Our First Years:
During that first summer together, we learned that Kara knew how to swim, was a quick learner and by the time the school year began, she was speaking English like it was a native language. Of course, she often didn’t know what a word meant, but she’d say she did, so communication was a bit difficult.
It was also difficult to keep her in clothes; she was 4 feet 2 inches when she arrived and was 5 feet tall by the beginning of school. That was as tall as she would get.
School! If I had known then what I know now, I would have tried to home school her. At the time, it didn’t even occur to me to do that. I think she would have benefited with the one-to-one attention.
As it was, she was given into the care of an elderly teacher whom she dearly loved, to learn what she needed to go into fifth grade. She did well with this teacher where she wasn’t doing well with me.
Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)
At the time no one had ever heard of RAD. It has only become a diagnosis in the last 20 years. Kara was a classic RAD child. She was a victim of parental and/or care giver abuse. Her behaviors at home with me were really disturbing. She was the same way with my mother, but totally different with my sister.
Kara was an accomplished thief. I was always discovering things that didn’t belong to her. Money went missing from my wallet. When a neighbor came over and demanded that she cough up the $10 he was missing, I defended her and gave him the money back.
She was also an accomplished liar. Oh my God, could she lie! She would take a lie to her grave, but never admit what she did was wrong. She had no experience with right or wrong behaviors. It made for a frustrating adjustment period.
Life with Kara in my home was a battlefield. She was an expert at doing little nitpicky things to annoy me. Family parties became unpleasant and stressful. She would start fights at the parties with me or my mother. I reached the point of wanting to avoid my family altogether at Thanksgiving or Christmas.
My birthday that first year gave me an indication of what all the holidays and birthdays were going to be like with Kara. She hated the fact that I was the center of attention and did her best to make it unpleasant.
Christmas was even worse. She didn’t understand giving and getting presents. She wanted everything under the tree. She was mad when another person opened a gift. She started a fight with my mother and then with me. She started sulking and screaming at me.
It was a relief for me when school began again in 1981. She needed a routine to function well. I hate to admit it, but I’m not all that routine oriented.
It was on March 23, 1981 (3 years to the day when I broke my foot) that we finalized her adoption. She was officially my child. I felt that hopefully we were on our way to being a family. However, that was wishful thinking on my part.
I had an engagement ring in my jewelry box that she stole and gave to a girl at school. The first I knew about it was when the school called and asked if I was missing a ring like that one. I checked my jewelry box and sure enough it was missing.
The reason she told me why she took the ring was that she wanted to be friends with the girl. I tried to explain stealing was wrong for the umpteenth time. She never got that point.
She stole from our Christian bookstore; I made her take the item back. That didn’t faze her any. She was very adept at shoplifting and I would find items I had no clue where they came from. We think she stole money from my sister and my nephews, we were never sure.
I had a rule, no children in the house until I was home. She continually broke that rule. Almost every day when I came home from work, there would be children leaving by the front door as I was going in the back. I had my concerns as to what was going on while I wasn’t home
I was pretty sure she was sexualized somehow. It wasn’t until many years later that I learned what her life in India was like.
We had no clue what had happened in the jail in Calcutta. The jailers, mostly men, continually raped all the young girls being held there. These girls ranged in ages 5 to 15. Accordingly, the creeps raped the young boys, as well.
Kara’s second year was almost identical as her first year. Myra, my sister would take her for a few hours or a couple of days to give me some relief from the constant attacks.
In 1982, I decided to look at adopting again. I checked with my previous social worker, Laura and she agreed she would approve me.
I don’t remember why I thought life would be okay if I adopted again, but I did. I really think that I was a gluten for punishment. I could not have been considered rational. That’s when I planned to adopt from the foster care system. Here comes Kim!
For more of our story, check out our next post.
Thanks for reading, Ann