A Broken Child: Richard’s Heartbreaking Story
By: Karen Lynn Vidra
My 14-year-old son, Richard, is in his room, with the door locked; and I can hear his deep, wrenching sobs through the door as he cries. He is probably having one of his horrible flashbacks again…
Richard was adopted when he was 7, 7 years ago; and his life has NOT been an easy one. He was born the child of an alcoholic father and an immature mother who was suspected of having mental problems; and from the start he proved to be a rather difficult and demanding baby.
While he was not disabled in any way, he did, however, seem irritable and nervous, especially whenever his father went into one of his drunken rages or when his mother screamed at him to quit behaving so irrationally (when SHE had room to talk). He cried long and loud, and he often lay unattended in his crib for hours while his parents fought and argued.
One day, when his mother seemed at her worst, tragedy occurred. He was lying in his crib, crying as usual, when his mother got angry and grabbed a bottle of Clorox bleach. She poured a big handful of it into a small glass,and poured it into her baby’s mouth; that only sent him screaming all the harder, as the bleach was burning the child’s delicate throat; and then he started having breathing problems (for, unbeknownst to her, the bleach was caustic; and it burned his delicate throat and esophagal lining). That’s when Richard then quit breathing.
The father grabbed his now-limp infant son, and he drunkenly drove to the hospital; how he managed to stay ON the road and NOT hit ANY cars OR people was something that remains a mystery to this day; but then he was arrested; and the baby was forcibly taken away. He ended up having to have a tracheotomy in order to save his life; his airway was too swollen to get a tube down to his lungs via the mouth. It ended up that the child would probably need to have the tracheotomy for the rest of his life; there was just too much in the way of damage to his respiratory and digestive tracts.
The boy’s mother was also arrested on child endangering, neglect, and abuse charges. She joined her husband in jail.
The boy was put into foster care upon release from the hospital, and he languished in different foster homes for nearly 7 years. It was then when we had heard about him and his plight.
That’s when we made the decision to take him in, as our own child. He was now 7 years old.
Richard came to us about a month-and-a-half later; and we were immediately taken by this short, skinny, dark-skinned lad with the big black eyes and shock of wild blue-black hair that tended to hang in his eyes; and he smiled shyly as we hugged him and told him that we were thrilled to have him join our family.
What we didn’t know then was that Richard was prone to “flashbacks”, “flashbacks” to his once abusive childhood, and because of it he would turn violent and unmanageable. He would go around breaking things, screaming as though he was being killed, and trying to harm himself. It was really unnerving to see him whenever he would go into one of his rages.
The only thing we could do for our son was to place him into mental health counseling and to place him into a mental hospital until he could get some needed medication to control his out-of-control behavior. Plus we didn’t want him possibly endangering the lives of our younger or more vulnerable children……
Richard is now 14, and his behavior is MUCH improved; that is, he hasn’t needed to go into the mental hospital for over 6 months now, and he seems more happier and alert now than he was; but he still has his moments when the past comes flooding back; and then he cries; one must wonder what other horrible things he may have endured as a baby; how I wish I knew of a way to help him, so he doesn’t feel so alone, so scared, so vulnerable.