As my fellow Kindred spirit knows, this blog post is overdue. The theme is central to the life of a parent of a child adopted from foster care and even more so to the children still caught in it. Please know that all of us who experience this as new parents to traumatized children would redo it in perpetual loop forever because our exhaustion in advocating for our kids means that our children put that burden down. They no longer carry it alone and they get some peace.
For a person who came into parenting in her 40’s props to all those who went before me. The sleep deprived, carpooling, schedule organizing, homework helping, monster under the bed slaying folks, to you I say Huzzah! To the parents whose children came to us by way of foster care its school deficits, social anxiety, PTSD, sexual abuse, physical abuse, food hoards, insomnia and ignorance about who are children are at the core of their beings because their files record only the falls not the souls.
One of the perks I did not realize about adopting Mike was my advocating spirit came back with a vengeance, all of us learn advocacy quickly. With that for me comes deep sense of exhaustion, the byproduct of seeing how badly my child was fucked over for so many years, beyond my control. You move ahead and help your child become all their potential but to do so like them you have to process and grieve what they lost.
Mike my love, my funny over the top kid gets migraines. Days long migraines that at times are even unresponsive to meds or injections. His piercing blue eyes go to slate and he becomes immobile in the dark, under blankets, prisoner to pain. It’s hard as a parent to watch this and 2 years into our lives we are working on answers. It’s hard when your kid asks you why he has to hurt like this and the answer is not clear. Here is where, for me, my anger at times moves to weary as I process it through my body so I can be present with my son now.
Mike may be biologically prone to headaches that could be the truth. We also look at something darker, harder to process. We do not know definitively if or how much his bio mom used during her pregnancy with him. Meth babies have long term health issues. My son also lived in physical abuse where blows to the head were routine. Given some of our talks about this, there is no doubt that he suffered multiple concussions under the watch of his bio dad. Most terrifying of all Mike was hit by a car by his father as a child. From the information we gather, this was not accidental. No one sought treatment for him after. The headaches started about 4 months after this. In care homes and group homes, he was so overly medicated that the cocktail in his blood never worked…too many meds competing for space. Mike always accused of his headaches or stomachs aches (we proved as a pre ulcerative state) were “attention getters”.
Fast forward to this week, new doctor referral to a CT. And they ask the history and they have to and then the details. And my kid relives the abuse over again in his narrative. The conversation goes from technical to morbid curiosity(so are you still in contact with your dad?) At one point, I was asked if I was “the new mom”, to which I replied, “No I am THE MOM “
So more new med routines hoping we find something to give my kid relief. Yes, this could be biology or a parting gift from a horrible childhood. Mike says it’s not fair and it isn’t. So we do what we can: help him keep up in school, advocate, keep him hydrated, and make his fav food when he can keep it down, love him.
Mike navigated this pain for almost 5 years by himself. When we first met our son, he was amazing but weary, you could see it in him. His fighter spirit was dimming, his hope of life not just serving life diminishing. I do not think my son would have lived to see 21 in the emotional state he was in. And for me a sobering reality. So many people see Mike as a success and no bones about it, he is. But the failures, our failures as adults because we do nothing, means there are over 500,000 children in foster care exhausted. Keeping hope and faith and self-fed and engaged when you are trapped in a system that reduces you to a case is exhausting. Never laying your burden down is exhausting, never feeling safe exhausting.
It’s time to stop, stop becoming so complacent about other people’s children, stop being more outraged over American Idol then a 5 year old moving all their world possessions in a garbage bag, a child starting new school for the 3rd. time in 2 years. It is time for them to lay these troubles down and time for us to become exhausted on their behalf.