I'm reminded once again that parenting a child adopted at an older age is much more a process of unlearning and then relearning how to function in the world. Because of living in less than ideal circumstances, these children have learned very well how to survive in them, but this survival mode does not lend itself well to living in a healthy family atmosphere. What our biological children have learned to do without even thinking about it, our adopted children must be actively taught.
Take this morning for instance. H. and I were practicing her reading. (Boy, those different vowel sounds can be tricky!) I happened to glance at H.'s hand where I saw a rather large place on the inside of one finger that was obviously healing from some type of cut. I immediately asked her what happened and she, in a rather ashamed sort of way, told me that she had hurt it on a pencil sharpener. I can only imagine that in trying to sharpen a pencil with one of those small hand pencil sharpeners that she accidentally sharpened some of her skin as well. It must have really, really hurt. I knew just from looking at her that she was bracing herself for getting into trouble, as if it was wrong to have been hurt. She started to have that vacant, "I'll just disappear while the unpleasant stuff is happening" glaze to her eyes. It took a lot of hugging and kissing of owies and hair stroking to bring her back and also to convince her that she wasn't in trouble. I tried to tell her that when she is hurt she needs to come to me so I can take care of her, but I'm never sure if what I'm saying is actually what is being understood when I'm just talking about concepts. I do know that for the next several words she was sounding out that she clutched my hand in hers.
And it's hard. It's hard because in moments such as these, I battle an extreme range of emotions. I am so relieved that my child will never again have to hide or ignore an injury because either she is afraid of getting into trouble or because she feels as though there is no one to pay attention to her. I am grateful that I can parent this child who so desperately needed a mother and a father. And once again I'm angry at the circumstances that caused her to feel so alone in the first place.
How often do we do this even as adults? Hide an injury or a hurt because we are so unsure that there will be compassion on the other end? I may be a very imperfect parent. I may not always react to things as I should, though I do try my best. But I want to remind you again that there is a parent who will always react with compassion to our hurts. God is the perfect parent and loves us so much more than anyone else could. Bring your problems and your hurts to Him and He will receive you with open arms.
I am thrilled to share that one of my blog posts, Not so rare, has been linked on the We are Grafted In blog. There's lots of great writing on that site and I'm humbled to be included.
Talk about a child who need parents to give him hugs and kiss boo-boos, don't forget little Chad. He is 9 years old and has always lived in an institution. An institution with severe neglect. No one has ever even asked to look at his file and now it looks as though they never will. Pray that God will not let this little one become invisible. Pray that his parents will find him and show him what it means to be loved.
He looks like a sweetheart with his curly hair. Pray, pray, pray that his family finds him. You can see his information on Reece's Rainbow.