I never thought in a million years I would be able to work while my son was young. An obvious need to replenish was held against a desire to not allow him to slip into feeling un-loved or not wanted – again, but here we are just one short year working alongside him to heal his deep-seated trauma and I am back to work. Now, I work from home so that obviously makes things a little easier for both of them and me! Still, they are respectful of my hours and for the most part understand that I can do this and still love and take care of them, which I do. I was worried, I was expecting a return to the behavior we had seen in the past when an event occurred that he was anxious about, but to his credit, he has handled it like a trooper. It just goes to show how important it is to talk about healing, rather than medicating, his behavior.
Last week I sat down to watch ABCs expose regarding children in foster care and medications. “… Foster children are medicated with psychotropic drugs up to 13 times more than other kids. Michael Piraino, the chief executive of the National CASA Association, a foster children’s advocacy group, said that, as a population, foster children tend to be more troubled than their peers. …”
This makes me so crazy and so very sad, of course these kids are troubled, who wouldn’t be? It seems to me that if we are going to take these kids away from trouble at home, we should have a better place for them to live. They certainly should be treated to mental care, because everything we know now tells us that physical care is just not enough. Just for one minute imagine how it would be to be living in a troubled home with abusive or negligent parents and then someone swoops in to save you, to take you away and give you a better life. It seems great on the surface but in “rescuing” this kid, what really happened is that the child was taken away from everything they know, and everyone they love, regardless of how bad that life may have been. If that’s what and who you know, that is your normal. They are confused, angry, stressed about what is happening, and worse, what comes next. To me, as an adult, I get nervous and anxious in new situation, but I have coping skills, I have learnt through experience to handle my overwhelming desire to turn and run by looking at each situation rationally. Our kids don’t have that wealth of experience on their side to pull from. Their childhood is supposed to be safe enough for them to learn how to handle things like this, if we interrupt that development, that learning phase, how are they supposed to learn how to handle it?
To remove a child and be egotistical enough to think that you have saved them is ignorant or at least requires more forethought than I think we realize.
These kids are hurting, they are scared, they are angry and worried. How is that NOT going to give them some kind of behavioral problem. Add to that, foster care is not permanent care, in effect they no longer belong anywhere, they feel different, alienated and alone, how is that better?
These kids are lashing out in pain, anger, anxiety, hurt and depression not because of defiance and probably not because of chemical imbalances – we poke them with a stick and then wonder why they scream. It’s a problem certainly, so, to take away that natural response, to diminish that rage and angst, someone somewhere has decided to medicate them, to drug them so in effect, they don’t react to their situations.
In our case, we honestly thought that when we adopted our son, we were doing a good thing. We truly thought it was beneficial to both of us. Guess what? Regardless of whether it was right or not, in his mind, he didn’t get a say, he never got a chance to decide, it was all decided for him. He was fearful, anxious, stressed out by all the changes, by his lack of voice and choices. He had no idea what was going on, he was confused and scared and his brain remembers that. It has scared him, now he doesn’t feel like he belongs anywhere, he doesn’t feel normal or like he fits in. He feels thrown away and unwanted, he tells us he is a bad kid.
I could certainly medicate that anxiety out of him, I could medicate the depression, I could medicate the anger, life would probably be easier for both of us for a while. What I can’t do is force him, when he turns a certain age, to take his medication. Then what? Then how does he recover? How does he face all those bottled up, drugged down feelings in his teenage years? How does that work?
I don’t need to write about that part of the story because in our hearts we all know how that looks. We have all seen the crimes committed, the suicides, and the behavior associated with many of these kids. We look around and shake our heads and wonder what happened. Well, honestly, when it really comes down to it, we don’t need to look too hard do we?
Give these kids a voice, let them heal, let them talk, give them a chance to excel and achieve – then maybe we can say we did the right thing, but not yet, certainly not yet.