Amy Beth Gardner wasn’t expecting candy this Halloween. The mom of two wrote on Facebook her adopted daughters have always been particular about their candy.
Then, she revealed the heartbreaking reason why:
In 2014, Amy and her husband, Paul, became foster parents to Breonna and Bridgett, who are now 12 and 8 years old, respectively. When Amy mentioned that Halloween was coming up, she noticed the girls “froze up.”
Eventually, she worked up the courage to ask if Breonna and Bridgette had ever celebrated Halloween before. Amy wrote on Facebook:
They took turns telling me about how they had once been given candy for Halloween only to have an adult take the candy and eat it in front of them while making them watch.
When the girls began to cry, the adult handed them the brown paper wrappers that had been holding the chocolate peanut butter cups and forced them to eat the empty wrappers — a cruel way to give the girls a literal taste of what they were missing out on that Halloween evening.
Amy knew she had to treat Halloween with extra caution. She took the girls trick-or-treating and watched as they counted each piece of candy before placing them inside their bags.
When they got home, Amy went into the kitchen. She grabbed two plastic bags and a marker. Together with the girls, she counted each piece of candy and placed them into the bag for safe keeping.
Every day after Halloween, the girls insisted on counting their pieces of candy to ensure all of the candy was still in the bags. Amy obliged and counted every piece.
She wrote on Facebook:
I would sit and count their candy with them night after night, earning their trust one lollipop at a time.
For months, she continued to work with the girls on developing trust. As previously reported by IJR, Amy adopted her two daughters a year later on Aug. 11, 2015.
This week, Amy was cleaning the kitchen when she noticed her youngest, Bridgett, was looking for something in the pantry.
Bridgett approached her mom with a gift wrapped in a piece of paper. Amy pulled off the piece of paper and read what her daughter had written on the other side:
Mom, I want to give you a taste of how much love I have for you by giving you my candy.
Inside the paper, the young girl had placed some of her favorite candies inside of a plastic bag. Bridgett had received the candy at a Halloween party.
The mom’s eyes filled with tears as she realized how much this gift meant to her daughter. Amy told Dearly she’s proud of her daughters for learning to trust again:
“The sad truth about the girls being forced to eat empty candy wrappers is that this is one of the least traumatic things that happened to them before Child Protective Services found them. They have shown so much bravery and courage as they have learned to trust us as their new parents. I can’t think of anything I’m more proud of in my life than earning their trust when it had been so shattered before they came to us.”
Bridgett had taken a terrible experience and turned it into a beautiful memory of just how far they had all come as a family.