Friday, April 15, 2011

Stuck Kid (III)

He's placed, at last, the Stuck Kid. The same children's psychiatric hospital that rejected him daily for two weeks gave in at last last night. Who knows why. Political pressure from somewhere probably, but you'd like to think it has something to do with responding to the needs of a kid and family stuck in limbo without help - it's easier to continue that way. He's gone, and many of us who's job it is to assess, scramble and come up with something are relieved. It's a good way to end the week.

But for him, the game is just beginning, and it's not a game. No game at all.

He worried when he knew his mother was there, in the hospital, but not with him in his room. He worried.

Academically, she says he functions at a second grade level. Hormonally he is a teenage boy carrying within him all the demons of the age and none of the skills necessary to keep them a secret. He's in a psychiatric hospital now. Everyone is relieved. The parents are thankful, very thankful.

What transformation are they hoping for?
What do they imagine will be different on the other end?

This boy watches cartoons and Harry Potter movies again and again. He doesn't even look up until it's over. Does he sense what's coming?

When they adopted him, he was just four years old - a little boy, round faced, dimples. He wasn't yet out of diapers, only spoke a few words, and could be described as a little slow to warm up to you. She was a newborn baby girl, her tiny hand wrapped around their respective pinkies, clinging tightly - a silent and lethal charm - really, sealing the bargain right then and there.

They talked about it. They prayed on it. They knew it was the right thing to do - to rescue these orphans, to erase the wrongs of the past with kindness and love and a stable home life. The social workers told them there would be damage. What the boy had been through was bound to leave scars. They knew, they knew, and yet they went forward.

Babies don't stay babies, and grown ups change their minds. This is a sad fact. This is the realization his parents came to a while a go. He hasn't yet arrived at this realization. He's a little slow.

There is an impending moment that I can't get out of my head - a meeting at the hospital. The treatment team, the state social worker, and the parents are sitting at the conference room table. The kid, torn away from Hogwarts after multiple prompts, is brought in by staff and, after some small talk, someone says it gently and indirectly cloaked in jargon. It goes right over his head. He pauses, confused, then gets straight to the point.

"Am I coming home today, Mom?"

What will they tell him? How will they tell him? But, it's my great dread that inevitably they will tell him. I can see it in my head, a slow motion car wreck, the moment that puts the hole in the boy forever.

For all the right reasons, of course.

The medical student who took care of you while you were waiting called me every day these last two weeks, to find out if there'd been any progress on finding placement for you. Each day he had a new anecdote. You charmed him with your open smile, your sudden bursts of excitement, your knowledge of all things Harry Potter and Lord Of The Rings. Sitting in that meeting would put a different slant on his education.

The lessons you will learn today, Stuck Kid, are a review of those you learned in infancy:

1.   The world is not a safe place.
2.   Adults, those who say they love you, can and will hurt you.
3.   You are all alone.

And once you have internalized those lessons, we will diagnose you with Reactive Attachment Disorder. We will then reinforce that diagnosis by placing you in multiple foster homes, group homes and residential treatment programs where you will most likely fail to make a real connection with any of these loving and well-intentioned adults.

Over the next few years,
many of us in this field
will ask you out of
honest exasperation
why you won't

1 comment:

  1. It is good idea that as a psychologist you describe and share these cases with your blog’s readers.
    Let’s just hope that he will recover soon and return back to a normal life to start a real experience of life.


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