Rescue From the Cuckoo’s Nest (pt. 2)

This story is not about my hatred though. This hatred comes and goes and is not quite real. Or maybe it is, but just in those moments.

When I am sane and safe, I imagine what it must have been like as a baby not yet able to walk or talk, failing to thrive, needy beyond human ability to describe to listen to the newer baby crying after having her skull cracked by their mother.

M’s first story. She doesn’t remember it but the county records show it. They also show that these two baby sisters were given back to live with their mother (I just wrote monster by mistake). Another sister came along. The girls’ father deserted their mother for reasons unknown and before the county discovered their abuse the girls were taken by their mother to live in another state before slipping back into the county of the girls’ grandparents. For six years the girls were sexually molested, starved, beaten, held under water and tied to chairs with their mouths covered in electrical tape.

After a number of hospital visits and an incident where M and her sister showed up after dark at a convenience store trying to buy food with Monopoly money the girls were finally taken by the county into the foster care system.  

The judge in the county despite every expert testimony, believed that at all cost a family must be kept together. Law enforcement officials in the small county worried they would one day be called to investigate the deaths of the children if they were sent back to the mother, a young lady who had been sexually molested  by a family member as a girl and who had been accused of molesting the children she babysat in high school. The scandal had been such that she had quit school. Now this young woman was living with her mother’s ex boyfriend. The ex-boyfriend had fathered a child with M’s grandmother and now fathered a child with M’s mother.

M said the man was mean, but the county could never prove wrongdoing on his part. M’s mother continued to abuse her daughters on visits. The two young girls refused to go on visits after a while, but M, though terrified, felt that she owed it to her mother to attend the now supervised visits.

Finally the mother went missing. For months. M lost her mind, the little she had that wasn’t already wracked with crippling anxiety expressed as OCD. The county thought it made sense to tell M that her mother was missing. M ramped up her over sexualized behaviors and violent idealizations. Her foster parents had four boys of their own and did their best, but M’s behaviors were starting to really affect the boys and everyone was frightened when M said she was thinking of burning down the house.

M was sent to a mental health facility where they “stabilized” her. What they actually did was put her on Zyprexa, an antipsychotic marketed to nursing home caregivers and foster care professionals “5 at 5″ –5mg at 5 pm will keep the person quiet.

A list of side effects: (the most common)

  • Bloating or swelling of the face, arms, hands, lower legs, or feet
  • blurred vision
  • change in vision
  • change in walking and balance
  • clumsiness or unsteadiness
  • difficulty with speaking
  • difficulty with swallowing
  • drooling
  • impaired vision
  • inability to sit still
  • loss of balance control
  • mask-like face
  • muscle trembling, jerking, or stiffness
  • need to keep moving
  • rapid weight gain
  • restlessness
  • shuffling walk
  • slowed movements
  • slurred speech
  • stiffness of the arms and legs
  • tic-like (jerky) movements of the head, face, mouth, and neck
  • tingling of the hands or feet
  • trembling or shaking of the fingers, hands, feet, legs, or arms
  • twisting movements of the body
  • uncontrolled movements, especially of the face, neck, and back

This is a partial list. M had every single side effect and some of the more extreme side-effects as well when we first brought her home.

The foster family decided that they could not take M back into their home which was totally understandable. None of the children were getting the care they needed for the level of trauma they had received. M did not know this yet.

That’s when we were called.

“There’s a girl with minor cognitive disabilities who really needs a family with no other young children in the house. She is at a halfway facility for further studies but we’re looking at placement at the beginning of the new school year next month.”

We nervously agreed to give it a try and went about preparing the bedroom for the new arrival, our first foster child. A few days later we received another call.

“We were thinking that you could come by a few times to meet M to get her used to you. She’s struggling a little here.”

The very next day: “Can you come and take her home tomorrow?”

I can’t remember how they phrased it but remember my heart going out to this unknown 10-year-old girl.

The next day I sat in a cold plastic seat in a rundown room with board games stacked in the corner. A nice looking lady came in with compassionate eyes. Was she feeling compassion for me?

“Well, before we meet M I wanted to fill you in on some of our concerns. M is highly traumatized. The staff is at wits end because she thinks she needs to go to the bathroom every two minutes which means we have to monitor her the entire time. There are other children here who need our attention.  She is a sweet girl … but is this really your first foster intake? Well, I must tell you, that no one thinks she will last in a private placement so don’t feel bad if you can’t manage her. Just yesterday she escaped and asked three men on a golf course if they would adopt her. We are not set up for runaways. Let me get M.”

My chest wasn’t tight, my defenses were completely down, and I was blind to all red flags at this point.

In walked a pudgy little girl with dark braids and brown, heavy-lidded eyes. I later realized the heavy lids and puffed face were due to the meds they had her on, but for now I thought, she’s cute and I will whip her into shape with my love and cooking. The level of arrogance and naivete! But I must forgive myself this. Who could know all that would happen?

She smiled to reveal newly installed braces. “Are you going to be my new mom?” she asked.

This fed everything heroic in me. I wanted to say YES! But I was able to control the ridiculous urge.


Further Reading:



I don’t know where this is going. I may stop after a few posts or not. I’m learning new things all the time about our flawed medical and social services systems. Some things have to be said. I don’t know if I want to say them, but then I’ve witnessed it all firsthand.

5 responses to “Rescue From the Cuckoo’s Nest (pt. 2)”

  1. This is a crucial story of our times, filling the gap between empathy and personal responsibility, the gap filled by the action of selfless love.


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