The first week of October is junior's birthday. For most kids there is lots of excitement leading up to a birthday. But junior isn't like most kids. His birthday is a reminder of everything he has lost over the years and we brace ourselves for lots of BIG feelings.
Two years ago junior moved in with us the day before his birthday. Three years ago around his birthday was the last time he saw his birth mother. Needless to say his birthday triggers lots of memories of loss and people who are no longer a part of his life. This would be difficult for some adults to handle, for a child it can be next to impossible.
While he may not be aware of it or verbalize it, his behaviors show us that his body remembers. This week little things turn into big issues. Tasks he is normally able to complete without any problems are much harder. Monday was a rough day at school for him, when the director told me about his day my first response was "Oh yeah, this is going to be a tough week for him." I know this and I should have given the school a heads up but the month of October crept up on me quickly.
Even with all of this. he seems to be looking forward to his birthday and party. He loves being able to choose what he gets to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
For dinner he chose to go to Wendy's. Why? Because they help kids in foster care find families. Last month we went to Wendy's. When we got there I saw a bunch of signs for the Dave Thomas Foundation and took the opportunity to talk to junior about it. I tell him one of the reasons I like Wendy's is that they give a lot of money to help kids in foster care find families. He says nothing, but the woman ahead of us in line turns around and says "That's a very good reason to come here."
Junior and I go back to talking about I have no idea what and about a minute later he goes "But mom I was already adopted." "Yes, I remember. I was there too." The woman once again turns around "I adopted my son from foster care many years ago, too." It was then her turn to order so our conversation stopped. Junior whispers to me "Mom, can we invite her to eat lunch with us?" How could I say no?
He timidly asked the woman if she would like to join us and she readily agrees. We place our order and join her for lunch. Junior shared information about himself and his foster families with her. She shared information about her son who is now in his 20s. At one point she asked a rhetorical question of why some kids in foster care are moved around so many times. Junior immediately tells us he knows why: "Because they aren't with the right family. When they finally find the right family they stop moving and are adopted." I'm surprised I made it through lunch without crying. I am forever thankful to this stranger who took the time to share personal information about herself that enabled junior to open up.
Even though he is struggling this week and dealing with these BIG feelings, he wants to take time on his special day to help others like him. To me this is a sign of healing.