I have not been able to put into words how I feel about my disabled brother passing away. He died about 4 months after my adoptive father passed. I’m not sure really how to think or feel because he was never really considered a true member of our family. He was just another collection my adoptive mother added to her….collections of kids that made her look like a modern day Mother Theresa. If she really knew and understood what this “saint” actually was about, I don’t think she would want to mirror herself after her.
I have not grieved my brother. How does one grieve a person you don’t know, never connected with, and never saw as a member of the family? But not a day goes by that he is not in my thoughts. There’s not a minute that goes by that I don’t wonder how he felt when he felt the presence of my father leave him. My father was truly the only one who I feel, “cared” for him. He was left with him. After my adoptive mother and her partner left the country, this boy who is no longer 3 years old (though we believe he was younger upon adoption), was left with a person who was already busy up to his knees. My father’s job took up more than 75% of his time and he loved it. Caring for animals and giving pet owners hope is what he did best. He also took a great deal of his time to help the poor, though questionable actions, his intent was always to be a light in someone’s darkness. I really honored what he did but often questioned whether he was truly helping or enabling. I believe in teaching people to fish so that they can have food for life as opposed to just giving out fish. Though I was not present for all he did as an adult, I did witness a bunch of his wonderful acts when I was younger; in my youth and teen years.
My brother however was not able to see the good deeds but he was able ot feel them.
You see, Simon was another trafficked adoptee. He was about 3 or so years old when he came to live with this family. The horrific stories my adoptive mother tells others about his “coming into existence” are hard to believe and to be honest, I never really believed them in the first place. Intent vs Impact? I think the intent was to bring him to a loving home. The impact was that he was used for show and never really “loved” by her. He was a prop; like I was. We adoptees/foster kids were all props. Without us, no jewels on their crowns.
This all sounds so critical, I know. But it is just what it was. I can’t live the rest of my life pretending that this was not our reality. I can’t feign sadness for a person I never knew. I can’t fake loving someone who did a bit of good but also so much damage to people. My perspective on much of my rearing has been criticised by people who know me and I decided a long time ago that I am no longer going to stay silent. I must speak my truth and sometimes, in speaking your truth, you hurt people in the process.
I wish Simon was never adopted and treated like a prop. Just because he is disabled does not make him less of a person. Pity is not what he needed. Why was money not funneled into his orphanage to keep him in an environment he was familiar with? Why did he have to be moved to a new country, a new language? Why was he shown to people as if he was some kind of tourist attraction? Why was my punishment to feed and change him when I miss behaved?
He became a burden to me and many of my siblings. How much time did we ever really spend with him? Let’s be honest! He screamed all the time, but he also laughed a lot. He cried often and if we didn’t have the right medicine, his seizures could kill him.
So what actually killed him? How did this boy turned grown man who had been fed and clothed by many different hands actually pass away? And would he have passed if my father had not led the way months prior?
I have my suspicions but I dare not speak libel as I have no proof but what I do propose is neglect mixed with foul play. He was healthy in reality. Strong! Clothed! Fed! My dad made sure he had the right medicines for him to take each day. His breakfasts were hearty. What killed this defensely man?
I don’t think we will ever really know but I can’t stop thinking about him. I can’t cease to ponder the thoughts that went through his mind right before he breathed in his last. He couldn’t speak so he would never be able to tell anyone if he was molested, physically abused, or hurt in general. He can’t walk or run because he is paralyzed down one side of his body and his legs never worked. His right atrophied arm was collected near his chest but his beautiful black left hand waved beautifully with expression. He had a way of letting us know he was happy though….at least we thought. He loved being tickled…but just because you laugh, does not mean you are consenting to being touched….right?
I feel he was at such a disadvantage. He could not really communicate and so we assumed this for him. All I do know is that he must have been deeply connected to my adoptive father. I can’t say whether he spent quality time with him or not. But due to the noise, he was not allowed to sleep with us as kids. He would scream for hours at a time and it killed our ears.
I can remember holding him a few times…but he never sat still. It was as if he did not like to be touched, or carried at all. When he was in his single digits, I could hold him and he would put his head on my shoulders. These were the days we took him to church…he was more of a “fresh” gift from God. It was exciting to have a new member of the family. Someone who was my color. But I couldn’t relate to him at all. I couldn’t speak or even hang out with him. Sometimes I feel he was added to our family so that I could play “house” as my adoptive mother always told me that I will be a good mom. She was right about that! I commend her for noticing my strengths.
When I think of Simon, I think about all the souls who have been “used”. I think about the children who have been trafficked and their parents searching for them. I think about the Adoptive parents who know they can turn around and do the right thing but choose not to because they are more comfortable with the instant satisfaction and fail to understand the long term damage left on the adoptee or person being used.
I think about those adoptive parents who did the right thing and returned the children the minute they sensed something was wrong in the paperwork or the stories just didn’t match up. Those adoptive parents who saw the red flags and said “nope, not until you have absolute proof.”
You see, some of us may not have papers at first. I am not sure if this was my case or Simon’s. But, to falsify an entire identity just to have your way has forever dire consequences.
To end this mini rant/revelation, I am not sure what grieving an unknown person should look like. For my father’s death, grief took many different stages. When my sister sent the ashes, it made so much of his physical self present and yet distant at the same time. It became even more real that he was gone. And yet, I still ask myself daily: “How did this all even happen?” So there is a component I don’t truly believe.
Receiving the ashes was so spiritual for me. Holding my father’s physicality….a person who raised me but contributed no DNA to my existence….trafficked me with “good” intentions but with long lasting consequences; his ashes….heavy…a bit rocky, ….I let them sit on my desk for a few days until I decided what I wanted to do with them. What does one do with the ashes of someone you loved but struggled to like?
After a few days, I decided the best thing to do was remember all of his goodness and spread that around. He was so good in many ways. I wanted that goodness to be shared with others. So, I sent his ashes to others with a directive. I wanted them to spread them….they could do it anywhere they wanted to. One lady said she would spread them at her Vet Clinic in Washington. Another lady thought it was such a great way to show loyalty. Because love is not about liking a person. Love is about finding the good in that person and spreading that tiny goodness around.
So to my brother who I couldn’t really like or love…I hope you have found peace as you float through the sky. I hope you are able to see dad with fresh eyes now that you two may be hanging out together. I hope your legs are strong and running after all the dogs who go to heaven. I imagine both your arms working and your ears clear as a bell. And I hope that when you laugh, I can still hear the high pitched sound that annoyed me as a kid.
It will help me continue to honor you and remember that your humanness will always matter.