He lay alone. A crib among a sea of cribs.

No one. No home.

Lifted, unwrapped, rewrapped, put down.

Indistinct sounds

Disembodied cries: His own? Others? Anyone?

His voice ignored.

Too many babies, too few staff.

He learned to rock himself to sleep.

His mind took him away from hunger, fear, despair, exhaustion.




Contracted world. Folded unto its own.




Then in the numbing monotony

Different arms.


Lifted into chaos

Faces too close, movement too rapid, changes too many.

Sounds mouthed.

Rapid. Jumbled. Urgent.


Numbness threatened, overwhelm piled on.

Snail in. Check out. Burrow deep into alone.


Still something tugged. Come back.

Smiles. Cooing. Soft hands.

Gentle rocking that filtered into his own and



Yearning. Sorrow. Despair. Hope. Panic. Need.

Too much. Too much. Too much.

He fled into his mind.

He peeked out. Fled back in.

Moments alternated:

Aware, away, awake, afraid, alarmed, asleep.


Days passed on

Eternity or weeks or months.

Soft words repeated gently

More faces

More holding arms

In rocking, humming, tenderness



New scaffold rose as

Meaning slowly dispersed fog

Into words.

A world.

Gentle hands.


Soothing voices at disembodied cries: his own?

His own.

His voice.


For someone.

To come.

And they come.




For The Daily Post

11 thoughts on “Tenacity

    • Thank you, Mr. Mel. So often the ending is not too happy for these children, and yet it can be, especially when both the child AND the caregivers (adoptive and/or fostering) get the help and direction they need to understand why children respond the way they do, and how ‘just giving love’ isn’t always automatically understood or accepted by children who literally don’t know what it is or what to do with it. Help and healing are absolutely possible, even if they take tenacity, hope, and gentle determination on all parts.


  1. I have no words to respond adequately to this exquisite expression of the infantile and nonverbal experience of neglect. Is it any wonder that many children adopted from repressive states, warehoused until matched with loving families who wish so much to love them, act out and aren’t receptive, yet. Add to this unconscionable beginning those children whose genetic endowment includes mental illness, addiction, or even in some cases sociopathy and the future for them is uncertain.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great comment, thank you! Yes, neglect and lack of secure base aren’t relegated only to those raised in orphanages, but can manifest in households where caregivers are unavailable (e.g. struggle with addictions, are too ill or too overwhelmed to care for the children, are themselves lost to unresolved childhood trauma fogs, etc). Children will do what they can, which often is to remove themselves mentally from the unbearable. Healing requires not only love, but also the skills to understand and address the lasting legacy of early deprivation and despair, and the pain of being rejected (for the adoptive parents by the child, too …) and all it brings up even in the most resilient in us. Uncertain future, yes, but possibility abounds. All the more reason for caregivers to be given support by professionals who understand complex trauma and its aftermath, as well as the paths to is healing. Thanks, my friend!


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