6 months ago, my 12 year old brother was in independent detention when he tried to choke himself with the wire of a spiral notebook. Gladly, someone caught him and they had the school’s deputy escort him to a behavioral institution. At the end of my school day, I was waiting down in the band hall for two of my friends, Valerie and Wolfgang, when I got the text from my mother that read: [Your brother] tried to kill himself at school. Dad and I are going to the Littleton Behavioral Institute. We don’t know when we’ll be home but you need to take care of [your sister].
We didn’t get to see my brother for Christmas. We set his presents aside. We sent him to a prestigious institution in Texas. After about two months, it seemed as though he was doing very good. We didn’t think he was ready to come home, but the insurance company refused to fund his stay any longer. Surely enough, a week after he comes back, he cuts and tries to drink bleach. So my parents take him back to the Littleton Institute. Around 2 weeks later, we send him to an Institute in our state of Colorado.
My brother, like myself, was adopted. But, instead of being adopted 5 days after he was born, was adopted 3 years after. And his mother was a cocaine-addicted prostitute (she still is, make no mistake) with ten other children that were previously taken from her. He was physically and sexually abused by his mother, his mother’s boyfriend, and his mother’s clients. When he was retrieved from his mother and brought to our family for foster care, he had cigarette burns on his arms, a bad case of a skin disease called eczema, and nothing to wear except a ratty t-shirt, a diaper, and crocs. He didn’t talk, he never cried, and he didn’t know how to play. His mother had sometimes given him alcohol to make him sleep, and had beaten him when he would cry. So he didn’t really feel pain at the time, or if he did, he didn’t express it.
Once, when he was 3 or 4, he was sitting at the table with a piece of paper. He started to roll it up, and just as my mom mistook it for a pretend trumpet, he licked the last centimeter and closed the tightly rolled paper. Like really… he could roll a joint when he was a toddler. What the hell!? Another time, he was in preschool and the teachers were showing diagrams of human bodies. You know, showing the kids the arms and fingers and legs and head. He pointed to the men’s part and said, “That. You kiss it.” Another time, my mother was changing my crying little sister on the table. He looked down at her and said, “Stupid *****.”
This is why he was so messed up now. Because the first 2 years of one’s life are the most crucial. His needs weren’t met in those early years, and it screwed him up royally. He has bipolar disorder, ADHD, and reactive attachment disorder. And he should be home permanently by the end of June. He’s started a couple home visits, and is basically euphoric when he’s here. And I had a hard time with dealing with all of this, but I have an amazing support system. An infinitely awesome best friend, a spectacular group of friends beyond her, my fantastic big sister (an upperclassmen friend that I’m very close to), and a great church family (we’re a small church so I know everyone). My point is, this whole idea of “getting help” actually works. I promise. If you listen, understand, and react, everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.