In an honest piece written exclusively for the Daily Mail, one mom opens up about why she wishes she would have returned her adopted autistic daughter.
Meg Henderson explains that she’s sharing her story in light of the controversy surrounding U.K. mom Claire Patterson, who returned her disabled adopted son and shared the experience with the world. Henderson says she and her husband adopted Louise, now 36, when she was 2-and-a-half years old, and at the time, they already had a 4-year-old son named Euan, whom they also had previously adopted. When the Hendersons took Louise and Louise's 18-month-old sister, Marion in, she says she knew they came from a broken home.
“They came, by contrast, from a family where abuse had been the norm and no one could be sure of their parentage,” Henderson writes. “Louise, we were told, was showing ‘early signs of disturbance’ after a year in a children’s home. But this was because of emotional deprivation, said the social workers, and that could be cured, magically, with a little TLC. As we were innocents, we believed this. No social worker would lie about such things, surely? Especially as we had stressed from the outset that we really did not think we could not cope with a disabled child. Could not cope; not ‘did not care’. We knew our limitations.”
Quickly, Louise explains, things started to get worse for Louise.
“She wasn’t potty-trained. She picked wounds in herself till she bled, and attacked anything that moved. She banged her head on any surface, and ate by grabbing handfuls of food and jamming it into her mouth,” Henderson continues. “After every meal her face and hair would be coated with whatever she had been eating. The trouble was, there were no longer any normal routines to hold on to. Normal went out the window the day Louise arrived. I’d expected it to be tiring, for it to be hard work; but I was permanently exhausted and operating in a fog of anxiety.
“At times, coping with Louise meant physically holding on to her, but the more we held on, the more she kicked, writhed and screamed,” Henderson says. “The mayhem was bad enough inside the house, but I had to go out sometimes, with three children under the age of four and Louise behaving like a wild animal.”
Eventually, Louise was diagnosed with autism and brain damage, and as things got worse, Henderson constantly contemplated giving her back. Each time, however, guilt stopped her from doing so. The mom explains that social services never told her of Louise’s difficulties ahead of time, and as she writes, she would never have gone through with the adoption if she had known. Louise’s challenges took a toll on Henderson’s marriage, her two other children, and everything else in their lives.
Louise is now 36 and living in a home, and although Henderson says she loves her daughter, she is honest about wishing she would have returned her a long time ago.
“For had we been told what we now know about Louise, we, too, would have turned down the placement — which is precisely why social services did not tell us the full extent of her problems,” Henderson explains. “And had we found out in those early years, we would have handed her back. I dearly wish we had. Though Louise’s mental illness is managed well, provided she is supervised, her autism gets more entrenched with age. My husband and I have been there for as long as she is able to remember, but she has no emotional attachment to us. She isn’t capable of that. She doesn’t remember family members, and within weeks of us dying she will no longer remember us.
“Today, Marion, 36, a musician, does not have a relationship with her sister. Louise forgets people very quickly, and there is simply no point. It’s taken a lot to persuade Marion to let go, to stop feeling guilty,” Henderson discloses at the end of the piece. “Euan, meanwhile, is his sister’s defender and supporter, as he always has been. He is in the process of taking guardianship over her — preparing for when we die. We can’t make up to Euan and Marion for those lost years — that time has gone, sadly.
“And now I have two great regrets," Henderson concludes. "One is that I wasn’t with my mother when she died — but she knew I loved her, so that is only my second regret. Adopting Louise and keeping her is my greatest regret. And that is the honest truth.”
Source: Daily Mail / Photo Source: Daily Mail