Friday, May 1, 2009

Being Real About Child Abuse

Warning: I'm about to get a little depressing here. Sorry, I just have to express an incident that happened recently that gave me deep feelings about the world. So, read with caution, or don't read at all if you're already in a bad mood.

I went to visit a fellow foster parent last week who takes in babies/toddlers and helps them either reunify with their birth families or transition into adoptive homes. She is a wonderful, caring foster mom and her husband is just as great. I'm sure all of you have heard horrific stories of child abuse and felt sad for the mentioned children. But have you ever met that child you heard the stories about? Have you ever had them sit on your lap and look up at you with beautiful innocent eyes as you listen to the horrific things they've been through?

Well I have. And it was the most heartbreaking thing I've ever witnessed. There are two children this woman has in her care right now. A little girl who just turned one year old, with light brown silky hair, deep blue eyes, and chubby little cheeks. She is friendly and cuddly and just precious. The other is a 6 month old boy with dark brown smooth skin, curly black hair, and big brown eyes. When I sat down, the little girl came crawling up to me right away. As she sat on my lap and looked into my eyes, her foster mom began telling me about how she was so malnourished when social services found her that her head had swollen up to protect itself in starvation mode. She had been left in the exersaucer for hours upon hours at a time. There was no food in the house. At 9 months old she didn't know how to drink from a bottle. And her birth father was grooming her for abuse. As I stroked her hair back from her eyes, I couldn't help but wonder what kind of monster could do that to such a sweet angel? And I've never had bad feelings about birth parents before, so this came as a shock to me. But hearing about the abuse and seeing the child in real life, was just so much to take in.

The second child, the little boy with big brown eyes that reminded me of Mateo, came into care with 19 broken bones. He had been shaken and now has extensive brain damage. He had 5 blood clots in his brain, broken ribs, old bruises and fractures, he is blind in one eye and maybe deaf as well. Doctors think he was shaken or thrown on more than one occasion and even stepped on. I've never had such powerful feelings about abuse before. I think when you match the story with the faces, it makes it all the more real.

Both of these babies will be going to adoptive homes. Can you guess who will be placed first? I wish I could tell you that I would scoop up that baby boy and be his mommy forever, but it takes someone special, more special than me, to want to raise that boy forever. A boy who's future is so unknown. I pray that that someone exists and that the love offered can heal his wounds and he will exceed all expectations doctors have of him.

I tried to imagine what life was like now for that little baby boy who had been so hurt by the adults around him. Do you think he knows he's safe now? The foster parents report that he cries all the time. Do you think he trusts anyone after being thrown around and hurt so badly? Even at six months, as defenseless as he is, he knows more than any baby should know about the world. That it is a cruel, painful, horrible place to be. I wonder what he would be like if he hadn't been so abused? It kind of makes you wonder about the pro-choice/pro-life dilemma. What if mothers like that weren't given the choice to abort their unwanted babies? How many more cases would we have of abuse like this; babies who were born to unprepared women, abused, and then put into foster care where they could languish for years becoming more and more detached from society until they end up in prison or in institutions? I'm not trying to start a debate about abortion. I'm not even stating my stance. It's just something I think about often in dealing with abused and neglected children. People say they are only thinking of the babies when it comes to abortion, but who's thinking about them after they're born?


Melodie Monberg said...

Thank you for sharing their story in a very respectful way...and getting their story takes courage to venture in the uncomfortable zone doesn't it?


janiece said...

I unfortunately deal with this every single day--and I get them freshly(or recently) abused. And I hate to tell you--the stories you mention are the good ones. Some of what I've seen makes me wonder about "humanity". It makes me love my children even more and I thank God we were at least to care for them--and take Chewie from that kind of situation. I also want to kick CPS in the ass sometimes when they return children to those homes. I'm all about secnd chances---but there are times you know those won't work. And then there is horrid consequences.

JonesEthiopia said...

Sometimes the evil in this world is truly too much to handle. Thank you for sharing this even though it was so hard for me to read it. Those beautiful children are in my prayers. My heart bleeds for them.

Adopting1Soon said...

In "Freakonomics" the author mentions a huge drop in the crime rate about 18 years after Roe v. Wade passed (prior to that the crime rate had been rising at alarming levels and experts were getting scared of what our society was turning in to). His belief, having studied all other socio-economic factors is that the babies who were not wanted, were not "forced" to grow up in these types of families and turn into maladjusted adults.

It's really not fair, this little boy you write about had little to no chance in life. Maybe because he made it to foster care, maybe he will heal a little with your friend's help...