Something really bad happened on February 14th. I know you heard us talking about it. But, I want to explain what I know about it to you because it was a really big deal. It affected a lot of people, and you should know about it.
In Florida, about 3 hours from Disney World, a 19-year-old boy named Nikolas Cruz took a big gun into a high school, pulled the fire alarm, and then shot the gun more than 100 times. When he was done, 17 people had died. Boys and girls, about the age of your sister and your brother, and some grownups too who worked at the school, died.
Everyone has tried to make sense of it all. That’s what we do. We look around, take things in, and then make stories to make sense of what we see. But, it’s really hard to make sense of this. Some people have talked about how his birth mom may have had too much alcohol to drink when she was pregnant with him and how that hurt his brain when he was growing inside her belly. Some people have talked about how both his parents died. His dad died when he was 7 and then his mom got sick and died too just recently. Some people have talked about his body and brain being really sick for a long time.
Many of the stories have included the word adopted because Nikolas Cruz was adopted when he was a little boy.
I don’t know Nikolas’s real story. All I know are pieces of his story that I’ve heard on the news. Those pieces have told me enough to know that his story had a lot of hard things in it, a lot of very big hurts. And I’m not sure, but it seems that the grownups around him may not have done enough to help him handle those big hurts. I’m sad for him that that was the case.
Every little person deserves to have big people take care of them no matter what. Little people need big people so they can learn and grow and make good choices. And, little people whose brains are broken in different ways need even more help from big people.
For whatever reason, he didn’t get what he needed so that he could be safe and make good choices. And, I’m so sad that the series of bad choices he made have hurt so many people in such big, big ways. Those 17 people who died on February 14th each had a story too. They had mommies and daddies and brothers and sisters and friends.
But – pay attention to this, my sweet child — 17 people didn’t die that day because Nikolas was adopted.
Being adopted didn’t make him bad. You know from our talks about your own story that losing one’s first family is a big, big loss. But, that loss alone is not what made him into the young man he became. Being adopted did not make him choose to buy a lot of guns and then make a plan to use them to hurt people.
Our histories matter. Our real stories do play a part in who we become. Adoption was part of his story. But, there were lots of other parts of his story. Some parts people know now; some parts they may find out soon and maybe we’ll hear as he goes to court and a judge decides what to do; some parts people will never know. But, don’t make the mistake of hearing him described as adopted and think that is what makes sense of this really bad thing.
Sadly, some people may make that mistake, but we know better, don’t we?
The way you live, who you are, tells that story. You are a light who makes every day happier. I’m proud of you, my daughter, my adopted daughter, and I’m so glad I get to be your mom and tell that story too.