Three months and ten years ago we welcomed a little 3 yr old foster girl into our home. We did so with the understanding that we would eventually adopt her.
Her brief history was that she was born weighing 3 pounds 15 ounces and addicted to speed which her birth mother had abused during the whole pregnancy. Camille was placed in a medically fragile foster family who nursed her through her drug withdrawls and back to a healthy 9 month old baby. A judge in all his wisdom gave this little girl back to her birth parents. These parents proceeded to neglect her for the next two years. They did things like make a cage out of her crib with chicken wire so that their little girl would be contained while they were in their drugged out stupors.
They also let her have soda in her bottle which rotted out her front teeth. She was rarely bathed and minimally cared for during this time. Finally CPS stepped in again and removed her, placing her back in the same original foster family. By then, that family had two other very seriously sick children and Camille was doing remarkably well. She was too healthy for this family.
She then went to stay with a friend of the birth family as a foster child. The problem was that the foster mom had a sixteen year old son and no husband. CPS did not want Camille in that situation, but they did not have another choice.
This is when they approached LDS family services to see if they had a family who would take this little girl. We happened to be on their list of families waiting for a special needs adoption.
When they first approached us, I was thrilled beyond measure to think of having a little girl. She was just 18 months younger than Jared and would fit in with us perfectly.
We met her and took her to the beach for the afternoon. That meeting went very well and we decided that we would take her.
She came to stay with us on August 6th. Marion started working in Las Vegas just two weeks later. We were living in Southern California at the time. He would leave each Sunday night and come home on Friday night. It was only a three hour drive.
In the mean time I was trying to keep a perfectly clean, immaculate house so it would sell and adjust to having another child. I was thrilled at a the opportunity, but it was incredibly hard at the same time.
She and Jared were either best buds getting into mischief or fighting with each other. It was incredibly stressful. She and Jared did things like draw on walls or spill fingernail polish when I wasn't looking. All just normal kid stuff but extremely exasperating when you are trying to make a house sell, that just didn't seem to want to sell.Still it was so fun to have a little girl. Finally I could browse in the girl sections of stores. Some one wanted me to curl their hair and wear frilly things. It was all I had hoped it would be.
Finally we gave up on selling the house and thanks to a loan from my parents, went ahead and found a house in Vegas. We were set to move in the month of October. The move in date was October 31st. Finally we would be a family again.
We knew we were moving to Vegas when Camille came to live with us. We were very upfront with the county about it. They said that it would not be a problem as long as we would bring her back for her visits with her parents, which were suppose to be terminated soon.
But the week before we were set to move, the court ordered a hearing to determine if we could take her out of the state.
We went to court on October 28th only to hear the judge say that the birth parents were making progress on their plan. This meant that she would most likely be returned to them eventually and we could not take her from the state.
Twenty four hours after the hearing, the foster mother who had her before us came and picked her up. It was a crazy surreal day of packing and crying. She came to us with two boxes of stuff and left with four. At least mercifully, Camille loved her other foster mother and was glad to go with her. I don't know how I would have survived someone ripping her from me kicking and screaming.
Instead it was just me doing the kicking and screaming, at least on the inside.
Once she was gone, we continued the packing for the move two days later. It is the strangest thing when horrible things happen and then you just have to go on living. I had to take the cable box back to the cable company and I had a great cry all the way there and all the way back while I was alone. That night we went out to eat and there was Camille's car seat still in the car. It felt like someone had stabbed me in the heart with a butcher knife as we removed the seat we no longer needed.
The next day I attended a preschool Halloween party at Jared's preschool. As I watched all the little girl princesses in the parade, tears flowed unwillingly down my cheeks for the lost little girl who I would never be able to watch in a Halloween parade.
That night we attended our ward trunk or treat. I cried through most of that as well. It was comforting to have others in my ward be as outraged and sad as I was about the injustice of the situation.
That night I cried myself to sleep. I cried until no more tears would come and then I just lay there grieving like I never had before in my 33 years of life.
The next morning, October 31, 1998, we moved to Las Vegas. I think I associate and blame Las Vegas in some way for the loss of the little girl I always wanted. As I drove into town I was nearly sideswiped by a huge truck. I was numb. There was so much to do, and all I wanted to do was lie in a corner and die.
That night I took the boys to the trunk or treat in our new ward. It was ridiculous to be around so many people having such a good time and none of them knowing that my world had ended.
In the next months I tried to cope with my loss. But each time I saw a little girl, or a Teletubby, or Barney, it felt like the butcher knife to the heart once again. You never knew when some memory would take your breath away. The little girl across the street with the same roller skates. The time Jared wanted to play a computer game and there was Camille's name in the log in page.
It is impossible to erase someone completely from ones life and so little reminders would pop up occasionally. Each time I would suffer again and relive the pain of losing her.
It is very fortunate that I did have two boys to live for, other wise I would have crawled into that sought after corner and never come out again.
As time went on, I learned to live with the pain. Interestingly enough nine months to the day after we lost Camille, we brought Diana home from the adoption agency. The story of Diana's birth is certainly a miracle. But today is about grieving.
Through the years, the pain has lessened. Never has it left completely. Today Camille is 13 years old. After about 6 months I have never heard anything about her again. I do know that she went to live with her birth mother in a drug rehabilitation clinic. I can only hope that things have worked out for her.
After about 3 years of grieving, a wise counselor said to me that perhaps Heavenly Father needed me to be this little girl's mother for just those 3 months. There was something I gave her or taught during that time, that He needed me to do. It is part of the plan and somehow that was all she needed to be able to face what she would during the rest of her life. This gave me comfort like nothing else ever had. In fact it came terribly close to bringing me peace over the whole thing.
Still, here I am, on the ten year anniversary, reliving the whole horrible event. I can honestly say that I have never been the same. Perhaps that was part of the plan as well. Sometimes we experience things in this life that do change us. I guess the question is do we embrace the change or struggle against it. I think I have spent much of the past ten years struggling.
Perhaps it is time for the embracing to begin.