Nurture vs Nature is my latest English assignment. We was to choose a person that interested me and write a profile of them. Terri Boxall was my subject. I should probably say to protect the subject, names have been changed; however, this is a true story.
Buckle your seat belts and hold on tight your about to take a wild ride through a dysfunctional mind of a neglectful mother and addict. Terri Boxall is a twenty-six year old mother of three who I am close to her youngest child’s father. I recently received paperwork from the father who felt the need to ask my opinion on what the paperwork was saying when it pertained to his son.
Terri does not believe her way of life is wrong. She feels she has made mistakes in raising her children, but will not take responsibility for the real issues that centered around the removal of the children from her home. Terri speaks openly to me about things that are terribly abnormal for most people, but does not admit to wrong doing.
Terri went under investigation through the Department of Social Services because a neighbor heard her screaming and threatening the children. It angers her because she says the next door neighbor should mind her own business and how she raises her children is up to her.
Terri had a few visits from the Department of Social Services before the case worker took her oldest daughter into another room to ask her questions. When the case worker came out she informed Terri that her daughter had made allegations of sexual abuse against her adoptive father who lived with them. Terri told the case worker that was not possible, her five-year old daughter had to be lying. The case worker told her she needed to move out of the house immediately and Terri refused.
A few hours later the case worker called Terri up and told her to come to the Social Service building with the children for they had found a place for them to live. By this time Terri was cooperative because the father of the youngest baby had stepped in and forced her to accept the housing. However, when Terri got to the Department of Social Services she found out the case worker had paperwork to remove the children. I am left to assume that Terri or the adoptive father had said or did something to the case worker to make her feel threatened leading to these events.
The father of the youngest child removed his child before Social Services had the opportunity to do so. He said he knew Terri was neglectful and felt if it was left up to her the baby would have ended up in the system as well. He also stated that he did not have the means to take care of the child on his own so he asked his parents to step in for him and they accepted. Regardless, he left Terri for the protection of his child due to finding out the baby was left home alone while she was out drinking with a friend and he was working.
I was there the first time Social Services showed up to her house because Terri grabbed her kids and ran into my back door with them. I was completely shocked at her actions because I did not know Terri that well. I did ask her why she felt it was appropriate to just walk into my house like that. Terri tells me she is protecting her kids “Please keep the kids I will be back” she says.
“Wait just a minute!”, I demanded, “What are you talking about?”
Terri persist on to tell me about how Child Protective was at her house and she didn’t want them to hurt her children. I don’t know what was going through her head that made her think I was the one going to protect her children from child protective, but I did tell her the stupidest thing she could do is run with the kids. It was just a few seconds later Child Protection was knocking on my back door as they had followed Terri through my backyard and to my back door. That was more than two years ago. I was curious about how Terri and the children are doing today.
I met up with Terri at her house where I felt she would be the most comfortable talking to me. I informed her that I would be doing a paper on her and the consequences of addiction. Terri feels comfortable calling me by my famous nick name as she responds with “I know Aunty Liz, I don’t mind, I can help you out.” Terri is not shy about her addiction, for one of the first things I noticed was a pill bottle and a glass pipe on the stand in front of her. “It is a little early to be smoking that stuff isn’t it?”, I asked her. She quickly combats any objection I might have by saying “If I can’t smoke you will have to leave because this is my home.” I did not fight Terri I just sat on the other end of the couch with her as she took very large hits off of the pipe and blew the smoke directly into my face.
I started the conversation out by saying “I smoked that when I was your age. I quit when I found out I was pregnant. I had heard you was pregnant again but did not realize you was so far along. Don’t you think it would be wise to give it up for the kid?”
Terri sits on the couch pipe in one hand and lighter in the other. She smokes the pipe faster than I can smoke a cigarette taking harsh hit after harsh hit and barely taking a breath in between. “I know I should give it up, but I am addicted. It’s not like it is gonna hurt the baby anyways my other three came out fine. I do have to give it up long enough for the baby to come out clean. Social Services already told me if this baby tested positive they was taking it from me too. I have two more weeks I can smoke then I have to stop til the baby is born.” Terri is a very fast talker, hurling information faster than I can ask her questions. “I like to smoke my mind slows down and I don’t think as much when I am high. My kids have been in foster homes now for two years and they are well-adjusted. I think it would just mess them up to bring them back home now.”
“When it came time for me to give it up, Terri, I don’t remember it being that hard, I just walked away. Is marijuana the only drug you use?”
“No I have used crack two times and did not like it. I use pills, cocaine, the needle, and I like to drink if I can’t get any of those things.” Terri pulls out her cellphone and begins to show me pictures of her daughters. Her youngest daughter whose father was African American looked completely different., as I remember her with her hair always unmaintained. The family she is with now and has been with since the beginning is taking wonderful care of her. She is cute as a button her face smiling big and tossing a wink at the camera. Her curly hair stacked on top her head and a really cute gray and black striped dress. They say a picture speaks a thousand words, this one spoke a million to me.
As I read through the paperwork on Terri with her, she denies little of her actions and it does not seem to upset her that people find what she does as off the wall. Terri has never moved beyond supervised visits with her children and now does not have the opportunity to. The court summons states that Terri has missed sixty-seven visits of the one hundred twenty-four visits she has had over the last couple of years. Terri started out with visits two times a week but it did not take the system long to take half of them away. They felt that Terri’s continuously yelling at the kids, putting them in extended time outs, and inappropriately talking about their dad’s was mentally damaging for the children. In less than two weeks Terri has to be in court, her rights as a mother are being terminated.
As I listened to Terri jabber on and on my mind started to wonder. What would make a person think this was normal? What is abnormal? Is there truly a story behind the way she is? So I asked her about her past. It turns out that Terri does not know her real father. She states that her mother had given her names of two different men both of which were dead. However, she does speak very highly of a step-father. She says he was her best friend, but he died of lung cancer when she was only eleven years old.
Terri states that life was wonderful until her step-father died, but things fell apart when her mother married her next husband who used crack cocaine. “My mother stopped caring about me or anything else in her life maybe she was using it too.” Terri says.
Terri states that she was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder when she was very young. She also says she took the medication right up until her mother married again. After that the mother claimed she could not afford to buy the medication and took her off of it. Terri says this resulted in her being removed from her mother’s home and being placed with her Aunt where she lived the rest of her childhood. She also states she was sexually abused in this home and no one believed her.
The argument of nurture versus natures has been one that has been carried on for decades. As Terri grew up she was abused, neglected, and exposed to illegal drugs. In turn she exposed her children to abuse, neglect, and illegal drugs. When Terri told of her abuse she was called a lair. In turn when her daughter spoke of abuse she called her a lair. Terri repeats the same cycle she was taught as a child. Therefore, In this case I have to believe that nurture over powered nature.