I want to call you Mom
A few years ago I came home to find a five year old girl and a caseworker sitting on my porch. The caseworker asked if I could keep her. She was sitting there with her curls flying all over and the bluest eyes I have ever seen. Her clothes were too big... her shoes too small. None were weather appropriate. She walked right up to me and asked if I was her mom. I told her that she could call me whatever she wanted. She said "I want to call you Mom!"
Over the next few weeks, the most horrible stories poured out of her little mouth. I grieved for all she had endured. I reported each allegation to Department of Children's Services, who only responded two years later after I contacted a State Representatives office myself. Even then, it was just to tell me that I did not understand the system.
I tried so hard to hold her close... hoping to somehow make the monsters inside go away. In my ignorance, I thought that my loving her would be enough. It was not long before the tantrums began... some lasting up to 12 hours. She would beat her head, peel off her skin, and pull out her own hair. She would talk in different voices, and scream her head off. I would hold her and cry. I called her caseworkers, her therapist... but received no help. No one knew what to tell me.
Over the next three years I got her in with countless professionals... looking for answers. Again and again... Nothing! "Keep up with the treatment plan," was all that I was told. I knew that it wasn't working. Sometimes I sat up all night... praying for God to please help me find the answer... to please let me help my little girl. From Him as well... I heard nothing.
As time passed on she became sicker, and I more tired. She also continued to get sneakier. Family pets were killed, my toilets were continually flooding, my home destroyed, my things stolen. But, giving up was not an option for our family. I knew there had to be something we could do to help her heal.
In August, a therapist finally mentioned Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). She was evaluated and found to be a severe case. "OK... this is it," I remember thinking to myself. "Now we can finally get somewhere." Knowing what was wrong, we called a meeting to ask for help getting the treatment we needed. For the first time I was hopeful.
On September 11 my baby was born. On September 18 we had the meeting. As I sat there, I no longer had any arguments for their concerns about my other children's safety. Twice I had to get up to vomit. I asked if we could just get her treatment. "Not now, there's no money." I was told that the intensive cost around 10-15k. I got up one more time because the room started spinning and I didn't want to get hysterical in front of all of these people. Minute by minute I saw my little girl slipping away. When I came back they were making "pick up" arrangements for that afternoon. What??? I was so lost that I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t believe what was happening.
I picked up my newborn son and went home to pack her a bag. I was told she could get the rest of her things later. I cried the entire afternoon. The caseworker called to tell me not to tell her until she got there, meaning... I would not have time to tell her goodbye. At around five o'clock, they came and told her that she had to go. We were only given a few minutes with her. I told her that I loved her very much, and that I would always love her. She said, "But remember, you are my only mom". As I cried, I told her, "When you lived with your birth mom, you thought that was the only kind of mom in the world. Then, you came to me and saw that not all mommies hurt you. Now you will be going to a new mommy...an even better mommy that can help you get better until you can come home to me." I lied.
A few minutes later, I walked my little girl to the car and hugged her goodbye. I stood there for what seemed like forever, wanting to pick her back up... to carry her inside... and pretend that none of this had happened. I stood there as the car pulled out of the driveway. That was the last time I saw her. It took me three weeks to finally pack all of her things, and to this day I continue to find little things of hers. I was dragged along by the foster care agency for months. While sending me to training for dealing with her disorder, and praising me for learning so much so fast, they were secretly making plans to have her adopted by the respite family. As in many times in my life, my ignorance and naivety cost us both greatly.
It's been years since I've seen her, though I picture her daily in my mind. I've resigned myself to waiting until she's an adult. Then I can find her and tell her how very sorry I am. How very badly I wanted to be her mommy. I write her a letter every year and put it away, so that one day, she will know that she was always in my heart, that I always wanted her. She was never disposable to me. She was in every way my child.