BLESSED MOTHER TERESA ADOPTED MANY HOMELESS PEOPLE, THE SICK AND ABANDONED STREET CHILDREN. I AM SURE SHE HAS MANY INSIGHTS HOW TO DEAL WITH THE SCARS OF ABANDONMENT ISSUES AND REJECTION. FOR THOSE WITH PROBLEMS WITH THEIR ADOPTED CHILDREN, STEPCHILDREN, FOSTER CHILDREN AND EVEN YOUR PARISH FAMILY, IT MAY BE WISE TO ASK THE INTERCESSION OF MOTHER TERESA TO HELP US INCREASE OUR COMPASSION FOR THE WOUNDED CHILDREN WITH ABANDONMENT ISSUES.
I WROTE THIS ARTICLE AS A RESPONSE TO THE MEDIA HYPE OF AN ADOPTED BOY WHO WAS SENT BACK TO RUSSIA DUE TO UNSOLVABLE ADOPTIONS ISSUES IN 2010. THE TITLE OF THE ARTICLE IS
MOTHER SENT ADOPTED SON BACK TO RUSSIA: WHAT ADOPTIVE MOTHERS CAN LEARN ABOUT REACTIVE ATTACHMENT DISORDER TO PREVENT ADOPTION FAILURES
ADOPTIVE MOTHERS AND REACTIVE ATTACHMENT DISORDER
The Case of the Boy Sent Home To Russia
No one dare to even imagine what goes on behind closed doors after the honeymoon period is over between the adoptive parents and the adopted child. Adoptive mothers have a heart of gold; filled with overflowing love. They also have more patience than most people. They are optimistic, generous and unselfish that seems to be a heavenly match to an orphaned child who needs love. These mothers, like Torry Hansen, opened their hearts and homes to countless abandoned children.
Unfortunately, some adoptive mothers do not understand the extent of the wounds of their adopted children. These wounds are acted out in bizarre, defiant, and scary behaviors. These children were traumatized in their former homes or institutions. They were sexually molested, physically abused, emotionally neglected and exposed to alcoholism. Even if these children are now in healthy safe environments with their new adoptive families, their traumas have damaged their belief system. In the eyes of the Russian boy and many adopted children, this world is not a loving world. It is composed of controlling people who are hideous. They must remain hyper-vigilant to their surrounding to survive. The daily stress of life feels like they are slowly drowning to death; their rage is their reminder that they are still alive.
Adoptive parents did their part and brought these children to counseling. However, these children are highly resistant to therapeutic interventions. Hopeless behaviors exhibited by children with Reactive Attachment Disorder include the following: steals money, food or fancy objects, acts out sexually, lies about something obvious, threatens harm to self, parents and others, abuses pets, parents, other children, destroys, smash objects and possessions, makes false accusations about their parents, set fire in a small waste can or in beddings, carpets, curtains and perimeter of the house, control their bowel movements and bladder, urinate and defecate on furniture, walls, room, clothes; bang their heads, cut themselves, pick at scabs, bites until they are bloody and infected.
WHAT DO ADOPTIVE MOTHERS EXPERIENCE WITH THEIR ADOPTED CHILD?
Mothers of RAD children, do not just experience rejection. They experience a stress that is unfamiliar to typical mothers with normal children. This is a unique stress brought about by the responsibility for a child who is eternally fearful and immersed with his or her own survival. You would think a child deprived of love will readily accept love in whatever form. This is a huge misconception. These children were exposed to trauma in the first critical three years of their lives thus, they were busy surviving to understand, hear, see, feel, taste, “love”. They have not learned to recognize love, if not they have a warped view of it.
HOW DOES MOTHER-ADOPTED CHILD RELATIONSHIP DIE?
Torry Hansen and her mother were severely traumatized by the aggressive behaviors of their 7-year old adopted son. Children with Reactive Attachment Disorder will wear down their parents to the point where they will need therapy themselves. They frequently suffer from Secondary Traumatic Stress Syndrome. If you have a traumatized child and a traumatized mother, it will lead to a worst inevitable scenario: the death of a mother-child relationship.
TIPS FOR MOTHERS WHO WANT TO ADOPT
If you adopt a traumatized child, you must learn to expect love to be a one-way street for a long time. It is very difficult when love is only coming from one side and the other is apathetic, violent and ungrateful. The adopted child must relearn everything like an infant in an older body. The traumatized adopted child must learn to trust a human being again. Unfortunately, the time table to heal a traumatized child can never be set on stone.
The only weapon of an adoptive mother to a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is commitment. It is unwritten rule between any parent and their biological children. Your child may appear to be too broken to be fixed. They may have a bundle of disorders, learning disabilities and defects and take out much from you. Where is your reward?
Why Seek Your Reward as a Mother?
You cannot expect to be a mother and seek a reward. The reward of being a mother is to have a chance to be a mother. Whether you can make a difference to the child is irrelevant. Whether or not, your child will love you back or not should not matter. If we did our best, there is nothing to regret. We have to move forward, we should not grieve. For this child, who hates you, you brought to your home to love.
Do not be tormented that your life is pitiful; for your life is heroic as Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King. You cannot judge what you have done to this child through the child’s metrics or through yours. For these are just superficial assessments. You do not know what will happen to this child if you did not give up. You are this child’s hero.
What Should the Adoptive Mother Do Now?
What should Torry Hansen, the woman who sent his adopted child to Russia, do now?
Forgive your son for destroying your ideal concept of a mother-child relationship. Forgive yourself for being too afraid of the unknowns with your future life with him. What awaits you may seem to be a life of misfortunes, heartbreaks, pains, hurts in the beginning, but 20 years down the road, this child has a chance to trust a human being again. If it seems that your child ended up with the worse crime on earth, you cannot come out as the same person from loving a traumatized child. Your life will be enriched with a true understanding of love. It takes an exceedingly beautiful woman to love an ugly child within. Take him back home. Do not be afraid. He can heal.