Thursday, April 25, 2013

Turtle Saga

Today on the way home from Samuel’s riding lesson (yes, the tiny human really does take riding lessons on a tiny horse),  we saw an animal in the road, which I presumed was road kill. On further examination, we realized it was an injured turtle and still alive.

Since we had Samuel’s Auntie Ria in the car (a lover of turtles and all little beasties), I knew there was no way we were leaving the turtle there to die. So I did what all good Mommy’s and friends of animal lovers do… I dumped the emergency stuff out of the bin in my trunk, put on the medical gloves from the first aid kit, wrapped the turtle in a surgical gown, and put him in the bin on Maria’s lap.

The turtle was approx. a 1 foot long snapping turtle and quite unique. However, his shell was broke right in half and his internal organs were visible.  We called the vet and were told it would need to be euthanized. However, the vets in this area don’t provide care to turtles, so we should find someone to shoot it.

While I am not an amphibian lover, there was no way I was going to ask someone to shoot the turtle. We tenderly named him Road kill and I went to work attempting to save his life on the kiddy picnic table in my kitchen. Though I figured he was not long for this world, I secretly hoped that he might miraculously recover.

I washed all the dirt off him to prevent infection and surgically removed the crushed part of his shell that was cutting into his organs. Then, I made a bandage using a sterile maxi pad and duct taped the two sides of his shell together. Though this seemed slightly ridiculous I hoped that perhaps his shell would fuse in a few days and perhaps regrow…like a fingernail.

Sadly, Roadkill started bleeding out of his mouth, so I knew his internal injuries were probably too great for him to survive. We made a sling and head rest for him out of a pillow case and tried to make him as comfortable as possible. Roadkill passed away 7 hours after our little intervention…but at least he was not bleeding to death on the side of the road in the hot son, or staring down the barrel of a gun at the end of his little turtle life.

In light of my job as a psychiatric/emergency room nurse, and my role as a foster parent as well as an adoptive parent this broken turtle really got to me.  There are so many broken people that I see and take care of daily. Some people and foster children are even broke beyond repair… though few doctors, nurses, or social workers want to admit it. The toll that physical and emotional abuse takes on a child is devastating and many children, even with great foster /adoptive parents, lots of love, and the love of Christ, have great difficulty recovering from the trauma they have endured. Though they may not die physically, like our turtle, they also find it near impossible to live.

This is a reality that is shaping my life, my parenting style, my job, my ministry, and my walk with Christ. Though my son was not abused in the typical sense, he was born addicted to Methadone, because his biological mother was an incarcerated pregnant heroin addict. And drug addicted babies come with their own special set of problems. The most recent of these we are working on conquering is a sensory deficit/integration problem.

Additionally, two days ago I was asked, by social services, if I would be interested in adopting a 10 year old girl, who came out of a very abusive home 6 years ago, was bumped from foster home to foster home, now resides in a group home, and has been impossible to place in an adoptive home.
I am not sure yet of God’s will for this little girl and whether or not his will for her includes me as her mother. However, I do know that my heart breaks for her, for the foster children I had before my son Samuel, and for the thousands of other children like them.

 Just like I could not save this turtle, I know that many of these children will not be saved, and that kills me. It is with issues like this that I am left to wrestle with God and my faith. However, I am so grateful for the one I do get to hold and love, and the ones whose lives I will be a part of in the future. 


  1. This adult survivor is thankful for you too and the hand you had in my life. xx