What good can we make of this?
My past trauma has inspired me to provide foster care for other 'at risk' children. But we need a van large enough to fit our family of 9.
I have always been able to find the good. In every situation that I have faced, justifying and appreciating the heartbreak came naturally.
Except for this one thing.
It happened when I was 4 years old.
It has taken my entire life but I can now say that I know something good can be created from something horrible.
When I was a child, my mother was addicted to drugs. She loved pills, speed, cocaine, heroin and eventually crack.
My mother used to drop my sister and I with anyone willing to take us while she lived out her dream of staying high. I didn't mind that. There were many people who cared for us, I trusted and loved them all. In fact, my mom staying high meant that I would receive more care than had she stayed sober.
It isn't my mother's drug addiction that haunts me. I am grateful that I experienced her addiction because I know that is why I am the best Mama to my own kids. The terror that plagued my entire life happened on one occasion when my mom couldn't drop us with anyone.
My mother met a group of guys at the gas station down the street from our house. They flirted and joked for a few minutes. The guys invited my mom to go party with them. She thought it sounded lovely and said she would follow them to their house. They didn't believe her. They teased her saying that she would just drive off, leaving them. Mom had a brilliant idea. She offered to let them take me as collateral. She reasoned that if they took me, she would have to go to their house. Mom said she was going to stop and get some food for us and she would meet them at their house (they drew directions on a dirty envelope).
I was afraid to go with the guys even though they were nice and welcoming. My mom promised I would be okay and she would see me in a few minutes.
That was the last time in my life that I was ever ok.
I want to forget the details. But the memory is still so clear. The only thing I can't remember with certainty is if there were 3 or 4 men. Sometimes, little things take me back- dirt roads, Burger King toys, old dirty cars, the smell of blood.
I want to spare every reader the details. Even I, though rarely lost for words, can't bear to put phrases like “gang rape” and “four years old” together in one sentence. Thinking about it brings back the physical pain. I remember choking on a shirt that was stuffed into my mouth as I screamed. There is a pain in your throat that happens when you're trying to scream and gag simultaneously. I remember feeling like I would die and then losing consciousness, hence the reason I don't know if it was 3 or 4 men.
When I woke up, I was sitting upright in the back seat. The friendliest of the men was sitting beside me. He gave me a little toy car from a Burger King kid's meal. He said it belonged to his son. We arrived to their house shortly after I was conscious. When I tried to get out of the car, I fell. The pain from my abdomen and legs was so intense. I was carried inside, he told my mom I had fallen asleep and was too tired to walk. He laid me delicately on a dirty couch and whispered, “Don't talk” in my ear. To this day, cigarette breath makes me terrified.
I didn't talk. I was petrified to say what happened. Later, I tried to forget. I never told anyone because I was barely coping. How could my Sisters, my dad, or anyone else look at me without sadness ever again?
Being violated so young, forced me to know things that I wasn't ready to know. It also caused me to mistrust absolutely every single person I ever met. I compensated the grief and fear with optimism. I am a good friend. I am a supportive, gentle person. I never considered myself free because I could never answer my own question of, “What good could possibly come of this?”
There have been many family members, friends, boyfriends, acquaintances, and strangers who I have felt on the brink of telling my story. Each time I started, I remembered my own shattered feeling and couldn't bear to see that in another person's eyes.
But I have peace that it is time to tell my story. I have peace that good will come from it...
Our family was complete in 2012 with the birth of our 4th boy child. However, in 2016, we gained custody of a baby girl who spent her earliest days of development in utero being exposed to meth. Knowing she also had an addicted mother made me realize that her future could be my past. We fought for her, got her healthy, and finally adopted her. With the adoption finalized, we felt again that our family was complete.
Now we have been entrusted with the care of 2 more children (that's 7 kids if you've been counting).
They have been through so much already. They were riddled with lice, and they were terrified of what was happening. We are adjusting to one another now. For as long as they are in our care (whether it's a month or forever), we need to make sure they have the best access to physical AND emotional therapy, specialized education, as well as their basic needs of food and clothes.
We have so much room in our hearts and lives to help and care for these children. We would never want to turn away a child just because of our material shortcomings.
Therefore, we need help.
Overnight, our 4 bedroom house was too small. Our kitchen table was too small. Our 8 passenger van was also suddenly too small.
I am asking for help. I believe that I have the heart to help forgotten, burdened, traded, neglected, and abused children. I believe that I can protect a child from living my horrible childhood.
Any funds that you can spare will put towards a vehicle that will hold all of us, a kitchen table so that we can eat peacefully together, and groceries- these little ones are HUNGRY! Did you know that 7 children can eat 12 pounds of bananas in 5 days? If there are enough people who will help, these children's futures will be secured with an education.
I never intended to share my story. But I feel that shining the light on the ugliest part of my life will help me to bring the light to the forgotten children with addicted parents who have no chances breaking the cycle into which they were born.
If you prefer to mail a check, our address is:
PO BOX 1995
Flowery Branch GA 30542
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