Saturday, October 28, 2006

Tiny Titan

If I remember correctly, I wanted to read this book because Sharon was reading it. I ordered it from, and hardly put it down all day yesterday, it was another book I'd started, but didn't get around to finishing until I was so suddenly benched by surgery.

It is must reading for any mother who is parenting a mentally ill child. Ann Yurcheck is the birth mom of a medically special needs daughter, several other birth kids, and she went on to adopt a sib group of 5 severely disturbed children. Her perseverance is astonishing and personally encouraging to me.

She also talked about being on several email adoption groups, and the knowledge she'd acquired there, along with the support and the horror stories shared by others who've been there, done that. I have found that area as well to be a source of inspiration, support and encouragement for me. I've met most of my online adoption mama-friends there over the years as we have shared and commiserated with our severe ups and downs in the very uncharted adoption world.

It was, at times, excruciating painful reading as I've been in her shoes, as have many other adoptive parents. Where we once entered this arena filled with hope and the soaring dreams of providing love and a family for children, we are all too often met with sheer frustration, loss, anxiety and an ongoing dread for the future. We end up with PTSD, anxiety disorders, and even the feeling that we've lost our own grip on reality as the traumatized children recreate the only comfort that they know...that of pain and chaos in our once peaceful homes.

A retired schoolteacher, like me, has, or once had, plans to retire to a beach community, not to be living in a house with broken windows, shattered sheetrock walls, and torn up furniture. I never envisioned the need for police protection in my own home, I sure didn't see this life of mine coming. At 22, I assumed I'd have it made by the time I was 52. I've since pushed that thought back to age 72, but maybe then I'll be in Haiti working in an orphanage, or I'll be fighting society as a CASA person, making sure the children are not forgotten by bureaucracy bs and stupid, inane policies that could entice me to cuss here.

I have had to fight valiantly for years to keep our home atmosphere positive, to instill a new mindset in my kids, to even convince them that there is any hope for them. Although I have physically attributed this past tumor of mine to the sick-building syndrome of my former job, it is not lost on me that the negative emotional environment here could have easily facilitated the growth of this tumor. One just can not continue to absorb all the hate, the fear, the anger and the damaged emotions without some physical or emotional repercussions. The author touched on that as well, how the emotional and physical stress often literally takes out an adoptive mother with physically debilitating ailments. Now I believe it. I stupidly used to think...not me.

Sarah asked me yesterday, "How can you read about it and live through it?" The day before I'd watched a mindless TV drama that never mentioned adoption, traumatized children nor any acting out, the escape didn't do much for me. I need answers, I need to understand; to comprehend, I need a tour guide here through Hell. I need to know if we are normal in adoption terms, I need other people's experiences and explanations. I need encouragement, and I need knowledge.

However this 470 page book's subtitle is a "journey of hope" as Ann Yurchek presses onward to many substantial victories with her children. It can be done, this impossibility can be accomplished against all odds, the children can heal on many different levels. I obviously share her belief that this can be done. Duh. It is often facilitated in the children without the help that was promised by adoption workers, it takes a hard-headed, unstopable mama. The system is not on our side, the system itself can hurt us.

I've personally been fortunate to have a pro-active, long lasting, experienced adoption worker, Emily B, who has interpreted many issues for me over the years; who has encouraged me to keep looking for help, and has also pointed the way on many, many occasions. Being an adoptive parent herself, she gets it.

Adoptive parents, like me, thinking love can, and will, heal all the hurts, are always blindsided by the depths of the children's pain and damage. The adopted ones are the fortunate ones, it boggles my mind to think of all the nearly feral children aging out of the system never having experienced even one iota of love, empathy, concern or human decency in their entire lives. No wonder 90% of them end up homeless, dead or in jail...I'm surprised even 10% succeed on any level.

How can we as such an affluent society sit by and allow this?