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My Son Was Locked In A Closet. A Tale of Closed Doors…

My Son Was Locked In A Closet. A Tale of Closed Doors…

Since my son was very young when he experienced many traumatic events, sometimes his “Hey Mom, did-you-know-I-was-once-shot-by-a-rifle,-and-then-my-head-grew-back?” “memories” are purely figments of his imagination.

Trying to piece together real moments of fear with a sense of reality using only a toddler’s vocabulary creates some interesting accounts of his childhood, to say the least. It’s almost too easy (or preferable) to dismiss him when he tries to communicate what life was like before entering foster care.

Then, There Are Stories Like This

With enough consistency in re-tellings, it became clear that this had a lot more truth to it than we’d (still) like to admit. To revisit this, even in a “creative writing” fashion (altered and cleaned up), is a haunting process.

But, for other families considering fostering or adopting, you need to understand the depth of darkness that you invite into your home, so you will know where and how to provide a source of light and life for these children.

Stories like this also provide perspective. I think to myself, “If today, I experienced JUST one facet of this child’s story, how long would it take me to recover my trust in humanity?” A few months? Two years? Five?

How long would doubt live in my bones, and how ineffective would conventional therapies be for me?

“The Closet”

There once was a child who lived in a closet. He went into the closet because everyone hated him. Loving caretakers and others he depended on physically rejected and hid him from the World.

“Are you sure it wasn’t a regular room?” his mother doubted. “Yeah. I’m sure,” he replied. “Like, where we put the vacuum.”

He lived there for hours or entire days, day after day, for any indiscretion.

The door was always locked. Still, he always checked it …just in case.

He could hear other children on the other side. Having fun. Getting attention. Eating. He got none.

He talked to himself to pass the time. He soiled himself. He had no choice.

He planned for ways to escape. He imagined a small, secret door that took him to his room or outside. He imagined dying in there. Starving. Burning. Electrocution. Wherever his imagination could take him… as long as he ends up not being there anymore.

There were no lights in the closet. He thought spiders were crawling on him. It was hot in there.

“Why didn’t you say anything? Did you ever talk about it?” The mother second-guessed the question, afraid of the answer.

He knew in his heart this was wrong, but his logic had already been distorted to thinking this was somehow OK. Now he thinks he’s betrayed someone by telling this much already.

His thoughts formed a mist over his eyes: Were they right? Or wrong? Didn’t I deserve that? They told me I did. Am I in trouble now?

“Do YOU think it’s OK to put kids in closets?” he asked.

His mother sobbed.

“No. I don’t think that’s OK.”


Please note that this story has been creatively modified to capture emotional states and preserve anonymity. While not all of the details may be accurate, the inner turmoil is dead-on.


The author writes from an unabashed, had-it-up-to-here, daily defeated and re-strengthened by grace and hope… kind of place. An adoptive mother of a curious kiddo, full of spirit and sass, tells her tales of homeschooling, fostering, and raising children with special needs. Thanks for joining us on this adventure from adoption to life!

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