“I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God- it changes me.”
― C. S. Lewis
― C. S. Lewis
I believe in the sun even when it's not shining. I believe in love even when I don't feel it. And I believe in God even when He is silent. (quote found on the wall of a concentration camp)
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Wednesday, September 1, 2010
For As Long As We All Shall Live!
My heart hurts once again, for children who are suffering. They are not the children in Pakistan this time, but children who have been brought into families with the promise of being cared for, loved, accepted and cherished.
Yet, I have been made aware of SEVERAL children in limbo, facing disruption, or in the middle of active disruption. I think the new term is "re homed " now. That is just too sanitary for me.
The actual REAL word, is Adoption Dissolution. A disruption happens before an adoption is finalized. Animals are re homed. An adoption dissolution is a process in which an adoptive parent, who legally has the exact same place as a biological parent, divorces their child and sends them away to another family.
We have been the happy recipients of one such child, and I am so thankful for her. However, I still can't believe we have her or that anybody in their right mind would have wanted to not have her in their family as their precious daughter. My mama bear feelings come out when I think about it.
But this post is not about that. This post is about people who bring a child over here, waiting sometimes YEARS to adopt, only to disrupt after a very, short time.
The stories are often similar, with a few differences. But in every case so far, it has been a situation where a parent has not bonded to the child, cannot fully accept them as their own, and begins to concentrate on the bad things about the child instead of the good.
One of the things we forget to educate families about, is that LOVE is not necessarily a "gushy feeling at first sight". Love is a VERB. It is action. It gets up and changes diapers in the middle of the night while sleep deprived, and it is patient and kind to a very scared child. A parent may have those gushy feelings, or not... but one thing is sure, "True Love" will not hold back. We also forget to tell parents about the absolute FEAR and TERROR a child feels when they are taken from one environment to another, one culture to another, one family to another or from an institution into a foreign family.
It is hard enough for a child to adjust to a new situation within their own culture. But what about when that child cannot speak your language, eat your foods, AND knows NOTHING familiar and therefore has NO comfort?
Golly, I know adults who can't handle eating foods they aren't used to in other countries. What about children who will never see those things again?
How terrifying to be taken by adults onto an airplane across the ocean, and to hear nothing but foreign words. And don't forget, these people are expecting all sorts of things from you, and they seem to have mastered one word in your language. NO!
Children respond to extreme stress in very different ways, but many of them do the following:
SCREAM, BITE, HIT, KICK, SPIT, FLAIL, and did I say RAGE? Typically this is short lived, or not at all, and the child will begin to get more comfortable and feel safer, but then, something happens. They can no longer THINK in their own language. They can't remember it! AND they can't think in YOUR Language or remember much of it either!
They wind up being a child without a language. This typically happens after about 2 months. Yes that soon! And it can last awhile. A child may learn to speak English, and totally not understand what he is saying. His verbal language will be ahead of his expressive language. During this time, the frustration of not being able to communicate my be heightened and therefore the child may throw tantrums or fits out of sheer frustration.
I remember when Sarah came to us, after being here 10 months, she was speaking English very well. In fact, perfectly. No accent. But.... what had been considered misbehavior and rebellion, was actually a lack of understanding of English. We discovered this on her second day at home.
She was jumping off of the coffee table. I said, "Please don't jump off of the coffee table ok?" She said, "OK"... with a big ole' smile. And then, she jumped off of the coffee table. I was perplexed. So I repeated... and so did she.
I then asked her, "What is a coffee table?" guess what? She didn't know!
"What is jump?" SHE DIDN'T Know!
So, I showed her the coffee table and pointed at it, "this is a coffee table" and then I jumped.... "this is jump. "Don't JUMP off of the Coffee Table!" bingo!
A light went off in her little mind and she had a big smile. "OH! OK!" and she didn't do it again.
We as the adults, as the parents have got to educate ourselves on what to expect when it comes to adoption. It seems that sometimes the adoption process is romanticized and bringing the child home seems to be the climax, very similar to a bride who does everything to plan for the wedding, the dress, the cake, but forgets to plan for the marriage!
Money well spent, will be spent on education BEFORE the child comes home, not on cute outfits for the child to wear. It seems we spend more time fixing up rooms and redecorating instead of educating ourselves.
The cutest clothes and best award winning room will not make a child happy or a relationship good.
Please remember, your child needs things familiar. They need your tender care and understanding. They need familiar smells. They need familiar foods. And yes, they need the light on. Many of them have never been in a dark room. They don't turn the lights all the way out at the orphanage. They need to be prepared ahead of time if you are going to change their schedule. If you are going to go somewhere, they need to know where and why and how long. They have lived in such uncertainty, just going to the store can be traumatic.
Most of all, our kids need us to commit to love them. They need us to be the adult, the PARENT, the safe haven. It isn't about us or our needs, it is ALL about them.
You are the one who went and interrupted their life. If you are going to do that, then by golly commit to make it work! Do NOT withhold your love from your child. (love is a verb) Pour yourself into them, it is the very LEAST of what they deserve. It is what being a real parent is all about.