Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"I have come to realize that you cannot make people care about you..."

This is Connie's story. Connie has a beautiful blog called Creative Bubbles, and she has given permission to use her name here.

The Back Story
I was put in foster care because my mother was neglectful. Even though I am 30 years old, it still stings, to know that having 5 children taken away was not enough for my mom to get clean, sober, and be able to care for us. It seems that she always had a drug problem and a drinking habit. I remember her locking my sisters and I out of the house so that she and her friends could get high without us interrupting them. I remember having to pull her out of a bar so she could make us dinner. And I remember her making us lie- a lot. Lie to her OB that she wasn't smoking while pregnant, lie to the social worker that we were taken care of, and lie to my family that we weren't starving all the time and never had clean clothes or a clean house.

My youngest brother, one very cold December night, somehow got out of the house and was picked up by the police wearing only a diaper... he was two years old. My mother was not home and did not tell me that she was going out, leaving him all alone on the first floor. I am the oldest of five children and I am the one who told my teachers about all the stuff going on at home. Things were so bad when we were removed that the social worker threw up after looking at the contents of our refrigerator... I told her that we had been eating cake frosting for the last week because there was nothing else to eat that hadn't gone bad. My mother had her parental rights taken away and we were all separated and put into foster care. My youngest brother and I went to live with aunt and her partner eventually, which turned out to be an even more abusive situation than what we left.

My aunt was an addict as well, addicted to pain medication. Her partner was very mentally abusive, constantly threatening to send me back to the social worker for the slightest sign of disobedience. Mind you, I was a straight-A student, a cheerleader, a competitive singer, and never got into trouble. (School had been my refuge prior to foster care and continued to be so.) This woman used duct tape to keep my brother in bed at night. He would constantly get out to make sure people were there with him, and it annoyed her. She would hit us, leave nasty notes on my desk, and tell me that I was a slut who was going to turn out just like my mother. Every day I swore to myself that I was going to get out of there as soon as I could, go far far away and forget that she ever existed.

Another Chance
I did not have contact with my mother from 16 until I became a mother myself at the age of 22. I decided to give her another chance- I had the rose-colored glasses of a new mother and thought that maybe things had changed. She came to see me and the new baby, met my husband, and brought my sister with her whom I had not had contact with in a long time. I thought that maybe, just maybe, we could have a relationship. But a few weeks after the visit I got a call from Gerber Insurance. I am sure most parents have seen the ads for children's life insurance, they call it a "gift" and say it is just pennies a day. Well, the insurance agent said that my mother had gotten a policy for my daughter and he just needed her social security number to complete the policy. I asked for more information and learned that the maximum amount was taken out, $100,000, and that my mother was named the beneficiary! This woman had taken out a life insurance policy on my new baby!!! And if something should have happened to her, she would have gotten all that money. To say I was shocked, furious, and betrayed is an understatement. I called her right away and told her that we were done, that was her last chance. I haven't spoken to her since.

Trying To Forget
I have also cut out all contact with my aunt, as soon as my brother turned 18 and I knew that she couldn't use him to hurt me anymore. I have come to realize that you cannot make people care about you and want to be in your life. I try really hard to just forget those first 20 years of my life, only think about those friends who let me stay over their house and their wonderful families who took me under their wings when things got bad at home. I am thankful that my children are still young enough to not even think about these missing people in their lives and that we live far enough away that the ugliness of it all does not reach them.

The Bottom Line
There is so much more to this but the bottom line is that these people who were entrusted with our care failed us miserably. I know that I tried my best to give both my mom and my aunt the benefit of the doubt and more chances than they deserved. But in the end I had to think about my girls and I know that I didn't want them to have memories of people who did not deserve to know them. I feel bad for my siblings because they haven't dealt with all of this as well as I have and I know that they blame me for putting us in foster care in the first place. Someone had to do something though.


  1. Wow. I commend you for your strength in telling your story. Addiction is such a dagger to the heart, to feeling good enough. To come to the realization that your parent loves her drug of choice over doesn't feel good. You survived, and I have so much respect for you, for your choices for you girls. Big hugs to you.

  2. You broke the cycle *hugs* your girls are very lucky to have such a strong mother who loves them!

  3. It’s is an unfortunate truth that not all parents are created equally. We are initiated into parenthood with all the issues we have from our life experiences and simply having the ability to conceive and birth a child does not magically make us responsible or mature. It requires a certain level of accountability and personal growth to be a conscious parent and not everyone has the ability to embrace that. A child unfortunately cannot conceive that their parents are less than perfect and continuously hope to connect with them in the way they were designed to biologically. When that does not happen, they then have the difficult responsibility of setting respectful boundaries with them for themselves and their families. Not all children however will get to the point of realizing that they need to let go, and that’s where sibling animosity can appear. It must have been so difficult to finally accept your parent’s failings and do what you needed to do to protect your siblings and eventually, your own children. It is heartbreaking, but necessary.

  4. You are providing for your children the childhood you never had. By nurturing them, you ensure your own healing. I applaud you.

  5. Your strength and resilience is amazing and inspiring.