Some of you may not read this all the way through. I hope some will.
This isn’t my typical kind of post, but my heart is aching; bleeding. I am haunted continually and having trouble sleeping. I have to write this and hope that it will stop some of my own tears, even if I don’t really expect it to stop the horror that is happening daily in our own arms-wide-open America.
Some of you may stop reading right there. After that last sentence. But I will keep typing anyway.
During the last four weeks, Scott and I have had the incredible honor of welcoming Raiza and her three-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Jhannel, into our family.
From South America.
Their entry into our country has been as safe, as gentle, as stress-free, and as loving as it could possibly be during such a time of drastic life changes, as they have been surrounded by people who love them, care about them, and are excited about their new lives here.
Jhannel has been doted on by our children, scooped up by the two of us (her new Grandmother and Grandaddy), fed nutritious foods, had all of her needs met through each day. But even under these ideal circumstances, her great need to be in close contact to her mommy, to know constantly where she was and that she hadn’t left her, has been huge. Unfamiliar food, people, language, smells all made it essential that she have the familiar sound, feel, smell of her mother by her side at all times during this upheaval in her life.
We’ve marveled at the beauty of the deep bond and attachment they share. A bond that got them through unbelievably hard times, periods of poverty and need, and constant fear about their future before finally coming to America.
After they had been here for a couple of weeks, we came alongside Raiza to help her ease Jhannel into a place of a bit more independence as we all started working together to help Jhannel learn to sleep in her own little Paw Patrol bed. Still in the same room as her mommy, but for the first time in her life, not in the same bed.
It made my heart hurt as we saw the terror she faced that first night when she tried hard to be brave and follow through with her own desire to learn to sleep in her own bed. She loved that bed, but couldn’t find the courage, all by herself, to sleep in it without her mother’s body nestled against her. Something she had felt every single night since the moment God began knitting her together in her mommy’s womb.
But we all three loved her through that transition, and it got easier for her every night — as long as she knew that Mommy was still in the room with her and would be there when she opened her eyes the next morning. She asked over and over and over again for this assurance.
She now wakes up each morning and runs through the house, announcing happily that she woke up in her own bed, and she is so very proud of this little step toward three-year-old independence, knowing that she is safe and that Mommy is still walking by her side.
And then I think of all the immigrant babies being ripped from their mother’s arms at U. S. borders. I don’t know how the parents or the children ever survive this unbelievably cruel treatment. Hundreds of them!
In our attempt to be better parents ourselves to our own children from trauma, and to help other parents learn to how to understand their children’s trauma and needs, Scott and I have spent the last few years learning more and more about what childhood trauma does to children’s ability to cope in life, to their emotional and developmental state, even to their actual brain development! So much has been discovered just since the time we adopted our first children in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. It’s huge! Both the amounts of damage done, and the amazing healing that can finally take place when the proper understanding and methods are put in place.
But nothing ever completely undoes this damage. These children are forced to live out their lives limping in ways they would not have done if they had never been through the trauma they experienced.
Being separated from parents is one of the worst types of trauma that can happen to a child. And we, America, are inflicting this permanent damage onto these massive numbers of children!
How can this be?!?
This video is about how to help kids from trauma heal, but it also gives a little peek into how all types of trauma, abandonment, and forced separation damage a child’s brain and development. I urge you to take three minutes to watch it.
These children currently being taken from their parents now are almost always already coming from places of trauma, but at least they had the bond with their parents to help somewhat minimize the effects of this damage — until being pulled forcibly from their mother’s arms and then driven off to cold, overcrowded detention facilities (sometimes not even in the same state!). I cry again just typing these words.
Please, please don’t remain silent.
Educate yourself about what’s going on. Here are some articles that help explain it all. (Remember to keep scrolling past all of the annoying adds that pop up in the middle of the articles, so that you read each one to the end.)
- This Is Why Trump’s Forced Separation Policy Doesn’t Work
- Breaking Up Immigrant Families: A Look at the Latest Border Tactic
- Hundreds of Immigrant Children Have Been Taken From Parents at U.S. Border
- What Senator Jeff Merkley Saw at an Immigrant Detention Center for Children
- Seizing Children From Parents at the Border Is Immoral. Here’s What We Can Do About It.
Contact your representatives and cry out on behalf of these families who have no voice. This link will take you to the info you need to do this. In the top left-hand corner, you can click on Change Location to get to the right person for your little corner of the world.
Please share this blog post. Everywhere! I actually write this last paragraph with shaking fingers because I know I will be attacked for writing this post. I already have been attacked on social media for speaking out for immigrants. My heart is passionate for orphans and families and children in need. But I am not brave. I wish I were. Oh, I long to be. But I have the kind of personality, passionate though it may be, that would always prefer to find ways to fight quietly in an invisible corner. So it has taken a lot of courage for me to write this blog post. My heart wouldn’t let me stay quiet any longer, especially as I watched the real-life immigrant story unfold in my own home where God has given us the indescribable honor of being a part of this new beginning.
I’ll end this with some beautiful pictures of Raiza and Jhannel’s transition into their new lives.
Getting acquainted with all new “aunts,” “uncles,” “cousins,” and pets