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I believe a good word to describe this day is HOPE.

However, I don’t think it’s fair to you or to us to minimize today into one positive word like HOPE. Because let’s face it, this past year has been so many things, so much hard work. I’m hoping that maybe some of my reflection of the past year may help you to see that “I see you” and “I see all the things you have done.” You are not one thing, you are all the things and hard work put together.

So, I’ve taken the word HOPE and turned it into an acronym that I feel might best describe what today really stands for.

HOPE – the H for me in the beginning stood for HELL. The day when a mom realizes they can no longer keep their child safe is best described as HELL. And now I know that you also felt the same. You felt it in your head, in your heart and in our home. The day I pulled out of the long driveway of the Ranch, I sat at the at the end of the road for at least 30 minutes. Hell is leaving your kid in a state thousands of miles from home, let alone Texas. Having to trust and leave your kid with people you have only spoken to on the phone and most other faces that are unknown….HELL. Watching your face the date I left you….HELL. In reflection, I now know that Hell was the first stage of the HOPE our family would soon feel.

The O in HOPE stands for Optimism (which Adelene and Joe, I know you are the Optimist, Joey and I are the Realist, so I just threw this word in for you). I prefer to name it: OK, maybe. For several weeks, we watched you as you slowly started to come out of your shell (or rather Fulshear watched, we heard). You went from sleeping most of the day in your bed, to slowly beginning to allow others to co-regulate with you. While this “OK, maybe” stage was not linear, it had movement. You slowly started to open up in therapy, to Monica, to the family whisperer, Kevin. You started to insert yourself into the ranch life. We started to see some signs of “OK, maybe.” Eventually applying for positions on the ranch, Garden Manager, Barn Manager. Who knew you, my kid, would be shoveling sh*t. THAT made a momma proud. You began checking off boxes in the HSI manual. You went from anger on phone calls, to I Love you’s.

But the P, the P is where things really started to move. The P in HOPE is for Possibilities. You started to finally realize that checking off boxes in the HSI manual wasn’t going to be enough. You started to dig in therapeutically, first with April and then with Adelene. You started making connections, friends. You began investing in your own future. You saw your friends moving on to the apartments and you dug in your heels to catch up. You and Adelene worked so hard on getting to your core beliefs: I am not wanted, I am not enough, I am not heard. You went on to your Core Meaning: I am deserving, I am unique with unique needs. We began to work as a family to version 2.0, we worked on Keep, Start, Stops (which I’m still not sure your Dad gets). You recognize when you are utilizing sarcasm to deflect and how polarized thinking gets in your way. I recognized that I need to stop jumping to conclusions, and seek to understand. Dad needs to connect more. You began showings your mad skills at the Parent Sessions, moving from the awkward newbie to the bad*ss novice of Fulshear.

And the last letter in E is what brings us to today…Excitement. Today is where we get to celebrate you. To be excited for you. To know that you have plans. And you have Tools and you are Capable! I could list 1000 things that I have learned about you in the last year, but Dad would roll his eyes if I kept talking. I just want you to know that you are acceptable, just the way you are. You are seen, you are heard and you are enough!