Sometimes Love Isn’t Enough for Kids: {Part 2}

by GfG on February 6, 2014 · 19 comments

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{Sometimes love isn’t enough to parent.  Yesterday I shared part 1 of our story in foster parenting a wonderful boy for six years.  You probably will want to read it first.  Today, the story continues….}

The pain of not connecting with Daniel in a forever love kind of way was great.  It still hurts every once in awhile, but we knew that age twelve is pretty iffy on re-parenting, so it wasn’t really a surprise.    We grieved and we healed.  

We moved on.  I know that may sound horrible, but please stop and think about what it would mean if we didn’t move on emotionally.

It would mean that we were discontent with how the situation was/is, how Daniel had chosen, and how God had laid out our path.  Letting go of the hope of being loving parents for Daniel was peace bringing for us and for him.

We continued to love and parent Daniel.  His behaviors forced our hand in an area and so we had to send him to the School for the Deaf two hours away for his last year with us.

When he declared that he wanted to leave as soon as he turned eighteen, it was all confirmed.

Family July 4 2000 WEB

As the months and years grew between us and Daniel, so did our peace.

He has never once contacted us.  We did go visit a few times after he left, but the conflict and discomfort were all over his face.  He simply couldn’t reconcile the two vastly different lives and the bond wasn’t there or it wasn’t strong enough to hold on to.  He needed us to let go permanently.

We ran into him years later.  He came over to the house with a friend after that, but we haven’t seen or heard from him since.

He’s been gone eleven years now.  He turned 29 a few days ago.   Many of our friends never knew us as Daniel’s foster parents.

The pain still comes back every once in awhile, not from Daniel or our decisions, but from the looks on the faces of Christians who look shocked, sympathetic, and a bit ashamed of us when we tell them, “No.  We’ve never heard from Daniel again.  He went back to his biological parents and didn’t look back.”

Their eyes widen.

Their jaws usually drop.

Their faces display disappointment.

That’s when the pain sneaks into my heart.  The judgement from Christians that surely there was a lack of effective, loving, and God-centered parenting for Daniel, causing him to not love us, or at least not love us enough to stay in touch, is a bit of smack to my heart each time.

I know in my head that these people just don’t understand.  I know in my head that they probably have no experience with RAD or foster parenting an older child.  I know in my head that they probably haven’t studied the possible long term effects of late adoption.

Still… it hurts.

It hurts to have someone look at you as if you weren’t a good enough mom.

I know, I know.  I can’t know another person’s heart truly.  I do know that.

Yet, I also know that facial expressions are often incredibly communicative.  When you’ve seen the same ones again and again and again in connection to a specific conversation, you find a landing spot.

Today, I find myself really heartbroken for the parents who are walking the path I only walked for six years, yet they have been walking it so much longer and/or in much more greatly invested ways.

They are adoptive parents who are facing RAD with their children, even though they were adopted much, much earlier than twelve.  As toddlers even.   Mere babes.

Still… the brain needs what the brain needs and if it doesn’t get it by a certain age (specific to that child), then some attachments will never form.

Some children with RAD never form loving attachments, while others just can’t make the attachment to the parents. Usually, the mother takes the brunt of RAD, but both parents can find themselves left at the wayside of their child’s heart.

Some children are overly attached to others outside the home and some make normal attachments except with the parents.

It varies.

I watch these parents bear the brunt of judgement and it makes me want to weep.  

The lack of compassion, lack of benefit of the doubt, and lack of the call to love one another is  hard to bear for these mothers and fathers who have invested so much into children that walk away from them (if not physically, then emotionally) and then the same from their friends, church family, and extended family.

They often have to make incredibly gut wrenching decisions to place their children in residential treatment centers or boarding schools because the friction between the children and the parents can completely destroy any familial relationship still intact.

Their pain is doubled when their parenting is then also rejected by friends/family.

Instead of support, these parents receive harsh judgement.

Instead of love, these parents receive uninformed criticism.

Instead of sympathy, these parents receive cold shoulders (or disapproving frowns).

Oh, to describe the pain I feel for these mothers.  Mothers who will never receive back the love they have invested in their children.  Sigh.

It’s just heart breaking.

To heap on top of their pain of rejection of their mothering by their own child also the rejection of their mothering by other Christians … horrible.

If you know a mother who has or is raising foster or adopted children who came after the first six months and there are some “behavior issues” and/or you see the children not responding to their mother and/or father in loving/affectionate ways…

First pray for that mama and her family.

Secondly, believe the best about her mothering.

Thirdly, remember that we all parent differently, within Biblical parameters.

Next, consider that the child my have an neurological issue that manifests as emotional problems caused by neglect at an early age.

Finally, read about RAD and learn.  Step outside your life’s experience to glimpse something new.  Learn to give grace to the child, mother, and father.  Bless the hurting by encouraging in love.

While love can’t cure RAD, it can cure a hurting mama’s heart that needs support and acceptance.

Have you experienced RAD in your life?  How can you bless someone in your life facing this?


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