Thursday, February 1, 2007

The Sins of the Mother

About 14 months ago, Ashley got another brother. Corey, now 14 years old, joined our family on Christmas Eve, 2005. His grandparents brought him and his few belongings from Florida to our home in Virginia, and then within the hour, left him to my parenting.

Corey’s birthmother made her home on the streets of Baltimore, and drugs, alcohol, and ‘johns’ were her constant companions. Corey witnessed things no child should see, and he never knew the security that comes from a loving home and family. His education was spotty at best, and his chances to form friendships with his peers were non-existent. When he was 8 years old, his grandparents came from Florida to rescue him from that lifestyle.

Corey’s birthmother is the adopted daughter of the grandparents. The grandparents were also the parents of two biological children – a grown daughter who lives just 5 miles from our house, and a son who was killed in an automobile accident many years ago. While the grandparents’ connection to their daughter in Virginia (and her children) has remained strong, the connection to the adopted daughter in Maryland is one enveloped in disdain and contempt. And so it seems, the connection to Corey.

When I was first approached by the biological daughter living in Virginia about the possibility of Corey joining my family, the praise for my child-rearing efforts with ‘difficult’ children flowed freely. That daughter shared that her family situation was such that she could not bring Corey into it. She never shared the specifics of that situation, but since she was a well-respected professional in the healthcare field, I assumed her decision had been well thought out, and perhaps even agonized over. Surely, I thought, it was not an easy thing to send your flesh and blood outside the family to live with someone else. But then I figured it out – Corey is not their flesh and blood – and sending him away was not a difficult decision.

Corey is a troubled child. Who wouldn’t be given how he spent his first 8 years of life. One could assume that once he was ‘rescued’ by his grandparents, he might begin to feel a little more security, and his troubles could be eased with the proper interventions. That does not appear to be the case. He just traded one bad situation for another.

Every child deserves to feel wanted and loved. They need celebrations and discipline. They need memories and a feeling of connectedness. I believe Corey missed all those things, but I truly hope they are now becoming a foundation for his life.

I had hoped that when Corey joined my family, he would be able to maintain regular contact with his birth mother’s family. But that is not happening. That family has moved on to a happier, less stressful place where prostitutes, drug addicts and the children they bear never travel. Corey adores his little cousins and they adore him. He could have been very jealous of the trappings of wealth enjoyed by his grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins, but he wasn’t. He just wanted to be loved. The anger he contains inside but which occasionally surfaces is not born from jealousy or greed but from the unfulfilled need each human being experiences.

My goal is to show Corey that family is important. That family members respect and care for each other, and that there is security to be found in that bond. I want him to grow into a man that loves his wife and children and who would do exactly for them as I will do for him – love him without conditions or boundries.

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