Please forgive me if I share for a minute! You may know this story so just ignore me.
While I was in college, I was a foster mom for several kids. In March of 1994, my first foster child (a very disturbed but sweet teenager) had set fire to my house. I had no kids and honestly was questioning if this was for me. (I was only 23 at the time) I still remember the call from my social worker about this little girl they wanted to place with me. Her name was Tiffaniie--but I needed to be aware that she was developmentally handicapped. What did that mean? Oh it means her IQ is within the re-tarded range.
This little girl came for a visit. She spent 15 minutes in my house, raced around to look at everything, asked a million questions. I have been around developmentally delayed people my whole life --that wasn't her.
Tiffaniie came to live with me. Her social worker and I fought over and over again about her "limitations" and my "inability to accept those limitations".
She entered third grade in the fall of 1995. Her third grade teacher "knew" everything about foster kids cause her mom had raised them. We fought over Tiff's limitations too. When I required Tiff to do her homework ...with many hours of tears ... Ms. Gresham stopped sending homework. So I bought her workbooks.
When her mother's rights were terminated, I applied to adopt her. At 9 --and with the so called intellectual deficiencies -- she was considered unadoptable. WTH was this single mom doing they asked? I almost did not get approved since I refused to call her re-tarded. We had to do a "bonding study" for them to realize the child was better off with me then in a group home.
Tiffaniie had an IEP meeting in the spring of 1996. I can still see her teacher standing there. "Amy, I know you love Tiffaniie so much, and I know you want the best for her. You need to recognize that Tiffaniie will never be an fully functioning adult. She may graduate high school with a modified program and a lot of support but there is no way she will go to college. I hope in 15 years you come back to me and tell me I am wrong but you need to focus her less on academics and more on living skills so she has some hope of being independent when she is an adult.
I went home in tears.
I felt I had to face that I may be wrong and Tiffaniie really did have significant issues.
I cried for days, picked myself up, said trust my instincts. In July 1996 --Tiffaniie became Tiffany and I became her forever mommy.
A month later we packed up my car, drove across the country to California. Since Tiffany's teacher never taught her anything, I made her repeat 3rd grade in a private school where I did not give them her records and never told them of her "diagnosis".
The years since have been a struggle but I have been very blessed.
Tomorrow, my baby girl graduates COLLEGE with a dual degree in Elementary and Special Education.
NEVER JUDGE KIDS, NEVER LIMIT THEM. Our kids will fulfil their own destinies whatever they may be if we give them the chance!
I am off to Arizona! See you all next week!