The following is a story that happened in Canada, I doubt many have heard of it. It is tragic and hard to even contemplate having happened. I have followed the news reports into the Ashley Smith Inquest into her death. A heartbreaking, breath-stopping story that to me speaks of how the system failed her over, and over again. A tragic story that should never have happened, and the linked article does not even begin to delve into all that she went through. I haven’t talked about it here, but have thought about it a lot.
Last night they showed a few clips of her mom speaking at the inquest. Speaking about how sweet Ashley was growing up, smiling all the time, the joy of her life, and how she wanted people to know who Ashley was, before she went into the system. That the troubles started around the 9th grade, and how she took her to a psychiatrist who said she was just a normal teenager, which reassured her. I feel so badly for her mom.
And she spoke of adopting Ashley at 3 days old, and how Ashley had become obsessed with knowing details of her parentage, and her biological mother, but had held off of sharing the details because she felt she was too young.
Last night was the first time I heard that Ashley was adopted, and I thought about it a lot trying to go to sleep last night and again this morning. I don’t know if being adopted, and being obsessed with wanting to know details about her biological mother contributed to her acting out. It certainly sparked a lot of deeper thought in me, and memories of my teenage years surfaced. I am hesitant to include my thoughts on being a teenager, because I am not trying to be disrespectful to Ashley’s story, but it shows how horribly wrong things can go at the same time – regardless of why or what sparked the change.
Please understand I am not trying to connect the outcome to the story simply because she was adopted, but at the same time I do feel being adopted may have played a role. Really struggling with posting this, but it feeds into a thought that has swirled in my mind for a while. How parents can be lulled into believing their child is just fine with being adopted, and while the child can still be just fine with it, how it can become complicated and hard when teen years happen.
It reminded me of how hard being a teenager was for me, and how mom and dad would never have dreamed that I would act out based on how I was as a child. So many more layers are added to an already complicated time of development. I know being adopted caused me to start acting out when I hit my teens, changing me from that shy smiling girl, but I didn’t get into trouble with the law. I made some big mistakes for sure, and I was hurting inside, but I wouldn’t turn to mom and dad because I didn’t want to cause them pain, and I think that is what I want to get across in this post – I wanted to protect mom and dad’s feelings at the cost of my own. I want adoptive parents to understand and research how it is for adoptees in their teens, when you are trying to understand who you are, what defines you, what part of you comes from your genetics and what that means when you have no knowledge, all of this, while you are starting the normal separation of yourself from your family.
Just be aware – regardless if you think your child has never had any issues with being adopted – becoming a teenager means for some of us – we have to process it all over again, it’s hard and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.