Friday, October 10, 2014


I felt touched by Alec Wilkinson's Life and Letters in the New Yorker regarding the poet Edward Hirsch's elegy for his son Gabiiel who died in 2011 at age 22 of a drug overdose.  I've requested the book; parts of it appear in the article.

I kept thinking, this story is so familiar; I've seen this kid many times before.

And sometimes they die young.

Child enters family through adoption.  But even early on, the child shows sign of dysfunction which never goes away.

You can stop right here.  Is it the loss of the birthmother, the primal wound, that causes this?

Is it the lack of prenatal care by a pregnant woman who may lack education or resources?

Is it the lack of preparation (part of it hormonal) of adoptive parents causing their kids to be wacky?

I don't think so.  My theory is that often, when a woman has to make an adoption plan for her child, when she feels she cannot parent her child, there's a lot of chaos in her life, possibly caused by her (or her family's) inabilities to handle or control their own lives.

Not always, present company excluded.

These inabilities or dysfunctions are passed on to the child.  It's genetic.  For example, most athletic children have genetic parents who are also athletes.  So somebody the neurological syndromes or crazy behavior that can send their own life into chaos passes on these predelictions to their children.

They came that way.

C'mon parents by birth or adoption, weren't your children who they were from the very first moment that you met them?

So with this eminent poet who swoop into Texas in 1988 and adopt a six day old baby boy.  Besides worrying that the birthmother will change her mind, she slides right out of the story.   But this son, Gabriel, is restless and disruptive from the start.  No amount of private schools nor experts can help.  Even at the end, the parent continue to support the son financially as he wanders around making poor choices.  Not that that's a bad thing; sometimes you cannot think of anything else to do.

I've seen this so many times in parent group.

After Gabriel's death, the father writes a book about his grief.

An excerpt about the parent's worry

The evening with its lamps burning
The night with its head in its hands
The early morning
I look back at the worried parents
Wandering through the house
What are we going to do
The evening of the clinical
The night of the psychological
The morning facedown in the pillow
The experts can handle him
The experts have no idea
How to handle him
There are enigmas in darkness
There are mysteries
Sent out without searchlights
 And writing about his frustration about his son's impulsivity

Mr. Impulsive walked out of class
When he did not like what the teacher said
It was boring
Mr. Impulsive scurried out in a storm
Wearing shorts and a wife beater
Soon he was shivering
The neighbors complained to the landlord
Complained to me but Mr. Impulsive
Could not be bothered to close the gate.
 There are no answers here.....

Illustration from the New Yorker article

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