This post is not sexy. This post is not kinky. This post is angry and sad.
I’m not sure I’ve ever discussed it before, but my brother has learning disabilities. My parents adopted him when I was six. When I was growing up I was very resentful of him. I had to grow up fast to help care for him. And my parents often had to put him first. They tried their best, and looking back I don’t begrudge them anything. The very idea of taking on a child with special needs and giving him a home was something that I couldn’t conceive. Even now, as a parent, that responsibility seems daunting.
Having a brother with disabilities taught me a lot about life and all the advantages that people have just by being ‘normal’. My parents had to fight for his education and his equal treatment by others. I took that on as well. I remember when a school employee struck him once and I witnessed it. I walked into the principals office without knocking to let him know that he was about to be sued. I protected him as much as I could as a big sister and a caretaker. Other students knew that he wasn’t to messed with; me and my cousins were always there. It was a space I always knew I could keep him safe.
Since becoming an adult my parents have tried to make sure that he continues to have the best opportunities. He has lived in a group home with other people with similar disabilities for several years. He goes to work, has his own space, and takes parts in life skill activities (i.e. cooking, laundry, cleaning). We can visit and he comes to holiday functions and family gatherings. The home has been making small changes over the last year, but he has been acclimating pretty well. Or so we were led to believe.
A few weeks ago my parents found out that my brother was being abused. Apparently, after the last housing switch there was a change in staffing levels that my parents were not notified about. As time passes we are finding out more and more horrific details. Calls to my parents that were documented but never made. Bruises that were never reported. Outbursts that were blamed on medication levels. My stomach turns the more I think about it.
Now that we are aware, my parents and I have forced change. My brother has been moved to a safe location. We are following up on police reports and getting him crisis counselling. The company is failing to answer our questions, and I know that we will force them to account for their behavior and/or lack of response. But it doesn’t make it easier.
My heart breaks to think about it. He’s twenty-nine years old, but to me he will always be a little boy. My parents have been to see him and they say that he’s not the same. I will be going to see him this week and I’m afraid. I’m scared I will just cry to see him. We don’t know if he was sexually abused or not; and I’m afraid we will never know. The very thought makes me sick. I know that he cries and panics when the other house is even mentioned. He is terrified of being forced to go back there. He’s gained nearly fifty pounds and apparently isn’t sleeping well.
He’s my baby brother. I remember sitting in the kitchen with my parents when they told me that he was going to be joining our family. I remember discussing what his name should be. We have photos of all of us with the judge on the day we officially adopted him. And the thought that anyone would put their hand on him in any sort of violent way just makes me so angry. I don’t understand and I don’t want to. I just want him to be safe and happy. And the fact that that isn’t assumed weighs so heavily on my heart.