“I immigrated without my needy children”

After a difficult period, Deborah (46 years old) decided to fulfill her dream: to emigrate to southern Germany. The fact that she had to leave two of her three minor children in a Dutch foster care institution for this reason, “brings my heart to tears. But I think this is the best solution.”

Deborah: “The first time I drove away from Geordie and Don, I cried so much. Did I do the right thing?
As a child I often visited the Black Forest with my parents. I loved it there: mountains, lakes, greenery, German half-timbered houses. We often stayed in the same guest house. I can remember being excited the whole trip to see if the Gasthof’s window boxes would ever be filled with geraniums again. Unfortunately, my father died young and the holidays are over, but the Black Forest held a special place in my heart.
When I was 24, I met Axel, a man with jet-black hair and blue eyes. He made me feel like he was protecting me, that he would take care of me. Because my father died when I was 17, taking care of Axl felt like a beacon. I can trust this man! We fell in love and two years later we got married.

There error

“Meanwhile I was working as an interior stylist, we had a beautiful house, my mother loved Axl and fate was so kind to us: she got pregnant. Jordi was born when I was 27. How beautiful! But soon after the birth I saw that something was Wrong. Jordy didn’t move forward. He was having trouble feeding and wasn’t communicating. It was a terribly uncertain time.
He was examined again and again, and in the end it was found that he had Wiedemann-Steiner syndrome, a chromosomal mutation. When I saw all the symptoms and pictures of children with this syndrome, I cried so hard. Intellectual disability, behavioral problems, a different body, excessive hair growth and, in the case of Geordie’s aggressiveness, will appear later. There was still a lot waiting for him.
The next hit came from friends and acquaintances. When we explained exactly what Jordi had, we sometimes got the reply: “I’m sure it’ll be fine later.” It made me rebellious and angry. If you bother to search on the Internet, you can see that it has not passed, right?
Axel and I lost each other during that time. Jordi’s care will be intense. Was our dream of having a big family shattered as a result? Our GP helped us think positive again. Because he assured us and the hospital that the chance of a recurrence was minimal, we decided to go for a second baby.
Soon I was pregnant with Don. And although everything seemed positive after his birth, we noticed that he, too, had a poor connection. Again that trip to the doctors, stressful and uncertain time. Fortunately, my mother often babysitter Geordie. Finally the diagnosis came: Don was autistic. He was bad with stimuli and when he overdosed he “locked himself inside”.

Heavy lead

To avoid these triggers, Axel and I had to choose a life without parties, groups, or crowded places. Previously, we were very socially active. Now this looks better to us. You do everything for your children, right? If we did anything as a family, we’d go bike riding: Jordi in a trolley behind Axl’s bike and Don in the seat with me. We made it our best and thoroughly enjoyed the good times.
At first I was shocked when, after two years, I was pregnant again, but then the doctors reassured us again. Benjamin was born and developed much better and easier than the first two. I was very proud of the three “guys”, even though two of them had “different” instructions.
It was so hard with a kid, especially because I had my hands full with Gordy, who was about five, who was getting stronger and more aggressive. He does not understand the language because his brain is not working properly. I can’t promise him ice cream if I want him to stop hurting me or yelling at me. There were times when everything was just too much for me. But I couldn’t do anything with these feelings. I had to go on.”

own plan

“Because of all the limitations, Axel and I became socially isolated. Axel was still my big, gentle giant, but my family or friends rarely came to visit him, because he wasn’t ‘nice’. Usually we were so tired in the evening that we sat on the couch like two sackes of potatoes. We hardly had sex. Our conversations were only about the children and our bad finances, because I had to give up my job to take care of our three bastards.
“Why don’t we go live in the country,” Axel suggested some seven years later. “We don’t have to stay here for those few friends left, and now that boys are entering puberty, life with fewer stimuli will be so much nicer for everyone.” We talked many evenings and my happy childhood came back again and again in the Black Forest. In the meantime I’ve been there regularly with Axel and love her too. How cute it will be for the boys! I spoke German, our owner-occupied home had great value and house prices were much lower there. We can buy a separate farm with a garden and then we still have the money left! My mother hated our plan, but she knew it was in the best interests of the children. I come to stay often, she promised.
But as I started preparing – I was very happy – Axel became more and more withdrawn. When I asked what was wrong, he would pester me with excuses like “I don’t want to quit my job” or “My parents need me.” But he hated his job and hardly ever saw his parents. what is wrong?
Four months before the move, we had to sign the purchase contract the following weekend, the bomb went off. “I’m not going with you,” Axel cried angrily when his mood caught. I was shocked. “Then we’ll stay in Holland after all,” I stammered. But it turned out to be much worse: Axel wanted a divorce. “I don’t feel good about you anymore for such a big move. I miss the joy in my life. It’s not what I imagined of a happy little family. We can’t even go to the amusement park together or eat out as a family. I’m up, Deborah. I don’t want to go on.” This way anymore.
Then he said something that killed me. “If I had known this in advance, I would never have wanted to be a father.” His words came out like hydrochloric acid. I went to the kitchen and vomited in the sink. I suggested treatment. But Axel made up his mind and wasn’t upset. He felt like he was living an “elderly” life.

Crying for hours

“That conversation was obviously the last bit of decency he could find, for he left in a week. He now lives in Denmark. Although he comes occasionally to Holland for the children, I don’t have much support from him anymore. Sometimes I I still can’t believe this happened.It hurts so much!Why didn’t he talk to me before?
Because of Axel’s departure, things got worse with Jordi. I couldn’t communicate with him before, but now I’m on my own. I cried in bed for hours without the kids noticing. But they clearly felt my grief completely. Sometimes Don would sit on the floor for hours shaking himself screaming and Jordy would stand next to him screaming in panic. If I want to hug him, he hits me. Because he has an axel physique, it is becoming more and more painful. And I felt so guilty about Benjamin, who was then nine, who was so deprived of attention. Whatever I did, there was an escalation every day. Geordie pulled plants out of the garden, and Don started pulling his hair. Little Ben felt compelled to take on the role of Axel.
I was in a daze. He had bruises all over. In the end it got so bad that I decided, in consultation with the doctor, that Gordie and Don, aged fourteen and sixteen, should move into a nursing home. Fortunately, a place became available for both of them in a nursing home with a maximum of six clients. They get all the care they need there. How did you cry? If a mother can’t take care of your kids, then cut her up and digest what’s inside. But there will be no progress. Jordi only knows the word “mama”.

A new beginning

“I visited my children as often as I could, but while searching for my way and during conversations with my therapist, my dream suddenly resurfaced. A life in Germany. Green fields where I could walk for hours, a small village with friendly people, where nobody knew me and I got a fresh start. We made money by selling our house.11 year old Ben wanted to come with me.Shall I try?
I found the perfect home in a small village near the Swiss border: a cottage with a small garden and a chicken coop. My mom supported me and my ex was fine with everything. And so I left.
I now live with my mother once every three weeks. Occasionally, Ben stays with a friend in Germany, and usually goes with him. Then I spend four days with my treasures. They do a great job. Jordi is about twenty years old and having his good moments. Then he put his arm into mine and we walked to an ice cream parlor. Don stays outside with pistachio ice cream—he doesn’t want anything else—and Gordy sits next to me, snoring with relief.
Until something pisses him off again: a screaming baby, a pooping dog, it could be anything. Then I see people are dumbfounded by his outburst and how Don crawls away. Then we return to the guide and to his private room. How can I take them to a country whose language they don’t speak? Where should they miss their favorite sandwich fillings and TV shows? It breaks my heart, but I think this is the best solution. Living at home is no longer an option for either of them.”

No fault

“I’m happier than ever. I miss no man in my life: I already have three. Ben is now sixteen and doing a great job. He has many friends and speaks German fluently. He’s a nature lover like I am. He’s out for hours with a board.” His SUP. That wasn’t possible in the Netherlands. I’m taking a follow-up course in interior design and I tackled my first project on a major renovation. Finally being able to do my dream job gives me wings.
And even though I think of my kids every second of the day, I don’t feel guilty. I know from myself that I did my best and still do. With the exception of one ex-girlfriend who thinks I’m “running away from my problems,” all of my old acquaintances are behind me. They see that I put my job as a mother first. With the smallest problem, I skype or get in the car.
When I’m having a hard time myself, I put on my hiking boots and rediscover the woods. Whether you go canoeing or eat steak with Benjamin. And though I wish things were different, and often regret that my family’s dream was shattered, my children and I are happy. I discovered strength in myself and regained my pride. Excel doesn’t work for me anymore, but I can do it myself. I can do so much more than I ever imagined. The future will tell me if I always want to stay in Germany, but I’m sure: we’ll get there! “

Text: Evelyn Kerman. For privacy reasons, all names have been changed, and the real names are known to the editors.
Photo: Getty Images

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