Saturday, June 18, 2016

Lessons From My Children: Anthony: Have a Good Time.

Anthony's story of how he became a part of our family is remarkable.  He was born six weeks early, and shortly after his being born, Social Services informed us that he would be coming to our home.  We had recently been licensed as foster parents, and he was our second foster child.  We were a little bit wary, having had no experience with parenting a preemie.  Sheri visited him in the hospital a couple times, and visited with the nurses before bringing him home. He was born four pounds seven ounces, and when he came to our home at two weeks weighed about five pounds. He was the love of our life from his first coming home.  Man those preemie diapers are small.

His only medical problem after that has been his kidneys retaining too much water.  But that has pretty much resolved itself as he has gotten older.  They were also worried about the strength of his legs.  But with climbing up stairs, and jumping on trampoline, his legs are as strong as anyone's his age.  He now enjoys climbing trees, the wall the shelf etc.  He's Spider Man you know.

My proudest moment with Tony, when he was small, was taking him to my older son's Marine graduation. I had him in a carrier, and people so much wanted to see the beautiful baby.  He was still small, but such a beautiful boy.  I didn't tell anyone he was our foster baby; just our baby.

But, unfortunately, our happiness with Tony was short lived.  Social Services found a relative placement for him, with cousins, and after he was with us only two months he moved on.  I went to the exchange, which took place at the shelter.  He weighed eight pounds when he left us.  We really didn't think we would ever see Tony again. 

But who knows how things work.  About ten months later, after his first birthday, Social Services called us to inform us he was available for placement. We jumped at the opportunity.  Our baby boy was coming back home.

We were close to Tony from the first moment he came to our home, both times.  We have loved him.  He was very easy to love. After a child has been in your home six months you can petition for de facto parent status.  This we did as soon as we could.  And so we were then more involved in the court process.  Social Services has a general philosophy of placing with relatives, no matter the circumstance; so much so that even after his mother's parental rights were terminated, they found a relative placement for him.

When Tony became available for adoption we wanted him to stay with us, forever.  We did not feel it would be good for him to move to another home.  Social Services, having found a family, and after his being with us for almost a year altogether, developed a plan to move him, to family members he didn't really even know.  We felt Tony was already home, and that a further loss (he had bonded to us) would not be good for him.  He had already gone through three removals--loses in essence, and didn't need another one.  They went so far as to take our little baby by car, over an hour away for a visit.  We understood he cried all the way there.  Poor little Tony.

Tony developed a funny habit during this time.  He started seeking out Sheri's blouses when for whatever reason he couldn't have Sheri.  It was cute, but an indication to us that he was overwhelmed with things in his life he couldn't control, and found some comfort with Sheri's smell.  He preferred dirty ones from the hamper, but would take a clean one from the closet if he couldn't get to the hamper.

And so a court contest ensued.  We petitioned the court to not move him, and discontinue visits, which had started with the new family.  Visits were continued, but on a pared down basis.  The court decided to have hearings with regards to determining the placement.
This process seemed to drag on forever.

Generally the court sides with social services.  However there was a precedent of another case being decided in favor of a foster family.  County Counsel was representing social services, recommending movement to the relative home.   The County Attorney's office, which represented Tony, was fighting for him to stay with us.  We finally got our own attorney as well.

After numerous postponings, we finally made it to court.  The deciding testimony was that of Tony's pediatric MD, who was an expert on loss and separation, and told the judge that moving Tony would be detrimental, making him more susceptible to separation issues and ADHD.  What a great day when the judge ruled in our favor and decided Tony would stay with us.

Tony's adoption was finalized April 15 2009.  He was two years, two months at that time.   When he was adopted, Tony slept.  We celebrated at BJs.

Another big day for Tony was his sealing day at the temple.  We went out to celebrate before, because of people's schedule.  Sheri went to the car to change his butt, and left her purse as we were leaving soon.  Someone broke the window and took off with the purse, in that little time.  What a stunner, as the purse contained the documents we needed for the temple, as well as the recommends for most of our party.  Tony's older siblings were going to the temple as well.

With calls to our neighbor, who was able to fax the documents, and the Bishop being there to verify temple worthiness for everyone, we got the sealing done.  Tony wasn't happy until after.  He had to ride in a car with a broken window, and couldn't sleep like he normally did in the car.

It is a joy to have Tony as our son.  Tony reminds us every day that it is important to have a good time.  I took him to the library and he got to play on the computer, and climb on the seats, and look at books and after he said, "We had a good time."  I have taken him to the park and he swung like a “monkey” on the bar, and he pretended to be Spider Man in the swing and shot his pretend webs, and kicked me in the belly as I pretended to be the monster.  We would go by the creek and he threw stones into the water and I picked black berries. 

We have a good time.  He loves to bounce in bouncy hoses, he loves to play with his toys, and he loves McDonald's for the new toys.  Tony has the most winning smile.  His face is so expressive.  He has a good time, and in doing so has reminded us all that it is OK to have fun. 

After we moved to Manteca, Tony and I took the task of visiting all the parks so as to decide which we liked the most.  At that time we were looking for the best Spider Man net.  Now Tony prefers the monkey bars.  He loves to swing, and he has incredible upper body strength for his age and can do many tricks.  I can't remember exactly what the psychiatrist on MASH said, something like "Pull down your pants and slide on the ice."  That is our Tony.

Tony has a different lesson to teach.  This one is service.   He will bring candy and cookies to you.  He loved handing out candy for Halloween.  He will also do little things for you, without being asked, when he sees there is a need. 

Along with his service is his great faith.  He says the most outstanding prayers.  He has many things to tell Heavenly Father.  He is thankful for opportunities to play with his friends, for little things people do for him, for school, and for his momma.

Tony, like all our babies, is a miracle.  He is a miracle and we love him.

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