Too Young To Be So Strong

Angeles Mizilla By Angeles Mizilla, 29th May 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Toddlers

The natural defense systems within us, come on at an early age.
Here is my witness of a child building walls to protect her tender heart.

I first met...

three year old Haddison Michali Fink.; Haddi for short when she was two. She was a precious, brown eyed, creamy tan skinned, black haired little angel with a bright and cheerful spirit. Her dimples were apparent, even without a smile. She came to be in agency custody shortly after she was taken into foster care when her heroin dependent mother overdosed, and nearly died. Their case was on the Visitation Schedule when I joined the Agency.

Cassity Fink, mother to both Haddison and her then 6 month old little sister, Kalie “Kale” Elsbeth De’Jesus was a beautiful 26 year old woman of Caucasian/Latino descent and her children were both by Latino men.

Cassity called her daughters “Mihas” and spoke to them in both Spanish and English. She fed them heartily at every visit and never missed a chance to tickle and play and scoop them up and hug them and kiss them. Cassity never missed an opportunity to tell her babies that she loved them, that they were her world and that she would love them to the end of eternity. and you knew from watching them, that she did, they were and she would.

The cold hard fact of the matter was however, that she had a diseased mind. Drug addiction.

Cassity had been raised in a difficult situation;

sexually abused by her own drug addicted mothers many boyfriends and husbands. Services of herself and her sister, sold to pay for her mothers addictions. To block out the pain, Cassity turned to what she knew; a life of drugs, sex and men who abused.

For a while when Haddison was first born, Cassity pulled herself together. Haddi’s father was a decent man and took good care of his family, until Cassity slipped off the wagon and relapsed into her former heavy drinking and pill seeking habits.

The two separated and another baby was born, to another man. This time with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Strained beyond her means, and riddled with guilt of her daughters condition, Cassity turned back to pills and booze and quickly, a downward spiral into the rabbit hole, straight head on into Heroin.
The story from here is of a long battle with a mother fighting her addiction in her best ditch efforts to have her children back. Cassity’s addiction overtook her and her struggle over what she wanted, and what her body thought it needed waged war on her family.

I remember one specific visitation

several months after I had first met the girls, where Haddi and Kale came with their foster parents’ Uncle who the girls called “Grandpa”. The caregivers told the girls they were there to see “The ladies.” The “ladies” being my co-aide, Betty and myself. But, the children all know where they are when they pull in our parking lot. They all know why they come into the visitation center, where they get to see and spend time with the parents they adore, and miss.
Children of these ages do not care that mommy or daddy is high, or neglectful, or abusive, really… They only care that their parent is here and hugging and kissing and loving them.

My favorite part of my job

is when I get to step away from my pile of paperwork and interact with the little ones. On this particular Friday morning, I came out of my office and into the lobby to visit with the girls and speak to their “Grandpa”

Kale was almost a year and a half now, and just starting to walk. She was making noises to talk, and saying some things, which was a far cry from her beginnings in our custody, with failure to thrive; victim to her mothers alcoholism while pregnant.

“That’s my little sissy,” Haddi said to me as Kale walked past me and flopped on the floor on her bottom.
“I know, and she’s a good little sissy too, isn’t she?” I asked Haddi.

“Yep, her is,” Haddi gleamed with pride.

“And you know what I think, Haddi? I think YOU are a GREAT Big Sissy!”

Sucking in air to puff out her chest, Haddi took stance and beamed an even wider smile, while vehemently nodding her head

“Huh-Huh! I AM!” she boasted and ran over to hug her little sister after she stood back up.

Grandpa passed into the next room to peek out the patio doors in search of Cassity. The girls spotted a little picnic set in the room just off of my office and made their way to investigate. I followed, sitting on the ledge just beside the fireplace in the great room of the old “Children’s Home” Cottage and talked to the girls as they played. Grandpa paced the floor, cheerfully bantering with the girls and sharing his stories of their little antics. Brow occasionally furrowing as he looked out the patio doors, never having to say out loud that he was concerned that Mom would not show up, again.

The trio had arrived fifteen minutes before the visit was to begin, and due to our regulations, the visiting party had a fifteen minute grace period to arrive in, before we canceled the visit and sent caregivers and children on their way.

In this time, Haddison came close to me, many times. leaning on my leg, and at one point crawling into my lap to snuggle. She told me stories about her foster parents' doggies and her little sissy learning to talk and that she taught her to say Mihas. Kale just grinned when Haddi tried to prompt her, and played with the blocks Haddi pulled out of the toybox in the corner.

We sang twinkle little star together and I read a story to the girls when Kale brought me a Winnie the Pooh book from the shelf. Both girls crawled into my lap for this one and hugged me as I read.

"You're pretty," Haddi said sweetly as she touched my cheek. I grinned and winked at her.

"You're pretty too," I said softly

"Mell Dood" Kale chirped, breathing me in.

I buried my nose in her hair and breathed her in. Such a sweet baby smell, she still carried.
"You Smell Good too, Kale." I said, looking into her gorgeous brown eyes, lined so abundantly with thick black lashes.

"Thank you both for being such sweet, lovely girls" I said to them both, hugging them to me.

The pair scrambled off my lap. Kale took the book back to the shelf to get another, and Haddi started to frolic and dance for me.

"Watch" She exclaimed before she started a perfect ballerina twirl.

I cheered and clapped, and so did Kale.

Before long, I got up to look at the clock

I will never forget those soulful brown eyes. I will never forget the internal happenings of watching a toddler suck it up and be strong, refuse to cry. Most toddlers in our care will all out melt down when they see that something is not going their way. Haddi loved her mommy and chattered on a little about seeing her, up until I said the fateful words to “Grandpa”

“Looks like it’s about that time.”

I looked at Haddi who had stopped in her little circular frolic through the big room and just looked at me. I saw her mortification at first, then the wall came up. Her body went limp, but she did not fall. She looked, pouting from me to the patio doors where she could see out into the lot where her mother should be walking up from. No mother.

Haddi turned her eyes on me again and I searched myself for words of comfort. I had none.

“Haddi thank you for bringing your little sissy in to play with me today. I had SUCH a great time seeing the two of you!”

“Here, Haddi, honey, put on your coat while I get Kale’s on her.” Grandpa said, holding the little purple coat out toward the tot. She looked up at him, sadness in her soul and just stared. She returned her eyes to me, searching me for a reason. Broken hearted. Tears brimmed at her glassy eyes, but never fell. I could see her inner process of shutting down. I hated it for her. I hated it that a child so young should have to think she needed to be so strong. Why? She was just a baby. A baby should be able to cry and express her emotion.

I resisted the urge to go to her and wrap her in my arms. I resisted the urge to cry with her. I wanted to tell her it was okay to cry. I wanted to say it's okay to show your emotions. She was so busy being strong and holding back. Our eyes locked and our conversation was all without words.

I wish I had words to share the depth or the understanding I felt with that child, in those moments, but the truth is all I could do was assimilate her strength and fortitude with my own. Never giving way to the pain in front of others.

Grandpa bundled Kale up

and came over with the coat for Haddi. He tried to hand it to her, to do herself, always so independent, but she did not move. The wall had not only frozen the tears in her eyes, but also the movement of her limbs.

“Haddi, honey put on your coat, we’ll go bake some cookies. You want some cookies darling?.” Grandpa said softly, cheerfully.

He put the coat in her hand, and it dropped to the floor as he let it go. He looked at me, anger and pain in his expression. He shook his head. I knew what he was thinking. I was thinking it too. He picked up the coat and tenderly lifted one arm at a time and fed the lifeless limbs into the coat.

"Haddi, honey please help me a little here, I can't do it all," Grandpa said softly as he was having trouble getting her arm to stay straight enough to slip the arm all the way in.

Haddi nodded, but her body would not comply. He managed to get her situated and kissed her temple as her body slumped against him.

He shifted her in his arms and her Kale came over to me, arms up, wanting to be held and I picked her up and have her a squeeze.

Grandpa picked up the diaper bag and slung it over his shoulder. I asked if he wanted help to the car with the pair and he smiled sadly, shaking his head, "They don't the two of them, weigh as much as my boy, alone." He said and came over and took Kale. with his free arm. Haddi reached her tiny hand out and touched my hair, letting it filter through her fingers as Grandpa stepped away from me. I got the door for them on the way out and waved to the girls who were resting their heads on either of his shoulders, heading out.

My tears would hold no longer. The fell as I stepped back in, out of the cold winter morning and back to my desk. Betty was off this day, and the building was empty except me. I stifled a sob and blew my nose on a Kleenex before e-mailing the case workers to change protocol, forcing mom to arrive before we would call for the children to be brought out. I never wanted those girls to have to go through that level of soul-searing disappointment again.


Abuse, Adoption, Child Welfare, Drug Addiction, Foster Family, Grief, Loss, Neglect, Sisters, Toddlers

Meet the author

author avatar Angeles Mizilla
I am a single 34 year old woman. I work as a Case Aide with a Children Services agency in Ohio. I love photography, animals, reading, music, food and family. I primarily write from life experience.

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author avatar Retired
2nd Jun 2013 (#)

This is a touching and doughty story...thanks for letting us all read it

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author avatar Angeles Mizilla
2nd Jun 2013 (#)

Thank you for reading it!

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