When a child is placed with a foster or adoptive family there is usually great rejoicing on the part of the family receiving the child but what we sometimes forget is that the child is grieving. In order for you to receive this child someone has to experience a loss, the loss of family.
One of my children struggles with this to a greater degree than the other two. I will refer to this child as Johnny. When Johnny came to us Dean and I had no idea that the next years would be the most tumultuous of our lives thus far. We joined the thousands of naive people who viewed adoption as only a blessing. We thought the children coming into our home would want to be loved and cared for, we didn’t realize that our children’s past would have to be worked through and laid to rest before they would be ready to even think of bonding with us.
Johnny misses his mom, yearns for his biological mom’s acceptance and love. My love and nurture as his adoptive mom feels like a counterfeit to him, he wants the real thing. In his mind accepting me as mom will mean he is settling for second best.Second best would perhaps be acceptable if only he could know at a deep heart/brain level that his bio mom loves him. My heart hurts watching Johnny grieve, I wish I could give him what his heart desires but for various reasons I can’t.
Johnny is having to face things like rejection, abandonment and loss at a very young age. These things are hard for adults to come to grips with but for a child it can feel almost impossible. We have gone over the, “But why didn’t my mom love me?” question countless times. For my children I am able to assure them they were loved but the choices their parents made along with the difficulties they faced made it impossible for them to care for a child.
Last night Johnny and I had another long talk. I say another, because Dean and I have been talking, giving examples and praying that somehow Johnny would be willing to stop unleashing his anger on his family and come to grips with the fact that despite the difficulties his parents faced, they ultimately failed him. Until last night all our efforts were in vain.
I held Johnny and said, “If you had a kitten (something he loves) and you were doing your best to care for your kitten but it was dying anyway and you know if you gave it to your cousin he could make it better, what would you do?”
Johnny thought long and hard before he said, “I would give it away.”
“But what if you really wanted the kitten for yourself? Wouldn’t it be easier to keep it, even if it would die?”
Johnny puzzled over that for a bit then said, “I would give it to my cousin because then it could live.”
“Wouldn’t that make your heart hurt?” I asked. Johnny admitted that it would, so I asked, “Which would take a bigger love, to keep your kitten, or give it away?”
“It would take more love to give it away but I would so it could live,” Johnny replied.
“Right!” I praised. “Did you ever think that your birth mom was kind of like you and your kitten?” She knew she couldn’t take care of you and she was so glad that someone was able to give you a home when she couldn’t.”
I told Johnny about the good bye visit we had with his parents, how his mom and I cried on one another’s shoulders and I promised her I would do my best to love and care for Johnny. “Your mom said, Thank you, Sandra, thank you! When we left,” I shared.
Johnny and I prayed together, I asked God to keep his birth mom safe and prayed that if it was His will that she would get in contact with us again. When we finished Johnny gave me a hug and went to bed with a happy light in his eyes and I went out to Dean and gave a thumbs up. The war is by no means over but we won one battle and for that we will be forever grateful!