David came into our lives before we even considered adoption. In fact, we originally were going to do foster care for kids like David. This was long before we knew about the mental health issues that he has been diagnosed with. He was special needs because of the way he was born, addicted to drugs. And because of his race.
He was special to us because he was loveable. He had a smile as bright as the sun and a ready laugh. We had an in home daycare at the time, and occasionally did day care for his foster family.
If you look at pictures from his first birthday, we are there. Our whole family was.
When our home study was completed, we were told that we were approved for adoption and shown a portfolio of children that were available in our state. Kids of all ages. We had been cautioned that there was a good chance that we would not be able to adopt David. We were cautioned against getting our hopes up long before our home study was completed.
The day we were approved for adoption… was magical. I have no idea how else to explain it. We had prayed that David would be available to us. We were prepared to not have the opportunity to bring him into our home and hearts permanently.
After we had browsed the portfolio of children, we shed a few tears. So many kids waiting for forever homes. So many unfilled wishes. Sadly we didn’t have the resources to take them all. As we turned the last page, we learned that David had been released from the system and was available to adopt.
Over the years, with all of the trials that we have been through with him, I am saddened to realize that this could have all been prevented if his birth mom had wanted, and received proper addiction treatment. She was high the day he was born, and he had to go through withdrawals after he was brought into this world. They had to give him drugs to wean him off what she was taking. Can you imagine? minutes, hours old, and having to go through that? It does little good to be angry with the birth mom. Anger just eats at you until you are sick and no one wants to be around you.
In a lot of ways, I think that the rest of his life, while troubling to those around him, has been easy compared to the first few days.
I wish that it was possible to go back in time, and talk some sense into his birth mom. No child deserves that treatment. At any age.
It is one thing to be born with a hereditary mental illness, it is quite another to have that mental illness foisted upon you by a selfish person.
I have seen the curse of addiction first hand with an alcoholic in the family.
I have gone through drug use myself. It is a life that we choose to begin, and need to work hard to end.
In the end, none of what happened to him prior to his birth can be fully blamed for his current behavior. He needs to learn to control the impulses that he has been blessed with.
So many people hear and read David’s story and say poor, poor baby. To an extent they are correct. At some point he has to accept responsibility for his actions and the life that he can CHOOSE to lead.
Stealing is a choice. How we treat the people around us is a choice.
David has been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder in addition to the many other diagnoses that he has. The attachment disorder stems not from the lack of a loving home environment and family. Rather it comes from the fact that his birth mother never held him. EVER. Not once in his whole life has she hugged him to her body. The ultimate rejection.
We can’t necessarily undo the damage that has been caused to his psyche. We can help him learn how to deal with the damage. How to turn it to a positive. Seriously, his brain works in ways that I can’t begin to fathom, and at speeds that are incredible to comprehend. He just needs to harness that energy.
Don’t pity David his different abilities. Embrace the abilities that he has, and help him realize his whole potential.
In order to do this, we have to look outside of our home, our community and our schools occasionally to find more advanced techniques. Not everyone is an expert on the subject of mental illness.
So, I close this rather long note with a thought.
That child with special needs? Embrace the abilities that they have been given. Help them achieve success and develop new abilities where possible. Don’t give up. There is always hope. Sometimes, prayers are answered.