When we decided to become foster-adopt parents, we knew from the cursory research that children who have been sexually molested often act out some of the behaviors either with other children or have a propensity to be promiscuous when they are sexually mature. It was more risk than we were able to take with six boys in our family already.
We also learned all about attachment disorders. Children can be charming and sweet and are often extremely affectionate. The clue that it could be a problem is when it is indiscriminate. They’re likely to be hugging and kissing a total stranger if they think that is what the stranger wants. They have no protective boundaries.
Attachments are formed very early in infancy. Each time a parent comforts a crying infant, that infant learns that the parent is there to protect and provide and learns to trust. Both the parent and child “attach” to the other emotionally through serving and being served. If this doesn’t happen, children don’t learn to discern between right and wrong, safe and unsafe, nor do they respect authority. They struggle to form emotional attachments of any kind.
(I think the trend to keep babies in car seats for much of their infancy may have serious emotional ramifications in later life for those infants because of a weaker attachment.) (And with a degree in English, I’m imminently qualified to suggest that outcome.)
Little Charlene was six, almost 7 when she came into her adoptive home. She explained to me recently that she has little memory of her birth mother. “I remember my mom’s boyfriends. . .” she let her voice trail off.
She did remember going to the neighbors and begging for food, especially ice cream. “I’d always ask for ice cream and they’d give it to me. They’d give me anything I asked for.”
Tami respected both her child’s rights to privacy and never explained what specifically caused Charlene to be removed from her mother’s custody. But she did comment that Charlene was very undersized by the time she came to them for a reason.
Tami’s the sort of body type that would take a big drink of water before she was weighed at the doctor. I remember her complaining once that short people are sometimes “overlooked” (pardon the pun) as they wait in a line or in other situations where it seemed that larger bodies were given or took right of way. It seemed like an advantage in the placement that the little gal was well-matched physically to her mom.
Charlene remembers being in two other foster homes (before the final placement) and liking to play with all the kids.
As I understand the way the program in most states works, children that are removed from their natal homes are either placed temporarily with the expectation of them returning when whatever caused the crisis is resolved, or into the foster adopt program. Children go into the foster-adopt program when the Department of Human Service Case workers and other professionals determine that the chances of the parents or other relatives being able and willing to provide a safe home for the child are very low.
Yet, even if a child is considered to be in a foster-adopt program, the parents/relatives are still given ample opportunity (when feasible) to do what is necessary to be reunited with the child or children.
Charlene’s case was such that she went directly into the foster-adopt program.
She was placed with a family and lived with them for some period of time. (She doesn’t know how long)Her understanding was that they intended to adopt her. She doesn’t know exactly what happened, but one day they told her that they were moving and since you can’t move a foster child out of state, they were “giving her back.”
“They just said they were moving and couldn’t take me with them,” she repeated.
The next foster home was a temporary home, a “receiving” or short term fostering situation. There are foster parents who accept children that are in crisis and they expect to have them only briefly. Charlene remembers that home fondly, that there were lots of children to play with. She was with that foster mom when Tami first met her at the school and Tami knew she was “the little girl we’d been waiting for.”
“I was a little nervous about being in a big family,” Charlene recalls. “Mainly wondering if they would keep me. It wasn’t like I wasn’t used to being around lots of kids.”
There is a waiting period of between six months and year, depending on the circumstances, before an adoption can be finalized. Charlene’s adoption was finalized at the earliest possible date and she seemed completely assimilated into her family. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, after the adoption was legalized in court, she went with her parents to the temple where she was sealed into their family by priesthood power. It’s a short prayer or blessing that promises that the family bonds and covenants with God to his children will last forever.
She seemed completely happy and healthy, showing herself to be very bright and sweet tempered until the teens hit. “I went pretty crazy,” she admits.
Her teen struggles will wait for another post. But in our recent conversation, she recalls, “My mom taught me how to be a mom. I tortured her and betrayed her trust so many times, but she set such a good example for me. I owe her the world. I want to give my kids what my parents gave me. They love me. We’re making progress. It will take time after everything I did.”
In the meantime, another young woman who was rescued from her birth mother as a newborn will write next Friday’s post. I hope she’ll share the circumstances of hers and her brother’s rescue and more in depth what it felt like to grow up in a home where she and her brother were not biologically related to the rest of her siblings and parents. She will be writing with a pseudonym to protect her family’s privacy.
Monday’s post will be: “I’ve finally figured out “Why Polygamy in the earliest days of the Church?: It’s the pattern of Prophets.” Spoiler alert: I’m pretty certain you’ve never thought of my conclusions. . .and I’m pretty sure I’m (at least partially) right. It was an epiphany for me after thinking, and studying for years.
If you click on the “follow by email” button, you’ll get a note in your email when there’s a new post on CCC. I’d be honored! When Blogger changed some of their policies, somehow all the old followers were shaved off. So even if you were once a follower, you are probably not now unless you’ve “re-upped” in the last few weeks. I still haven’t made the change to wordpress. . .but I’m assured that when I do, the followers should/could/might stay attached. We’ll see!