By: Mindy Parrish
We each have a journey, a journey of life on this earth. For some it is short, others must stay to face trials, heartache, suffering and somewhere along the lines, joy. But we all must endure the process. This is a story of a child that was brought into this world without the love of two parents, a child that had to endure years of suffering before her third birthday, then three more years of upheaval and abuse at the hands of those who were entrusted to take care of her. It’s her journey that made me realize that I was not the only one who had a journey, as mine was a story of heartache and trails from the unknown, but hers is a true journey of what we as a people, allow to continue to happen around us every day. We know the atrocities that occur in our little world, yet we turn our heads. We watch in horror at the daily news and read about the murders, rapes and abuse that take place among us, yet we push it into the depths of our minds and walk out into the nice, normal little lives we’ve made for ourselves. We never really look back as it’s too big for us to stop, it doesn’t affect our lives, and it’s not our children or family that is being hurt. So we scurry around into our daily routines, maybe say a little prayer to a god we really don’t know yet and are thankful we don’t have to deal with the problems.
I first met Megan when she was five years old. She was a little skinny thing with boney arms and legs and a mane of dirty blond hair that strung down her shoulders. When she looked at me it was with contempt and distrust, but a small little smile was at the corners of her mouth. You see, I had wanted to adopt a child, a child that no one else wanted, and a child that only I could help. I already had given birth to two wonderful boys whom I loved dearly, I was at the top of my game in real estate and well known in the community. I wanted to give something back to someone in need, I had always felt it was the ‘right’ thing to do as God had given me so much in my life. I had my own trails I endured at an early age after loosing my mother to breast cancer when I was just fourteen, then I was moved from the only home I’d ever known in a small town of Kentucky to the shallow and ruthless world of South Florida. There I turned to drugs for solace and found myself at the hands of many abusive men along with loosing my self-worth and continually trying to kill myself. Eventually with time and an all knowing God watching over me, I slowly started my ascent toward the normalcy of a life that I had grown up with. I found my own self-worth again and built a life and family that would love me, unconditionally. Because of the family I had and the love that was in our house, I wanted to show my boys the meaning of helping someone else. Truly reaching out and doing something right, making a real difference in someone else’s life and showing the true love we had inside us. True love.
True love isn’t what we learn about in stories and movies, it’s not the ooey gooey feelings we feel when we first meet someone we’re attracted to. It’s not the romance novels we read and all the happy endings we wish our lives had. True love is a choice, it’s a commitment and most of all, a sacrifice. We sacrifice ourselves, our little wants and needs for someone else’s benefit. Women do it continually! We sacrifice our wants and needs for our husbands on a daily basis, many times each day without them even recognizing or appreciating it. They go about their daily routines and never even stop and see it happening, then we usually get angry with them and they call us names. And the cycle of marriage continues… anyway, back to love. We are taught to think love is about feelings, but those feelings we feel in the beginning of a relationship will fade away and then we are left with only the person, then what? Or we fall in love with someone’s looks or body, and when age or an accident occurs and we’re left without the physical features, then what? Or we fall in love with the way they treated us in the beginning, but after a few years into the marriage, they just see through us, then what? We think of love as a fairytale, that it will last forever but in reality, we only know how to love, “if”. If only they act a certain way, or if only they look a certain way, or if they treat us a certain way or if they make a certain amount of money will we continue to love them. We pay billions to a movie industry to show us this love, we purchase millions of books each year to read about this love and we continue to believe this is what love is all about. We want this love as it’s an easy love, a love we can control in an uncontrollable world.
But there is another love, it’s the unconditional love, the sacrificial love we all long to have but seldom find in others. We search and search but few truly find it. Love is a sacrifice, period. When the feelings, beauty and money fade away, you are left with the person, just the person inside to fill your needs and so few people can comply. The needs we all have inside us to be loved, to be needed, to be held and to show ourselves as we truly are and still be loved without being judged or ridiculed. This is the way God made each of us, with the need of unconditional love but also with the free will to choose to love others in the same way. Free will is a choice we each make on our own, completely on our own. This is the same choice Jesus made for us.
Megan was never allowed that choice, she came into this world already abused by a mother that drank and did drugs while pregnant. Megan was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, a mind that will never reach past the maturity of seven years. Then she was left as an infant to cry alone in a box on the floor, rarely being nourished by food or the tenderness of a loving mother. She went through cycles of hunger without being met, then the hunger would pass and she would get mad from the neglect, then sheer terror would enter her little world as her instincts told her she would die without food. She never looked into the eyes of a loving person that would teach her empathy, never had her hunger satisfied to learn trust and never felt the warmth of another person to teach her compassion. She was left time after time to survive on her own, with the cycle being repeated over and over again. A reverse cycle of what most of us learn before we ever learn to crawl, unconditional love. As parents we know what it is to love, the sacrifice we give for our infant child as it cries in the middle of the night and we wake from our sleep to satisfy its hunger. It’s the sacrifice of ourselves to care and love our children even when we don’t feel like it or when we’re so tired and mad that they won’t stop crying, yet we still chose to give our love. We make the choice to continue supplying the baby’s needs rather than to hurt or kill them. Or to close them in a closet and let them cry, alone in the dark as Megan was. This cycle is what caused her to also be diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD).
Megan never learned to trust, to love or to even feel empathy. She became a mean, selfish child that screamed when she didn’t get her way, threw terrible fits when she was told “no” and would try her best to hurt whomever didn’t let her have what she wanted. As she grew to the age of two and three, she was tortured by her mother and the men that would visit the home, always being left alone to survive on her own. Hunger and anger were her only companions in life as she spent day and night alone in the dark closet with only a plastic cup of Coke and small pieces of stale bread to satisfy her hunger. Her only human contact was when her mother came to get her out of the closet so Megan could satisfy the men that came into the house, or when her mother grew angry at hearing her cries and screams, then she would be hit and kicked all over her small body. All this by the age of three years.
Free will, isn’t this what God gave us? Isn’t this what it’s all about in getting to Heaven? And yes, as much as we try to dismiss the fact, we do live in a fallen world. A fallen world where everyone, good and evil, is allowed free will. This is how these atrocities are allowed to happen, it’s not God that allows the horrors of our world to happen, we allow it. We allowed Hitler to continue killing even when it was under our noses. We allow judges to let high profile criminals continue their lives because they have the money to line everyone’s pockets. We allow congress to tell us we can’t sterilize felons who abuse their children, yet they will allow thousands of unborn babies to be killed each year in abortions. Free will is allowing society to dictate to us what is right and wrong, we allow politicians to argue over the same topics year after year without making any changes and we hide in our safe and secure homes all the while knowing these things are going on around us. We choose to do nothing.
Complacency will be the ruin of our society as we know it. As long as it doesn’t affect us, we continue with our daily lives hiding our heads in the sand. We discuss these issues with others, we argue with those that have different opinions and even brag about it in the press. We feed off these issues and our government is lead by these issues, yet no one is willing to sacrifice for these issues. We allow the cycle to continue by our own free will. It is our choice not to make changes in our society, just as long as we are satisfied and our needs are met, we choose not to see. We say to ourselves, “It’s too much to change, it’s just too big to fight” and “I’m only one person, what difference could I make?” As the old saying goes, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”. The same holds true here, if each one of us just changed the small part around ourselves, we could change the world! We could at least change that which surrounds us and make our own difference in someone’s lives. Remember the Pay It Forward movie? Have you done something since watching it?
We hear stories of adoptions gone wrong in our country, the judges that give kids back to abusive parents after we have let them into our homes, loved and nurtured them only to watch in horror as they are taken away screaming for the only parents they’ve ever been able to trust. We watch it happen on our televisions, and choose to allow it to continue. We hide our heads and adopt from other countries where it’s easier, costs only money and too far away for the parents to come fight. It all revolves around money to some, the easiest way for others and sheer greed for us all. We want our needs to be met by the love of an orphaned child, and when that child becomes lost in this new world and grows to become unlovable, we send them off to institutions or group homes and say, “we tried”, we did our part”. But then what? What happens to that child when it becomes an adult? And what happens to all the orphaned children in our own country?
Megan was three years old by the time the system was allowed to complete itself, battered, bruised and unloved, this small child was sent into a foster home. By the time she was five, she had tortured the younger children in the home and continually abused the family pets. She was sent to different foster homes to continue her only known behavior. Some of the homes were decent places where caring adults truly tried to help her, but after several attempts and her behavior not changing, they moved her on to another. Others were greedy people that only took in children for the money the state would pay them. They took as many children as the state allowed and treated them like slaves. The children lived on small dirty cots in corners of messy houses, they were made to wait on the adults and were abused in the hands of their caregivers. Again Megan found no love and bonded with no one, no one person in her life to trust, to care for her or to love her. And the cycle continued. The children of foster care also get tossed around from house to house because the state doesn’t’ allow them to get attached to one family, just in case an adoptive family comes along. Those are few and far between so the child never learns to bond. It has become the “in” thing to adopt from other countries, to have a child of another race in your home as everyone will know you adopted. It has become about us, not the child. Our greed of want so others can see we did something good, and just maybe we can help while we’re at it. Some have happy endings, yet many are given back to our welfare system due to behaviors we can’t control. These children are taken not just from an orphanage but from another nation, they are brought to a completely different country where colors of faces are different, the only food and smells the child knows are different, language and even jesters are different. We bring them here to America thinking we can do better, but do we really? Do we truly think of the child that’s being brought here, or are we thinking of what we want? And what about the thousands of unwanted children in our own country? “It’s too hard to adopt here, they might take the child away.” We say as we think only of ourselves. But isn’t that a chance we should take for the child?
Thousands of children leave the foster care system on their eighteenth birthday only to be left at the bus stations with no where to go. They have few skills as most drop out of high school and have no place in our society. They have no future. If they were lucky, they have met one caring person that has taught them some sort of self worth, showed them some sort of love along the way that they can build on, or given them some dream they believe they can accomplish along with being taught a trade. Most of these young adults try for awhile but find themselves living on the streets of our cities only to be taken advantaged of and abused again. They get turned on to drugs, become addicted and then must do what they have to just to survive. Many die in the streets only to be forgotten, never known by anyone and never loved by anyone, they only had a short and terrifying life to be ended at the hands of, free will. Others are found and brought to jails time and time again. Eventually coming into our prison system, the only stable home they will ever know.
Again, we know this. We watch it unfold on the nightly news time and time again but it doesn’t affect us in our safe houses. “How does God allow this to happen?” we ask ourselves. Until it affects us directly, we continually choose to do nothing. Free will.
When I eventually completed the process of becoming an approved, adoptive parent, I was handed a book to look through so I could pick a child to adopt. “Pick a child.” I asked. “How do I pick a child from a picture?” There were hundreds of photos of children with short story lines about them, how they liked dolls or to read or to color. Some were shown with siblings and whether you could adopt one or all of them, splitting the family was no problem. As I looked through the pages, I could see only their eyes, the haunting look of a lost child were all I could remember after closing the book and pushing it across the table at the well meaning social worker. “I can’t pick a child.” I explained. “Can you publish my information about my family and home through the state and let them pick me?” I asked. I thought that I would leave this one up to God, let Him chose the child that would live in our home, let Him find the child that needed us the most. I wasn’t looking for an infant, I wanted a child I could save, a child no one else wanted, an older child that we could make a different for. What I didn’t’ realize was the extent of what God had in mind when He brought Megan into our lives.
Even though Megan was approved for adoption, her mother continued to fight for custody. All three of her children had been taken from her, she never had a job and lived only off our government. Her life was living in a filthy trailer at the end of town where the men would come for her services. They traded her for money or drugs and our taxes paid her bills. She had dropped out of school after becoming pregnant at 14 and had no education or trade, no future other than living each day with a television, different men and drugs. She cared of no one other than herself as she knew nothing different, she had been raised this way by a mother that also knew no difference. This is their world and she brought three other children into it. Luckily the system was able to remove the children and at least give them a chance to survive elsewhere.
Megan’s social worker had seen our information and decided we would be a good match due to the fact that we had no small children in our home and we lived three hours away from her mother. The only information I received on her was that she had Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and was a little behind. I listened to her story and felt so compelled to give this child a home; I knew I just had to try. I wanted to give her a childhood like I had where loving parents were there to teach and nurture, to sacrifice of themselves for my needs, to teach me about a God that loved us all, yet disciplined us through His love so we would know and understand Him. Just as most of us want to leave behind a legacy, to make some small change in the world as we pass through it, I wanted this chance to do something good.
The adoption process was started and I visited Megan every week to get to know her. I went to each court trip and sat and listened to the abuse her mother allowed Megan to endure while the state dissolved her parental “rights”. The rights of being allowed to be a parent were finally dissolved and Megan was now a part of our family. The ‘right’ to be a parent. Just what are those rights and who allows us to have them? If they can be taken away in court, why shouldn’t they have to be granted? How did a woman that was so abused herself be allowed the right to give birth only to continue the abuse, to continue the cycle? How do we allow this to continue in our society? The prisons are full of mothers that have those rights, they drop out of school after getting pregnant, then neglect the babies as they have no education of even how to raise a child. We are required to attend classes on driving a car, have continued education classes on jobs but not required to be educated to raise a child! These women have no skills to make money to support themselves, yet alone a child. And they live off taxes that we pay, spending their days in front of a television watching daytime TV – their only education… They get bored and begin to hate their lives and feel empty inside. Most find drugs as a way to get through each day and then become dependent on those drugs to survive. And they cycle continues, while we not only allow it to happen, we pay for it to happen! We fund these people to sit and do nothing while they continue to breed and kill themselves with drugs and alcohol. They didn’t want to be in this cycle yet there is no real way out for them.
If they’re lucky, they will get involved in one of our many programs that try to help, they will find the courage to stand for what is right, they will choose to endure the hardship of learning another way of life and get out of the hole they were born in. Others will find themselves in our prison system, glad to be out of the abuse where they have a roof over their heads, three meals a day and no children demanding their attention. But those children are left behind, again in the cycle. Some take advantage of classes given and learn all they can of the basic lessons most of us learn before high school, others take classes just to get out of prison and return to the only life they even knew. Either way, they are all allowed the ‘right’ to have babies along the way. Thousands of babies are born every year in our prison systems, only to be left unwanted at the hospitals, made to have a family member come get the infant and take it back to the abusive home the mother was raised in. The term, grandmother has new meaning when you give a child back to the grandmother that abused the mother in the first place. Our court system says it’s better to keep a child in the family rather then let it be adopted into another home. That makes sense unless the family is where the abusive cycle started and even with no changes, we allow the family to continue to raise child after child. No education is ever insisted upon. What happens to the baby when its mother is in prison and it’s left to be raised by a family that doesn’t want it? They didn’t want their own child, yet alone another and we hand these babies back every time. It’s their parental right to continue having children while we pay for them to do it!
It’s called breeding and it doesn’t take an education to do it. Animals take better care of their offspring than the uneducated and abused people in our society and again, we allow it to continue. Parental rights. It should be a right to have a child, it should be allowed when deserved and it should be a privilege! But that will never happen due to, free will. And we wouldn’t dare sterilize or tie the tubes of our men and women for it interferes with their ‘rights’, yet we allow them to have abortions over and over, killing their babies before they even draw their first breath. Or, we hand the child to them and they are left with a life of abuse or they die at the hands of family members. Free will.
This would be a very hot topic for the media and congress, yet no one even discusses it due to lawsuits. Tying a woman’s tubes is reversible, why we don’t do something to change the lives of these children is cruel and unacceptable. We allow mothers to abort their babies yet we don’t allow them to have their tubes tied, since they might change their mind and sue later. This doesn’t even make sense! These women don’t think about birth control as its too expensive, they have no way to get it or they are too strung out to even consider it. Then they end up giving birth over and over. They don’t want these children and didn’t intend to get pregnant. But this is acceptable behavior in our society. If we just allowed these women to be sterilized or have their tubes tied, we wouldn’t need abortions!!
Megan is 21 years old now and I have tried to have her tubes tied, but no doctor would attempt it due to a lawsuit later on. And not by myself or Megan, but by the “pro rights people”, the people that have no clue who we are but continually fight for her rights that don’t even make sense! She will not ever be able to take care of herself, she lives off government disability paid by our taxes and I am her legal guardian. She legally cannot get her drivers license, purchase a home or sign a legal contract, yet it’s legal for her to have a baby and raise it. There is no sense in this! Will the pro rights people be there when she gives birth? Will they explain to her why some man took advantage of her and made her suffer again? Will they hold her hand as she gives birth not knowing where the pain comes from? Will they help her raise her child and keep it safe? Of course not, but they will certainly be there to see that she continues the right to get pregnant. A right to get pregnant… so where is the right for that child to be raised in a loving home? No one cares after the child is born; no one is there to keep it safe from its own mother. Where are the rights of that child?
Of course, now the issue would be who is to say who can and can’t have children? Well, you can start by taking the men and women that already abuse their children, and the parents that have lost custody due to abuse, you can start with them. Or the men and women that spend their entire lives in and out of our prison system, we let them out on parole and they do another crime just to come back. And our system continues to take the women to a hospital so she can give birth at tax payers’ expense and go back to prison where she is housed and fed by our tax dollars. And the child goes home with the abusive family to continue the cycle.
My son has tried since he was 18 years old to have a vasectomy, no doctors will perform this as they continually tell him he will change his mind. Really? Do they even know him? He’s now 29 and still hasn’t changed his mind. We can’t tell a woman what to do with her body yet they can tell my son what he can’t do to his?
Making changes to laws on this issue would cut cost significantly for our state along with our country. And allowed with good parenting programs that were mandatory in high school, including having the option of birth control along with the choice of having their tubes tied would actually make a difference in our society. We could make common sense and moral changes to our society! Imagine that, in this day and age. Ok, maybe moral change is another hot topic but rather than argue over the specifics, why not choose to take control and actually help these children. Stop the cycle. Or we could continue to be complacent and do nothing while we sit in our comfortable homes complaining about crime, taxes and the people in our prison system.
Yes, unconditional love is what every child has the right to experience. Free will is a right that was given to each of us. Sadly, complacency is our right also.