*WARNING: novel ahead* 🙂
Let’s be honest, there are topics in this world that people just don’t talk about; topics that seem too deep, too scary to delve into. Or sometimes they are just too sad and without hope that we decide it better to just keep it on the down low. But who are we helping? Why are we hiding so much of what goes on? Why do we hide the things that have made us who we are or who we are becoming? Because reality sometimes sucks and we don’t want to have to face the reality of what really happened, or is happening. Sometimes things are just too hard and we think that no one will understand or believe our plight. But don’t you ever get tired of hiding these things? Don’t you get tired of keeping things on the down low just to save others the pain? I do.
There are things in this world that should never happen and reach far beyond unacceptable, things that not only I–but many others–have been asked to keep quiet time and time again because it’s too sad, too hurtful, too heartbreaking. In the last few weeks a lot of these things have surfaced and I am left to process things that are beyond my comprehension, things that are easy to anger me and break me. This unwritten rule of silence has burdened me with sorrow deeper than I know what to do with, a sorrow that I dare share with you because something has to change … the system has to change.
21 years ago I was born to two people who didn’t know how to care for me, let alone themselves, and who didn’t understand the concept of love. My life didn’t start as a fairy tale. Year after year things proceeded to get worse without intervention. The little girl with messy hair, a fetish for blood, dirty nails, a baggy shirt and shoes too small was passed by as just another child–wild and crazy. The little boys who bullied, who stole, who sat silently in a corner, who gazed blank-eyed into the distant were passed by as just some kids–shy. The schools were blinded by the façade displayed. It wasn’t until I started going to my own parent meetings, signing my own parent slips, taking phone calls meant for mommy, grading my own papers that they took notice of the little girl who disrespectfully gave the teacher a colorful mouthful. It wasn’t until then that they realized that being an orphan doesn’t always mean sitting in an orphanage somewhere or losing parents, but that sometimes being an orphan can mean coexisting in the presence of the two very people meant to be your caregiver.
At 13 years old I was deemed a ward of the state, or as the papers indicate: orphaned. I was taken from all that I’d ever known, though not pretty, and placed into a home in which my case worker thought I would survive. Not thrive, not succeed, but merely exist. Each home I was placed, I was placed not to thrive, but to survive. Though expected to, none of my foster parents gave me the environment or tools to move forward and be okay. For most of them, I was a pay check. They fought to diagnose me with things I didn’t even display symptoms of. They created an image of a broken child and left her stranded. To the ones that had children of their own: I only wish that you could understand the feelings that come from being the “different” one, the one who isn’t really important. This is the system I lived in for almost 5 years. A system that is meant to bring children safety, comfort, love, and acceptance…all things that many foster parents and case workers must have missed the memo about because there is not much “normalcy” in the system. A system where the case worker visits for 15 minutes every 2 months, a foster mom who tells you your birth mom would’ve aborted you, a friend who leaves because you can’t go to her birthday because your caseworker’s out-of-town, a foster-sister who handles you, a foster dad that tells you you’re stupid because you left a glass on the counter. Where is the love? The acceptance? The safety? How do you make an idea work with so many regulations contradicting the essence of your idea? You can’t expect acceptance from others when a child is required to schedule days in advance EVERY time they want to go to the movies with a friend, it only turns the friends away. How is a child to bond without touch, no hugging. Yes, that is a rule in some places: no hugging. How is a child to overcome the overwhelming feelings of unwanted-ness when every document with his/her name states: __childs name__, orphan? How is this idea to work if it’s so contradictory?
The saddest and most hard for me to comprehend has been my adoption. Being adopted generally removes the orphan title and replaces it with: daughter/son, sister/brother, niece/nephew, grandchild, and cousin. Things all so positive. Being adopted means going into a place where you are forever, where you are meant to belong, where people take the time, and effort, to love you. But what happens when the forever breaks and the acceptance is turned to bitterness? Things are hard in adoption. Each person involved starts their own journey in hopes that they will finish together. Dynamics are rocked, parents mocked, children shaken, homes grown and reduced, etc. It is no secret that my adoption didn’t work well. My parents were and are amazing people, but our life’s’ couldn’t mesh successfully. I was shut down and disconnected and due to my past my behaviors were out of the ordinary, and more than my parents could handle. Broken heartily, they walked away the minute I started pushing. They gave up on me the minute I lost hope. Things were not at all happy in our household. I spent 97% of my time locked in my room, alone. When out of my room, our communication was hostile and short. There was a lack of connection. Zheala refused to touch me and at times look at me. We went through a period where I wasn’t allowed to speak to anyone in the home unless it was to let Basil know I was moving out. There was a conversation when asked why I was being sent away and I was told because they couldn’t stand being around me, even on my good days. The thought of spending time with me sent shudders through their spine. It was lonely. I became more volatile and angry making them move further away. I no longer had the support of the people who stood in front of a judge and promised me a forever. The people who told me they wouldn’t give up, gave up. They told me I needed to leave. They didn’t want me any more. I, once again, became an orphan, coexisting with the people meant to be my family. I was completely alone and terrified in a place I was supposed to call home, with people who were supposed to love me and guide me.
The word orphan should not even need to exist, unfortunately we aren’t in a perfect world. Many people choose to believe that orphans are only children waiting in orphanages across the world, and others don’t have the knowledge to believe otherwise. You don’t have to be in an orphanage to be an orphan, but I think we are too afraid to admit that allowing situations such as these to be orphaned means we have more orphans in this world. Admitting more orphans means admitting more broken souls, more sadness, more heartache…and unfortunately we live in a world in which admitting heart ache seems like a sin so we cover it with idea’s and thoughts. We, as a society, refuse to talk about the demons in the closet. We don’t want to talk about that massive tantrum our little sweeties are throwing over a sock put on wrong. We don’t want to talk about how scary it is to allow strangers to love us and guide us when all the people prior have failed us. Talking about the child sitting on the bathroom floor next to you cutting herself would just be too shameful. Telling someone of the time your dad made you sleep with him, his best friends wife, son, friend, friend-of-friend, stranger and man with the money would just be seeking attention and dear sweet thing we just can’t have any of that. Instead, we sit in mute waiting for someone else to let us know we are not alone, that things need to be different, that it’s okay. We don’t want to talk about the big scary things, but we need to because everyone needs to know they are not alone…and you can’t change something you don’t know needs changed.