I'm sitting here not really knowing what to say. Irina is unhappy right now. She has known for awhile she has FAS and some other issues. However, it isn't until recently that she has started to realize she is different than her peers. Very different. Remember, socially, FASers are about half their age. Irina is having a very tough go in high school right now. Warren and I are discussing pulling her out permanently. She is not on a regular diploma track anyhow. She hates school and they are teaching her nothing. Really a tragedy how they treat special needs students here. The schools think once they reach high school, just train them for a job. URGHH. Irina does have a brain. Yes, she has brain damage but that does not mean she can't learn! Irina is inquisitive. Right now, besides the adoption, house rennovation, basketball, & a few other things, we have decided we will most likely pull her within the next month forever from high school. She has begged us to homeschool her again. And though I want her to experience high school with nomral peers, it is quite evident she does not fit in and is not being treated fairly. I will homeschool her again and look for a type of apprenticeship she can do. She is great with children and animals. Who knows.
As an adoptive parent, you never know your child's potential. Some have given our children very grim prognosis. We push and push though until we see they've reached their fullest potential. It is very realistic to say Irina will never go to college. I know this is a horrible comparison but if any of you've seen the movie Forest Gump, you'll know what I mean. Forest had a much higher IQ than our daughter. It's reality, we have to accept it. Irina is slowly learning to accept this and it breaks my heart at times. She asked me the other day if she has children, will they end up stupid like her. Just the fact that she thinks she is stupid is heartwreching. She also asked if her kids would have FAS. Irina said if they do, she doesn't want that for them. For someone with limited mental capacity, she has SO much intelligence for some things. Amazes me.
What kills me is Irina is the most motivated out of all our children to learn. She tries SO hard and never really sees results for her efforts. I asked her yesterday on our walk if she wanted to be around others like her. She said yes. I said do you want to be around people who think like you? She said yes. It is hard for me to say it but it was a big parenting mistake I made with my first child here. I should have exposed her to more kids with similar minds. I guess we learn as we go. Trouble is, you see autistic groups, Downs' Syndrome groups, etc, but no FAS groups here. None. What is not helping is Irina 's best friend moved to TX. We live in NC. The two girls were close & helped each other out. I'm hoping she can find someone as nice. I know there are other kids out there. This has been hard for Warren and I this week. We have never hidden anything from our kids. They all know they're adopted. They all know they have issues. We tell them when they are older just what issues they have and how it makes them special and different. But, we never focus on that in the house. As they get older though, I realize it should be more of a focus as it is part of their daily life and who they are. Irina and I have been talking more and more about FAS. She has accepted it reluctantly. And that is okay. Just as a parent of chidlren with disaiblities, I'm learning from my first child steps that maybe I could have taken early on to help them more. Exposure. I guess I always just saw my kids as "normal" and not thought of the brain damage from the alcohol at birth. FAS is essentially brain damage to the frontal lobe. It's more than that but my FAS post is for another day. Right now, I want other parents of special needs children to embrace the diagnosis of the child and expose them to it more. Yes, my kids have been to some special needs events but apparently not enough if my daughter feels like she is the only one out there. She now has a pen pal with FAS as well. It has been awesome for her! She now knows she is not alone. Irina is turning into a young adult but this process will take years for her. We will be with her every step of the way. I've never thought of Irina as mentally challenged. To us, she's just Irina. No label. Though the label does NOT define her I have to accept it is a part of who she is. We can't change that or how society thinks of mentally challenged people. As parents though, we can give her the tools she needs to live a productive life in this society. We have to start by letting her see there are other people like her and it is perfectly okay. Hope that all made sense.
My point for writing this was not to be down. To let others know it is okay to fail. Do I feel like I failed her? A bit. I feel I should have exposed her to more people like her. Warren and I tried that one year. A special needs cheerleading squad for Irina. This was years ago. Warren and I felt she didn't fit it. Felt the older kids were much more mentally challenged. I look at it now and see she fits in perfectly with that squad. As an adoptive parent of special needs children, you face situations you've never faced before. This is one of those. We are still learning as parents and probably always will be. I know today, we are looking at different things for Irina to do. New people to meet. Though we've never seen her mental challenges as a disability, we need to start working with the disability instead of assuming it's not there. I think by doing this, she will succeed more in life. Irina has always had so much drive. A kind soul. She makes us proud left and right. She has helped us realize over the years, different is okay. Our focus for her has shifted a bit. I too know she is ready to make some changes in her life and meet some new people. Irina has always, always been our social butterfly. She can't do that in the environment she's in as peers don't look to her as a regular person. She has not been able to make any friends in high school. Having the social ability of about half your age is tough to make new firends. She wants to have fun in high school and I want her too as well. So, we have now been looking into other activities for her and like-minded peers. There are groups in Raleigh we're going to let her hang out with and see if she likes it. Many times, FAS children are caught in the middle as they don't belong with regular peers but don't quite belong with the more special needs category. It's a fine line. We will let Irina direct us where she wants to go. She has expressed over the last two weeks to be with other people like her. We can do that.
Our daughter has realized she is different. We have finally realized it too. Though it is hard for all to accept, once you do, you feel more free and feel like there is a whole other world out there. We are going to explore that world more as a family with Irina. Alyona is in that same world. So are some of the other chidlren. Irina is taking the lead, we are following. I can't wait to see what the new world has to offer her. Irina is such a special person and deserves good people in her life. Thanks for listening. I just had to talk about it as it has been a wake up of sorts this week. It has been good too though.