I am a hypocrite – Part 1

5 05 2013

I talk about loving our children unconditionally, but I have not totally done it. We had a child, I don’t know if have or had is appropriate here. Anyway, a very long time ago, before we had any children of our own, we met four kids. They actually rented a house across the street from where we lived while I was in college. Their mom was a single mom and had her hands full. Over time, those kids became a staple at our house.

We grew to love all four of them and it was hard not to, they were cute and were a bit like lost puppies. I don’t want to be totally negative here, but their mom was not a very “motivated” person. For instance, it seemed to me that she needed a job that paid better than what she was receiving on welfare, so I helped her do all of the paperwork for college. Drove her to college myself to meet advisors and do applications. She ended up with a free ride – everything paid for, yet dropped out half way through the semester. She wasn’t much into improving her life, so to speak.

So, back to the kids. They often showed up dirty and hungry. Taking baths and eating meals became a pretty regular thing at our house. I was in school full-time and Sean didn’t make a ton of money, so it was interesting feeding all of us sometimes. I can remember making pancakes with water instead of milk, and not getting full sometimes. Once I graduated college we moved, but we still kept in contact with the kids. About once a month two of them would come to stay the weekend with us, they took turns and the system worked pretty well. Things for them had gotten much worse after they didn’t have our house to escape to plus their mom was back into doing drugs. Stopping at the drug store to get the lice kit on our way home became the norm.

One evening we got an abrupt phone call. It was their mom’s sister informing us that their mom was entering rehab the next day. They wanted to know if we would take two of the four kids and it was for an undetermined amount of time. The sister and her family were going to take the other two kids. Sean and I talked about it and called back and said we would. Now, as I type this, I am wondering which two children we were initially taking? It doesn’t really matter because the next day I headed off to work and Sean headed off to pick them up, only when he got there the sister had changed her mind and Sean brought home four kids. So,  here we were, 22 years old with four kids. Those first months were crazy. I don’t even remember them well, but the kids were all going to school and we were working and Sean was also going to school and our lives suddenly changed forever.

True to form, if you have lived very long you know life is not usually what we expect, I found out I was pregnant within a few months of the kids coming to stay with us. We knew that what we did not want for our new baby was to be born into this chaos. After much prayer and discussion, we called the family. We told them that we wanted to keep one of the older girls and they would need to find placement for the others. We had a couple of reasons for this. I don’t want to break some confidence, so just for the sake of a name, let’s call her Cathy. Cathy has cerebral palsy. She was thriving with her new schedule of consistent therapy, something she had never had before, and she was doing very well. Emotionally she seemed the most stable and she had a very sweet spirit about her. Bottom line though, we knew she would be the hardest of the four kids for them to place and we loved her very much.

So, the kids all went to other relatives over the next month and we had Cathy and we were excited to also welcome a new baby into the family. We bought a house, we moved, Sean quit school and went to work full-time, and we were cruising along. I can still remember the day my baby girl was born. I was worried. I don’t know if I verbalized this to anyone, but I held that baby and looked at her and I had so much love in my heart, I worried if I could love Cathy this much? I never wanted to be a mom who favored one child over the other. I had witnessed that in other families and it was not a pretty sight.

What happened that day was amazing though. When Cathy was brought up to see the baby I didn’t know how I would feel, but when she came in and got up in bed with us and held her sister, my heart swelled. I did not love her less. She was mine and I loved her with my entire heart. I was so relieved.

Well, if you have lived very long then you know that life is only smooth for a little while. (notice a theme yet?!) When our baby was about four months old, and we were exhausted and trying to survive two children, one with special needs, I found out I was expecting another bundle of joy! I cried this time. But I got over the shock and fear and life moved forward. The adoption came through and we always joked that we had 3 kids in 2 years. But it wasn’t all fun and games.

As the baby began to get older, Cathy began to lash out at her. I guess it would be normal for a kid who had been through so much to have anger and need to vent, and Lord knows that she had never been taught appropriate ways to cope from her birth mom. She had been in therapy almost from the beginning so we just thought we could work this out. The therapist was baffled though. I now have my suspicions that she had attachment disorder. The symptoms seem to fit, but I am not therapist.

We tried so hard to work it out and figure out how to keep her. After two very serious attempts to kill her younger sister though, we had no choice. We had been told by child protective services that if we had not adopted her then they would step in. Basically, since their job is to protect the children, if we asked them to help, they would take our younger two children away since they were the ones who were in danger. Yep, as usual, the government was no help.

It was truly a God thing, we found a Children’s Home that would take her and they worked on donations, so we could actually afford it. (We had found placements, but most of them were about $600 a day) Cathy lived there for the next six years. We went to visit her every few months and she thrived. She learned spanish and went with groups on mission trips across the border to Mexico and became one of their favorite interpreters.

After many years and several home visits we brought Cathy back home. Things went well for a while and then the anger and out bursts came back. This time she was threatening to kill me as well. It was a tense situation. I won’t go into all of the phone calls and trying to figure this one out, but eventually she ended up going back to her birth mom who had gotten her life together. Eventually all the kids ended up back near or with their mom.

So, this brings us to the beginning again and why I am a hypocrite. I talk about loving our children unconditionally, but I don’t think I did that with Cathy. I tried to love her and maybe the bottom line is that love wasn’t enough. I just could not keep talking about unconditional love on this blog and not come clean about my own truth. There is a woman out in the world today that still has my last name, yet I do not speak to her or about her. It is like she never existed. Yet, she did, and she called me Mom.

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One response

6 05 2013
samesides

Wow. I am thankful for your transparency. What you did, though, was beautiful. You gave Cathy chances she never would have had otherwise. No matter what, you did what you could for her, and I have a feeling that someday she will look at you and your beautiful family and be thankful.

Kudos.
Emily

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