Child of my heart

When I write posts like this I struggle with wondering if I'm sharing too much. But then I remember that this is my blog, about my life and it's not always rosy. I don't want to be one of those bloggers whose life looks so perfect online because they never write about anything crappy that's happening. Fortunately, for me, the happy outweighs the crappy most of the time.

If you don't know the story of Artie, you can read here, here, here (scroll down a little), here, and here. In short, he's a kid who holds a piece of my heart. (I was going to write that's he's special to me, but that doesn't even begin to describe the relationship we've had or how I feel about him.) I've known him since he was born and have loved him and hoped for him since the first time I saw him. My heart's been broken because of him (not by him, necessarily) many, many times, but he's the one who taught me about loving a child. He's a wonderful, creative, funny, charming kid. I guess I should call him a man now, since he turned 20 in March. I can't quite do that, though, since I still think of him as the little 2-year-old boy with the beautiful brown eyes and independent spirit. The little boy who had a whole life ahead of him to do great things: to prove to the world that even though he had an awful childhood, he can rise above it; to be the first in his family to finish high school; to show that even one person rooting for him matters.

I could say that I loved him like he was my own child. But it was different. He wasn't mine and yet I still loved him and gave him all I could. It wasn't enough. It couldn't be enough - he deserved his mom's love and support and everything else a good (even average!) mom gives. He never got that and I can tell you that it eats away at a child when they don't have it. His mom always put her own selfish needs above her children's and wonders to this day why they are such screw-ups.

I've always been there for Artie, his brother and sister and their mom (whom I grew up with). There were many times when I (and Jimmy) rescued them. We filled their refrigerator when the only thing in there were roaches. We took Artie to the hospital when she hurt him. We bought clothes for the kids when they had nothing to wear to school. I volunteered at his schools. I did his homework with him. I called CPS when she abused them. (All before they came to live with us.) We raised for her kids for five years so she could get clean. It never happened. What did happen was that two of them hate us. All three are lost and struggling. What did we accomplish?

I'm not writing this to get pats on the back. I have enough of them. I know that we did a great thing and that not everyone would do what we did. I don't care! We did it thinking that we could make a difference. When I say that to some people they remind me how bad it could be - that he could be a murderer or something equally awful without our influence.  That does not make me feel better. You know those after-school specials/commercials/movies that tell you that just one person can make a difference in a kid's life? They make me angry.

We saw the horrible, disgusting things Artie's mom did to him and his siblings. We tried to make it better. We tried to help. All three kids were in therapy. All three had healthcare, clothes on their backs, food in their bellies and a clean, safe house to come home to everyday. We loved them. Instead of thanks, we were threatened by their family (who, by the way, never stepped up and offered to take care of the kids).

As Artie's therapist once said to me, "You and Jimmy tried to fill the Grand Canyon. You can't."

I never wanted Artie to grow up and be a doctor or a lawyer or anything like that. I didn't even care if he went to college. I just wanted him to grow up. To be happy. To rise above. To be proud of himself. 

I feel like I have to end this on a positive note. What that whole situation did do for me was to make me so incredibly grateful for Malayna. She's loved. She's ours. She has a normal, perfectly happy life.


Anonymous said...

I have to tell you that I am incredibly moved by what you wrote. Sometimes you have to get angry to process your feelings, don't ever apologize for being healthy! Artie and his family are lucky to have had you in their lives- you did everything you could. Nature is sometimes stronger than nurture and no matter how hard you try you can never erase all of the wrong that was done to him before you were involved. You did more than most people, you refused to look the other way. I will pray for Artie and his family but mostly I will pray for you to find peace in this situation. You are a good person through and through! Josie

daisy janie said...

I'm so sorry that all your good was mostly for naught and that you were left with nothing but dashed hopes. All I can say is that it's not you; it's them. But you already know that.

Love Malayna as fiercely and tenderly as you need to...that is love that makes a difference every second of her life!

Merri said...

You are an inspiration, and I believe Artie knows what you did for him and it's tucked away somewhere in his heart. Maybe someday he'll be able to process it. Trust me, there is always hope. It's all we have. I know how it feels to love a child and be helpless to do anything but stand by and watch, and hope doctors and God do the right thing by him. I have hope, you should too.

Merri said...

You are an inspiration and I know Artie knows what you did for him. I believe it is tucked away somewhere deep in his soul. Hopefully, someday he may be able to process it and turn it into something good. There is ALWAYS hope. It's all we have. I know what it feels like to stand by as a parent and be helpless. And to hope that doctors and God do right by your child. I have hope and you should too. Peace.

sqrl said...

Wow! I kind of remember reading about this in an early post? And being so completely moved by what you have done for this boy. I wish it worked out better for you and for him. Like some movie with a happy ending. Your such a great person for doing this. I'm sure it breaks your heart whenever you think about it. I'm sorry about that. But we can still hope that something clicks and turns him around. Right?

H said...

you still deserves a pat on the back for all the great things you've done. Even if you can't fill a canyon I'm sure someday Artie n his siblings will look back and feel greatful for what you did :)
cheer up soon, ok?