Shannon Butterworth

We have been blessed in amazing ways with the “Birth to Three” program. The attention to detail that each teacher gives to each child is at an expert level rarely seen. We never knew just how important such a program would be; until adopted daughter Grace joined our family in July 2008, when she was 11months old. She had spent her first 11months of life in an orphanage in Mainland China. She had only heard Chinese up until the time she was placed in our arms. It wasn’t until she had been home several months with us, that we noticed some stranger anxiety that seemed to get progressively worse. We had two other biological daughters that were now teens, so we were not “new” to being parents. However, this social and/or stranger anxiety was new to us, and we tried to help Grace as her parents. At first, we thought it might be temporary and maybe “average” for some kids, who might be shyer. But as time went on; we realized this was more serious and not so “average”. It became very difficult for us to go anywhere; grocery store, restaurant, church and other social functions. As soon as she thought anyone was staring at her; she would often try to hide, shake, & cry hysterically. Also by 2yrs. old she wasn’t saying very many English words; but did seem to understand a lot.

We had the amazing opportunity to enroll Grace into the “Birth to Three” program. We decided that we would try it, not knowing if Grace would ever calm enough in her anxiety to stay in the program. We knew that Grace needed to learn to trust others outside our little family, in a safe & loving environment. The transformation that took place was really remarkable! It did take several weeks for Grace to let go of her anxiety enough to enjoy her time in the program. Eventually, under the supervision of Christie Bales, Grace began to bloom like a little flower opening up. The first few weeks Grace wouldn’t even eat her snack while there, as the weeks passed she began to eat and her anxiety decreased enough to begin having fun. She also began to use more words and enter into little conversations with her teachers. The attention to the details of Grace’s specific anxiety issues; along with the patient love they showed, made all the difference on her growth into a more appropriate social life in interactions.

Today, Grace is 3 & 1/2 yrs. old. She is thriving in a two day a week MDO (“Mother’s Day Out”) program. She is trusting of her teachers and playing with her peers. She talks very well now and has no problem entering into social discussions in her class. She might still hide when strangers approach to speak to her or me; but she doesn’t cry in fear and now quickly bounces back to her happy little self. I’m very thankful for the opportunity Grace had to experience the detailed special attention for her specific needs in the “Birth to Three” program. It was the foundation our daughter needed to believe that others outside our family could love, be trusted & be friends to her too. She learned that her little world, under the protective watch of her parents, can be trusted enough to experience
“safe joy” in place of fear.

Thanks “Birth to Three” for teaching our little Grace more about this “safe joy” that is hers for the taking; as she learned to trust enough to come out from the hiding place in her heart. You were her first experience with teachers and there could never be a replacement for that.

Shannon Butterworth (2010) Birth_to_Three_Letters_pdf__page_5_of_28_