‘Mama! You dare?’

Q. Did you ever cancel or annul an adoption?

answered by Kristen Gorden, Raised several children with severe mental illness

We were advised to with our second youngest.

At 4 we were asked not to bring her to church because of her behaviors.

By the age of 5 she had already been in a pediatric psych ward.

She was so out of control when she was 6 she had 2 full time aides at school, and the janitor was on call as a backup.

She was so violent there was no respite home within 100 miles that would accept her.

She punched through a plexiglass safety window. The doctor said it was impossible. It must have been regular glass. Then he looked at her arms and said we were lucky it was plexiglass.

She had violent reactions to any and all stimulants including caffeine. One small piece of chocolate would result in hours of extreme behavior requiring physical restraint.

By 10 she had spent almost half her life in various hospital settings.

She stacked deck furniture and climbed on the roof of the house, saying she was safe. If she started to fall she’d jump and be okay because you only get hurt by accident.

All through this her psychiatrist was advising permanent placement because of the physical and emotional stress on the family. The school district and social workers were questioning our ability to parent her and the other children. She needed 24 hour institutional supervision.

So why did we hang in there?

So many reasons.

She was afraid. We had her in our room for safety at night until she was 3. Several times a night I’d wake up to her voice. ‘Mama! You dare?’

Yes honey.

‘Daddy dare?’

Yes honey.

‘Oh tay.’ and she’d sleep peacefully for an hour or two, and then I’d hear, mama, you dare?

Even after she was moved to an adjoining room with a sibling, I’d still wake up a couple times a week. Mama. You dare?

Her out of control behaviors bothered her. She would cry and say sorry and look for acceptance when her world settled down.

She was gentle. She was the one you could trust with a little puppy. Babies are special. Be careful with them.

Some of her behaviors were funny.

There was a stretch of several weeks where all she would wear were her older brothers left shoes.

The boys would be trying to get ready for school, and their left shoes would be missing. Screams of NO!!!! MINE!!!! echoed every morning. We ended up buying the boys new shoes and hiding them from her. She happily wore 2 left shoes easily 4 sizes too large.

Another obsessive behavior was only wearing a wedding dress to school. I’d bought one for the girls play clothes. She would put it on every morning. There would be violent fights if you tried to take it off her. We were blessed to have a great teacher that year. Every day she would compliment the beautiful dress, and then say she was so sorry our girl couldn’t play in the gym. Then our little one would happily change into the outfit I placed in her backpack.

Eventually she did have to be placed in a group home. It was becoming impossible to keep her safe. She would come home a couple weekends a month, and by the second day would announce she needed to go back.

They know me there.

She knew she needed the routine to stay stable. We knew she needed the 24 hour awake staff to be safe.

Gradually she started spending more time at home, eventually spending a week in the summer.

When she was 16 she asked if she could come home to stay.

I cried so hard. My baby was home.

She was 12 years old before the right mix of meds was found, allowing her to control her outbursts. She remained stable until she was 17 when she slid into a catatonic state, followed by schizophrenia. It took another 6 weeks in a hospital to get the right meds combo again.

My little girl was diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome when she was 4. The rest just kind of showed up.

Many people, including family members asked why we ‘put up with her’ for all those years.

We loved her, and I couldn’t give up on the special little girl that would show up through the rage.

I often think about how different her life would have been in a different family. I truly doubt many would have had the determination and strength it took to say no. No, we’re keeping her. No, she is coming home with us. Yes, she is our daughter. Yes, we love her.

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