In the wake of the mass murder of seventeen souls at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida nearly two weeks ago, there has been much discussion about Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz. What led the 19-year-old to intentionally plan a mass shooting and kill and destroy so many lives? Immediately, the media began digging into his past.
Dozens of calls to police about his behavior. A system that consistently failed to get him the mental health and behavioral therapy he clearly needed. Recently orphaned, his dad died in 2007 but his mother just within the past year or so. CNN reports that since 2008, police received over 45 calls about either Cruz or his brother. They started when Cruz was just nine years old, and 39 of them came from Cruz’s own house. CNN says the descriptions of the calls “include mentions of a ‘mentally ill person,’ ‘child/elderly abuse,’ ‘domestic disturbance,’ ‘missing person,’ and more.”
But there’s something else they keep saying about Nikolas Cruz, and it’s true.
Nikolas Cruz, the Parkland shooter, was adopted at birth.
I have heard this fact repeated over and over and over, from the first evening after the shooting. Adopted. Adopted Adopted. They mention that before they mention that he was recently orphaned. The truth is, this very troubled child has, in 19 years, lost two sets of parents.
But I wonder, what must adopted children think when they hear that fact leading off the list of things we know about a mass murderer? My nephew, two years old, is adopted. Will he hear this terrible story one day, and think, “Wait…I’m adopted…” I have wondered this more than once since that terrible day in Florida two weeks ago.
And then yesterday, I saw this article. First, an adoptive mama shared it on Facebook and second, a co-worker of mine, an adoptive dad, sent it to me. Written on the adoption blog No Hands But Ours by adoptive mom Kelly, it is a letter to her adopted daughter about all the talk surrounding the Parkland shooter and his origins. As only a loving mother could, Kelly tells her daughter what she needs to know about the situation in an age-appropriate way, but she also tells ALL of us adults who are wondering, thinking, speculating about Nikolas Cruz. In a nutshell, she says, Don’t believe the lie that being adopted caused Nikolas Cruz to become the Parkland shooter.
And the truth is, we ALL need to take Kelly’s words into account. Perhaps it’s because they are written for a child, they are able to cut through the speculation and the conspiracy and break it down. She says:
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.