There are few things in this world that effect me so deeply and personally that I actually react physiologically. Today, one of those few times occurred.
As I read through an AP's post I began to feel my breathing become more heavy, my body begin shaking, and my heart start beating practically out of my chest. The room began spinning as my brain tried to wrap itself around what I was reading.
The words that hit me like a ton of bricks.....7 years old, little hope of returning home, nothing more the professionals can do, residential treatment, more than anyone or any organization can handle.
Is this true? How can this be? What trauma must this poor child have suffered to have reached the end of the line? The end of all possible hope? Just those words....just those thoughts bring tears to my eyes.
I understand parents doing all within their power for their children and that some situations just require more than any one family can provide. And at the risk of sounding judgmental of those families who call it quits maybe sooner than even they imagined, I wonder at what point is it really OK to throw in the towel and say this is it...nothing more can be done?
I ask these questions knowing full-well the ramifications of living with a troubled child. I know the ramifications because I lived it as the SISTER to one of these children. For 7 years I lived with an older brother who did everything possible to get himself kicked out of our family. No sense waiting around for the inevitable to happen when lying, cheating, stealing, getting kicked out of school, running away, and abusing me helped achieve that outcome faster. In the end the same thing happened that he expected to happen. He knew he was a failure. He knew he was broken. Worst of all, he knew he was unlovable. And sure...our parents tried...at least as much as we could recognize "trying" through our eyes as children. They disciplined him, pounded into him their expectations and the consequences of breaking those expectations, and I'm sure loved him as much as their hearts were able. But in the end the love they showed him was not enough to break through the shell of a child who considered himself unlovable. The many trips to the juvenile delinquent center proved to him what he already knew. They gave up on him...he gave up on himself.
So, when was enough really enough? Should it have been sooner than 7 years? Later? Was sending him to Juvenile Hall considered "tough love" or was it "giving up?" As the sister who suffered at HIS hands, I wish more had been done. Perhaps at the time I breathed a sigh of relief when we waved goodbye to him for a final time. But now, today, THIS day I wish they fought a little harder, tried a little longer, did for him the UNEXPECTED through keeping him home and insisting that all was NOT lost and that they would not, COULD NOT, be broken by a child who had already been broken more times than they could count.
I will be honest and say that I believe our parents adopted my brother thinking that somehow THEY could save him...THEY would defy the odds and break through where all others failed. I think all AP's (including my parents) need to go into ANY adoption, whether with a troubled child or not, with the expectation that lives are not perfect and that children experience all different situations when in the homes of other people, whether with their Natural Parents, Foster Parents, or in an orphanage and regardless of how long they spent elsewhere. All children are different, all homes are different, all situations are different. There is no telling how a child will respond when thrown into a new family and home. AP's need to be prepared for all the possible outcomes that might arise when they welcome a new child into the family. They need to take the time necessary to prove to their child that they DO love them and that they will not, CAN NOT, give up on them as their child expects, almost WANTS, them to do.
9 months ago