He threw a rage at the hospital tonight. A big one. He kicked and screamed and threw a chair at the receptionist. His super-human fury-driven strength required five men to contain, an empty "time-out" room, a bed with restraints, a "burrito wrap", and some emergency medications. And somehow, he still managed to spit on people, hit, and slap the doctor across the face.
Of course, we've seen this sort of thing before. Many times. At home. We aren't surprised by his actions, just surprised that he finally lost control enough to show this very real side of himself to other people...the same people he's been trying to convince that he's perfectly compliant and well-mannered. He wants them to believe that this is our problem and not his.
We stand by the truth. We are not, have never been, and never will be perfect parents, but the responsibility for the behavior our son chooses does not belong to us. It belongs to him and him alone. The responsibility for the trauma that caused his brain to work the way it does also does not belong to us. It belongs to another set of parents that failed him many years ago.
And yet, I concede to my son's way of thinking on at least one point. Although not in the area of responsibility, this problem does belong to us as well as to him.
Because we love him.
Tonight, as I was putting our other kids to bed, Miss M, who is our troubled son's biological sister and who is currently winning a long battle with an attachment disorder, got really serious.
"Mom, why did you adopt us if it was going to be so hard?"
"Girlie, we've talked about this before. Everything that's worth doing- everything really important - is hard."
"Do you wish you could change it?"
"Sweetie, I would never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever go back and not adopt you, because then you wouldn't be my daughter."
I walked over to her bunk bed, reached up, cupped her head in my hands, and planted a few kisses right in the middle of her forehead. Those big brown eyes as dark as chocolate were sparkling with genuine joy as my voice filled with tears and I said to her,
"You are mine. Forever and ever, you are mine. No matter how hard things get, you are my girl. Forever."
"I love you, Mom."
"Love you, too. Now go to sleep!"
There was a time, less than two years ago, when I no longer had any idea what I was fighting for. When I felt like giving up. There was a time when that same little girl that hungers so much for her Mama's love and approval couldn't get through the day without throwing a tantrum about something, without hitting or biting or screaming, couldn't let her guard down long enough to show us the real Miss M that she kept hidden inside.
There was a time when all things felt hopeless, when every thought of our daughter brought on panic and despair, when constant talk of her dominated our marriage, and when we couldn't see God working through all the pain and anger and frustration.
There was a time when I couldn't see the scared, broken little girl underneath all that spewing hatred; the little girl that I now love with all my heart.
I am convinced that there is a terrified, broken little child inside every traumatized, angry, unattached child.
Inside my son.
It's that thought that allows me to feel sorrow for him tonight, in an out-of-control rage against people that he doesn't know and have done nothing to him. How scared and panicked and all alone that little child inside must feel! And as silly as it sounds, he's never been without my husband and me when he's been in one of his rages. Does he care? Does he feel abandoned? Does he even notice?
I know God is working in this situation. I don't know how yet, but I do know that when all seemed lost with Miss M, He showed up in amazing ways...in His own time. He's healing my daughter. He's changing who I am. He's strengthening my marriage and my faith and my family, and best of all, He's reminded me what - who - I am fighting for.
That scared, broken little boy or girl inside every traumatized child is His precious child. Not ours, but His...created beautifully and wonderfully in His image and for His glory.
And they are people worth fighting for.