My five-year-old son was kicked out of two day cares for his behaviour ― for biting; for rocking so hard he damaged furniture; and for pinching, pushing and hitting. We have had to leave public places due to embarrassing tantrums. I get nervous every time another child stands too close to him ― there is a 50/50 chance the interaction will go well or the other child will be crying within seconds.
But all children start out as innocent, tiny babies. Our story is no different.
My son, CA, was born under inauspicious circumstances. He was nine weeks premature and weighed just 3lb, 6oz. His lungs were underdeveloped. He had been exposed to MRSA, hepatitis and, likely, methamphetamines in utero. His birth mother was a drug user with a strong distaste for basic obstetrics care and general nutrition.
Prior to his birth, CA’s birth mom arranged for my husband and me to adopt him. The moment we heard of his birth, we stepped into the role of CA’s parents. He was our son, and we fully intended to celebrate his birth and life despite his adverse beginning.
Our sweet boy spent eight gruelling weeks in a neonatal intensive care unit four hours from our home. The rhythm of his heartbeat was marked with a loud beep; an alarm sounded each time that rhythm went awry. A different alarm announced that he had stopped breathing. CA was fed with one tube and breathed with help from another. The chaos in his hospital room made holding him difficult but, thankfully, not impossible. When CA could breathe and eat on his own, he was released from the hospital with assurances that he would live a long and healthy life. The worst, we thought, was behind us. We were wrong.
CA’s bright blue eyes, blond hair and perfect chin dimple give him the appearance of an angel, but he was temperamental from the beginning. He cried easily and often; feeding was a struggle; he disliked being held. Yet even his darkest moods as a baby did not prepare us for the destruction he wrought as a toddler.