A recurring theme in our medical experiences is that professionals either know about the conditions in Eastern Europe or they don’t. If they do, we discuss how they’ve broken my baby bird. If they don’t, we are met with disbelief. I mean anyone would want to not believe what happens there, but instead they don’t believe our retelling of her truth. “Surely that cannot be true. You should call the authorities!” I hear often. “What authorities?” I ask. The ones who put her there in the first place? The ones who built the orphanages with their unmarked graveyards alongside to dump the starved, beaten, broken bodies of children who never experienced love, affection or safety? Spoiler alert: burying your head in the sand and imagining that I am lying doesn’t save any children. Willfully doing so, choosing to not even face their pain by believing in it, marks you with their blood and pain as far as I am concerned, but I am also feeling salty about my child’s current level of grief and the push back that I still hear when I say there is nothing wrong with her but trauma.
To back up a little, my darling frequently goes on hunger strikes. Feeding is honestly our biggest challenge and has been since the very first meal I attempted to give her after pick up. We spend SO much time on feeding. Last week’s hunger strike lingered and then worsened and then landed sweet Rosie in the children’s hospital with a NG tube for nourishment after some very scary labs. We spent three days trying to stabilize her so she could come home with her NG tube and await g tube surgery. Being a teaching hospital, many new physicians made rounds with her specialists and I looked them in all the eye and I told her story in far more nitty gritty than I ever would otherwise. It became so important to me that I was almost manic that each of these doctors who were searching high and low for any other possible medical diagnoses to explain why the adorable toddler in front of them was content to starve to death came to understand that she was sentenced to that fate long ago. That her instincts to survive had been over-ridden in a place where no one wanted that for her through abuse and neglect and starvation while she lay there drugged so she’d stop fighting.
Ever so often someone who is against adoption at all costs will find me. They will tongue lash me for sharing my child’s story and will say that it is not her burden to be the poster child for orphans in Eastern Europe. “How will she feel,” they ask, “when she is older and her story is out there for anyone to read?” Newsflash, fools: My child was destroyed in that place. She will never be able to comprehend that I have told people she came from hell on earth so that is a risk that I weigh with the benefit of speaking for the kids we’ve left behind. Additionally, if you think for one minute the details I’ve shared are private or intimate compared to the totality of her trauma you are again, blissfully ignorant, and I am not here for that mess. If your biggest concern regarding my child’s birthplace is that I told people it’s big bad, you are absurd. I refuse to keep the systemic murder of special needs people “private” so that anyone feels better. I refuse to accept that one less dead child with down syndrome is all I am asked to contribute, that I should bring her home and then remain silent as some perverse form of “respect” for the stories of their murder. She cannot speak. She will never speak. Sometimes the right thing is to speak for people who cannot speak for themselves.
“Her name is Rosie,” I said to every doctor standing beside her bed. “She was born in Eastern Europe…” I began my telling of her story…
Silence only benefits the oppressors.