My hard truth: Post Adoption Trauma

My cousin was my help, my last hope, my saving grace that would enable my adoptive daughter to remain in the family and out of the system and now she’s gone and I do not know what to do… Prior to sending her here, Shana said: “you did more than enough let me help you, it’s my turn now, let me do this for you cousin…” I never would have thought this day would come to be without her, I can’t envision her not being here with us. Her murder, now another trauma in her life. I seriously do not know what to do. Before moving to NOLA, I allowed her to stay with my sister only to be presented with the need to have her come to New Orleans and just to need to have to send her back to Minnesota.

Unlike, Niyah who came into my life at 6 weeks old, I am all she knows, I am her Mama, my other 2 adoptions were to girls who were older. And I only knew them 2 years via being their foster parent with the constant help of the county social workers. The siblings had several placements and issues in general from being in foster care, away from their Mother, the mental health issue I would learn to know as Attachment Disorder.

From foster care to adoption to be granted a good faith termination of the older sibling, things were more than challenging, but I accepted my role. I was willing to try when it was recommended that I terminate on both, but she told the court she was committed to being in my family and I felt obligated to give her another chance. She expressed that she was sorry for the role she played. Reminding us she was only 12 and that she lied because she believed she would be reunited with her mom.

So much, too much happened by way of the roles others had to play in these girls lives resulting in loyalty always given to the biological parent and family. Often, I look back and can’t believe I didn’t agree with the recommendation, because not too much changed. I did accept her apology, but it’s been so hard to trust her again. I was cut so deep by children, by way of adults…. My family thinks its crazy that I continued on, but I recognized the power players. I thought I could handle it, cope with it, after all these are children. It would take years later, actually now to realize that I haven’t healed from the trauma done to me regardless to if they were children. A part of me was regretful and resentful of the girls and their family.

I had a placement that lied on her adopted brother saying he raped her because her bio Mom told her to do it so she could come home. I was trained in “false allegations and fostering parents,” but I wasn’t ready for what would happen. Looking in from the outside it looked manageable, not as painful as I would find out. The adoptive mom did terminate leaving the child in foster care never wanting to have anything to do with her to this day… That should have been have been a clue, a red flag that the betrayal would be a hard thing to get over.. But once again these are children and I was trying not to put the blame on them understanding how it must feel to not be with your parents has to be painfully hard. But I started hearing cases of child rapist and murders and thought at the age of 8 a child fully understands the consequences of lying so a 12yr and 15yr old defiantly knows. I was 16 years old and pregnant, started having sex at 14 years old and that’s what made me realize these kids knew it was wrong to lie even for a parent…

Just recently, I was confronted by my own biological niece for being unforgiving to a now teen for the manipulation, a spell she was under from the loyalty of blood, the thinking she would be reunited with a loving caring birth mother. I recently forgave her, but more so for me, because it’s been hard carrying around that pain. I accepted that I can’t forget and I continue to hold my guard up when interacting with foster kids, well kids who I had no hand in raising from birth.

I say all this because as I mentioned Shana is gone and I have no clue as to what to do with a teen who can’t go to anyone on either side of her bio-family, for either her reasons or theirs. I sat up here in Minnesota for months, because I needed to be here for her, because there were no other alternatives. I should have realized this after the family and friend adoption search came back with no other relatives who could adopt them. Being here, doing and not doing, because I have to follow the rules of a child has me feeling bullied. At first I fully embraced this feeling horrible for all she experienced. She endured not only the murder of my cousin but witnessed and survived it as well. But I realized it’s the the crime that has her treating me this way, but her behaving as she always has, not my child, a child who knows the system oh too well. When I reminded her, the therapists and lawyers as to why she was here, I’m still somehow wrong for bringing up the past after such a tragedy.. Is it wrong for me to bring up behaviors that are and have been problematic?? Apparently since entering and exiting the foster care system the evidence of Attachment Disorder and the rest of those issues are still in need of addressing, right??

I have been lead by counselors and social workers who do not relate to how it is to be a black parent. I’m sorry to report that there is a substantial cultural difference in the parenting in black households compared to white parenting. I was told to let her have her power, do what she wants and that I am going to need help with dealing with her choices and letting go of my control. I’m to do all this so she can heal. I learned of the difference in addressing parental child issues in New Orleans and I must say they understand. This is not about whipping a child, but understanding the black parent whose done all they can do and need help, not recommendation to be a passive parent.

It’s as if we switched rolls. I felt and still do feel I have a choice but to let her do as she pleases. And if I don’t, I’m not only wrong, but I am put under attack, and I can’t take it anymore.

I’m here to tell you that it’s been hard coping with the murder of my cousin who was helping me care for a teen who was also a victim; assaulted and traumatized by the offender. My adopted daughter was sent here for a reason, a reason that does not allows her back in New Orleans for a period of time. My sister opened her heart and door, let us in her home, but once again the rules are thrown into the wind, by a teenager. It’s hard enough dealing with teen years, but OMG.

The only good thing about it is she’s doing reasonably well coping, but then her actions may suggest not. Honestly, I blame it all on the systems here, especially with children raised in foster care. They are given lawyers and told they have rights, but never entirely explaining to them that does not mean POWER. Out of all the kids I fostered over the years these two siblings took this info and ran with it. I can hear “You can’t tell me what to do, I’m gonna call my lawyer” on repeat. It has not been a great experience with this set of siblings I must admit. Even after the termination I continued to have a relationship with the older sibling. Not that it made for their bond to continue, because I have to damn near pull teeth for them to text each other. My current adoptive daughter blames her older sister for the leadership and planning of our mishap. She believes her actions where controlled by her and that it ruin our bond and future. I read the report, both share equally I reminded her, but I accepted her back, because she realized her actions almost immediately.

It came to me that I do have a life, adult children, son in college, an 8 yr old and 3 grandchildren. I was told to let her tell her own story, reminded that there have been issues before my cousins, murder and given choices. I was reminded of teen shelters, foster care, 16yr old can be emancipated and so on… But where does that leave my care taking spirit and feeling of failure or giving up on a child who has endured this tragedy.. I have been here, because even though she is mean to me, I want to be that one consistent person who did not give up on her and I just can’t leave her healing to just anyone, but it’s not as easy as said. I had few people open up their hearts and home to help me with her, and I have not accepted, because she refuses to.. She refused to go to the school I registered her for, refuses to come to New Orleans once the order is lifted, and the list goes on but she has the POWER. I am only fake Mama Auntie Dee.

A native of New Orleans, who left her beloved New Orleans to spend twenty years of living in the land of Minnesota Not So Nice. Minnesota was full of opportunities but would learn that the soul of the state and the people who made it was just as icy cold as the temperatures. After the years and my 40th birthday flew by, I decided it was time to pack up my youngest child and come back to my roots, my birthplace the city that not only birthed me but gave me life. I would not be who I am without my New Orleans beginnings. I am all things that would challenge the belief of growing up in New Orleans. I was a 16yr old teen mother of a premature baby born with a severe medical disability. And only With the help of my mother, was it possible for me to BE! I was able to endure and survive the obstacles laid before my child and me. In a city that was built by my family, but did not allow for us to reap the benefits I overcame. Charity Hospital was my second home — a building filled with miracle workers who made it possible for my daughter to have life. I have lived a life of rainy days with peeks of sunshine, that are my children, including those not of my womb. I'm the proud mother of three and a grandmother of three. My dream was to live the life of the nursery rhyme of ”The Old Lady Who lived in a shoe,” and for the most part, I did. I cared for several children over the years as a special needs foster parent. I would learn that my love was not enough for some children, but I loved them through their pain. I'm not sure if I ever had a case of true love or came close to what love looks like on television, but I had my share of men and the mirage of love. I survived two abusive marriages. Though I longed to return to New Orleans on a daily bases, I must admit my move was one of the best decisions made for me. I am a college graduate; I was a successful entrepreneur. I coowned a soul food restaurant and catering company in Minnesota for 12 years. I developed the talent of creating custom cakes after the murder of my beloved cousin Melvin Paul. He survived Katrina only to go to Minneapolis six months later to be murdered over a parking spot dispute. But with the challenge of creating a simple wedding cake, I was able to find healing. I created the House of Cakes in honor of him. Minnesota life had me pretty materialistic. I worked to the point I do not remember much, but work and handing my children love money. I thought by having the big house on the hill, a husband, having a family, the ultimate provider and being involved in all things that matter, plus having the funds to match would cure me of what I was told was a generational curse of lack of everything from money, love to even self-love. But for the most part, that life poisoned my heart and soul. I was blinded by visions fed to me by the media. I was told I wasn't anything unless I was better than the Jones's. I lived being ok with a broken, bleeding heart. Life like this did not exist in my family while living in New Orleans from what I viewed with my eyes and soul. We may not have had all the things I acquired over the years, but we were happy, we were together. Family outside of New Orleans wasn't family anymore. We lived separate lives and had awkward moments when we bumped into each other in public. I hated living in Minnesota even though life their helped me in so many ways. I felt deep down the only way to repair it was to get back to my roots, my soul, my home, myself, my New Orleans. I'm here, and I love it. Even being in the so-called Blighted Area of New Orleans and not having all the financial and material security, I'm happy. I am determined that She, yes, New Orleans is a woman is just like me; together, we will overcome and will rise from all that tried to kill our spirit. Nothing like starting from the bottom and making your way back up!. I just know in my heart that New Orleans will provide for me. There's a bank account with funds in it owed to me by way of back pay for my ancestors. And I will receive my inheritance, and I will continue the traditions and customs of the old to keep the heartbeat of New Orleans beating. I'm down in the boot, living the life that feels right to me awaiting my destiny...

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