The entire world is stunned still three days after the senseless slaying of 27 souls. Like many of you, I too read the names aloud when they were released. The fact that 75 percent of the names on that list had just begun to live, made my tears impossible to hold back. As the details have trickled in, I have kept my children from the news, unable to explain to them why I am spending so much time in my bedroom with the door closed and crying. I truly grieve with these parents. I was briefly separated from my children once, unsure if I would ever see them again, and by ultimate grace we are all together today. Yet, while my imagination triggers the pain I felt, I still can’t imagine what they are going through today as they begin to lay to their children to rest.
I have been unsure of what I wanted to say about this tragedy for three days now. I have been so affected by the events last Friday that simple reading or listing of the victims’ names still brings me to tears. It wasn’t until I read the blog post “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother” by Liza Long, that I found my voice again. I read and empathized with her story, but at the same time I was absolutely appalled by her actions. While “Michael’s” tantrums were extreme, they were still just that….a tantrum. And it seemed to me that every time “Michael” threw a tantrum, he got exactly what he wanted. Everybody’s undivided attention. And each time he got what he wanted, he got more of it. So yes, his mother has every right to be afraid that eventually he will seek the attention of Mass Murderer Infamy.
My mother adopted two “Michael’s”. Brothers whose mental problems were exhibited the very night they moved in the house. I was 18. So, I was her help. Together, we attended IEP’s, counseling sessions, therapy sessions, teachers’ conferences, suspension hearings, expulsion hearings, safety plan meetings, and the list goes on. To make matters worse, they built up tolerances to every medication they were put on. Her husband, my step father gave up on my mothers’ quest to save the children of the world, because at this time there were other foster children in the home. They quickly divorced and he moved to South Dakota and remarried. Although he legally adopted the boys alongside my mother I can only remember one time where he arranged a visitation with them after the divorce. He was happy to pay child support and remain oblivious of their existence. I helped out as much as I could with her kicking me out of the nest every chance she could for fear that I would not have a life of my own. I finally moved out, married and started to have children. But I always worried that one of them, if not both, would kill her one day. After Friday’s Tragedy, learning that Adam had killed his mother, my first thoughts were my brothers. Although I can empathize with the Lanza family right now, I know I should never have to carry that guilt. My brothers are crazy. And my mother and I have screamed this into every ear that we could find. You see, while I’ve question my mother’s mental stability many times, mental illness was a subject that she did not take lightly. When those boys would pull knives, or fondle other children at school, or stab their pregnant teacher with pencils, or expose themselves in the lunch room…she pressed charges every time. She would always say, “Those are my children and my responsibility. I will not stand by and let them be a threat to society.” I can remember sitting in her living room after various incidents, wondering if the hospital would keep them this time. Only to have the phone ring, and hear her pleading with the people on the other line to please not send them home. After exhausting public funding for group homes, the state finally sent them home, for good. The youngest of my brothers is a registered sex offender after two separate charges that stemmed from two separate incidents on school grounds. Because of this, he was not allowed to go back to school and qualified for a spot at the state hospital. My mother was out of the office and driving away before the ink dried on the papers. Shortly after, the older brother had a series of tantrums that required police attention in her home. She called me one afternoon and told me, “If you want to see your brother again, you can find him at the Children’s Home. I bought him a happy meal, and signed over my rights today.” My heart crumbled into a billion pieces, because part of me really felt like she just gave up on them. But a couple of years later, when I saw the news report about the woman who put her adopted kid back on plane to Russia, I understood. The world didn’t, but I did. After Friday, I have to wonder how many people she saved when she put him on that plane with his little backpack and crayons. There are parents out there suffering in silence because if we ask for help, there is none. And if we put them out there for the world to see, then we are bad parents for giving up on them. Addressing metal health and conducting psychological evaluations from early education on, sounds like a healthy approach. However, it will put a spotlight on the activities we practice in our private homes as parents. I would like to point out that some parents actually use discipline, and it works for them. Yet by some standards their discipline is considered abuse. So, again, I’m left asking the question, why not educate the parents? By reaching out to parents, we can give them the strength fight this fight. We can’t continue to leave them alone in this struggle and then point a finger of anger and hatred at them for any move they make concerning their mentally ill children. America, I hear your call for a serious talk about mental illness, and I raise you to the challenge of taking action. Don’t be that person on the news telling the world that you always knew something was wrong but said and did nothing.