I consider myself one of the lucky ones…
Child Protective Services took me from Sarah, my sixteen year old biological mother, when I was four months old due to her raging drug and alcohol addictions. Sarah had no family around to help her and my worthless sperm donor had high- tailed it to Florida after he found out that she was pregnant. She had tried to take care of me on her own, but with her unpredictable behavior she was not capable of supporting and raising a healthy, happy child.
CPS placed me with my first foster mother immediately; but she only lasted a month. She told them that infants who weren’t on a perfect schedule were too much for her to handle. After that, I was placed in a home with three other infants, but after a few months that family also decided they had taken on too much. Because I was the youngest and most recent addition, it was back to CPS for me.
When I was nine months old, I went to live with a new foster family that had experienced difficulty having children of their own. They had one son who was six years older than me and also adopted. He had always wanted a little sister and he was thrilled to have me there. But the family’s joy was cut short when the state took me back because my biological mother had “made improvements” to her lifestyle. I was given back to Sarah, but after her next string of heroin overdoses and a mandatory rehab stint, I became a permanent warden of the state.
The day before my first birthday, the same foster family that had loved me as their own received a phone call from CPS saying that I was now in need of an immediate, and permanent, placement. They didn’t think twice before saying yes and signing the adoption papers.
Growing up I really had nothing to complain about. I didn’t question my roots-I knew I was adopted but I never felt like I was treated any differently. It wasn’t until high school that I began to wonder what my life would have been like if I had remained living with Sarah all those years ago…
I was five years old and had three brothers that I knew about; Todd was eight, Spencer was only a year older than me, and Robbie had come along right after me. We were all half- siblings, but none of us had father figures in our lives. We had one uncle that spent most of his time in halfway houses and would only come around when he needed more drugs.
Once I began kindergarten, going to school became a haven for me. Safety. I began to dread getting off the bus at the end of the day, not knowing if Sarah would be at the bus stop to walk me home or not. Even if she did randomly show up, she was usually too drunk or drugged up to hold my hand and keep me out of the road. After a while I became grateful when she didn’t come at all.
Elementary school drifted by slowly. Instead of birthday parties, sleepovers, and movie nights, I found myself in the confines of my room playing with my brothers’ rusty old miniature cars or raggedy dolls that I found abandoned outside. Kind of like me. New girly toys were out of the question, all of Sarah’s money went to feeding her habits.
I didn’t have friends- I was too embarrassed of my home situation to invite anyone over. I was alone most of the time. Even my brothers, who used to be my comfort, were now usually out into the late hours of the night, fed up with the instability of our broken home.
By the time I reached middle school I was pretty much on my own; Sarah didn’t care what I did with myself as long as I was out of sight and out of mind. I despised her; my anger turned into a full- forced rebellion. School, which had once been a safe haven for me, was no longer important. Homework became a joke and I didn’t care about my grades. Soon after, I began coming in late and skipping out the back doors early. When that too got old, I began to skip whole days completely.
Somehow I still managed to squeak by and started my freshman year of high school in the fall of 2001. In my mind, high school was by far the biggest joke ever. I didn’t understand why I should have to spend all of my precious time confined in a concrete building, learning things that I would never use again. After my first few months, I started hanging out with kids who were just like me; none of us wanted to be there and all of us had better things to do than waste time sitting in class.
For the first time, I felt like I fit in.
Most of the group dropped out within the first few months, and I soon followed. My happy place became a hazy mixture of cigarettes and cheap beer. I started sleeping with Bobby in exchange for free weed. He introduced me to cocaine for my eighteenth birthday present. By the time I turned twenty, my body was with track marks and an assortment of colorful bruises. Bobby didn’t like not getting his way and he made sure I paid for it. But the drugs kept me numb to my own existence as I slowly slip away.
I am jerked back to a sobering reality as I watch my twenty year old self fade into a sea of darkness. I know that if I had gone down that road of addiction I would have ended up pregnant, in jail, or dead. Probably by the time I was 25.
I’m 27 now. I wouldn’t even be alive today.
I am one of the lucky ones.