My appologies for my lengthy absence from blogland. I've been off pursing other writing opportunities (see shameless plug for my new book to the right of this post). I recently entered a writing contest (that I didn't win) and I'm posting the story I submitted here in hopes that you'll enjoy it and most importantly that you'll give me some constructive feedback.
God told me to. That phrase has been used by so many people to excuse unthinkable behavior that I hesitate to even say it out loud. There had been no audible voice telling me to bring my 3 ½ year old niece to live with me, but still I knew that I was supposed to. I had no idea what I was getting into, but I was sure I would be successful. I would take her from the unstable environment she was in and bring her to a loving home, give her everything she needed and she would be fine.
Amanda’s worldly possessions after 3 years of life fit into one medium suitcase. Less than a week’s worth of clothes, a handful of Little Golden Books and a doll – a Mrs. Beasley doll that according to the almost illegible tag was made in 1962. The doll’s hair stuck straight up, her talk box didn’t work – the string was permanently pulled out, and it appeared that her left arm had been sown back on at least once.
Amanda looked “normal” on the outside, beautiful in fact, but she didn’t act like other kids, at least not like my friends’ kids. She was a mass of energy by day running around and around, moving from one toy to another, never stopping long to play with them, and a screaming banshee by night. She was terrified of falling asleep and would scream for hours when I tried to put her to bed. No routine of bed time story and snuggling or rocking her in the rocking chair tired her out. She went full speed until she finally went unconscious. Her mother used to put her to bed and then after she was asleep would leave her and not come back for days or weeks, and then the last time not at all.
A typical day for Amanda at preschool went something like this:
8:25 Grabbed a coloring picture away from Alexia
9:10 Ate Ben’s crackers
9:25 Called Ben a #@%$ because he wouldn’t play with her
10:05 Fought with Alexia over the tire swing
10:55 Pushed Jessica off the swing
11:10 Hit Cindy in the head with a Barbie doll
11:25 Pushed herself in between two kids during story time and pinched them.
12:00 Took a chair away from Alexia
12:30 Refused to lie down for nap
12:40 Talking while other children are trying to sleep
2:10 Pulled Emily’s hair
2:30 Kicked Andrew
3:00 Choked Alexia
3:20 Spit on the children on the tire swing
She seemed to have no remorse. This became more alarming as she got older. She wanted what she wanted when she wanted it and she wouldn’t stop trying to get it until she got it, fell asleep from exhaustion or moved on to some other distraction.
I prayed for healing of her emotional wounds and wisdom to raise her well. I read parenting books, went to classes. I set limits, she exceeded them. I gave her consequences, her behavior stayed the same. I gave her rewards for good behavior. I read more books, hired therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists. With each new expert came new diagnoses: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Sensory Dysfunction, Mood Disorder, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. I thought I must be doing something wrong. Where was the healing? Maybe I needed to pray more specifically, or have more people pray with me. Surely God would not ask me to do something that wasn’t doable.
Amanda left home when she turned 18. She lives on the streets or in sleazy motels or low rent apartments. She has been in and out of jail, and she supports herself by selling her body. She walks with a limp due to an injury she sustained when she jumped from the moving car of a “client” who tried to abduct her. Given the way things have turned out I have questioned God over and over again about why he had me bring her home if he wasn’t going to save her. I did my part. When was He going to do His? I still don’t have a satisfactory answer, but I think God valued giving Amanda a chance at a good life regardless of whether or not she took advantage of that chance. Thankfully the chance is still there. I’m praying she takes it.