Monday, February 28, 2011

This I Believe...

I believe in the necessity of intervention throughout one’s life. By intervention, I mean the positive action of someone else on your behalf, the result of which removes you from a potentially dangerous situation. Intervention is what moves people through the different stages of their life. It helps solve their problems, guides them as they grow up, and in some cases, keeps them alive. I can categorize my life in three stages: birth, adoption, and the boys’ home. The movement from one stage to the next came through intervention, and the combination of them all define who I am today.

I believe that intervention occurs every day, in public and in private. From the rich person who lends a few dollars to a homeless guy on the corner to the judge that places a fifteen-year old child in a corrective program after committing a crime, everyone makes choices everyday that change the course of other people’s lives, and therefore serving, either directly or indirectly, as intervention. Had there not been intervention in my life, from birth to adoption, adoption itself, and the boys’ home, I may not be the person I am today, if here at all.

Let’s start with my birth. I was born in Russia, the largest country in the world. It is a massively poor and frozen tundra of a country, and while the big cities may be great, the majority of the nation lives in poverty. To this day, I know nothing about any of my biological family and little about anything related to the time I spent there. What I do know is that my mother was arrested when I was two months old for drunken negligence, and still today, there is no record of my father. My step-mom tells me that I have up to seven other brothers and sisters, all presumably older than me, and so the assumptions are that I probably don’t have the same father as the rest of my siblings, and as far as I am concerned, I will never know. After my biological mother’s arrest, I was placed in a low-budget orphanage that I honestly don’t know enough to tell you about, but it is there that I spent the next twenty months of my life.

For such a gruesome beginning of life, one might ask where the intervention came. Simply put, the authorities-the police in this instance- had intervened on my life by removing my mother. To truly see how this intervention made a positive change in the current course of my life, let’s imagine some of the courses my life may have taken had the authorities not intervened.

First of all, since my mother was constantly drunk and didn’t take care of me, I may have died within the first several years. What if I did live through it? Growing up in a poverty-stricken home with no father and a drunk, negligent mother is a plain recipe for a disastrous child. More than likely school would have been unaffordable, and the only decent way to get food would have been through thievery or harsh child labor. Russia was in one of its poorest states, as it was just finally rebuilding itself after the collapse of Communism. Maybe I would have gotten a job, but odds are not high. It is deathly cold, and unless I had the money to pay for heating, or extra clothing, I would probably only slowly froze to death. There was no hope for me; there was no light at the end of the tunnel for me to run towards.  Life would have been defined by the shreds of warmth and small sums of money that I could hold onto until the sun went down. Had not the police taken away my mother and placed me in an orphanage, where I was at least guaranteed food, a place to sleep, heating, and caregivers, I may not be alive right now.

Now, let’s take a look at the situation that my first life intervention had put me into. I had been placed into a low-budget orphanage, where granted I was safe from the cold, starvation, and potential dangers of a broken family yet, I was still not safe from the life that lay ahead of me. I was lonely in that orphanage; my step-parents told me that I would not play with the other kids; instead I would take a toy and play by myself in the corner. Without another intervention, I would survive until the age that I could leave, and the rest of my future was up in the air. Perhaps schooling would have been available, but more than likely not. Had I stayed in that orphanage, I still would only have failed in life, because I was nowhere near prepared. At twenty-two months old, intervention reared its head again. This time, the intervention came from an American couple, who were foster parents previously.

My adoptive father is a successful, patent attorney; he was once even the Acting Head Chief of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. My adoptive mother is a homemaker. One night as they were watching an episode of “60 minutes” about orphanages in Russia, the horrible things they heard and saw moved them to adopt a Russian orphan, and they began the long paperwork process to do so. At almost two years old, almost halfway across the world, the people that would save me from my drab future were on their way.
When they finally got to the orphanage, I stood out like a sore thumb. I was always alone, playing by myself in the corner. Once, they watched as we ate a meal of some apple slices, some bread and broth. As they watched, they saw me take some of the apple slices from the kid beside me. While it is something to laugh at now, it is a perfect example of how horrible my life was and would have been had I stayed there in Russia. My parents eventually got to visit with me, and they saw no emotion in my eyes. That was another aspect of my life that would have only grown worse with time. Because of the horrible situation I had been placed in, I had no love, no laughter, no joy inside of me, and it broke the hearts of Gary Harkcom and Jane Neis, and so they adopted me.

Steven Joseph Harkcom-Neis. That is the name that was given to me as I began my new life in the United States of America, the “land of opportunity." As who I now call my parents found out, Russia had done more to me than met the eye. Due to the lack of love and care from my family, I was unable to attach emotionally to my new family. Whereas before they saw no emotion in my eyes, after adoption, all they saw was anger and resentment. For six years, I experienced the challenges of growing up, but with a sick and raging twist. The anger and inability to attach to my parents festered, and during those six years, I never made full progress towards attachment. My parents didn’t know what to do with me anymore, and they were slowly losing their ability to keep trying. So, in order to help me, they intervened, and sent me to the Patrick Henry Boys and Girls Plantation.

At eight years old, I didn’t know what to do or think when the car pulled up to my newest home. I didn’t know what was wrong with me; I didn’t know that anything was wrong with me. My parents placed me here to learn how to interact with other people and ultimately with them. I began counseling soon after being admitted and was diagnosed with an Attachment Disorder. There was a long road ahead of me, because I didn’t want to talk to anyone about anything. Strangely, I wasn’t extremely violent at the Home like I had been with my parents, and I actually got along fairly well with my houseparents. Now, granted, I was nowhere near perfect. I still got in plenty of trouble, which is expected for a growing child.
Now, I am seventeen years old, and have been in the Home for over nine-and-a-half years. My Attachment Disorder diagnosis was taken away years ago, and I am doing well. I have plenty of friends, not only kids but adults as well. My parents and I are getting along great although sometimes we’re split on different issues, but then again so is every family. I am now a senior in high school and have plans for after graduation. I am what “experts” would call a “success.”

Had I not been placed in the Home, perhaps I would have improved, but not likely. I probably would have only gotten worse, and the relationship with my parents would have eventually been severed. I would have grown up a very angry and lonely child and entered adulthood bound for disaster. I was lucky to have my parents intervene and place me in the Home. Had they not, again, I would not be who I am today.
Intervention, the positive action of someone else on your behalf, the result of which removes you from a potentially dangerous situation. It has saved me multiple times throughout my life. No one is perfect, and naturally, we lose our way in life sometimes. Due to the extreme circumstances at my birth, I started life out on the wrong track. Through multiple interventions, I have become who I am today; a child with a hope, with dreams, and the ability to reach out to the people around me. I believe, and have experienced firsthand, that in order for one’s life to be successful, there must be intervention.

No comments:

Post a Comment