The maiden will be sixteen in five weeks. In eight weeks it will be our eighth anniversary as a family. She also wants a tattoo. So, I told her she would have a decision to make: birthday party or tattoo. I can’t afford both.
She chose the tattoo. Big relief for me! While some parents may refuse a tattoo, I am open to it because I have a tattoo. Only one, mind you. And I was 40 before I got it. But then getting tattoos were not so mainstream when I was growing up.
But that isn’t the real reason I am relieved. I did not want the party. Why? Because it meant another scramble to find people to invite. It also would prevent uncomfortable refusals to invitation requests.
Friendships are short-lived
Many people with FASD have trouble maintaining friendships. The maiden is one of these. She tries. She wants friends. But she has not met anyone in eight years who has maintained a friendship with her. Some of the girls she has met and could have become friends have moved away before a friendship could be developed. One every year actually. It is strange really how every year she meets someone, becomes close, then they end up moving to a town too far to visit or to another province.
Other friendships have ended because of inappropriate behaviour. Due to her background, and FASD, the maiden has trouble with impulse control and maintaining appropriate boundaries – in this case inappropriate sexual behaviour ended a really great friendship. It is impossible to keep a 24 hour watch on children – and despite the best preventative measures, sometimes removal is the only option.
So, each year a different slate of girls show up for the party. In the eight years we have been celebrating the only girl to attend more than once is her biological sister – but we can’t always rely on her because her adoptive family are not consistent in maintaining contact – despite my best efforts. And in fairness they have their own lives to lead.
Guess what mom, I’m having a party!
The maiden went out this week to take the crone’s dog for a walk. She came home with an 18 year old girl who was delivering papers in our neighbourhood. The girl used to be on the same school bus as the maiden. She finished school last June – so the maiden had not seen her in a year. But she wanted to bring her to the house to show her where she lived – because she invited her to her party – which we had not even discussed at this point.
After the girl left is when I told the maiden she had to make a decision. She thought we could just wait to see if the girl showed up for her party – and if she didn’t then she would go get the tattoo. That is an FASD brain. No concept that a party involves some planning and expenditure – unless you have a lot of money you can waste if nothing happens. To get a tattoo you need to make an appointment. And we couldn’t call the girl to ask if she was going to come because the maiden doesn’t know her last name, didn’t get her phone number, nor did she offer her phone number to the girl!
No friends, No family
It breaks my heart that we can’t have a sweet sixteen party surrounded by friends and family. She has no friends. And I have only the crone, my dad and one brother in this country. My dad is in a nursing home four hours away. My brother doesn’t talk to me or understand the maiden and has not tried to keep a relationship between her and his sons – her only cousins. But FASD is good in that she can be distracted because she doesn’t really understand. We will focus on the tattoo.
What does she want? When she first told me I was a bit hurt. She said she wanted dolphins. Her birth mother has a dolphin tattoo. I thought that was the reason. But then she went on to say she wanted two in a heart shape with the words “I was born in my mom’s heart.” I cried. Really I did.
Despite all the challenges and daily struggles, the maiden has a connection and attachment to me. Not all adopted families are so lucky. I am grateful everyday that my daughter loves me. I know she can finally feel that love and know what it means to be loved and to be safe.
I am grateful I don’t have to plan for a party. I am grateful for the gift I have been given in having her in my life. Without friends or family, I will make her sweet sixteen special for her in any way I can. And I will hold her hand when she gets her tattoo proclaiming she was born in my heart!