Saturday, March 22, 2008

Frankie Called Again

I haven't written him for a while. The last time I was debating about it I did write. I did not hear back. I hadn't expected to, but it seemed a good way to let go. I would write the last letter.

But he called today. He wants me to look for a book in one of his boxes that is still here. I really don't know if the reason he called was that he wanted the book and all the rest was filler, or if he wanted to talk to us and the book was just an excuse to call. I will be taking all of his boxes back to the agency though. It is long past the time those boxes should have left.

His calls are not like when Ann's. At least not for me. I am always thrilled to hear from her. She knows she can't live here and that I love her. I want to stay in touch. With Frankie I don't feel that way. I don't know what to say to him. He doesn't understand why he can't live here again, and I can't explain it to him.

He just turned 16, did I know that? Some people who help kids get adopted came by to talk to him, but he doesn't remember where they are from. He is studying in the school at the treatment center. He is learning, "slowly but surely." He's decided he wants to be an interpreter. He is going to learn lots of languages and travel all around the world and interpret for people. You know, like a mercenary.

Is Brian still afraid of him? He's really sorry he frightened Brian that time. Did I tell Brian that he wouldn't ever hurt him? And what would I think if he got me on the visitor list? Oh, I'm on speaker phone, can I tell? They always make him have his phone conversations on speaker phone.

I don't know what to do or say. I really don't.

I have competing narratives I tell myself about Frankie's time here. In one we did basically a good thing. Frankie had spent several years living in group homes and treatment centers. He needed to try to live "on the outside" and we were the best place for him to try. While he was with us he came out about wanting to be a girl and learned that it wasn't something to be ashamed of. It turned out that he wasn't ready for ordinary family life, but it was good that we gave him the chance.

In the other narrative I realize that he is the only kid I ever took saying that it might not make it. I never made a commitment to him. We took him on a test drive and then sent him back. We shouldn't have done that. We should not have taken him in the first place. We will not do that again. We will be careful. We won't take a kid unless we can make a commitment. If we make a commitment we will stick to it.

And I suppose both stories are true. Both are stories that Frankie may tell someday. We may be the family where he first came out and felt safe. We may one of the families who made promises and then sent him back like a defective toaster. We may be both.

But he doesn't understand why he can't come back.

I went back and re-read the posts from his last week. (If you want to put yourself through that experience start here.) We can't go back there. I spent days trying to get him into the adolescent psych unit and trying to keep him calm so that we wouldn't have to call the police or take him to the emergency room. Brian packed a suitcase so that he could leave to go to a friend's if Frankie went into a rage. And we lied to him. We lied because we thought he would rage if we told him the truth. We lied because we did not think he would believe the truth.

He thought he was in control. He thought he was leaving because he hated the school he had to attend. He liked us and all, but he would do whatever he had to do to get out of that school, even if it meant moving. And it turned out that it did. He was angry about where he had to go, but he saw it as the result of his own demands.

So what does he think now? He think he left because he wanted to shift schools and he can't come back to visit because he scared Brian.

And I hate this. I don't know how to talk to him. I don't know what to tell him.

I don't have an explanation for him that is true and will make sense to him. He will promise not to scare Brian again, or tell me that he doesn't go into rages anymore. He is better now. I won't have to call the police. He won't make knives and stab his stuffed animals or slash his clothes again. But I don't want him to think that he is such a bad person that he can't live here. He is not a bad person, but he is a very sick boy.

Maybe being nice to him just makes it worse. He stays attached and wants to know what he has to do to come back.

I really don't know what to do. I really don't.

And the irony? He called as I was writing a post about wanting the agency to call about another kid.


  1. So I'm curious... You've taken all boys from what I can see... So it's a three part question...

    1) Would you take an FTM vs a MTF?

    2) Would you accept a lesbian placement.

    3) If yes to either, what would the stipulations be, and how would they be different from the boys you've taken on. If not, why not?

  2. Isn't it funny how life sends us those coincidences.

    I wish I had words of advice or wisdom but I can't even figure out my own words of wisdom sometimes.

  3. You do understand that there is no explanation that he would understand don't you? Oddly enough I ran into my own personal version of Frankie while my mom was in the hospital. After twelve years he is just the same, the only difference I could find was a gray hair or two and he'd moved to another Group Home. But he recognized me at 40 paces and came running, saying 'hello cathy w***s', it's me, it's *** ***. all in a very high southern accent. I have to say, it kind of perked me up.

    I still feel like this will be Frankie's lot in life. I really don't see him ever being allowed to live on his own.

  4. Calls like that just stir up all the sediment that you thought had settled. Sorry. For all of it. For Frankie, (he breaks my heart) for you, your family. For all the children who deserved so much more. And btw? None of it is your fault.


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