When Daughter came to me, she was almost 3 years old. She didn't talk, and wasn't potty trained. Her hair was a short, tangled mess. The first Sunday I took her to church with her hair braided, one of the women came over and nodded approvingly. "Good, now her hair will grow." Seeing my blank look, she explained, "We braid our hair to make it grow." She was right, it did begin to grow.
She was also diagnosed with a high pitch hearing loss. I remember when I brought her home with her loaner hearing aid. I put a video in for her to watch and went in to the kitchen to start supper. Then I realized she was too quiet. I went to see what she was doing, and she was standing in front of the TV, transfixed. The video had a female narrator, and I realized she was hearing it for the first time. It was amazing to watch her discover sounds. She began to drag out her s. I realized she was hearing it for the first time. She stopped saying "yeh" and started saying "yessss."
I couldn't afford daycare, and until I was licensed, they couldn't pay me for doing foster care. She went almost every where with me. I had a couple of people who'd help out when I needed to go to the hospital or something. I quickly realized she was afraid of closed bedroom doors. Bedtime was hard, and a ritual began that continued for years: a story, a hymn, a prayer, and then the reassurances, "You're safe here and nobody is going to hurt you." It was years before I could walk by her bedroom without her waking up, terrified. There were nights when I sat rocking her and singing for hours. She quickly began calling me mommy. Then I realized she was calling all women mommy. All men were daddy or papa, depending on their age. It was a great day when I became the only person she called mommy.
One day she fell asleep on the sofa in my study at the church. As I began to put her coat on her to go home, she woke up. "Come on, I'm taking you home." Silent tears began to roll down her cheeks. I was puzzled. "We need to go home and see the kitty cat." Her face lit up. I realized in horror that she thought I had been referring to taking her back to her family.
She was no longer standing with her back in the corner, observing, now she was greeting everyone in sight. The church I served was not in a good neighborhood. One winter day as I was getting ready to leave, I heard shouting outside. I was frustrated, because it would soon be dark and we needed to get out of that neighborhood. I didn't want a disturbance delaying us. After I'd packed up my stuff, I glanced out the window. There were some men standing in the street. I couldn't hear anything, so I assumed they were talking. After I'd set the alarm and locked the door behind us, I looked more closely at what was going on. There was one police officer frisking a guy who had his hands on the car. There was another police officer holding a gun on them. At least I assume, they were police officers-- they weren't in uniform.
We had to walk toward them to get to the car, which was parked in the street. Daughter began waving and kept saying hi. I tried to get her to be quiet and ushered her to the car as quickly as I could. I didn't relaxed until we'd turned the corner and were no longer in the range of gun fire.