Friday, July 10, 2020

The Last "Little" to Enter Adulthood

On the eve of Bashful's symbolic birthday that will catapult him into adulthood, I find myself wondering exactly how we have gotten here.  Where has time gone.  How did it pass so quickly?  How am I the mother of all "adults" now ranging from 27 -18? 

It has been a wild and crazy journey from never wanting children (dwarfs) to becoming the parents of seven.  When I thought about this monumental occasion over the past 27 years, the celebration of the the last in the kingdom to officially enter adulthood, I assumed it would look vastly different! 

Tomorrow, July 11, 2020, the last minor in the kingdom, at the stroke of 2:28PM becomes an official adult.  There will be a celebration.  Just not the kind that we had originally imagined.  There will be rejoicing.  Just not for the reasons originally thought.  There will also be some tears.  Just not tears that will make sense.   First let's recap. 

This is a photo that we have from our first meeting with Bashful.  He and his eldest sister, were meeting with us as we started the process of adoption.  By this point, we had been made aware of their need for a forever family, and we had worked through as many details as we could on paper and logically in our minds, to see if this could be a fit for them and for us, which lead us to this the first meet and greet!  

I would say that he is about 13 months old in this photo, but my mind sometimes has a difficult time remembering specifics.  (I am sure no one else out there can relate...  )

Bashful was a yellow headed blue eyed bundle of giggles, pudgy legs, infectious smile, and a stubborn streak a mile long.  Just like every other toddler I had ever been in contact with.  

As things progressed, we were able to see that the Lord indeed was calling us to adopt them.  As doors that we thought would be obstacles would be blown wide open at each juncture.  As those around us tried to advise us, encourage us (some in the opposite direction of pursuing adoption) we knew in the end, that we were right where the Lord wanted us to be.  Our family of five became a family of seven. 

Nothing could have prepared us for the challenges that just getting out of the fostering component into the actual adoption stage of the process would bring our way.  We are to this day so grateful for the aid of so many including our family doctor, our neighborhood doctor, and a host of church members that helped care for, clean, organize and shuttle any number of the five dwarfs while we acclimated to life as a family of seven.  

In the midst of the process going from fostering to adoption, we were also made aware two more of their biological siblings that also needed a forever home.  Same process, same concerns, but soon enough the Lord clearly lead us from a family of seven to a family of nine.  

I would like to say that the process was smooth.  That there is a silver lining.  That our days as a super sized family have been filled with sunshine, smiles and happy memories.  While there is much of that that I do recall, for a few of these dwarfs, what we had to offer was just never a enough, or the right fit for them.  

To hear several of them explain it, the system got it wrong.  They got the short end of the stick.  They were supposed to be adopted by wealthy sports or movie stars.  Whatever it was that we offered them in their forever home, was never good enough, and was not able to fill the void that they held in their hearts from being abandoned by their biological family.  When I say family I don't just mean mom or dad, that includes any other relatives, grandparents, aunts and uncles etc. because before they could become eligible for adoption, all the other family members were offered an opportunity to take one or more of them and care for them. When the state made it's way through the family, that is when the parental and family  rights were severed.  

Many many years and many many hours of therapies, for them and myself, have shown me that sadly, hereditary issues like mental illness (which includes illusions of grandeur, and pathological lying)  social and cognitive delays, RAD, post traumatic stress disorder, and in utero influences, can not and are not easy assessed, diagnosed, or overcome.  

There is no amount of unconditional love, or stability, discipline or support that can change what is hard wired into someone's DNA.   Bashful is a living testimony to this.  

While he has had every opportunity to understand, learn, grow and be supported in a home that, while not perfect, aimed to provide love, consistency, grace at every turn, for Bashful, that was just not enough for him.  Through years of therapy, conversations, examples and others telling him that he had value, was indeed loved, he has not yet been able to trust us or allow for us to be his guide in life.  

He rebelled. He pushed the envelope.  He made excuses.  He deflected. He refused to acknowledge his shortcomings.  He was disrespectful.  He was always angry.  He fought against the systems that could help him be successful, like counseling, check list and charts.  He would not do hard things.  Heck, he would not even on the regular do easy things right the first time.  As his parents, we were at a loss as to how to help him.  

In that last year, we had just been encouraging him to hang in there until he turned 18. He and I hardly interacted, and when we did I kept things as neutral as possible.  Graduate high school.  Work and save money, were all the areas that we were encouraging him to just do.  In preparation for when he officially became an adult, so that he would be ready to head out into the world that he knew was right for him.  Which, just so we are clear, was anywhere but here with us.  

In February of this year, while the Prince was out of town, Bashful who was suspended from school for a few days, began down a road that has lead us on a bizarre, how did this become my life  rabbit trail in life and to tomorrow.... the day we celebrate his 18th birthday. 

Without him.  

After breaking into our bedroom and stealing electronics from our room while we were working, he put into motion a plan to run a way from home.  Plan is a strong word, he just called for a friend to pick him up and asked for his debit card.  He left the house with one backpack that included a hoodie, a lid, and an extra pair of pants.  

While I attempted to talk him out this "plan" while on the phone with his father who was also trying to talk him out of this plan, tensions escalated, language got stronger, and the threat to the safety of myself and Happy increased.  Finally, the Prince said to just let him go.  We all assumed that when the Prince returned to the kingdom in the next day or so that we would work things out and move forward.  

He stayed a run away until he was "recovered" by local authorities on May 5, 2020.  In the midst of a pandemic.  The authorities wanted us to bring him home.  We refused.  We after all have an immune compromised child living in our home.  It ended up that he was able to stay with his adult brother Grumpy for the night until the Prince and I could make plans to get him, and have him quarantine safely.  

On the morning of May 6th we go a call from the Juvenile Detention Center, at 7:00 AM to ask if we would give our permission to them to interview Bashful as he had been brought in over night in connection with some burglaries.  We agreed.  

That afternoon he was released on house arrest to the care of his father, but in a paperwork blunder, to the address of Grumpy.  Because of the precautions that were outlined in the house arrest information the Prince made the best decision he could for Bashful by returning him to his brothers address for that day, but kept in close contact with him as to not break the supervisory role that as a parent is your responsibility for a minor child.   In the meantime we continued to pursue the quarantine options for his return to our home.  Additionally, the Prince and Bashful had a court hearing the next morning with the judge over the phone that Bashful and the Prince were required to attend as part of the house arrest requirements. 

Throughout the remainder of the afternoon into early evening, the Prince was in touch with the two boys, as they communicated about various things. Around 9:00PM the Prince came to me and said that he thought that he needed to go do a well check on the boys since technically Bashful was remanded to his care.  He was going to pop into their place and make sure they were set for the night. 

An hour or so later,  I realized that the Prince was not back to our house yet.  Not really too concerned I texted to check in on him.  He immediately called me.  

This is what he told me: 
When he turned onto the street that the boys were living on, the area by their house was blazing with lights from police cars.  There was a great bustle of activity as a SWAT team tore around the outside of the property and through the home.  The Prince parked and rushed to where Grumpy was outside, standing, handcuffed.  Bashful was nowhere to be found.  They had already arrested Bashful and taken him away.  He was being charged with attempted murder in the second degree.  For nearly an hour, the SWAT team removed, overturned, uprooted, dumped every literal area of that home.  Additionally, removing boxes of items that were identified in advance as stolen property or other various types of evidence.  He would wait there with Grumpy until the dust settled, and get him situated before heading home.  

Thursday, May 7th 9:00 telephone hearing.  Bashful is being held on 8 counts of burglary. 
Friday, May 8th 9:00 am telephone hearing.  Bashful has had 5 more counts of burglary added to his case. 
Monday, May 11th , final phone hearing.  Total charges being held against Bashful, 13 burglary charges, 1 burglary charge with a fire arm, and one account of attempted murder second degree.  

Bashful spent most of May in the juvenile detention center.  He called us everyday, several times a day.  He wanted us to post bond.  He wanted to us to pail for his bail.  He wanted us to visit him.  He wanted us to contact his parole officer.  

Friday, May 29th they direct reported him to the adult facility in Manatee County in the juvenile side.  He is under maximum security  detail and only gets out of his cell for 2 hours a day.  Now when he calls we have to pay.  He still attempts to call several times a day, but most days we only each talk to him once.  It seems that when you have all the time in the world on your hands, you forget that others are still working, serving and doing the same life that they did before you went to jail.  

Last month, we had not heard from him in several days.  I told the Prince that his silence was not a good thing.  That he must have gotten himself into some trouble.  On Tuesday, June 16th I got a call from the jail.  I thought it was him.  It was not, it was a "friend".  The friend asked us if we had heard from Bashful's attorney.  The friend asked if we were going to bail Bashful out.  The friend asked if we had talked to the parole officer. The friends said that Bashful was hungry, could we send a care package... I asked the friend why Bashful could not call us himself.  His response, "He was put in the box".  Solitary. For fighting.  For one month... seems extreme, but of course I do not have the details of the fight.  My guess it was a serious one for the punishment to be a month in the box. 

Tomorrow is Bashful's 18th birthday.  Sunday, the 12th, Bashful gets removed from the box, and taken to the adult side of the jail.  Not at all the birthday celebration that he was planning for himself, nor us for him I am sure.  But still a day that deserve recognizing.   

The most recent update on his cases are that he will most likely have the majority of his juvenile cases reduced to time served.  That is 9 counts of burglary.  There are four more felony counts that they are going to pursue as adult charges.  Two of them are burglary.  One is burglary with a fire arm and the other is the attempted murder second degree.  If you were to add up all the maximums for those four counts alone, he would be facing life plus 40 years.  

  This is the last photo that Bashful and I had taken together.  It was from the Prince's birthday party last year.  The month before his 17th birthday.  Amazing how much things can change in one years time.  

As we celebrate Bashful tomorrow, we will rejoice in the past 16 + years that he has been part of our family.  We will be grateful for all the opportunities that he has had while in our care and under our protection.  Opportunities to try new things, to learn about the Lord, to be surrounded by his biological siblings,  to eat well, to be safe, to have all of life's necessities provided for him. (along with many of his wants)  We will rejoice that we were able to protect him as long as we did.  Creating rules, and guidelines which often caused unrest and angst in our home, but ultimately were for his safe keeping.   

Tomorrow we will pray that the things that we attempted to instill in him during his time in our home, will begin to bubble to the surface of his mind, as he spends much time alone with his thoughts.  That he will start to understand the sacrifices made on his behalf, not just by the Prince and I, but also by our family and friends.  

I am sure, as there have been since February, there will tears throughout the day.  Tears of relief that he is someplace safe. Tears of pain for the experiences that he is enduring as a young person that were never part of our plan for his life.  Tears of joy in the memories of his younger days, and the times over the years when he was kind, helpful and appreciative.  Tears of sorrow for the time lost already in this slow process of justice, and for the potential additional years that will be added to his time of incarceration.  Tears also for all the coming of age activities that he will miss, getting his license, prom, senior photos, graduation, higher education, holidays... the list is a bit overwhelming if you think on it too long. 

Through it all, however we will not stop trusting that the Lord is and always will be the Lord of Bashful's life.  God loves him more than we ever could.  As a matter of fact He loved Bashful, and all his siblings so much, that He kept them safe during the worst part of their early days, to bring them to us, their forever family.   

We will not stop acknowledging that the Lord who created Bashful, is not surprised by what we consider this huge detour in his young life.  We know that somewhere in this process there will be men and women that will be able to speak into Bashful's life.  Our prayer is that it starts to "click".  We hope that he takes the time while in jail to consider how doing things his way turned out, and as he matures will start to seek, on his own, opportunities to change the way he thinks and to learn from these early mistakes.  

So for now, we do not know what the future holds.  We do not know what is in store for Bashful, or any of the rest of the Lingle's in the kingdom, but we do know the One who does!  

Here is wishing you Bashful, a Birthday filled with new beginnings,  health, humility, grace and safety.  

I sure did wish that sometimes I made this stuff up... 



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  3. Praying for the entire Lingle kingdom. I witnessed firsthand the love showered on all of the dwarfs, and I'm confident in saying you did a great job under impossible circumstances. Sometimes we can do everything right, but some stuff is just out of our control.