Savannah was severely neglected by her drug-abusing mother in a home without plumbing or running water. By age four, she was still not potty-trained. Her teeth were rotted so severely that she was in constant pain. Allegations of sexual abuse by her father only painted a darker picture of sadness, loneliness and despair. Placement in one of our foster homes would be her salvation.
Sue had been a certified foster parent for nearly 15 years when she got the call. She already had three foster children in her home and welcomed Savannah to her family. When Savannah arrived, Sue could see how traumatized and malnourished she was. Savannah didn’t know the simplest things, like how to eat with silverware or play games. “I could see torture behind the eyes of this beautiful child, and I vowed that no one would ever hurt her again,” Sue said.
Sue dove into the formidable task of getting services for Savannah. First, she required extensive dental surgery. Sue quickly found new meaning in the words “patience” and “persistence.” When Savannah made progress and then regressed, Sue helped with each step forward, got her to therapy sessions and helped her learn social skills. Perhaps most important, Sue simply stayed by Savannah during the frightened nights when she would lie in bed, bright eyes wide open, afraid to sleep and dream of the past.
Over time, Savannah began to smile a little, run and jump and play as a child her age should. There were trials and tantrums and yet small signs of progress. As two years passed, Savannah had over 250 hours of trauma-based therapy.
“Post-traumatic stress, flashbacks, jumping at certain sounds, haven’t gone away. But she is learning to cope.” Because Sue knew the work with Savannah was far from over and because “she is so full of life,” Sue made a permanent commitment and adopted Savannah.