The Backwoods

Where we teeter between our love of modern convenience and the yearning for something long past; a world where neighbors knew your name and a “Friend Request” was eye contact and a smile.

Battle Scars

Posted · 19 Comments

Robin the week she came to us...what's not to love, right?!

Tonight while making dinner, the boys were swapping scar stories, as boys do. Steven showed off a rugged mark of a playground fall and Luke talked about a scrape from an old porch board.  Anthony nodded his head forward to show them
one in his hairline and said, “My birth dad told me one story about how it happened, but he lies all the time, so I’m not sure.”

Robin laughed and said, “That’s nothing…my arm was nearly ripped off by a broken window while saving a baby from some lions.”

Right.

It was a few years back when she first noticed the jagged scar wrapping nearly all the way around her left wrist.  Lines and creases mar an otherwise flawless skin, a remnant of a past she can’t remember and most of the time, she’s glad to forget.

We dug out the piles of old Child Welfare paperwork, documenting her ugly history before she landed on my door at six years old. We scoured the medical records, assuming such a vial scar would surely have required medical attention, but with no result.
There was nothing, no mention in a caseworker notes or recorded doctor visit indicating such an accident or even purposeful attack that would have left such a mark.  Nothing.

And so, I said, “Probably you were saving a baby from a burning building…” because what else could I say?

“Or lions,” she said, her young imagination began to work and her eyes widened in excitement.

And so it was set in the historical records of our family, that Robin was a hero in her younger years, capable of great deeds of sacrifice and the strength to fend off lions.

I wrote briefly HERE about a conversation I had with Robin a while back.  I was driving down the road and talking to Mya about how when she was little, she was afraid of the moon shining through her bedroom window.  We laughed about how silly it was and what a funny little kid she was, and since I’ve had her since she was a baby, there is much information to share.  Robin, sitting quietly beside me, said,

“I wish I knew if I was afraid of the moon.”

It’s true. We know nothing about Robin’s early childhood.  And likewise, we know little of any of our children’s lives before they became a part of ours. Only what they remember, and with histories like theirs, they mostly just block it all out.

We don’t know if they were skinny as a rail or plump as a penguin. We don’t know if they always had a dirty face, if they were a walking disaster…like I assume Billy was…or neat as a pin. We don’t know if they talked early or walked late. We don’t know anything about them at all, except that they needed someone and that someone wasn’t there.

And so sometimes, as when Robin fended off the lions…because that IS what happened, we mak e stuff up.  We get creative. We
invent a history with color, with flair, so when those dark visions cast an angry cloud over what should have been a sunny childhood, they have something to hold on to.  Because God knows, they need something to hold on to.

 
 
19 Responses to "Battle Scars"
  1. Amy says:

    I was turned on to your blog through a friend. Can’t wait to spend a night reading! We adopted a boy who turned 17 today – we were his 18th placement and he was 11 when we met. And we have a new foster (hopefully adopted) son who is a 7 years old muslim with an interesting family. It’s so good to read the stories we live.

    • admin says:

      I agree…sometimes one begins to wonder if they are the only one in the world with these things going on!!

  2. I think making up a heroic history is a wonderful way to deal with the situation. They are heroes, after all, for surviving the first few years in an environment not suited for kids.

  3. Pam Janssen says:

    Sometimes I read your stuff, a lot of times actually, and all I can say is… you are that hollow reed who lets God work through you, and you feel things so deeply and have so much wisdom and resourcefulness from allowing yourself to be that hollow reed and doing the best you can… see, I ramble when all I really mean to say is that you for making God visible in human skin again…. in your skin, and in those children. God bless you.

  4. Jenn says:

    Just. Awesome. ’nuff said.

  5. I think you need to write a book about your experience with these kids, about the kids themselves, and how your lives have changed since you’ve become a family. I suspect you wouldn’t need to worry about money for college tuition for any of them anymore.

  6. Helga says:

    She is such an amazingly beautiful child!!!  Dang, I always regret my very emotionally made decision to not be a foster parent anymore.  Back then, I couldn’t handle it.  With one of our own on the way now, I’m very excited.  But I sometimes think about what it would be like if I had been stronger.  And when I read stuff like this, my heart breaks for the decision I made.  I know I can do it again, but timing is completely off right now.  I can’t imagine the comfort you and your family give each other.

  7. JessicaCorcoran says:

    Like always – goose bumps 🙂

  8. Cindy Pruitt says:

    Every battle scar has a story, it doesn’t matter if the story is true or made up, but a scar had better have a story.  My son has battle scars, some physical and some emotional.  I’ve told my son that it doesn’t matter that the scar on his hand is a really nasty papercut, when someone asks you give them a story.  Few people will see our emotional scars (or so we hope) so the best way to cope is by using our imagination to describe our physical scars.  I’m glad to see somone else encouraging their kids to use their imagination to cope, I whole-heartedly agree.

    I once had a boss that determined his hunting buddies by how well that could spin a tale about their scars.  If they could spin a good tale about the physical scars, then they could spin a good tale about whatever hunting trip they went on.  If their battle scars had lame stories, they were not invited on the hunting trips.

  9. Jameshaeberle says:

    She was absolutely glamorous, even at six!

  10. Mac says:

    She is absolutely beautiful, what gorgeous eyes! She is very blessed to end up with you and your family!  Thank you for that blog today!

  11. Rebecca Wolowiec says:

    You are always such an inspiration. 

  12. DivaHick says:

    We have two daughters also, and when my (at the time) 7 year old tried to explain to a friend why she had been in foster care and had just been adopted, the kid didn’t believe her. Because, no mom would do that to her children right? She didn’t want to upset her friend, so she ended up telling her she was adopted because she was raised by wolves.

  13. Rmbmeb110202 says:

    Always enjoy reading your posts.  I have 2 adopted children.  I could not conceive on my own and they are a true blessing from God.  They have been with us their entire lives so it is cool to think that any “battle scars” they have, we have been a part of.  Recently, my 3 year old touched hot mashed potatoes after I put them on her plate and now has a huge 2nd degree burn and blister on her finger which will probably leave a “battle scar”.  I am just going to tell her she was off fighting those lions and that’s how it got there.   : )

  14. Bea Luna says:

    Thank you once again for sharing your kids lives with us…I had a 12 year old come visit me, who had been adopted from my foster home. She was 3 when she came to us, and was adopted when she was 5..Her adopted parents allow her to visit us often, even though they live 3 hours from us. It seems every time she visits, she has lots of questions about when she was little, especially when she was a baby….Keri you have made me think about how I need to write down, even little details about these kids that come through our home, so they will have histories…as much as I can find out and detail for them…thanks again..

  15. countrygalbelieves says:

    Thank you for sharing 🙂 I so do hope you write a book one day and compile all of your blogs , you have a wonderful gift as a mother, a person and as a writer!

  16. Alexis Smith says:

    I have those stories. I thought, a long time ago that those kinds of stories were a flaw, a different kind of scar. The kind that leaves the taste of tin in my mouth. Then I realised that those scars and the lions we braved were the medals of courage, banners of strength and survival. A way to the future that isn’t darkened by the past. Mummy wasn’t beaten or abused or afraid, how could she be when she braved lions. 
    Thank you. For sharing. 

  17. Pmteet says:

    Battle scars are battles scars the story behind them mean less than the fact we survive. My middle child has had eight surgeries. All but one left major scars on her body. One scar (two surgeries) left a scar 2 inches above her bellybutton but it goes all they way across to her sides. There is another 5 in. on her back from where they removed her kidney,the latest 6 inches down the middle of her stomach, and one on each side of her head where they preformed two brain surgeries. Those are her battle scars. She does not remember most and when she was litttle she would make up stories about how they happened….and would reenact them on her poor little brother (a plastic saw was involved). We just laughed because we knew it was her way of dealing with things she did not understand. Memories are my burden to carry not hers.    I come from abuse and wish I had the luxury of not remembering. You are lucky to have each other.   

    I happen to love scars. I love the story they tell about us. 

  18. Bobbyspain says:

    well you know ,,,maybe her story is true . i bet shed try . i got two scars on my left wrist that almost amputated my arm from tripping over my stick horse when i was 4…. wish id have thought of the lion story.

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