Last night I blogged about our errant, missing son. I likened him to Mary's little lamb, lost and wandering about, following whomever he can find. I indicated that we had not heard from him in several weeks and continued to be worried about his whereabouts and safety. A few minutes ago, thanks to a blog reader, we know where our red-headed black sheep is. He is back, and has been since June 21, in our county law enforcement center (read that "jail"), with a set of new charges against him. Added to his previous "nuisance" charges (like underage consumption and possession of drug paraphernalia), and his earlier receiving of stolen property is now a third-degree burglary charge.
While I am relieved to know that he is in a safe place where he will not endanger anyone else, and where he will be supervised regularly, with a place to sleep, clothes to wear and food to eat, I am of course saddened. And angered. I am saddened because Mike has been unwilling or unable for years now to trust caring adults enough to find some semblance of order and happiness to his life. And I am angered that he sits in jail now largely due to choices made while he was in utero in the supposed safe place of his birth mother's womb.
While I do not know Mike's birth mother, nor the circumstances of history that led her to be a chronic user of chemicals (leading to the termination of parental rights of all four of her children), it makes me angry beyond words to know how she blighted his young life before he ever had much of a chance. If the prenatal poisoning was not enough to harm the child who would become our son, the environments she provided for her four children added little hope -- living on the streets, dropping of the kids with relatives for days at a time without any word, living out of a car, selling the children's bikes for drugs, living with whomever she was able to find who would support her addictions.
And I am angry with a society that has done so little to intercede on the behalf of victims of neglect and abuse. I can only conjecture that she herself grew up in an equally grim situation, and her early life experiences are only being perpetuated in at least this one birth son of hers. How could Mike's life have been different if someone in the 1960s or 1970s had removed his birth mom from the negative home environment she, too, experienced? Could my son be doing what most eighteen-year-old kids are doing ... working a job in the summer before their first year of college? Instead he sits in a jail cell, a chronologically eighteen-year-old who is developmentally twelve, surrounded by nearly one hundred other "adult" offenders.
And, of course, I am perpetually angry with a culture that exalts and promotes a lifestyle that somehow isn't complete without showers of alcohol and other chemicals. I grieve that I live in a culture where the only way to celebrate life is supposedly to lift a bottle together, where the idea of relaxation is to watch a sports event with friends while chugging back life-altering chemicals.
I am a bit angry today. But I am not angry with our red-headed black sheep. His choices were taken away long before he ever knew he had any.