We Are Now Published In German by Beltz

A different book jacket and title that translates roughly into “The Car Is Parked At The Bridge. I Am Sorry. A Father’s Search For Answers To His Daughter’s Suicide.”

With over 80 million people, Germany is the largest country in Europe.

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A Tale Of Two Orphans: Casey and “Joseph”

Our first image of Casey in April, 1991 came through another American couple who were in the process of adopting a 2-year old boy named Joseph (not his real name). He lived in the same orphanage as Casey did in Mrągowo, Poland. They snapped a couple of pictures of her while they received Joseph, pictures that we’ll cherish forever. We kept in touch over the years, sending Christmas cards and photos of our children as they grew from infancy to toddlerhood to middle school and high school.

We led different lives.

They lived in a rural area, were very conservative and devoutly religious. We lived in a famously liberal, affluent suburb outside of a world-class city. We were active in our local Episcopal church, but our connection was more social than spiritual.

Every Christmas I’d share their cards and photos with Casey, re-explaining the nature of our connection. But as she reached her teen years, she reacted as most teens would – superficially. She poked fun at Joseph’s ears (poor kid did have elephant ears that stuck out) and sniffed at his involvement in church groups, scouts and his aspiration to become an auto mechanic. He was certainly not marriage material for Casey Brooks. 

After Casey’s suicide, I tracked down Joseph’s father online; we’d lost touch. I wanted to break the tragic news to them but also wanted to know how Joseph was doing, especially in light of my discovery of attachment disorder. He was older than Casey when he was adopted from that orphanage. Surely there was emotional residue from his longer time there. I needed to understand more about Joseph’s life narrative since I knew so little about Casey’s. I emailed Joseph’s father hoping I’d get a reply, but “teen suicide” is a toxic subject and most parents slam the door shut.

You are left alone.

Joseph’s father did write me back. His response was both illuminating and unsatisfying.  

They had one biological son but wanted another child and couldn’t conceive a second time. Joseph was the product of a neighborhood affair, and spent much of his first year at home in a rocking cradle. His birth father was legally blind and couldn’t care for him, so he and Joseph’s birth mother agreed to give Joseph up for adoption so that he could have a chance for a better life. He had been in the orphanage in Mrągowo for less than 6 months before he was adopted and, according to his adoptive father, bonded to his adoptive mother “amazingly fast.”

His life since then had been pretty normal, much like Casey’s. He adored his older brother and his dog, loved NASCAR and entered a training program in auto mechanics at the age of 22. His father admitted that Joseph had some learning disabilities and issues with his eyesight, but nothing like that rages and outbursts we’d seen in Casey. 

This left with me with a multitude of questions. 

  • Was his father being truthful with me?
  • Were they in denial as I had once been?
  • Did they even tell Joseph about Casey’s suicide for fear of freaking him out?
  • Was the fact that Joseph had been at home for his first year rather than institutionalized a deciding factor (as adoption experts assert)?
  • Was Joseph’s “older brother” a critical source of security for him? Should we have given Casey a sibling? Was her dog Igor not enough?
  • Were Joseph’s parents simply better parents than we were? Were we just complete failures?
  • Should we have been more conservative and devout?

Would any of this have made a difference in whether Casey lived or died? Why would two children from similar circumstances go down such different life and death paths?

These are the kinds of questions a grieving father grinds through every day for the rest of his life.  

Speaking of Twins and Preemies…

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

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After I posted about twinless twins and preemies, a good friend of mine sent me this photo and a caption, something I initially missed and just saw yesterday.

It took my breath away.

In fact, I wondered if this picture and the underlying story were legit or a prank. Even if it was a prank, who cares. For me, it just added more imagery of what Casey’s birth and infancy might have or could have been – the stronger baby (Casey) comforting the weaker twin (her sister) to hang in there. Casey wasn’t able to save her sister but this story has a happy ending.

This photograph is called the ‘Rescuing Hug.’ Kyrie and Brielle were born in 1995 at Massachusetts Memorial Hospital in Worcester, each weighing two pounds. Brielle was not doing well. She cried a great deal, leaving her gasping and blue-faced; she was not expected to live. A hospital nurse fought to put her in the same incubator with her sister Kyrie as opposed to separate ones. Almost immediately, Brielle snuggled up to Kyrie, who wrapped her arm around her sister. Her touch allowed Brielle’s heart to stabilize, her temperature to return to normal and her breathing to come more easily. Over the next weeks, her health improved steadily in her new, less lonely quarters. The children survived their rocky beginning and in time went home with their parents.

Casey spent the first year of her life in lonely quarters. If only…