The Girl Behind The Door: A Memoir By John Brooks

TGBTD-eBookCov_03-600“This book should be a wakeup call to all adoptive parents and professionals about the urgent issues adoptees and their parents face.”

Nancy Newton Verrier, attachment therapist and author

The Primal Wound and Coming Home to Self

A Marin County, California father embarks on a journey to understand what led his seventeen-year-old daughter, Casey, to take her life. He travels back to her abandonment at birth and adoption from a Polish orphanage. His search leads to a condition known as attachment disorder, an affliction common among children who have been abandoned, neglected or abused. It explained everything. The Girl Behind The Door integrates a tragic personal adoption story with information from the experts to teach other families what the Brookses learned too late.

Who should read it?

    Anyone with a connection to the adoption “triad.”
    Anyone who has lost a loved one to suicide.
    Anyone who cried through the movie Philomena.
    Anyone who knows us and wants to read our story.

Available now on Amazon in print and Kindle version. Soon to be released on the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble online, Sony Reader Store, Kobo and more.

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…

The Preemie

Last week I wrote about Twinless Twins. Casey was a Twinless Twin but she never knew it. Her sister was stillborn and we never told her out of fear it would freak her out. But that wasn’t her only challenge when she came into this world on May 3, 1990. She wasn’t ready. Her mother went into labor six weeks early – week thirty. Casey’s birth weight was only three pounds.

This is what a three-pound preemie looks like, her hand not much bigger than an adult thumb.

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But don’t worry. This little girl’s doing fine. Here she is at seventeen months.

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Casey probably went straight from the delivery room to an incubator, where she likely spent much of the next two months before she was sent to the orphanage in Mragowo. Who even knows if her mother ever held her?

When my wife and I learned about Casey’s premature birth, we tried to learn everything we could, a task made difficult by the fact that this was 1991; we couldn’t just Google “preemie.” We were years away from a home computer. So we consulted an old high school friend who was a neonatal intensive care nurse.

The long-term effects of a premature birth were terrifying: learning disabilities, vision and hearing problems, digestive and respiratory problems and cerebral palsy, among other things. And what we first learned about Casey at ten months did nothing to ease our concerns – she couldn’t sit up, stand, crawl, feed herself or do much of anything. Some people (who shall remain nameless) seeking to protect us, urged us to back away. But we couldn’t.

We assumed there was a good chance she might have had CP. Best case scenario? She’d probably have developmental delays, learning disabilities or frail health. She might’ve been the smallest kid in the class. As concerned as we were for Casey’s future we’d already fallen in love with her, and then we saw her first image (at ten months).

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We couldn’t get to Poland fast enough.

The bigger picture never dawned on us, and the doctors we consulted never brought it up – an unwanted pregnancy, traumatic birth, a dead twin, life devoid of human touch for two months followed by limited human contact in an institution for a year. That was Casey’s life before we even met her, but we brushed this off. Just love her enough and everything would be fine.

The fact that Casey defied those odds to become the incredible human being that she did is either a testimony to her amazing willpower or to the basic survival instincts of children faced with impossible odds.