Really, the first 12 months are critical, but in the first 6 months the attachment and bonding that occur will follow a child, for better or worse, throughout their life.
All I could hear during this last round of classes were the terrible side effects associated with the loss and separation a child experiences in their first 6 months. Already "J" had had two very significant ones and we were about to be his third. I left every Tuesday night class feeling like we were fighting a losing battle.
We waited while the wheels of the system turned incredibly slow. Every email, phone call, text, stressing the need to have him with us before that 6mo deadline. Thankfully, we had J's foster family on our side, and they pulled the rug out from under the system, hard. And then it was our turn.
The last month and a half has not been cake. It hasn't even been anywhere close to resembling anything close to dessert. Babies are hard. Period. Foster babies come with their own challenges.
I know the really hard part, the purple-crying, up all night, crazy newborn phase had been done for us. (We can never thank J's foster parents enough for their time and energy)but I won't lie. His arrival threw us all off our groove.
I think we're faking it pretty well. Every day is easier. Two nights ago I was the only one awake. It was late and I was trying to sneak in the last episode of "Parenthood" (don't judge me for my Netflix choices) before turning off my light.
Joe and Julia (two main characters) had just found out the birth mother of their 11 yr old adopted son was about to have a baby girl and she was hoping they would adopt her as well. As they met with the caseworker, I started to cry. It wasn't so long ago I got a very similar text. And while they were given the weekend to consider, Dean and I got 15 minutes.
They decide their lives are full. They're done. But as the weekend progresses they both have second thoughts. I was expecting the happy ending. The part where they both reconsider and decide, "of course we'll completely turn our lives upside down and adopt!" What I wasn't expecting was for one line to really touch me. Julia looks at Joel and says, "so we're really doing this?" and he responds, "she's already ours".
I was overcome. A complete mess. I woke Dean up out of a dead sleep and made him listen to my blubbering. The writers nailed it. That is exactly how I felt when I found out about baby "J".
So, there it is. We had exactly 6 weeks and three days with him before he reached his 6 month mark. I think/hope/know it made a difference. And even though we were one of his losses, I like to think we were also one of his gains. We can never give back what was taken from him, but we can try every day to come close.
Happy 6mo "J"! We can't wait to see what mountains you will move. For now, let's just work on sleeping through two nights in a row!