- Family and Parenting
A Human Canvas-in the darkness of childhood abuse and neglect-Volume 5-"Sins of the Father"
A Social Worker's Journal
Firstly, I would like to state, and give my thanks to, those foster and adoptive parents who have saved many a children from great loss, and provided them with the love, family, and quality of home life that they deserve. In my line of work, I have a great respect for foster and adoptive parents, and feel that they walk among us as angels in disguise, in mostly all situations. I do feel that there are those few stories though, that we all need to be aware of, especially when signs are apparent, and action needs to be taken to protect the children who have fallen prey to this particular situation. Please view this with an open mind, and know that even though these cases are but a few, they represent the lives of real children, and we need to be aware that these types of families do exist. We owe this to "our" children.
So, if for a moment, you could take yourself to a memory that you might consider as the worst day of your life, and then multiply that day as your everyday life, then perhaps you can imagine what Rachel has experienced in her short but miserable life span, to date.
Rachel came into care as a toddler. Her birth parents had left her unattended for a couple of days, while they went out partying. A neighbor phoned the authorities when Rachel was heard crying for an extraordinary amount of time. The police arrived, and forced their entry, in time to rescue a two year old who appeared safe in her crib, but was hungry and soaking wet of urine.
Rachel was placed in care, as you would imagine, and when she turned three, she was adopted by a family who had been caring for her as foster parents. One would think that she would be able now, to look forward to a normal, healthy and safe life with parents that loved and cared for her, right? Well, if we thought this-then we couldn't have been more wrong. Rachel's life would take a turn for the worst-the unimaginable worst.
But, we would only find out about this ten years later, when Rachel gave birth to her adoptive father's son, and she came back into care. Rachel, at the time of her baby's birth, was fourteen years old. She was finally able to disclose that after years of sexual abuse by her adopted father, she became pregnant at the age of thirteen, with his child. The only good thing that came from all of this, was that her abuser was found guilty and imprisoned for over twenty-five years on several crimes against his adopted daughter. But, somehow, Rachel had to pay, as well. After having had her son, James, for only two days, Rachel gave him up for adoption knowing she wanted him to have a life she was unable to give him.
Imagine what she had come to decide based on her own "adopted" fate, and the great cost to her, and now, to her son. I can't fathom what this child so unselfishly was able to do for her own child. It's incomprehensible to me-how strong she was, and still is.
After this tragic episode in her young life, Rachel was placed back into foster care, and continues with her life as it has left her, aching for her son. Tormented by her sexual abuse. Desperate to find her own identity and to continue to search for and attain, the good life she so deserves.
Rachel is a scarred child. A little girl robbed of her own childhood, her innocence, her families-both birth and adoptive-and lastly, but mostly, the greatest loss of all-her son.
This vulnerable, precious, sixteen year old girl lost everything before she even got her chance to begin. Rachel struggles with insecurity, depression, suicidal ideation, (RAD) Reactive Attachment Disorder, and she trusts no one.
When she came to our agency we were going to try a respite home (short term), to see if it could be a match. She needed a new placement because she had disrupted in the last three placements she tried to call home. Since Rachel's only ever learned how to relate to men sexually, she acted on what she knew. Unfortunately for her, this type of behavior is unacceptable, and so, Rachel had to move. She continues to pay for the "sins of the father", since the foster placements she has been in just can't risk their own families in the process of dealing with her behaviors. We can understand this. Still, this is horribly frustrating for Rachel since it's all she knows. And so-another placement "match" has been found, for now, along with new hope that more treatment and counseling can help Rachel piece her heart, mind, and life back together.
Maybe one day as Rachel gets older, she may find peace within herself. Peace that will have to coexist with her pain and emptiness of abuse, neglect, and loss. Will she be able to fill the voids buried so deeply within her? With unconditional acceptance from others, and self-healing, there is always hope.
Rachel's bravery and strength will be her guides. Her dependency on them will be critical for her success.
Rachel-forgive us for failing you-and your son.
One family lost, another trashed.
A tired teen, a life that's crashed.
Was given up at the age of two,
but a second chance became her glue.
Over the years, joy turned to tears,
when father two, embedded fears.
All through the years, she was his mark,
until one day, bite turned to bark.
His evilness was on the news.
This daughter that had been his muse.
He'd taken her night after day.
His seed inside, her price to pay.
So on that day she had her son,
she gave him up, became undone.
She loved so much and deeply true.
She wanted him to start anew.
Unlike her, whose life had seemed,
a nightmare-negative-of dream.
Her heart had shattered and took her mind,
into a place no one could find.
Perhaps this second time around,
within herself, some peace was found.
Kim Diaz 2012