August 19, 2014, was the day Jamie’s life changed forever: She became a foster mom to a terrified 11-month-old baby girl, who had been removed from an apartment infested with dirty diapers and maggots. “B sat in our living room not moving, not talking,” the 32-year-old from New Jersey tells Us Weekly. “She had learned to be afraid of her surroundings because nothing was safe in her old home.” (*To protect her family’s privacy, Jamie does not share her last name or her foster kids’ names.)
The infant also suffered from developmental delays as a result of her neglect. “B qualified for early intervention for everything,” Jamie tells Us. “Before she came to us, she spent most of her day sitting in a playpen with a bottle in her mouth.” Though most children are introduced to solids between 4 and 6 months of age, B, who was nearly 12 months, couldn’t eat the thinnest of baby cereal. Recalls Jamie: “B had no idea what to do with it. She would choke.”
When B first came to live with Jamie, her husband, Alan, and their biological kids Liv, 8, and Wes, 5, the baby would sleep 19 hours a day. “B would come home from a visit with her biological mom at 5 p.m. and immediately say, ‘Night night, night night,’ and need to get in her crib,” Jamie tells Us.
But two years later, B, who is now 3, is a happy, Frozen-obsessed toddler. “The kids will be wrestling with their dad, and she’ll jump on the pile,” gushes Jamie. “During the first year, she’d just sit there and stare, like, ‘What is going on here?’ Or she’d pull out a book while everyone was dancing around.”
It’s a transformation Jamie chronicled in a lengthy August blog post that recently gained attention on the Love What Matters Facebook page with 13,000 likes. “I’ve seen you overcome your fears and insecurities, seen you press into people rather than away from them, seen you progress and grow. I keep thinking you’ve ‘arrived’ only to see you come even further,” Jamie wrote in the open letter addressed “To my sweet girl.”
She went on to reveal that in June a judge had taken away the rights of B’s biological mom. “You had your last visit with her, said goodbye to her. I cried for you and cried for your mom and cried for the loss all around, but then dried my tears and assumed life would go on as usual. It hasn’t,” Jamie shared. “After watching you progress over months and years, I saw you become a different child within a week. In a short time, I’ve seen the residue of your past neglect, which I thought would cling to you forever, wash away.”
The most noticeable change: B began to show affection. “You climbed into my lap, you kissed me, and you told me that you loved me. You had never done that before,” Jamie wrote. “I returned the kiss and repeated the words, as I had so many times before. But this time I had tears in my eyes.”
Jamie, who blogs at Foster the Family, tells Us the kiss came out of nowhere. “We weren’t sharing a moment or anything,” she says. “I think all the confusion about where she belongs and who she belongs to had started to settle. And she began to understand what love was from us showing her love.”
Jamie and Alan are adopting B and her 2-year-old foster sister on December 1.
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