This is the first in a series of guest blog posts by Denise Beeman Sasiain about the joys and struggles of being a foster and adoptive mother. She is mother to Summer, 17, who is in foster care and will stay with her foster family as she enters adulthood; Isabella Hope, 3, who they had since birth and adopted last year; Xavier (aka X-man), 2, who they are in the process of adopting; and Daniella Joy, 1, who they also had from birth and recently adopted.
Last week Daniella, our 14 month old, and I went to the dollar store. As she sat in the cart, she waved and smiled at the person waiting behind us in the checkout line. As each one arrived, she would wave her hand and say her baby version of “hi.” As more and more people arrived, she became more and more animated, engaging them all.
At one point, I heard numerous people laugh and looked back to see her dancing in her seat, grinning from ear to ear. She literally had six or seven people smiling and engaged. Like any mom, I felt so proud of my daughter. I think to myself, “She has the gift to make the multitudes laugh.”
As I thanked the cashier, I turned to the people and thanked them for their patience. One person responded, “No, thank you, she is beautiful.” As I lifted her out of the cart, a state trooper, who was about third in line, stepped forward and grabbed her hand and said, “What a happy baby.” I encouraged Daniella to wave and say “bye,” and she whole-heartedly cooperated.
As I walked out of the store, planting a big kiss on her forehead, my thoughts centered on how much children want to thrive … they just need to be given the chance.
Daniella didn’t start life out easy. She was exposed, in utero, to both HIV and syphilis. After months of testing, we were relieved and ecstatic to see that all her blood tests came back negative. During pregnancy, her mom also took both recreational and prescription drugs. She still has some medical & developmental challenges, but she is progressing daily. As one of her doctors put it, “she dodged a bullet.” This child isn’t just surviving, she is thriving!
I don’t think anyone waiting in line at the store would ever believe that the happy, outgoing and deliciously yummy baby in front of them has overcome so many obstacles. But with a joy so contagious that it can energize an entire store, she is conquering it all!