Thursday, May 10, 2012

When Can Austynn Stay With Me Again?

In honor of Mother's Day, I'm dedicating the next few blogs to hmm...I don't know - let's guess...ok, Fathers!  No, Sillies!  You know what I'm going to do.  The stories may be about some of you, my dear friends and blog readers, so keep a weary eye because as my love and dear one, Eric tends to point out, I have a tendency to add a little seasoning to my tales.  This doesn't necessarily mean I won't imply your screaming is over-the-top or you're the spitting image of Grace Kelly in the morning, but you get the picture. 

All my love...  Breezy


When Can Austynn Stay With Me Again?

This question amazes me and yet, coming from my oldest sister, Ellen, it's completely typical.  She, out of all my friends and relatives, is the only person I truly feel comfortable leaving my son, Austynn with.  Watching Austynn can be challenging.  Only a person with an extremely good sense of humor and an excessive amount of patience would I consider leaving him with for an overnighter.  This is where my sister exceeds my expectations.

When Austynn first came to live with us, his behavior was at best - well, awful.  After each foster home move, after living in multiple group homes, his level of anger and mistrust increased exponentially.  Eric and I became his fourteenth and final residence within three years. At every opportunity, Austynn struck out physically and verbally.  We're certain he believed that by controlling the process and acting out, he was able to move on before he became comfortable and was sent away.  It must be an ugly thing to believe you're not wanted by the time your six years old.

Eric and I knew this about Austy before he came to stay with us.  We knew that his relationship with his older, biological brother, William whom we'd just adopted, was extremely volatile.  My husband and I also knew that if we didn't open our home and hearts to Austynn, he'd be jerked around through the system and never have an opportunity for a normal life.  We held our breath and made room in our little California townhouse.  In doing this, we needed help from extended family.

William's behavior was somewhat manageable so we could rely on Eric's parents to watch him for short overnighters, but Austynn - no way.  The boys could never be placed together.  Doing this would simply ensure an emergency phone call within two hours of our departure.  The boys had to have separate providers. My sister seemed to be the perfect fit to look after Austy.  No matter what strange - yet truthful - comments he'd make in public, my sister was able to handle it with grace and humor.  Plus, she seemed to have a limitless supply of patience; something extremely necessary when it came to our youngest son.

On one of her first watches, we left him during Thanksgiving weekend so Eric and I could take care of some holiday shopping.  Because we were in a loud, noisy mall, we missed her eight, 911 calls until we sat down for lunch.  Apparently, during a temper tantrum, Austy had rubbed his eyes to where they swelled up beyond recognition. Later, it was determined that as he was pulling apart my sister's vegetable garden to make a "stew" (he was asked repeatedly to stop which was why he was on a time out), he had used several jalapeno peppers for "additional flavor".  Eventually, Ellen was able to get the swelling down with cold compresses and my son, to this day, has determined that he does not like peppers of any kind.

Another weekend, Eric and I were desperate for a much needed break and my sister took Austy for two nights.  Upon our return, Eric and I were greeted by my sister and mother sitting very quietly at the dining room table.  It appeared that it was not a good weekend.  Lots of temper tantrums, lots of strange, ugly little stories; however the one that was the worst was clearly visible on my sister's arm. 

Since that weekend we have all been painfully made aware that Austynn can not be overstimulated.  In other words, only one interesting thing to do - not a laundry list of activities.  We were new parents, my sister was still getting to know Austynn.  His Autism diagnosis was still several years down the road.  We had no idea how he'd react when someone would try to move him during a temper tantrum, now we do.  He will strike.  He will scream.  He will bite.  My sister's arm was swollen, purple, and raw from where Austynn's teeth had gone through her leather jacket and into her skin.

And yet...despite all of these awful stories and situations, my sister laughs.  She wants my kiddo back.  She adores him.  She tells me he's sweet and fun and keeps her laughing.  Yes, he is sweet and can be fun but really, you want him back??  For how long and when can we ship him to you??