Editor's Note: Window on the Clearwater has joined the Wednesday's Child network to help spread the word about children that are waiting for families to give them the loving care that they need. Each Wednesday we will profile a different child. For more information about Wednesday's Child and how you can be involved check the web site at: http://www.idahowednesdayschild.org/.
"Hi, I'm Kaleb. My favorite thing is watching a movie with Dad. I like "Finding Nemo." I painted a shark at Ceramica. His name is 'Sharkbait'.
I like to watch the Broncos with Dad. We play and we have fun together. Sometimes we skip together."
Kaleb is a tall boy for his age, so some folks might think he's older than he is. His broad grin is so delightful and it lights up his face throughout most of the day! He is a very loving boy who has learned to ask only people he knows for a hug. Without this guideline, he would dispense this lovely gift to total strangers. He is learning to be more discriminating.
Kaleb has lived with his foster parents for over two years. Watching him interact with foster dad illuminates many of the skills and traits this child needs in a permanent family. Before entering a ceramic craft store, Dad asked Kaleb to look in his eyes and put his listening ears on. "Now we're going to walk through this door and we're not going to touch anything until we're asked to. We're going to wait. Someone will show you what you can paint." Throughout the process of choosing from a limited selection, Kaleb received gentle prompts to "slow down -- take your time." Kaleb's foster dad also repeated painting instructions and pointed to areas that needed attention when Kaleb became distracted.
Kaleb's cognitive and developmental delays may be hereditary, as well as from early childhood neglect. Caregivers must often interact with Kaleb on a level that's a couple of years younger than actual age.
Moments of preparation and close supervision help Kaleb stay calm and find successes in everyday tasks, as well as with unfamiliar activities. Foster dad tells us that Kaleb has made amazing progress in the time this boy has been with him and his wife. "When he came to us, you couldn't understand his speech. At age four, he didn't understand his colors or letters or numbers. When we gave him a toy, he didn't know what to do with it. He didn't seem to have imagination to play on his own. He would follow us through the house and seemed to need our company constantly; needed one-on-one interaction desperately. He couldn't sleep through the night and Kaleb wanted to play or eat at 4:30 in the morning. He rushed through meals, not knowing when he was full. He would eat until he made himself sick." Most of that has changed.
During a lunch hosted by a local Wendy's restaurant, Kaleb's growing self-control was evident; so too were elements that help him in an unfamiliar setting. His foster dad let Kaleb choose from three beverages that did not contain extra sugar--an ingredient that can torpedo Kaleb's day. Dad set only the food from a kid's meal sack in front of Kaleb; keeping the toy strategically out of sight. He only offered it upon completion of the last bite.
Impulsiveness and distractions can challenge completion of everyday tasks. When Kaleb becomes frustrated, a tantrum can shut down any outing. Those are the times when Kaleb needs to be in a familiar area where his safety can be assured and where compassionate folks can wait out the storm. Kaleb's adoptive family needs to have an understanding of a "fight, freeze or flight" autonomic system that is essentially misfiring. Some triggers are known, but many seem to come out of the blue. According to his foster dad, "You have to expect a lot of surprises with Kaleb and plan for how to react to them to keep him safe." Kaleb's tantrums can last for at least 15 minutes--even longer within a school setting. His adoptive parents must understand these moments as self-control storms or as big emotions this child will gradually learn to process in healthier ways.
Kaleb's adoption team and his foster parents offer these suggestions about the type of family Kaleb needs:
Kaleb's adoption team would like to hear from a stable couple with no other children or much older children who can share a large portion of both parents' attention. Experience with emotionally and behaviorally challenged children would be a plus, as would an understanding of IEP educational goals.
For the right couple, Kaleb offers loving ways and affection that is given so exuberantly! Seeing and discovering the world through this boy's eyes will make every day an absolute adventure. Kaleb's casework team prefers adoption as the most stable option for his future but might consider a guardianship arrangement with the right family.
Portrait by Barb from Barb Bergeson Studio Gallery
To find out more about Kaleb, adoption or becoming a foster parent, email the Idaho CareLine (Please include your zip code and city.) or call 1-800-926-2588. You may be asked to provide this reference number: 30496.
|Window on the Clearwater
P.O. Box 2444
Orofino, ID 83544