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A Time to Be Born.
"The Child was finally discharged on May 10, 1982, weighing 5lbs 8OZ,
and returned to the care of the mother. This particular mother was
considered mentally dull and with a history of previous child neglect.
The child will be followed closely by the public health nurse."
The above paragraph is a quote by N. P. Kokx, the MD and attending
physician of Saint Mary's Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The child
mentioned in the above paragraph is me, at the time known as Mona Lisa Reed.
At birth I weighed a mere 4lbs 3oz. and birthed by c-section by my mother,
Ruby Elizabeth Reed. I was born prematurely, went through a 34 week gestation
in the intesive care unit of Saint Mary's Hospital. Though the first weeks of
my life were tough, I fought. On May 10, 1982, I was finally discharged to go
home. Even as a failure to thrive baby, I had the strength to fight.
My mother and I moved around alot. It seemed We were always on the go.
She was restless and unstable. This taught me about insecurity. I guess all in
all,We did what we had to for survival. This meant eating in soup kitchens,
buying low priced food and receiving handouts on the streets of Grand Rapids.
I was left alone alot. This brought much fear of abandonment. It was not simply the loneliness that I feared, but also those she left me alone with. Some of the people my mother chose were definately not of good character.
One man by the name of Randy, in particular. He was a black man who beat and
raped little children, a parents worse nightmare. He was the kind of man that any mother with good judgement and rationale would never in a million years leave alone with there child.
"Take me with you momma. Don't leave me momma." My screams were real.
The terror felt real. Yet as I watched her walk away, her footsteps just
outside of my grasp, it terrified me. Would I ever wake from this nightmare?
This moment in life taught me there was no one to watch over me or keep me safe. No one cared that I was being hurt. No one wanted to protect me.
My tears were to no avail. No one heard them. No one listened. For me,
this moment tore my world in half.
I held onto my baby brother, trying to calm his tears.
No one else could. Johnny was the only piece of familiarity I
knew, and I was his as well.
During that night, my mother called. I was told to talk to my mother and
not to tell. He kept a close eye on me as I held onto the voice at the other end. It was like a little piece of heaven amongst a pack of ravenous wolves.
"Momma I wanna go home. Please momma come get me...ok... I love you too." As I hung up the phone, I felt alone again.
The night was spent being beaton, strangled, whipped and molested. This was
things no child should ever have to endure. The pain lingered on for hours,
but the inner torment festered deep into my soul. There it grew into bitterness, negativity, depression and despair.
The next day as my mother came to get me, I remember the feeling of relief.
I also remember the resentment, hurt and fear. As my mother hugged me,
she stopped short.
"Mona, what's this?" She pointed to my leg.
"Uhh..I think I fell down some steps." I lied, staring intently at Randy.
She took me to the hospital later that evening where I confessed to everything.
"Him hit me, a belt buckle." The words tumbled out. My tears soaked through my
shirt. I felt relief. I felt a sense of protection. I knew the nurse could be
trusted. She heard my words, but she did nothing. I was released back to the care of my mother, and her possible neglect once more.
Apart from all the terror in my life, all the fear and all the misguided judgement on my mother's part, there were good times too. She was my mother. She knew love. She taught me love. Through hugs, kisses and tender moments, she showed her love in many ways.
My mother watched me as best as she could. She tried her best to keep a roof over our head. But this moving was tough on a child, and there are some places, such as the Rainbow Motel of Grand Rapids, Michigan where an infant should never be raised.
My mother was born to Pascual and Marjorie Sandoval on August 8, 1946.
Marjorie was a young mother, barely eighteen years when Ruby was born.
Back in those days it was important for a girl to marry for security and stature.
She married Pascual Sandoval from Del Rio, Texas. They fell in love and had two children, Ruby Elizabeth sandoval and Margaret Sandoval.
Unfortunately, Marjorie's life was cut short. Pascual was half mexican, half
Indian mixed and was a man of bad temperment. While in a drunken rage sometime on July 23, 1948, Pascual hit Marjorie and left her for dead. Ruby, who was only two years old at the time and Margaret, just an infant, were brought to St. John's Home,an orphanage for children, to live quietly. Pascual was never seen again. It is thought that he disappeared somewhere back to Del Rio, TX or Mexico where he lived his last years and died as an old man on March 30, 1975.
My mother, Ruby, was hard to manage because of her rage and hyperactivity.
No one really cared to try to work with her. Therefore, she was shipped off to
Cold Water Mental Institute where she lived from the age of eight to twenty-seven.She was released and put on disability for the remainder of her days to the diagnosis of Pschizophrenia, depression and leg injury as a direct result of the institution.
While there, she was put into isolation, drugged and mistreated. I'm not
sure on all the particulars of her situation since I was not present at this time in life. However, from stories my mother has shared with me, the place felt like hell for her. She did not learn much people skills, much about raising children, and the dangers of society. My mother's mentality level is that of an eight year old, trapped in time because of the damgage and hurts of her past. She refuses to take medication and blames the government for much of her pain. I believe she is trying to cry for help, but just
like in the metal institute, no one will liseten. To this day, she has a badly twisted knee cap because of the surgery of an unknowledgeable doctor of the Cold Water Mental Insitute. She is my mother. I am my mother's daughter. I am blood. She was all I had and all I knew.
When my brother Johnny came into our lives, I learned another life lesson.
I learned jealousy.
"I'm a dood duo, right momma. I'm a dood duo, right?" I'd question.
My mother would hold me, hug me and say that I was good.
"All boys are bad. All boys go to hell, go away boy." She'd say to my baby brother, Johnny as a toddler. This brought mixed messages. I was taught that Johnny was somehow bad and he was going to hell. I still loved him. He was my brother. He was mine.
In many cases, I was the mother in the family. I knew how to get food, help do laundry, ease Johnny's tears, cradle him and was a fast learner. I was like his surrogate mother.
All that changed when my mother left me alone with a convicted child molester, an act she had been warned of once before. Child protective Services had already been watching and following close day after day. This time, was a day she nor I would soon forget.
"Get dressed." Fred had screamed at me to cover up. I obediantly obeyed. The whole time, I remember feeling nothing but seeing myself from the ceiling. Like a floating cloud, I was toppling over my own naked body. It was an eerie feeling, very dissociating. As a child, I had no words for what had happened. It was so unnatural, so disgusting and perverted. How such evil existed was beyond the comprehenive mind of an inncoent child.
All I know, is that the police had just banged on the door and once inside, he grabbed me, brought me to the police car and we were gone. As I sat listening to the wailing sirens, many things went spinning around inside my mind, deep thoughts, unanswered questions of uncertainty and disbelief.
I remember glancing back and visibly seeing my mother, Fred and Johnny eating an icecream cone on the stairs of his apartment. They were standing in from of the apartmet waving and smiling as I was driven away. My mind had split, my thoughts had shattered. My sanity was in question. I had learned the ultimate trick which in medical terms is called switching.
what was going to happen to me?
I was driven to unknown places and given to people I had never met before. It was very confusing and scary to a four year old toddler, just learning to trust. I could barely speak. I was severely malnurished, badly traumatized and had just been taken away from everyone and everything I held dear.
I was given to an old couple, a black family and the Poort family. Possibly others, I'm unsure. I must say, I'm thankful that as a child, the Lord kept his eye on me. My brother joined me and we were both taken in as foster children by the Poorts. They were a great family to know. They really tried hard to show there love for us.
Larry and Cynthia Poort had four children of there own. One girl, Sheri, and three boys, Steve, Ben and Jay. Even though they already had a large family, they still had lots of love to give.
The first thing I remember after being driven to the Poort home was the fish tanks, gardens and beautiful smell of flowers. When I walked into the house I remember going into the parlor room, kneeling on the couch and watching the beautiful gold fish swim about.
"What's dat." I remember asking. I had never seen a fish in my life.
I learned alot that first year. I grew more confident in my walking. I learned
about different things were and there meanings. I learned that objects had names.
I didn't have to say, "I want dat." Instead I could say, "Can I have some chips or can I have some cookies."
I also learned how to read.
"Blah blah blah blah blah blah..." was my mother's usual way of reading.
As I learned more words and how to speak them, I grew to love them. I grew to love stories. I couldn't put the books down. Cynthia read to me all the time.
My IQ raised high, and I didn't have to go to Special Ed. I went to preschool.
I loved preeschool. I made friends.
While at Pleasant Valley Bible camp, I met a good friend, April Ashley. From that time on we would always be the best of friends.
My life had become more stable, more loving and more nurturing. I loved my life, but still I missed my biological mother. She had given me life. she had gone through labor and through pain had brought me into this world.
But through all this, I kept thinking in the back of my head, what if I am taken away again? What will I do? Where will I go? Who will love me? I started hiding food under my pillow unsure if I'd get another meal. I ran behind a couch whenever anyone came in the door.
I was made ward of the court on April 15, 1987, and I had an ultimate question now.
"Who is going to love me and JOhnny and who is going to be our family?"
The Poorts agreed that they had fallen in love with us and wanted us to be a part of there family. The decision was made final. The ceremony was beautiful. Cynthia dressed me in my favorite red dress. I felt like a little princess. I finally had a real family. But who would watch over Momma Ruby and keep her safe?
"Can my momma Ruby be adopted too?" I asked my new parents as I was preparing for the adoption.
She tried to explain to a four year old that adoptions are only made for children. I finally accepted it, but I still felt badly for my momma Ruby. I had found all this luxurious riches while she was left in the ghettos to fend for herself. I never forgot her. I kept her in my soul and carried her in my spirit, but I also allowed my new family in as well. After all, my heart had lots of room for everyone.
I loved my brother Johnny, too. He and I had been through hell and back,
and we had lived to tell about it.
The Scripture verses Psalm 23:1-4;6 written by King David in the midst of his trials, sums up what I feel about my early childhood experiences. I would like to quote them now.
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. I makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Eventhough I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
It took me a long time to accept and truely understand this passage in scripture. But this I have accepted and now believe, that if the Lord hadn't been there through my early beginnings, holding me in his arms through the darkest of times, my soul would be no more.
Lisa M. Hunt