Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Feeling Like I've Been Replaced...

Danielle has now been down to her new foster home.  Some of you don't know, part of Danielle's treatment is to live in a foster home.  It sounds terrible, but we still have custody of her, she is not a ward of the state.  With her down in Salt Lake, it gives her the time away from home, get into a specialized school that has a doctor and counselors that she works with everyday, along with small number of students in each classroom, structured, away from the main streaming of high school which was terrible for her.  Danielle does not do very good in large crowds, she has a tendency to have high anxiety. 

But knowing she is safe and this is good for her, I have been miserable.  For 16 years I have been her champion, her protector and her educator.  And I feel I have had my title removed, even though I know I will always be her mom.

There has been big adjustments not only in my home but also with the family she is living with.

A couple of weeks ago, Danielle and I had an appointment with Dr Lewin up at the University of Utah.  She is in pediatric genetics and specializes in FASD, she is top in her field nationwide, we were pretty lucky to get with her so fast when normally her waiting list is close to a year.  So with Danielle's history, photos of her growing up and photos of her birth family, along with several measurements she was finally diagnosed as FAS!  You have no idea how relieved I was to finally have a diagnosis instead of all these years guessing.  After Dr Lewin gave us her report I started crying because I felt like a huge weight was taken from my shoulders.  Her other disabilities are secondary to the FAS.  I am just waiting for the final report and all the recommendations Dr Lewin gave me, there were so many I can't remember all of them.

The family Danielle lives with are Tongan and I just love their culture.  They have accepted Dani into there family as if she was their own and believe it or not, she feels like she belongs.  She  feels safe...which just hurts me to the core.  I have so much guilt because I could not provide her a safe home.  I was thinking the other day that I should not have gotten married so soon.  It should have been just her and I for awhile, but I fell in love, still love my husband very much, imperfections (I'm not perfect either). So now Dani and my husband have to learn to live together, God willing.  From the time Danielle moved in with this family, they were preparing for a HUGE family reunion and they included Dani in their native dances.  She was so excited and so was I because I was invited to attend to watch Danielle.  So a couple of weeks ago I went with Danielle, there were close to 500 family members and I had a blast.  It was great to see Danielle feel so comfortable and all these people who gave her hugs, so much acceptance.  But again, my heart aches and I wonder if she will want to come home.  I guess I have to take one day at a time.

The hardest thing for me has to been to give up being so involved in her life.  I believe with all my heart that no one can take care of a child but his/her mother.  And with Danielle with another family, I worry that she is not being taken care of as if I was with her.  I think I was driving the family, Danielle's case manager, counselor crazy with my constant texts, emails, etc.  Not only was I driving them crazy, I was driving myself crazy.  So a couple of days ago I decided to back off and let things be.  This will give me time to concentrate on my health and my marriage. Time will tell!

This is her foster family, Lucy, Sepo and Mehli.

Mom and Danielle at the Family Reunion

Danielle getting the  final touches on her costume.  Her foster mom's, they are two sisters, made this costume for her.

Danielle and her room-mate are finally in their full traditional costumes, just minutes before they went on stage with about 50 other family members.  I was so surprised that she learned this dance and she performed it with such grace.  I was SO proud of her!

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