“NO!” she screamed. “I WANNA KURT!”
I sat back on my knees and stared at this formidable three-year-old in bewilderment. We had only known each other for a couple of days, and I was struggling to understand her. I didn’t know who or what Kurt was, and I had no ability to reunite her with anything from her life before she came to live with me.
My oldest daughter heard the yelling and came into the room to see if she could help.
“What do you want, Little Girl?” Big Girl asked.
“I wanna kurt!” she declared. Then, she walked over to the big girl and gently grasped the edge of the big girl’s skirt. “I wanna KURT!” she reiterated.
“A SKIRT!” I exclaimed. “She wants to wear skirts like you, Big Girl!”
Big Girl and Little Girl had quickly formed a deep bond. They shared a room, and Big Girl was wonderful with Little Girl. She would happily read “The Monster at the End of this Book” a dozen times in a row and participate in dance parties on demand. Little Girl adored Big Girl, and the feeling was mutual. It was incredible to watch our Big Girl exhibit the patience we were desperately lacking.
Our time with Little Girl was difficult. Early on, it became clear that the county hadn’t be completely forth-coming about her history, and we were dealing with more than we expected. While she bonded deeply with Big Girl, she didn’t react very well to the males in our family. Her developmental delays were severe, and her trauma behaviors were extremely difficult to manage. She was our first placement, and we quickly realized we were too far out of our depth to properly care for Little Girl.
We reached out to the county for help, and we were given a few phone numbers. One phone number was disconnected, and one phone number led to services that were restricted to children several years older than Little Girl. The last number led to a program that would have been absolutely perfect for Little Girl...a program that gave me hope for our future together. Then, I found out Little Girl would be put on a six month waiting list.
The simple truth was that we couldn’t make it another six months. Things were deteriorating quickly, and we needed immediate help.
In the end, we asked the county to move Little Girl to another home.
Big Girl was angry and devastated. She begged us not to make that decision and bargained with us to the very last minute. She was so disappointed in us when Little Girl left.
Our son was grateful and relieved. He came out of his room and started spending time with the family again. He was relaxed and thankful when Little Girl left.
My husband and I were disillusioned. No longer did I hold the arrogant belief that I could care for any child placed in my home. No longer did he believe he had endless patience. We found our limits. We had been forced to take a long, hard look at ourselves, and we felt like complete failures.
Tempted to quit, we took another look at our limits and had another discussion with the county. We decided to give it one more shot, and I’m so thankful we did. We went on to welcome twelve more children into our home, and we never had to request another removal. If we had never known Little Girl, we might not have learned how to better care for the children who shared our home. She taught us a lot in a few short months.
It’s been four years since we said goodbye. Big Girl still keeps pictures of Little Girl by her bed. She still talks about the way they twirled their skirts and danced together, and I know she will never forget Little Girl.
We won’t, either. Little Girl opened our eyes to the beauty in the midst of the brokenness. She made us laugh when she whipped and nae-nae’d. She made us melt when she cuddled with Big Girl on the couch. She filled us with pride when she learned to identify a couple of colors. Watching her grow and change over those few months was a great privilege, and I’m thankful it was bestowed upon me.