Tuesday, December 8, 2009
by: GINNIE GRAHAM World Staff Writer
Sunday, December 06, 2009
12/6/2009 4:12:15 AM
The scrapbook pages show a smiling 8-year-old boy on his first day of school, opening Christmas gifts and hanging around with new friends.
Melissa Westcott's hand-written messages next to the photos shower affection on her "little man" and "baby."
The pages don't show the turmoil that started brewing months after the adoption of the child from the custody of the state Department of Human Services.
The Tulsa resident and her husband, Tony, love the son they adopted two years ago, but now say he is too much for them to handle.
After the adoption, the boy became violent toward other children and nonresponsive to adults, hurt and killed animals and ran away regularly, requiring law enforcement help, they say.
Within a year, he received diagnoses including reactive detachment disorder, disruptive behavior disorder, major depressive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder and fetal alcohol syndrome. He has frequented in-patient therapeutic facilities.
"We were told he was a normal boy who would have the normal adjustment issues any child in foster care would have," said Melissa Wescott. "We have been his biggest advocates and strongest fighters. But we are scared of him, and that hurts us."
The Wescotts are among a group seeking changes in law to allow adoptive parents to return custody of foster children to the state in specific circumstances.
A legislative Adoption Review Task Force is evaluating issues involving adoptions of children in state custody.
DHS takes the position that adoptive parents are the legal guardians and should be treated as any parent with a biological child.
Some say it is unfair for adoptive parents to be legally punished for not being able to care for a child if severe disabilities not known or disclosed are discovered.
"Do you know how many times we grieved for him? Grieved the loss of him?" said Wescott. "We want the best for him, and that is not in this home."
'Out of options'
The couple understand abused and neglected children will have some emotional issues but requested a child not experiencing severe trauma, said Melissa Wescott.
"We knew what we could handle and what we couldn't," she said. "We had to say no to children who were violent or acting out sexually. We have had experience with children facing physical disabilities and that didn't scare us. But severe mental health, emotional or behavior problems are more crippling for us."
In 2007, the couple found an 8-year-old boy who had been taken from his parents, who had chronic substance abuse problems. By then, he had spent about three years in DHS custody. The World is not disclosing his name to protect his privacy.
DHS disclosure documents call the child "well-behaved" and "polite and well mannered." He is described as "respectful toward authority" and "makes friends easily."
"He has no difficulty with attachments and he knows right from wrong, " the documents state. "He does not demonstrate any significant behavioral problems which would be considered abnormal for a child his age.
"(The child) has not received counseling services and these services have not been indicated as a need for him at this time. (The child) is developmentally appropriate."
While challenges arose the first few months, the couple considered it typical. But problems intensified after signing the DHS disclosure agreement, which states the agency gave all information available to the couple, and final adoption.
It became a daily battle as the child isolated himself and started a pattern of lying, Wescott said.
Several knives and fire-making materials were found under his mattress, and a trash can in his room had been set on fire. He soon was caught killing frogs by throwing them against a barn, and he hurt the family's pet dogs. He attacked a neighbor child with a board, and running away became common, she said.
"No discipline seemed to work," Wescott said. "It's like he had no sympathy or empathy for anything. We tried everything to bond with him, and it's like he's not capable. He has so much rage, anger and hurt."
The foster mother claims she informed DHS of the child's violent behavior, Wescott said. No DHS records reflect any claims made.
DHS officials do not comment on specific cases.
After he ran away in freezing temperatures and three law enforcement agencies were called to search, officers suggested several therapeutic facilities.
"They knew we couldn't do this anymore," she said. "We were out of options. I was scared to death for him and for us."
The Wescotts fear their son's release from in-patient care in mid-January, saying he has made little progress. They would prefer DHS regain custody and place him in a group setting.
The only options are to sue DHS, which they say is too expensive, or risk a felony abandonment charge.
"I believe every child should have a home," Wescott said. "But not every child does well in a mommy-daddy type home. It hurts us to see him like this, but he doesn't want to be with us. We didn't do this to him. This happened before us. We just want him to get the help he needs."
Monday, December 7, 2009
Well finally, the snow has started to fall. I took my dogs out at 6:20 in the morning (All 4 of them) I looked up into the ever brightening sky and I saw snow! The silence of the morning and the flakes of beautiful snow crackling against my winter jacket remdinded me of my first survival trip that began my reawakening.
Anyways, I stared up at the sky and just listen to the silence and the snow falling around me. That scene reaffirmed the fact that while I suffer from RAD and my battles have always been against that nasty demon inside, that horrible, terrible monster, I am still human. Seeing the beauty of nature, of such a simple thing as falling slow allowed me for a moment to be a part of the human community again. I think that, is something that all RAD Kids and RAD Adults need to understand. I say this with some hard learned exeperience.
There are still times even now, sober, getting ready to enter therapy and counseling and I STILL feel like the devil himself. There are still days where it is hard to get out of bed and do anything. As RAD survivors (Or sufferer's) we have to find the things in life that define our humanity. I am not talking about a job, money, a car or a house. I am talking about something infinetly more powerful and defining. I am talking about the things in life that make us feel human and part of the world around us.
For me, that's nature. For those that are still suffering and coming to grips with this disorder it can be anything. It can be a rock, a tree, a fork anything that evokes positive emotion. Perhaps it's model building or music. Something, anything that makes you feel alive.
Sometimes, it can take a VERY long time to find this. It took me 29 years to figure it out. When I am hiking in the snow, or watching the snow fall, the silence, the hardship of the cold and the sheer immensity of the beauty make me part of the human community again because I have something to identify with that others with RAD don't. Sometimes, that's all it takes is realizing that our actions while RAD controlled our lives doesn't define our humanity but tries to wipe it completely from us.
But it can't. And it won't.
I have learned though this battle, that each and every single one of us no matter what our pasts may hide, (Or in some cases reveal) we are still part of nature. The nature of our inner demons and angels will no doubtedly cast a shadow of both doubt and beauty at times. As RAD Survivors, all we need to do is harness both our inner demons and angels and embrace them both as part of our human existence.
Today, it's snowing. I'm beautiful, every RAD survivor or sufferer is beautiful.
The snow is proof of that.
Much love to all,
Friday, November 27, 2009
I never understood it and I was never comforted by them. As a child, I would clam up and become an "Ironing Board". I never understood what hugging another person actually did. As I grew, hugging was a completely mystery to me. As an adult I never really craved any kind of attention or love (past orgasms). So the actual need to hold or be held was something that I didn't need or understand. Human touch of any actually pushed me away and kept me wrapped in my shell. When I saw my friends hugging their parents or their friends I always cocked my head to the side and asked myself "Whats the point?".
The fact that never really needed any kind of human connection I believe is a big part of this puzzle. In retrospect I think that I wanted to be hugged or comforted and even if I didn't I wouldn't know how to recieve it. I never needed that kind of altruistic connection to another human being. Why connect with another human being and how does my connection to that person help them? That was always what my thought was. Why should anyone care about me and what does my physical touch do for them?? My answer always came up as a resounding "nothing".
I know what alot of you might think " He just wasn't hugged as a child ". You would be right, but I think it's more than that. I think those base connections that non RAD adults and children are privelaged to, RAD Adults and children don't. For us, it's about survival against those that might hurt us, or seek to harm us. To hug another person and feel love is so skewed and misunderstood, it becomes a defense mechansim to shy away from that kind of attention.
People in my life try their best to show me affection and I always ask myself "Why does this person need to show their affection towards me?". As a child I was the same way. Hugging and showing affection was a pointless endeavor. How do you comfort someone who cannot be
That to me is the saddest fact of my childhood. I couldn't be comforted then and even sometimes now. When I was hugged or when I am hugged now I feel my entire body just tighten up and go silent. I blankly stare ahead without any particular emotion
To look back on that fact and to realize it now is tragic. To know at that time and even sometimes today I just cannot be comforted is huge for me. To lack affection so much and to the extreme of locking up is a big step in understanding my current battle with RAD. For those that read my blog regularly (I know some of you do!) I am sure that this will come as no surprise. So the question that you may be asking yourselves is:
"How can I comfort my RAD kid or RAD Adult??"
The best answer I can give you at this point in time as an adult that has the benefit of hindsight, you probably cannot comfort them the way that you have been. That blank stare that your RAD Kid may show while hugging you, or when he or she tightens up like a board may be a sign that he or she just cannot give to you what you are trying to share with them. The best you can do for them is to listen when they talk about their experiences.
I envy those that are comforted by the touch of another human being. It's both a wish and curse for me at the same time.
I will write again soon!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Liberatation is a good word to describe what I felt. My life, my story, my depression, drug abuse, sex abuse, suicidal thoughts and attempts, everything just started flowing. Of course, there weren't any tears as those dried up years ago but as the clinician asked me more about my life and RAD the more apparently interested she seemed to become.
we talked for over 3 and half hours of my problems in life and that wasn't even the half of it. As the person delved more into my life, she seems awfully suprised that I had accomplished the things I have in my life considering the amount of damage that was done to me as a child and a young adult. She was amazed when I said:
"I would happily give my life to bring back the animals I killed". A RAD Adult that developed a sense of remorse. Almost unheard of. Well, I am living proof that change is possible. If a peice of sh*t like me is capable of feeling something, anything with a battle of RAD, ANYONE can.
We talked alot about the sexual experiences that I had that I could remember which was a babysitter at the age of 9. The therapist believes that much more sexual abuse happened much earlier because I describe in graphic detail what happened with my babysitter.
**Below is extremely graphic, so I recommend that you read with caution or you skip it completely as it is a detailed account of my first known sexual experience with a caregiver.**
I remember the babysitter lying on her side making out with me. Don't ask me how I knew what I was doing, but I definetly did. I groped her breasts and she continued to kiss me. She told my brother to head off to bed and I knew what was going to happen.
We continued to kiss and and one point I had her top off, but she wouldn't let me take her bra off and I wanted to. I wanted to take her jeans off but alas, she wouldn't let me. I don't know why she wouldn't let me do this but that was fine in my book.
I also remember going upstairs with her and continued the makeout session. more groping of course. She never really "touched" me. I seemed to do all the work and ironically it was like I was a robot. I knew exactly what to do, when to do it and how, I just didn't understand the ramifications and the emotional attachments to sex. All I knew was I was enjoying making out with this topless blonde. Even at 9 years old it was a challenge trying to convince her to take her jeans off. I remember putting my hand on the button of her jeans and she pushed my hand away while still kissing me. It made no sense.
Eventually night ended and I headed off to sleep.
I told my readers that story to excercise a point. I was a sexual robot at the age of 9 years old. The issues surrounding that and many other sexual experiences I had as a young child already programmed into my brain told me I was good for one thing and one thing only. THe other experiences I had with female teachers, babysitters and others was a pervasive and very profound experience in my life.
We talked about why I killed my sisters cat and made her life hell for 18 years. It turns out she was my primary care giver when my adoptive parents were at work. When she left for Greece while I was still a child, I saw that as yet another abandonment and I lashed out by killing her cat.
We talked about the animal killing, how my sister detests my existence. We talked about how much horror I put my poor family through and how many people I have hurt in many ways over the years. The therapist could see the true Mike coming out. The Mike that is still a child, that is still living in an existence of suspended animation.
We also talked about the inhalant abuse. The fact that I huffed paint thinner for 6 months of my life and started talking backwards. I had to learn how to speak all over again. We talked about the RTC that said I was magically cured once funding ran out.
We also talked alot about my life as a child and my adoption. Pretty much everything.
We talked alot about suicide attempts, both passive and real. We talked about how I tried to hang myself, but the belt I used broke.
She said a few things to me that I needed to hear. That I should be pround that I have survived. She told me that I have done some amazing things and have accomplished so much. To me, that's moot.
I have to earn my families respect back. I have to earn the communities trust again. I have to accept no matter how much I love my sister she will never love me. I have to learn that my accomplishments, while meager to me may be inspiring change in others. I have to learn while I have done DEPLORABLE things to others, I can still repay them and MYSELF to the best of my abilities. I have to learn how to forgive myself.
The biggest insight that I had from that first meeting however, was the following:
I have worth.
I will write again, very soon.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
My journey with RAD and my life has taken so many horrible turns. Every day is still a struggle to remain afloat with so many challenges that lie ahead in the not so distant future. I have not been successful in life. It's still a challenge to try and relate to others. I have always been a very closed off, very quiet person. Trying to join the "human community" isn't something I have ever really considered.
I know now why I stopped writing my blogs. I remember trying to travel into the woods and do some backpacking one weekend. I sat in the blissful sunlight surrounded by flora, fauna and an endless expanse of dense woods. My home.
Oddly, I had another emotional experience that really challenged my thinking and my demeanour.
I looked out at this beautiful place and realized there was no one to share it with. I was alone in the woods with my music and it didn't make sense. The woods was just a desolate expanse of nothing. My life and memories are those woods. Beautiful, but terribly lonely. I didn't want to be there anymore. The woods represented everything that I have been battling for so long. Terrible loneliness. I sat on a log, thinking about my journey and how hard I have had to fight to get where I am today.
I packed up my gear and decided to hike out. I talked to my father about my new found experience in the woods and he was equally impressed with the conclusion that I had drawn from my experience that day.
When I began my very, very dangerous survival hiking I think it was a way to find my own autonomy, my own voice and to find my place in life. I had to create my own set of rules and standards. I had to begin all over again and experience life for me. I had to have something that was all mine, that NO ONE could take away from me.
It's still hard to look at all my mistakes (And there are alot of them) and I am beginning to learn how to apply them in positive ways as opposed to negative ways. I may be very poor and carless but I have something that I think is intrinsically more valuable:
Today I am writing about starting over. This is to all the RAD Survivors and Sleepers that have woken up along with me to begin rebuilding their lives with newfound hindsight and experience.
What we have been through will always be with us. It shapes us. It changes our lives in profound ways. We see the world through a skewed perspective that many, many, many people don't and will never understand. We have the privilege of understanding the world and ourselves through personal struggle and strife.
For me, life is beginning all over again. I am learning how to wake up every morning, enjoy the sunset, drink some coffee and just experience life. I don't think that my life will ever be "normal" in the traditional sense. Too much has happened and too much time has gone by. I can, however learn to live life anew everyday.
Every RAD survivor can learn to begin to learn how to live life at it's very basic concepts. I think however, RAD simply has to run it's course in earnest and in it's entirety. Once the wreckage has settled, life begins again.
I am fond of saying that " The life that was handed to me wasn't fair, but tomorrow can be. " And RAD survivor will say the same thing once they are ready to live life again.
A friend of mine who lives in Russia talk daily and that's unusual for me. He's a young guy with a very bright future. He is going to become a doctor. I told him that I envy him and that I wished I was as smart as he is. Of course he shrugged this off and told me I was just as smart. He shared some of his own life experiences from his perspective, which was very comforting.
I am beginning life again and I believe that any RAD survivor ready to make the leap back into the human community has to come to grips with the acceptance of their where they are in life. We have to find the simple beauty of living life with the haunting reminders of what got us to this place and helping others find the better angels of their nature. We can do this not by comparing ourselves to others that couldn't possibly understand our experience, but by our own definition of what beauty is.
Just as the sun rises, leaves die, snow falls and life begins anew we can follow that same life pattern. Just as the seasons change, so can we. We can find beauty in our lives, no matter how terrible they may have been. Just as the woods has taught me that life is simply that and we must weather the hard seasons as best we know how.
As I have blogged and been transparent with my life, I have lost what I thought were good friends over stupid religious beliefs, professional contacts over ridiculous arguments and fellow survivors through embattled passions but I still stand stoic to helping anyone I can through my writing. That's all I have left of my life.
And that, it seems for right now, is just fine with me.
May the the changing seasons find you ALL in good health, hope and happiness.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
I am sorry for the lack of updates. ALOT has been going on here and lots of it has been really, really tough. I will talk more about RAD, my battle with my recovery, possible lung cancer and more during the next week. I thank all of those who posted, asking where I was. Just alot of personal/mental stuff has been going on and it's been very difficult to cope with.
I leave everyone, right now, however with a quote. It's for all the moms, fathers, children, brothers and sisters that are battling R.A.D. with everything they have:
"We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, we must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell and again touched, as surely they will be. By the better angels of our nature...."
Monday, August 31, 2009
When I was younger, my brother and I were both polar opposites. He was placed with our family shortly after I was placed. He was very much an FAS baby and he went through TERRIBLE withdrawal from alcohol. I remember days and nights where he would SCREAM and shriek at the top of his lungs. It was absolutely terrible. We were powerless. We couldn't help him as an infant going through the withdrawl. I cannot even begin to imagine what it was like for him.
My brother and I grew up hating each other. I would beat the ever living crap out of him almost on a daily basis. He was another target of my rage. In fact in one very bloody animal killing, I was ready to run away from home. He stopped me (He was much smaller than me) and said "Where are you going, I love you!??!" My response to him was "If you don't get out of my way, you will die too...". Of course he moved. Who wouldn't. I was known for my violent tempers and he knew how strong I was.
My brother and I enjoyed the relationship that every other brother/brother doesn't. I think in part we secretly cared about each other deep down but we were on our own separate paths of personal destruction. He really heavily got into drugs, I got heavily into booze and pills. He ended up in jail after his drug addiction caught up with him. I ended talking backwards for a year after the paint thinner I was huffing daily caught up with me.
There were times that we did enjoy each other's company but it was a rare occurrence. Both of us were adopted and we just didn't feel that deep connection to each other. We were strangers in our own home, albeit a very broken one. Our relationship mostly revolved around making each other miserable and we did a great job at it. Too many times I stole one of his girlfriends or he would scream, yell and spit at me. Ahh...The memories. :-)
There are very few pictures of us together. In the pictures we do have of each other, we are both frowning, or doing our best to keep each other at bay from one another. In essence, we lived totally separate lives of pain and suffering and we weren't doing each other any favors.
I told myself I hated my brother. I told myself I wanted him dead. I am sure there were plenty of times he said the same things. My brother has always been a very passive person, which I respect. You can't tell him to do anything he doesn't want to do. He has always been a lover, not a fighter of which I was secret ely jealous of. That guy always had a cute girl by his side (Which pissed me off of course, loll) that was always beautiful!
Our relationship didn't sour per se, more kind of faded. Over the years as things got worse for me, he drifted in and out of the family's lives, doing whatever it was he was doing.
Once my recovery began, I tried talking to him, which of course was hard. We all remember those horrible days in living color. It took a good 6 months before he would say more then a word to me, which I totally understand and appreciate. Every time we would talk, it would be one sentence, and then on another call, 2 sentences. Finally, the dam broke when he started reading my RAD (Yes I said it) blog. Once he started reading about the sorrow I felt over everything I had done, he realized that I was reaching out to him through my words as well.
"What your doing takes allot of balls, Mike" he said to me. I was almost giddy. My brother and I were once again talking. This time, however, we were REALLY talking. "Thanks man, I really appreciate that". For the first time in my life in regards to my brother, what he said made a huge difference to me and helped me write even more, regardless of what people had to say about me or the things I wrote. He gave me allot of strength, of which I am still indebted to him for.
Finally, I met his boyfriend and him at his place. My parents showed up, my girlfriend and I were there along with my brother and his boyfriend. I learned something about my brother that I never actually took the time to understand. He is without a doubt an inspiring cook. That guy can cook like I have never seen before. He shocked me with his knowledge. He sliced, he diced, he minced and he baked. It was totally amazing. I saw my brother and his talents for what they were, without motivation and without reflection. My brother, was a cook! (That's not his profession, but it should be). I was PROUD to see him do something that he loved. He was truly in his element and I was honored to see that side of him come out.
My family, my brother, his boyfriend and my girlfriend all sat down, eating, laughing and having some drinks. The tension that usually is in the room as we all sat down wasn't. The years of hatred wasn't there. The air wasn't thick anymore. This is the way it was always supposed to be. It was a great time that I wish didn't have to end.
My girlfriend, my brother, me and his boyfriend all went to a BAR! I usually stay away from bars because every time I would go to one, I would end up in fight. It took allot of coaxing but I finally gave in. I wanted to hang with my brother for the first real time in my life. It was great!! :-)
We had some beers and played some pool, laughing at each other (With the occasional punch in the arm with a hardy FU added in for brotherly love). I cheered him on as he missed an easy corner pocket shot and his boyfriend rolled his eyes at my clean side pocket shot. We laughed together and it was quite the spectacle. We did shuffleboard (Which he kicked my ass at) and laughed at each other.
After the night was over I said to him via text: "I was a really shitty brother and I want to prove to you that I want to make things right. I am going to prove to you that I want you in my life". He didn't respond but that's like my brother. He will get back to me when he's ready and I accept that. I am willing to wait on him.
Finally we are brothers. I am looking forward to learning more about my brother and there are still many things about him I don't know yet. I am willing to learn, however. I am so glad we had the chance for that evening it's one I won't ever forget. I look forward to the rest of our lives as brothers, having put the past where it belongs.
I still say he hit's like a girl! :-) :-) :-)