a name that suited him well.
Storm came home at 22 months old. In his foster home he had been receiving weekly; physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, feeding therapy and special education. He did not imitate sounds, he walked like he was drunk, and didn't chew food at all. He looked like a kwashkior kid. Sticks for arms and legs and a big empty pot belly from protein deprivation. He was used to eating corn meal glop with cheese. He would only eat mush from a spoon. I stopped all therapies. I worked with him like any mother would. He had free run of the house instead of spending most of his day in a high chair to keep him contained. We spent time on the enclosed trampoline to build muscles, and just talking to him every day like any mom would got him to start imitating. I very often needed his seven year old sister for interpretive data. "Shu Na" was Storm for fruit snack. You have the idea, but it was all in the right direction.
Food was our biggest issue. He was determined not to chew, and I was unrelenting. It became a test of wills and my goal was to find something that he liked enough to want to chew. Cheerios were a start, very little work and easy success. Then came the two discoveries that changed it all. McDonald's french fries and Dunkin Donuts french crullers. You see the french connection here. Now before the health nuts get on me, let me explain. My goal was getting him to start to chew. The nutrition part would come. I didn't care what it was. And both of these took little jaw strength and were obviously tastes that appealed to him. We made the trip to McDonald's and Dunkin Donuts daily and slowly but surely we made headway. My daughter loves to tell my son of the hour long meals we had consisting of me saying chew, chew, chew, and moving his jaw for him at times. He would pocket food and it was damn hard work but a labor of love.
We never did need those therapies again. When I had him tested for the public school 4 year old pre-school program he was rejected because he had no deficits. He was rejected because he had no deficits. The teacher who tested him said, "you know he's very bright". Damn well I knew. I knew all along the treasure I had. His sense of humor (he gets that from his Mom I must admit, sarcastic as all get out, in a very funny non-offensive way!) was right out there during the testing. I was never so proud of a rejection in my life.
Storm is now 7 years old and as I like to say, he was grossly under named. Tornado or hurricane would have been more appropriate. He puts the energizer bunny to shame. He is tall, slim and very muscular. He is at the top of his class, is bright, verbal and an amazing athlete. He plays the violin, and loves to write in his journal. His favorite food is steak and he has an obsession with bubble gum. OK, I will admit the 5 foot tall professional Seaga spiral gum ball machine in his room may have contributed to that obsession, but maybe not! And we have a bond like I have never experienced in my life.
I call him the child of my soul. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that I knew his soul before this life, and it is obvious that this is quite mutual. He is sensitive and tuned in and intuitive, and he is mine. I am not sure what I have done right in this lifetime to be honored with raising this person, not to mention being lucky enough to have a son that I love more then life itself. All I know is that I am grateful. I am grateful each morning and every night and all of the time in between. I am awed that this Storm waited to happen.