Sunday, April 29, 2012
In 1991 I'd adopted the Lieutenant, pictured here with the niece and nephew he then didn't know would so bless his life. My son, Daniel, had also had a parent die suspiciously - fingers pointed at another relative.
I'd taken Yolie, Edgar, CW and Lily with me on that trip ten years ago. A Spanish-speaking white woman with brown children had been a shock to his system. How much so was the hard landing in rural Georgia?
I liked his description of coming to our house where all the other children were so welcoming. It's part of our make-up in that my kids tend to only trust each other to a large degree, knowing that the others here do truly comprehend where they came from, and how trauma affects trust. As they get older they venture out, dating and beginning to trust non-Bodie children, but having this ready set of brother/sister friends has always been an advantage here.
But his extreme lack? His severe deprivation? Even I, after listening to all five kids for ten years, didn't have a true picture of the severity. They do not often talk about it, but food issues here have been rampant, not so much though with Chuy. His lack of shelter as a toddler troubled him for a very long time.
I feel a corner has been turned, yet I also know that I need to back off a bit, let him continue finding his way, faltering and slowly warming up to me. He, too is not emotionally needy, but reassurance is necessary. He might even now shut down, this vulnerability and emotional exposure might make him slam shut as he's often done. I'm hoping that all the comments, emails and texts though has spoken to his inner strength.
He's an internally and externally strong guy who's been severely damaged.
"You know you can live here forever," I'd told him, "You and your silly Chihuahua cat." I'd gone on to detail at what ages some of my older children had still been living at home. Now that I've been finished with adopting, the stability here has exponentially increased.
His older brothers were both led out in handcuffs, into police cars, both have committed several other crimes, but both are now much closer to me emotionally than they've been in the last ten years. "I'm still here," I tell them, even though we've had to live separately for family safety. They call often and we visit when we can do so.
I don't talk about it much either, it's been emotionally painful, very sad, and we've all been left with the what ifs. This was not how I'd dreamed it would be, but it is the reality.
Chuy struggles with survivor guilt, the only sib that will successfully live out his childhood here within our home and that, of course, bothers him. He knows though that he wasn't saddled at birth with severe mental health diagnoses and that too makes us both question God aloud. Why? Why? Why?
We just don't know. I share his confusion.
His testing behaviors have only involved huge rudeness and defiance, to me, to coaches, to teachers and anyone else who might try and get close to him. No violence, thank God. His testing behaviors have not occurred often at all, therefore when it does happen, the intensity can be shocking to me.
Overall he's been fairly easy to raise, especially in comparison to other issues we've dealt with here.
"I was beaten for crying," he told me the other night when I suggested through my own tears, that crying was an appropriate release.
"But not here Chuy," I pointed out, still not getting what that early childhood trauma had done to him.
It's an extraordinarily difficult mountain to climb, getting over one's past.
He and I will still butt heads, we will still disagree on what are appropriate behaviors and limits, he'll still test me, he'll still howl his inner pain via difficult behaviors, but we did turn a corner this weekend.
He's extremely handsome but still needs reassurance, he's very intelligent, but will likely still buck his teachers, he'll get angry and irritated with his sibs, "Why can't you just follow rules," he'll holler or stress to the two younger ones, he'll be moody after visits with them, sad and aggravated.
His short fuse temper might get him fired at some point, his emotionally shut-down demeanor will likely irritate his girlfriends, if we ever get a new youth pastor, he's gonna find some major arms-crossed, sullen, "We aren't gonna trust you to not leave us," Bodie teenagers attitude.
It's just the way it is. This is a reality in the adoption of older children. I've taken so much Hell from so many people, those who'd criticize or misunderstand us, blame me for my children's behaviors that began years before I met them, or just be Haters to us. I prayed in church today that I could forgive and shake off the level of animosity I feel about it all.
It's been tough.