15 years old. FAS. Early trauma and abuse. PTSD. The future. Hope.
Those words don't often find themselves in the same sentence. But, Jordan embodies all of these words...and I am thankful beyond words to be able to watch him thrive in the midst of struggles and challenges.
Today is Jordan's birthday...15 years old. It was 9 years ago that we met him. Nine years ago..we were anticipating his "move in" date. He had been in foster care for a year after spending 5 years in his unstable, chaotic and neglectful birth home.
He was smiling the day we met him..from ear to ear. He was unusually charming. We should have known his charm and fearlessness just wasn't right...that it was hiding the pain and fear that was hiding deep with in him. He had long stuffed all the emotions that were pure and from his heart...he could no longer trust that who he was and what he was feeling was safe...and it definitely wasn't enough make others love him or keep him around...and so he watched others and started to act like them..they looked happy...so he was happy..but he wasn't.
And now 9 years later, he can feel again. He can feel anger, and fear, and joy. And even though it often makes him panic or retreat, he often pushs through it. He is healing. He is learning one day at a time that he does not have to be the strongest or the best to be safe..that showing weakness does not mean death. In his old world, weakness, meant he could not survive...and the risk of vulnerability was too great. He wouldn't allow us to see him sick or scared or struggling...and if we did, he crumbled.
And now, he is 15 years old. He has stumbled, struggled, and learned to be a boy. And now, he is learning to be a man. He has a long way to go...but in his own time, he is making so much progress. I am not naive...I know that he will stumble along the way...steps forward, steps back...but now he does not live in fear the way he did when he was still living in survival mode.
Each of the kids, in their teen years, take a special trip with Dad. Jordan is ready for his. Up until this year, he wasn't ready...if we tried to bring him somewhere special, he would do his best to sabotage the time together...he just didn't feel worthy of any special treatment...of unconditional love. But, he is ready now. He and Mark are taking a trip to New Orleans to see a Saints game for Jordan's 15th birthday. Mark is not a football fan...actually never watched a game that Jordan was not playing in. Jordan is a football fan and loves the New Orleans Saints. That is all it took...because he is a fan of Jordan.
Happy Birthday, Jordan. You bring me hope. You brighten my day. God is by your side...we are by your side, no matter what.