Birth Mom had Borderline Personality Disorder. She once told me that being a mom meant taking your child to the doctor's office. She had a lot of appointments scheduled for Daughter. I was just taking care of her temporarily, so Birth Mom was involved with all the doctor's appointments. It quickly became obvious they didn't have much of a connection. I would pick Birth Mom up and transport them both to appointments. I tried to step back, as this was temporary, but Birth Mom wouldn't hold her hand in the parking lot or do other things I considered appropriate to keep a young child safe.
I remember one day when Birth Mom took Daughter back for a blood draw. Daughter came out, sobbing. Birth Mom was walking beside her, quite excited, "She's just like me! They have trouble finding my veins, too." I was the one who comforted Daughter. Gradually she stopped calling all women mommy. I became mommy, and Birth Mom became "other mommy." (She now refers to her by her first name.)
She was having court ordered visits with Dad. I noticed that there was much regression following those visits. I will talk about the court battle to get those stopped in another post.
I remember one day grandmother brought teenage brother and cousin over to visit her. Grandmother was trying to get her to say her cousin's name, and Daughter would just repeat the last syllable. Grandmother began yelling at her. I finally stuck my head around the corner and said, "She can't hear you." Grandmother was surprised, and demanded to know how I knew. I said she had a severe hearing loss and would be getting a hearing aid soon. She stopped yelling at Daughter to say the name right.
Once she got the hearing aid, she began to learn more words and talk more. It was slow going. I began to wonder if she would ever speak in sentences. There were times when her inability to communicate was very frustrating. One hard night I decided she needed to know what had happened to the rest of her family. I explained that none of them were living together. Teenage brother was with grandmother, Birth Mom and Dad lived apart, and her school age brother had a new family. I was rocking her, and at that news she sat up straight and looked at me. "[Brother] new family?" I affirmed he was in a new family. Her face lit up, and she clapped her hands, cheering. I wondered what all had gone on in that home.