Thursday, September 5, 2013

For The Children

A few months ago THIS happened. I blogged about it HERE.

And everyone was angry. People came out to condemn these woman for killing Alex. A man-child, with severe autism. How could anyone do that, we asked? There is always another way. I read blog post after blog post about how wrong murder was, regardless of the situation. Alex deserved justice.

Then, two days ago, THIS happened.

And suddenly, those same bloggers, those same autism parents, backed down.

This woman tweeted. She has a blog. A Facebook page. People had spoken to her online a couple times. She couldn't possible be a monster. Not like Alex's mom, whom they had all rushed to vilify day one.

Now, I am not speaking in this mother's defense. Far from it. What made me almost more sick than the actual situation, was the reaction within the autism community. That there must be more to the story, some other explanation, because this mother tried to help her daughter.

And Alex's mom tried to help her son.

But Alex's mother didn't have a blog. She wasn't sending messages on social media. Easier to condemn that way.

The truth is, I don't care what is going on in your life, murder is never, ever, ever the answer. I have been there with aggression. I have friends who have gone through worse things than either of these two families. Murder is never on the table.

It is the most selfish thing, taking someone's life. Trying or taking your own. Giving up so completely, you'd rather kill your child than do anything else. Than move. Than continue to fight. Than seek help for yourself, and not just your child. Loving your child means going to the ends of the earth to help them, regardless of how hard it is for you. They come first. That's the deal we all make when we decide to be parents. If you can't do that, you give up your right to be a parent. Even that is better than murder.

I get depression. I get not being able to get out of bed in the morning because life can be so.damn.hard. I get watching your family be torn apart because of your child's diagnosis. I get fighting the school so hard, you aren't sure you'll ever recover from the trauma. I personally get all those things, although none of them are the fault of our children. They cannot be blamed for our shortcomings as caregivers, or our inability to handle a life different from what we imagined. There is no way to justify killing, or trying to kill, your child. It is cowardly. It makes you a bad parent. There is no way around it.

The fact is, these kids need help. They need people to stand up for them, and find ways to  keep them safe. There has to be a safe haven.

Sunday, from Extreme Parenthood, said it well HERE.

I am not expert in changing or making laws. I don't know how to make a Safe Haven law for older kids. I think you need to start at the beginning, though, contacting your Senators and Representatives. Making phone calls. Sending emails. Harassing them. Not stopping until they talk to you. Being heard.

It's incredibly sad there are children that need to be protected from those who should love and care for them most, but that is reality.

Alex, Issy, all the other children murdered because of their autism...they need our voices to speak for them, now.

If you ever find yourself in a situation where hurting your child feels like the only way out, please, please, I beg you, call your own doctor. Reach out to others in the community! Anyone would be happy to talk, for hours on end, if it meant keeping your child safe. I don't care how hard it is to ask, ASK! There is always another way. Heck, contact me. I'll come to your house and help you myself, or find someone who can! No, there isn't a magical solution, and laws won't change tomorrow, granting parents unlimited resources for their child. While we fight for those things, we need to be here for one another. Let other parents know, murder is never the answer.

It does take a village, and maybe sometimes it can see really lonely, but please ask for help. Stop and look at the face of your sweet child, and know there is always another way.


  1. Very well said. We definitely need safe haven laws for older children and we all need to know that there is always an option. Always.

  2. Very well said. We definitely need safe haven laws for older children and we all need to know that there is always an option. Always.

  3. I hear you, Jen. I really do. And I could care less that she had a blog or tweeted...but she made contact. I "knew" her. It makes it so much more personal and so much more confusing for me personally.

    And I think of your advice "get help"...and I'm totally there too. But what if getting help for you has been a fight. What if getting help is the struggle. Did you read her last blog? i'm not excusing it. I don't want to forgive it. But saying "get help"...what if every day for the past year you've been doing nothing but fighting to get help...and you finally make headway and the people giving you the help withdraw it...

    Get help...
    Where? Who do you go to? Who pays for it? What if I don't qualify? Who watches my kids? Will I be fired? How will my spouse handle it?

    I'm not trying to excuse it or forgive it...but "get help"? sigh.

    I'm sad and confused and "get help" seems to offer no help from my standpoint. GIVE HELP if you see someone struggling. But who does that? Who sees that need before it's already too late?

    Certainly the school who uninvited Issy a week before classes started wasn't "giving help"...and that was the help she needed. I'm not blaming the school. Christ, Kelli didn't either...she blamed herself for not being more diplomatic...for fighting "wrong".

    I wish I thought "get help" was all it took. I wish you just could say, "Hi...I'm having a psychotic episode and I need emergency help to immediately take my child from me and keep me from harming myself or her" instead of the psychotic episode just HAPPENING and somehow SEEMING like the only answer.

    I don't know. maybe that's all it is. Get help.

    What she did was monstrous and wrong. I think a big part of it was how painful a fight getting help had become and how traumatic having the rug pulled out from under her must have been. I don't have anything else to go on.

    1. I meant reach out to the community. Yes, getting help isn't easy. Heck, we've fought the school so much I can't even go in without having a panic attack. I've been through horrible aggression issues with K, that I will not go into publicly. I read her last blog, too. I didn't see a dismal, no hope, story. People "knew" her, so now it's all, don't judge, she couldn't get what she needed, etc. You don't really "know" people when you only know them online. You can't pick and choose who you judge. You can't tweet #JusticeforAlex, then back down bc some woman you knew on social media does something equally as horrific. This is about Issy, and every other kid who dies at the hands of their parents. I am incapable of having sympathy for parents who murder their children. Maybe that makes me a bad person, but I can't. It's black and white for me.

      So, no, I don't mean there is some magical "help" out there to be gotten. But there is a community of people ready and willing to be there. She was online, she spoke to people, reach out! I don't care how "hard" that is...killing yourself and your kid? I will never get behind saying that's the only answer. I won't.

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    3. I agree it's never the answer, for what it's worth.

  4. Jen, this sums up a lot of what I am thinking about how people are reacting to Issy. Life is not black and white, but some things are. Trying to take a child's life is wrong no matter who does it. Frankly, I have heard too many people rush to defend abusers over the years with "that's not the person I know." Maybe the reality is that we never really knew people who do these awful things at all.

  5. I agree with you completely. With respect to Jim W's point - there's no evidence that a psychotic break occurred here, in fact the data indicates that psychosis is rarely present when a parent kills their child. One of the reasons why I caution against people thinking of murderers as 'monsters' or 'lunatics' is because they aren't. They are usually just like 'us' - functioning members of society. I'm not interested in judging Kelli Stapleton - I'll let a jury of her peers do that. I can judge her actions and choices though and I wholeheartedly condemn them.

  6. The entire situation is quite sad. I don't condone what this woman did, but I do know how difficult it is when your child is so violent they need inpatient care an the insurance companies say no or there aren't enough hospital beds. From what I've read, which is not much, they got intensive services in place in concert with a placement and then some BS political wrangling happened and the placement didn't materialize. The parents should have brought her to an emergency room. They didn't. I don't know the state of children's mental health care in MI, but I know it's relatively awful here in MA. These are people with friends, a support system, and a "village". I don't know what happened, but I CAN say the system screwed up as much as the parents did (and note I say "parents" and not just the mother).