Theres no doubt that growing up in a third world country is precarious at best. Children are more often than not, forced to leave the innocence and joy of childhood in exchange for learning the tricks of survival. Many of them learn by the age of 5 or 6 how to beg, steal or cheat a meal from the harsh world around them. All the while keeping a keen eye open to the many dangers daily threatening their fragile lives. Families are broken, hunger and disease constant, fear forever present. These are the realities facing children all over the world today. Considering this, it is only right that our hearts ache, longing to provide an opportunity for “a future and a hope”. But in our attempt to reach out a hand to heal , do we not sometimes cause more pain?
How could I even venture to make such a claim?
Are we asking ourselves the really hard questions? Are we jumping without thinking about the inevitable fall?
Yes, time is ticking for these children and I’m the last person to stand in the way of a loving family for these precious little ones. My concern is simply this….. far TOO MANY children are coming to their new families in the United States, only to have it end in disruption (dare we even say, distruction?) Happening once in a while, although too much, it somewhat understandable, but happening time and time again; something is BROKEN!!!!!
Please understand, it is not only the child that is hurt through this process, the family who opened their hearts and home to this child is now hurt, confused and devastated as well. I have personally witnessed it time and time again with families close to me. So what is broken? Therefore, what can be done to fix it? It is my belief that these families have good and honorable intentions but lack understanding into the complicated issues these children hold in their hearts. Broken relationships, troubled childhoods, fear, lost innocence, anger…all cry out for healing. But that healing has to happen within a family fully prepared to handle those issues, a family that is now officially a “therapeutic” home. A family equipped and ready.
There is a critical lack of resources for a family to access after placement. When things are challenging and they cry out for help, there is no one there to hear them. Agencies often seem silent. Maybe they too, are at a loss for resources or maybe they understand that the help that is needed at that point is more than what they are equipped to give. A family in crisis needs more than a few phone consultations to get them back on track. They need a complete revamping of their methods and practices-a college course in raising a child that likely struggles with post-traumatic stress, anxiety, reactive attachment disorder and/or any other “title” that comes along with a child who never really got to be a child. All of these labels run on a spectrum. A person doesn’t either “have it” or not. They generally carry some level of it around in their baggage.
Families NEED to be prepared ahead of time. They need to be equipped and ready BEFORE the child comes. They need to understand that they are not doing the child any favors by not taking the time to read the books. Love is mighty, but it is not enough in itself to bring healing, you need to be educated! Having a comprehensive understanding of the potential issues will also help families to make a better decision about which child would be right for their family and situation.
Here is a great way to get started! I’ve been reading the book (for the second or third time 🙂 ) Building the Bonds of Attachment by Daniel Hughes. in this book, Hughes tells the story of a young girl with serious attachment issues. It is a fictional story but based on real facts and strategies used in dealing with children who are struggling. It would be easy to discount the book based on the fact that Katie is abused as an infant but I have seen all of the issues he dramatizes in the book played out in each of my children who come from a variety of backgrounds. It has been a wonderful reminder of how if we are prepared to face the issues that children struggle with, fighting their giants in a loving and supportive way, they will find the strength and courage to love again. I highly recommend it to anyone thinking of adopting, has adopted or is in any way connected to a child who is adopted.
I officially charged and ready for the mission to spend the rest of my days doing all that I can to help families succeed at staying together through the bright days and dark nights of healing!