Okay Frank Fans, we have MADE CONTACT! If you have no idea what I'm talking about then you need to go back and watch THIS. Tonight we finally got ahold of Frank on the phone. He and his wife and daughter are coming over for dinner (and the cake presentation ceremony) on October 27!!! I will do everything in my power to force Tom and Frank to let me make a video so you can see their reunion. Frank was genuinely touched that Tom remembered those things so many years later... and he said it didn't hurt to get some brownie points with this wife. #yourewelcomefrank
For Day 11, I treated this cutie and her mama to lunch. (Okay, maybe not her... she treated herself to throwing cheerios and sugar packets.)
I spent time with her and later, another friend who are navigating the ups and downs of foster care/adoption. We spent hours talking through issues with attachment, openness with first parents, and how to help siblings cope with changes to the family dynamics. I certainly don't have all the answers, nor am I an expert on the topic, but I have spent countless hours researching different approaches to loving a traumatized child. I have tried everything under the sun to help my son heal the wounds of a severed attachment and I am pretty sure I have logged enough hours with my son's attachment therapist to count as an intern.
A few years ago, our friends Brandi and Danny helped us create this video that would explain to people what our family was experiencing. It is strange to watch it now because we have come so far as a family. Most of our days are still hard, but they aren't like they used to be. During those really intense years, I felt like there wasn't a single person who could understand what we were going through. I prayed for just one person who had gone through it before us with any measure of success. I longed for someone to be unshockable. Someone who had answers and tools and parenting tips that actually applied to my life. Someone who would say "here's how to get urine out of the heating vent." or "I have a potion that will magically unbleach all your clothes."
There was no such person for me. Partly because I was afraid of opening myself up to the inevitable judgement (we were often bombarded with advice that really missed the mark) and partly because people didn't even know that Reactive Attachment Disorder was a thing until recent years. There weren't many parents who walked this road before us (at least not with tools) and that kept me feeling isolated and lost. Today, I got to be the lady who walked the road first. I got to pass along the tips and approaches that worked for us. I got to encourage and reassure and remind them that however they're feeling is normal in our little abnormal world of trauma and detachment. I was unshockable.
This may not seem like much, but I got to be the experienced mom that I prayed would come into my life years ago. As I was leaving this discussion I realized that God has taken every last thing I have learned through this process and he has made it useful. He has taken our hard days, months, years... and with them has worn a path for other families who are a few steps behind us in this journey. During the worst of it, I begged that God would equip me to be the mom Harper needed. I think I can finally say that - at least for today - I felt like I was.