I'd grown close to one in particular, well several over the years, but in real life I'd gotten to meet Cindy Adams and talk with her on the phone - this before we all had cell phones. We're both Braves fans and love Nags Head, NC. CW's 16 now and I remember excitedly telling Cindy about him when he was born, so we go way back.
I've stayed in touch with her sister, Julie, and several of her children, thanks to Facebook, and I have permission to share Tiffany''s story here. My blog is about me as a mom raising tough children, Tiffany opens my eyes to how the children really feel, it's vitally important that she be heard.
I am an adoptee. I was removed from my birth family when I was five and went through three foster homes in a year and a half. At seven, I was moved across the state and told I now had a new family. A new Mama, Daddy and big Brother. Being an older child adoptee, that didn't go over real well. I didn't want a new family. I was old enough to remember my birth family, but not old enough to understand why I was taken from them. I missed them and I wanted them. Badly. Hello, Reactive Attachment Disorder! Because I didn't want a new family and longed for the familiarity of my birth family, I decided I wouldn't abide by any rules. I wouldn't call my parents Mama or Daddy. I wouldn't adjust to my new life with them. The pain of it all was just too much for my tiny seven year old heart. Hello, Oppositional Defiance Disorder!
The next seven or so years DRAGGED by. Seven years full of resentment and opposition. Rage, sadness and bitterness. I hated everyone and everything and attempted to make everyone else's life just as bad as mine. I cared for no one, I loved no one. Not even myself. My parents tried everything. They busted their butts to give me what I needed so I could begin healing. I wouldn't have any part of it. I was given the best therapists and psychiatrists money could buy. I was given a million different ways to process my trauma and move on. I didn't want to. Anger, pain and chaos were comfortable. And if I kept my wall up, and kept everyone else out, I couldn't be hurt again. I would be safe. That's what I thought anyway....
My family went on to adopt more hurting children. Unwanted or unloved by society or family. My Mama had a passion for kids like us. She wanted to be the one to remove the crud. Clean up the grime that our hearts had been covered with. My Daddy, loving Mama fiercely and falling in love with each of his "babies," believed, as Mama did, that the Lord was calling them to rescue us from our countries, our birth families and from ourselves. So, they did what Jesus asked them to do. My family is very God based. He is the center of our world. Always has been, always will be. So there weren't many Sundays that the Adams' were MIA at church. It just so happened that one Sunday morning, Jesus started hollering at me. I was in a theraputic foster home with a good family friend, who is also an amazing therapist. She attended the same church as my family. I remember sitting there, several rows behind my Mama, and the Lord said to me "What are you doing honey? Where do you think you're going to end up living like this?" The tears started falling. Silent, but full of years and years of devastating pain and unbearable grief. There is no way that my Mama heard those silent tears out loud, but in her heart, she knew her child was crying. She turned around and looked right at me, with a knowing looked that pierced through to my soul. And that's all it took. Those silent, pent up tears turned into an all out wail. My Mama, ever faithful to her babies, walked to the pew where I was sitting, got me up, walked me into the choir room, and she wrapped her arms around me and she let me cry. She let me hurt. And she helped start my healing that day. I was thirteen.
Six months after the incident at church, I moved back home and even though every single day was a struggle for me, I muddled through the best I could. I graduated high school a year early with an almost perfect GPA. I was accepted to a private Christian university and was excited to attend. I had come so far. I was actually loving people and letting people get close. I had finally opened the door to Jesus and boy was He cleaning house in my heart!! I was attempting to lead a healthy life. The RAD and ODD were constant enemies that tried to destroy what I was finally working so hard for. I was struggling, but I was winning and I was happy.
Mama and I went shopping for my dorm room. For the basic things a college student needs (and several things that I wanted.) August 2006 rolled around and Mama and I made the 2 1/2 hour drive to Elizabeth City to get me settled in and ready to start my adulthood. She stayed for one night and then headed home. I was parent and sibling free and I was on my own!! I excelled in my classes those first few months. I was hungry for Jesus and I wanted to learn all I could. I decided to be a missionary to China. The tears and heartache were vanishing memories. The regrets and anger of yesterday weren't going to follow me into tomorrow. I was making my Mama and Daddy proud.
October 2006 Mama came to pick me up from school from fall break. It was during this drive home that one six letter word changed my life. Cancer.
I quit going to class. I quit seeking God. I was pissed! I was devastated. Everything that I had worked so hard to accomplish, seemed to fly out the window. I was right back at square one. What a lot of people don't understand is, Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is like a terminal illness. It can be arrested. You can learn to live with it. You can work through it and struggle with it every day. And you can even win. But you can never completely cure it. So it took over my life. I started pushing people away. One by one they vanished from my life. I went back into my shell. I became enraged and bitter. My heart hardened.
I went through the next two years throwing caution to the wind. I made some HUGE mistakes. I would go weeks without talking to Mama or Daddy and months without visiting. I wasn't living. I was merely existing. Floating around the Earth with no attachment. I wouldn't let anyone in and everyone who used to be in, was out.
In May of 2008, I moved to Hickory to find my birth family. Only adoptees can understand this. Even if your birth family is awful, there will ALWAYS be a part of you that wants to know where you came from.Who you came from. Mama understood as well as an adoptee. And she always made sure to tell me that I had room in my heart for two Mama's and that she knew I would always love my birth mother. I believe Mama could read my heart and I believe she knew that the day would come when I would want to know. In Hickory, I found my birth family and begin to form a relationship. I began work and lived on my own. Being so far away from Mama while she was so sick, broke my heart. I wish now, that I hadn't been so far away, but at the time, I didn't know if my bruised and battered heart could handle seeing her slip away from me.
Mama died August 3, 2009. My world fell apart. I was dating someone but I wasn't really a part of the world. I was depressed. I was full of rage. I was bitter. I wouldn't get out of bed.
When I finally put my big girl panties on, I faced Mama's death. I processed through it the best I could. Heck! I still process through it now. I got married, and had a baby boy. Maybe things were getting better? Maybe not....
Next month, my divorce will be final. I will officially and legally be a single, working Mama trying to do the best I can by my son.
I reckon to this point, my life has been a roller coaster ride. I have been living with RAD for as long as I can remember. Sometimes, I just want to punch somebody, anybody in the head. I get MAD! My heart hurts almost every single day. I want my Mama. She is supposed to be here. She's supposed to be giving me advice on how to raise this crazy little boy who is me made over. I'm not supposed to be divorced. I'm not supposed to be doing this alone!!
But then Jesus grabs me up. He wraps His arms around me and He says "Be still, honey. I've got you."
Living through the trauma I've lived through is not an excuse for me to let my RAD win. It's not an excuse for me to be mean, physically aggressive, or verbally abusive. I would change a lot of my life if I could. For starters, I would be able to call my Mama and tell her I love her. Unfortunately, I can't do that. So that means, I use the tools I've been given. I reach out to people who love me. I call on Jesus. I write in my journal. I do what my God, my Mama and countless others have taught me to do. I fight. I struggle. I LOVE. I let people in. I treat people kindly. I refuse to be bitter or angry over things I don't understand or can't change. I remain calm. But most importantly, I. CONQUER.