reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their
personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the
unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to
this series, click here. Today’s guest posts is by Melody.
My son is a beautiful, articulate seven year old child. He is magnetic
and draws people’s attention almost immediately. He has been my child
for 6 of his 7 years and yet that first year of neglect has left a
permanent trauma print on his brain. I can’t fix it. I have a Ph. D.
in Psychology and I can’t fix my baby.
Early neglect makes a
child feel “invisible”. Early abuse makes a child feel “unlikeable”.
People have the erroneous assumption that “if you get them early enough
then it is no different. ” But the thing they don’t understand is that
these baby’s stress systems are over-activated. Corizol (main stress
hormone) is neurotoxic. The effects of this neurotoxicity continue
throughout the child’s life. Whenever they face a stressor, even a mild
one the corizol attacks and kills hippocampal neurons. The hippocampus
is important for memory related tasks, takes part in mood regulation
and other things.
I have loved my child fiercely and
consistently since he came home. I quite my job to be home full time
with him. He is currently in school and we spend 50% of my salary on
his particular needs and we do all of this gladly. The hardest thing
about parenting a child like him is that no matter what I do, he still
The other day a teacher said something to
him to hurt his feelings. When he was telling me about this, he looked
at me (seriously, but without accusation ) and said, “you would have
never let that happen to my little sister!” IT BROKE MY HEART! He
thinks that I am all powerful and yet I chose not to protect him. He
thinks he is on the fringes of our lives instead of the very center of
every decision we make, every neighborhood we choose to live in, every
social activity we become involved with…. etc…. It is all about him
and he may never see that.
Usually, I plod ahead as though I know
this is all going to get better in time. But sometimes I cry.
Sometimes I despair. Sometimes I wonder if he is going to remember when
he is an adult how much I fought for him. Sometimes I wonder if he
will resent all the interventions we have sought for him. Sometimes I
wonder if our daughter will resent all the time and resources we put
into our son. It is so hard.
It is so hard to parent him, but I
know that it is harder to “be him”. Some days, I feel like he is a
broken vessel that we keep pouring into, while it just drips out the
bottom. People don’t understand why he can read on a fourth grade level
but cant remember a thing he has read. They don’t understand why he
cries so much or so easily. They judge us. They give us parenting
advice. They stop having us over.
He is special needs, but not in
any way that elicits compassion from most. I love my child and would
do this all over again for him. He has come such a long way, but he
still has so far to go. Still I keep working like everything depends on work
and praying like everything depends on prayer.
We also have a
daughter (also adopted) without any of these issues. This suddenly
seems important to point out, because the truth is that no matter what I
know intellectually, emotionally I feel responsible. He is my child, I
should be able to seal the crack in his vessel. I SHOULD. I am hard
on myself for not seeking interventions sooner, for not giving him
infant massages, for not carrying him around in a baby bjorn, for
everything I could have done differently. I am not sure how to define
myself as a mother without attaching that to my child’s successes or