Part 3 – Warrior
“There are moments on the journey when you see just how far you have come.”
– ROB BELL
This is the third installment of ‘The Mourning Doves,’ an adoption story of a single mother, her daughter, and their search for a therapy dog. ‘The Mourning Doves’ is a multi-post documentary from the Invisible Obstacles Series. To start from the beginning, click here.
XENA THE WARRIOR DOG
Xena barrels into us as Amelia opens the door to their apartment. It’s time for lunch, and then more school lessons.
Amelia greets Xena with a tummy rub. Xena grins, her tail wagging happily. They cuddle and tumble, rolling across the floor together while Amelia prepares lunch. When Anne gets up to wander the apartment, Xena follows her, never straying more than a few feet away from her side.
“Anne really needs a warm body, to be her protector. She needs someone to sleep with, and company in the bathroom. Xena is a dog that is always looking for love, and will go anywhere with Anne.”
Managing Anne’s PTSD was a 24/7 job for Amelia before Xena joined the family. Now that Xena has been trained to shadow Anne throughout the apartment, Amelia is able to do little things in peace – have a morning coffee, prep the day’s lessons, and cook lunch. It took Amelia years of research, training, and hard work to gain these small moments.
Anne has been in Amelia’s care almost her entire life. She knows that Amelia has done everything in her power to provide safety, stability, and comfort, but the lingering effects from the two months she spent with her birth mother still haunt her.
“Anne came to me at 19 days old as a foster-only placement. We dealt with delays, feeding problems, and withdrawal.”
“At 4 months old, she was sent to live with her birth mother, in a drug rehab. The rehab was supposed to supervise and teach parenting skills to the birth mother. Instead, her birth mother was mentally and physically abusing her, and the rehab kept it quiet.”
DECIDING TO ADOPT
Eight years ago, Anne came back to Amelia while DCF decided what to do. The infant Amelia had raised as a newborn and surrendered at 4 months had now come back as a 6-month-old who had experienced overwhelming trauma. Because of her family and medical history, Anne’s social worker told Amelia they would not recruit for a family. Anne would be labelled as ‘un-adoptable’ and placed in a group facility. Amelia was horrified. She couldn’t leave Anne to that fate, so against the social-worker’s advice, she decided to adopt Anne.
“She was able to come back to me at 6 months old, and the state pushed termination of rights, and adoption. She came home with so many new issues, because of the abuse.”
Amelia had no idea if Anne would ever be able to recover and lead a normal life, but years later, Anne is a happy, care-free child who whips and nae-naes across the living room in her underpants.
UNDERSTANDING PTSD IN CHILDREN
In fact, Anne has recovered so well that she appears to be a typical hyperactive kid. The problem is, she doesn’t respond to traditional ADHD treatments, and she still suffers from anxiety and meltdowns without constant companionship.
Amelia is raising a child with an invisible illness and the symptoms that come with it, including hyperactive behavior, extreme tantrums, and a need for constant companionship. She’s also a single mother – parenting all on her own. Amelia’s background is in nursery coordination and childcare, but it’s impossible for Amelia to find a job that can support them while she works around Anne’s educational and emotional needs. For eight years, Amelia has had to stay by Anne’s side every moment of the day.
All night. All day. Every day. For eight years.
“I don’t get to work, as much as I want to. Childcare is hard to find, and my daughter’s issues would get in the way of keeping a job.”
“We struggle. I need food stamps and section 8. I was raised to not take charity, that people who use assistance are lazy and milking the government. It was hard to swallow my pride. I have to remind myself that I will be able to get financially better, after I have raised my daughter. I don’t think I will ever be able to retire.”
Recently, Amelia found a way to extricate herself for a quiet hour each morning. This gives her hope – a hope that one day, Anne will be able to live independently, without the anxiety and flashbacks that plague her when she is alone.
Amelia’s hope comes from Xena, the therapy dog.
…Continue reading Part 4: ‘Winging It,’
This is the third installment of ‘The Mourning Doves,’ a multi-post documentary from the Invisible Obstacles Series. Check out the other posts here:
Part 1: Her Protector
Part 2: Restraint
Part 3: Warrior [You are here]
Part 4: Winging It
Part 5: Good Stuff
Part 6: Sanctuary
This session is from the Invisible Obstacles Series. Families in the Invisible Obstacles series provide a glimpse into daily life while navigating adversity. Names and locations of minors may have been changed to protect privacy. Permission & quotes attributed to Amelia R. unless otherwise specified.
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