Friday, December 30, 2005


Sam was a beautiful boy who came to us when he was 3.5 years old.

By eleven months he'd already been seriously abused and neglected. He went to a "good" foster home, where he received numerous injuries including a few head injuries that required stitches. At 3.5 he sat on the toilet in my home, with an erection, while he slapped and screamed and cried "Bad penis!". Poor baby, there was no history of sexual abuse; the social worker said his foster home was "great".

We spent a fortune on treatments and therapy for Sam over the next five years. When our twins were born (IVF babies) we saw a change come over Sam. Not the change we expected - for we thought he might act out against them and resent them. We saw his heart melt, the sun shine in his eyes again. He would sit for ages with a small finger outstretched while a tiny fist gripped it. He would declare "they love me!" because he was the only one who could calm them when they cried. And they did. We all did.

But the love was maybe too little too late because when Sam started school we lost him to the anger and fear that reigned within his young heart. Three years later his violence was directed toward his younger brothers, who still idolized him, and his crimes against them were unforgiveable. Sam had to leave.

No parent cherishes the decision to say goodbye to their child, whether young or old, whether adopted or otherwise. We loved Sam, claimed him as our own, named him our own. But to protect him from the pain that was caused every time he hurt another, and to protect the younger ones from being hurt any more, he had to go.

We found a remarkable family for Sam who had experience raising difficult children, who could pull him into themselves and count him among their own. Sam has been with this family for almost three years now. His body hasn't grown a whole lot since then, but his heart has.

While I have a small stone heart hiding in a prayer box on my nightstand - my own intimate prayer that his heart of stone might one day be healed and can be released from that box a living thing, a beautiful, joyful thing - Sam's heart is stirring within his body and finally finding room within it for perhaps one or two other things. Maybe not people yet, but things. He loves a dog now, I'm told. Can care for his pet with love and concern where once he sought to kill such things. He can be trusted to keep himself and other safe, now. What a joy!

Sam is still young and still has a long way to go. But he is on the path that will take him there. He's picked himself up out of the dust, he's learning to hold his stoney heart out to others to see if they can crack the hard shell and find the joy within. I think they're making some progress, all of them together.

As for us, we are healing. We all remember Sam, but can remember him now with love and tenderness, with no more fear of the bad that was done, no more need to remember it. We all still love him, and can love him now with a pure love because there is no more hurt. We pray for Sam, we remember him - the shining boy.