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Feb 25, 2007

Belated Birthday

Jack 'O' Patrick, Jack Patrick Pickle, Jackie, Jack 'O', Jack Jack Marble, Jackers

For a boy who didn't know his name, he's got a lot now.

We had told our local Social Services folks- no kids over a year- but of course we got the call for an 18 month old. When that call comes we have always tried to garner as much information as possible before saying yes or no. Jack's story, like every one, was sad.

He had been 'in the system' for several weeks and they had just identified who he was. It seems that his path went a bit like this... Birth mom went to prison, left Jack with a different woman of a different ethnicity than his own. This woman, left Jack at her grandmothers home when she stole grandma's car and money. Grandma's niece shows up a day or so later and asks what this white baby was doing with her auntie. Auntie/Grandma has not a clue and this is when he is brought to Social Services. The folks at DCFS put Jack in a receiving home (a home that accepts kids at all hours, all ages, regardless, for up to 30 days) where he remains for a week or so as a John Doe. When the receiving home goes off (accepts kids for two months, gets one month off...) Jack is placed in a different receiving home where he is dragged around to different pediatrician's offices in the hopes that someone will recognize him. After several days, Jack is identified based on the fact that the first woman he was left with, had brought him in for some illness or another and the staff at the pediatrician's office remembered that the two were different ethnicity's.

Of course, before this, there is a long history of drug use by birth mom- and details are not known. At 18 months, Jack did not respond to his birth name. 18 MONTHS! Babies will respond to their name around eight to ten months of age... We assume Jack was severely neglected, at best.

I can still picture him when we went top pick him up. A large toddler dressed in a pair of too small, dark brown boat shoes(which I mistakenly removed from his feet once he was in his car seat...he howled), short overalls, and a tee shirt with no hair. A darling boy who had night terrors and never let go of his milk cup. He watched us all.
When he hurt himself he would not allow us to comfort him. He would roll around on the ground screaming and we would have to sit and watch until he soothed himself.

He had a phrase for 'what's this?' and that was all we heard until other words came. His first? Frog- we had a tank of fire belly toads that were at his eye level that he would watch for long periods.

He split his head open on a table about ten days after he came to us. It was a trip to the ER where he screamed like crazy, but lay so still I didn't need to hold him...although I did. What had been done to this sweet boy?- was all I could think.

After about three days we were in love and knew that if it worked that way, we would keep him - he already felt like ours. And it did work that way, and he became legally ours a little over a year after he came.

He turned five on the 17th. FIVE. Where did that toddler go?

For the first year or so that Jack was in our family he would run at the sound of Happy Birthday, hiding and crying. At his second birthday he hid his face and cried. Now he joins the fun and generally shyly smiles when it is his turn to receive the honors. This year he covered his ears, but never took his eyes off the cake!

A few months into his placement with us we had a chance to visit with his birth mom- who recognized him for her birth child- a confirmation that he was who everyone thought he was. Recently, we have been told that Jack has quite a bit of biological relatives here in town. This was new information. We have always known that there were bio sib's, but had thought they were out of the area. While we talk about birth stories in our house, Jack never asks or responds to his. We are interested in contact with his bio family, but aren't sure how Jack would react and are definitely not interested in finding out at this point. Jack is an intelligent boy whose emotions are still immature. He continues to have difficulty accepting praise or positive attention and is mortified when he becomes embarrassed at a slight infraction. He will start therapy this week to address some of these issues and others that are hard to put into words.

He is the child I worry most about 'doing him wrong'. He is a sweet, generous, loving, gentle, extremely loud boy with a whole lot of emotional turmoil who can be sullen, excited, mad, and spin out of control. He has the ability to push my buttons like none of my other children and I love him very much.


Toady Joe said...

What a sweet boy and amazing story. I sure love reading your 'ramblings'. Happy Birthday, Jack.

Tracey said...

Happy Birthday Jack! What an incredible start to your life. I'm so happy that you have a family that loves you so much.

TruLove said...

Oh, how Jack tugs at my heartstrings still. I remember when you got him...he is a love...you will do right by him, only because you love him!

Clare said...

Stories like this are what allow me to continue to have faith in the world. That said, sometimes the children with the worst beginnings are the ones who find their way under your skin and into your heart. Jack is a doll and lucky to have you all!

Long time lurker,

Anonymous said...

I work at a private social service agency with kids in foster care, and it is so good to hear a story like this with a happy ending.


Stacy Ferguson said...

Allright now, just add that to your blog's that have made me cry!! I will give my Jack an extra hug today...I consider myself lucky that he seems to enjoy them, as I have a feeling without you guys, he wouldn't know what to do with a hug!!

elena jane said...

what a wonderful post about your darling boy! i'm so glad you shared :)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JACK! you've got a great family :)

Sandy. said...

Happy belated Birthday little man.


Renee, said...

what a beautiful little boy. Happy birthday Jack!

Tricia said...

Thank you all for the kind words and birthday wishes.

cole said...

This is an amazing and inspiring story. My husband and I are done with having bio kids and have always talked of becoming foster parents. I am so excited that one day we will complete our family and someone who needs us will find us because we need them too. Your Jack is so beautiful and what a wonderful family you all are.


JUST A MOM said...

Have you checked for RAD,,, bonding and atachment disorder,,, got one of them..... it is hard

Tricia said...


Jack has had many evaluations- the professionals believe that he has remnants of RAD- but we have worked hard to do away with this label.