I just got done reading a truly heart-breaking post by one of my favorite adoption bloggers. She’s got a child (two really, but one is not living in their home anymore) who is crazy. There is no place for help – no respite in their state, no qualifications for state assistance, nothing. She (and her other children and husband) are living with crazy – the kind that requires 24/7 supervision in order to keep everyone safe. How can that NOT be a qualification for assistance??? What made it most heart-breaking is that feeling of hopelessness. There is NO way for them to live normal. There is NO way for them not to be controlled by this child. Short of putting her in a straight-jacked and leaving her in a confined area, she is going to rule their lives with crazy. Then I read the comments and so many others said that could be a post about THEIR lives. Heartbreaking!
Our experience is a whole magnitude less by comparison. I feel like our lives are ruled by our mildly impaired child – how can I even compare it to what my blogger friend is experiencing? And yet, as I read the post, I thought that a parent’s concerns for their child don’t go away just because the child isn’t completely out of control. I look at my child and see that he can, in fact, meet the scholastic challenges of his grade. So the fact that he continues to sleep in class and make up crazy excuses for the behavior makes me fret and worry. He’s being destructive to his own life and using his maladaptive skill of manipulation to achieve his ends (not that any of it is conscious – he just really hates to do any kind of work – anywhere). Can I step back and say, “well, he’s not hurting anyone else so it’s ok”? I can’t seem to. The fact that he doesn’t pee in random corners of my house doesn’t make me feel grateful that he “accidentally” breaks things. The fact that he doesn’t torture our cat doesn’t make me feel grateful that he goes through my drawers when he is looking for a sugar hit.
I’m not sure what I’m trying to say in this post, except that living with a child who is determined (for what ever reason – choice or mental illness) to make life miserable for everyone else is a very “stuck” feeling. There are no good solutions. There is no “reasoning it out” (my kid doesn’t process cause and effect – he’s truly amazed every time the same consequence comes from the same action). There’s no “connecting through empathy” – for many of these kids empathy or love is as threatening as a gun. There is only making things safe (or as safe as they can be) and feeling that I have turned into a jailer. That wasn’t my dream of motherhood.
What makes it worse is people looking on from the outside and seeing the parent as the problem. “Try this program, read this book, learn these skills.” The thing is, as a society we can’t imagine that children could have the problem. That is true in one sense – kids don’t get crazy by themselves (usually). If you’ve adopted one of the crazy kids – they got helped there by abuse and neglect and second-hand drug poisoning. They didn’t learn that they could trust adults. They didn’t learn that the world has rules that make sense. They got brain damage from chemicals that didn’t belong in their womb. But those are POWERFUL damages that don’t get “fixed” by lots of love. There’s some debate about whether they can even be fixed – but I can’t accept that either, because I do believe in the Atonement of Christ and I think all things can be healed at some point. But will that healing happen while my child is still living with me? Not so sure. There has to be time when he actually WANTS to be healed before I think it can happen.
This leaves me feeling stuck – I want the best for my kid, and yet he doesn’t. He can’t see reality (for whatever reason) and so he does his stuff, relentlessly, refusing to learn, to trust, to try a change. He’s not horrible, but he’s stuck and he keeps us all there right with him.