Monday, December 31, 2007

A Year of New

So this is the time of year that everyone makes those New Years resolutions and within 10 days promptly forgets them. Wouldn't it be amazing if just once everyone decided to learn something new this year. Or began to think in new ways. Or made new friends of different races or religions. Personally, I would like to see some New Year's lists like this:

1. Read a on-line foreign newspaper to discover how news is covered in different lands and what people there are thinking.

2. Volunteer for one day with an organization that diametrically opposed to something you hold near and dear. See if you learn anything new and in the process discover something new about you.

3. Learn something new about the person sitting next to you in church, on the bus, or at the gym. Act on that information in a way that benefits that person or others.

4. Let your child see you look at them in a new way with love and delight in your eyes. Let them see how you viewed them the first time you laid your eyes on them and let them see that tenderness everyday.

5. Learn a new skill this year that can help others. Whether it is glass blowing or auto mechanics someone, somewhere will someday benefit from your new knowledge.

6. Look for new ways to rectify injustice in your town. Speak up when others refuse to do anything about racism, or unequal access or education.

7. Give of your natural skills and abilities. Teach others what you know and value.

New. Its wonderful, enlightning and scary but it might just lead to something remarkable.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Is Forever Really Forever?

Recently in the news there has been the story of the diplomatic couple who adopted a daughter from Korea when she was four months old. According to the family she really never bonded with them and has an "illness" which sounds supeciously like severe RAD. They have left her in Hong Kong and she was placed in foster care system.

Many adoptive parents are outraged at the fact that she was "given away" by her parents and feel that this type of behavior on the part of the parents makes it appear that adoption really is not equivilant to parenting a biological child. While this story is beyond sad had these parents had the training and understanding of what abandonment and being placed with several people in the first months of life can do to a brain perhaps this story could have had a different ending. A happy one. Unfortunately, agencies time and time again tell parents myths like "Oh your baby will bond to you within two weeks" or "Children who come home as infants don't experience bonding problems" or "Foster care is better can institutional care so the kids bond very well to their new families" And really who can blame them...they are a business and like all business they have a product to "sell." If they were honest and said something to the effect of, "Well, we figure about a quarter of the kids will experience some sort of attachment issues," well they would probably chase away their "customers." And of course they will never allow that to happen.

Now I know many adoptive parents will be outraged at the use of the words "sell" and "customers" but lets face it, that is exactly what some adoptess have said they believe adoption is all about. For if these agencies truly wanted to find homes for kids they would allow people with lower end incomes adopt, committed gay couples and the like adopt children. Why is it that only fairly well off couples are deemed deserving of a child? In the case sited supposidely the family was very well off and the child had nannies who looked after her. And this is suppose to be better than a parent who may have less money but more time?

Having had more than one child with RAD I can say it ain't easy. I was not prepared for it and my agency did a lousy job of telling our PIP class what it was, what to look for, etc. But can an agency ever really prepare you for a child who wants little to with you, even one as young as four months? Probably not because no one likes to believe that children who have lost everything can hold onto those fearful feelings for a life time. I mean most of us can't remember what we had for dinner last night so it is inconceivable to most people that a small infant can react to losses so intensely and it can remain with them for so long. Impacting their lives on a daily basis. And frankly most adoptive parents refuse to see RAD or PTSD for what it really is. They prefer to live in la-la land calling their children "strong willed" or using other more "acceptable" terms. Yet, some kids will go on to develop a much more severe form of RAD than they might have because some parents refuse to see RAD for what it really is. They call their children "strong willed" or other more acceptable terms. But it is my understanding that many will have difficulties with relationships over a lifetime if they do not get the help that they need.Often they self medicate through alcohol or drugs, or distance themselves from their adoptive parents and spouses, or have trouble with authority, etc. That's why I believe it is imperative for adoptive parents to understand that their child is at risk and to seek help if they have any question in their mind that their child is having difficulty with attachment. Which brings me back to my original thought.

Many adoptive parents are outraged at the fact that this child was "dumped" by her adoptive family,thereby, giving adoption a bad name and promoting the myth that adoption is not the same as biological. With their holier-than-thou attitudes these parents proclaim "I would NEVER do this to my child." There seems to be the idea that she was dumped because she was adopted and it would never have happened if she had been a bio child. But I don't think the parents gave up because she was adopted but I do think the outrage is there because she is adopted. Had she been a biological child in the same situation we probably would never have heard of it because it happens constantly. I think she was relinquished because her behaviors were probably very harmful to herself and others. And until you have lived it you cannot even begin to fathom the path that these behaviors take. From self injury to deliberate injury of others, pathological lying, destruction of propery,etc. everyday is a challenge to ensure the safety and survival of the child and the others in the house.

Someday, if the agencies are honest they will begin to look for the children who are waiting for their forever families and identify those who have tell-tale signs of attachment issues. And then they will begin to implement programs for care takers to help these children develope appropriate and healthy attachments to those around them. The agencies owe it to their kids and their families to institute these types of programs so that a forever family stays that way.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

A Special Place In My Heart

"I have a special place for you in my heart," I murmurred to Karson while holding him tight.

"Where Momma, where is that special place?" he replied.

"It's here," I replied, pointing to the top. "It's where I think of you when you are not here. It's that place that holds my precious memories of you."

"And it's here," I replied pointed a little higher. "It's where I dream of you at night when we are apart and my mind wants to see you again while I sleep. It's the place where I hold onto special dreams."

"Oh, it's also over here," I said. "It's near those parts of me that sing quiet happy songs to myself everytime I think of you. It's that place where I keep my special songs."

"Where else, Momma? he asked. "Where else?"

"Well, its the part closer to my legs so I can run to you whenever you need me," I said."It's that place that gets me to you when I am needed."

"And its over here near my arms so I wrap you in them and hold you close to me when we both need a hug to sustain us and keep us closer," I told him. "It's my hugging place that keeps millions of hugs ready and waiting whenever you need one."

"But most of all that special place in my heart it watches and waits," I said.

"For what, Momma,?" he asked. For what?"

"For you to have your own special spot in your heart that takes you to places that you have only dreamed of and to places that teach you and show you that it is never to late to live out your hearts desire."

"And when will I get my own special spot,?" he asked.

"Oh, you already do but it only opens its door to you after your own child walks into your heart and turns the lock with their own special key that no one else has. The key to the special spot is love, my darling. Yes, the key to it all is love."

Copyright 12/9/07 by Cheryl L. Dieter

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Perhaps We Are All Blind

The other day I was reading a blog written by a woman who was visiting a far away land. She was commenting that she went into a Buddhist Temple and just stayed for a second. She found it sad that people were on their knees praying to these golden Buddhas and felt they were idols of worship. I commented to a friend that it made me "sad" to see her write that. I also find it ironic that Christians do not see themselves as doing the same thing when crossing themselves in front of pictures of Jesus or praying to a cross but that is another topic altogether.

I told my friend that I was "sad" because the woman was so closed to anything but her beliefs that she could not allow herself to take it all in and look at the beauty of what was in front of her. I have been in numerous Buddhist temples, Hindu places of worship, Christian cathedrals and in all of them I have felt the spirit of Him/Her at work. I was able to see the beauty of what the religion and her people were trying to convey about the world and their place in it, their sacred relationship with their GOD,and how the people were using their beliefs to try and make their world more understandable to themselves and others. In fact, in every one of these buildings I was able to experience a real sense of tranquility and feel the "spirit." Frankly, I have never met a Buddhist who has said, "I went into a church the other day and saw people singing, praying or looking at a picture of Jesus and it made me sad." It amazes me how so many Christians can have such an holier-than-thou attitude.

What I think Christians tend to forget is that the Christian religion is full of idols or symbols as is each and every religion. It has to be that way because those symbols, are in fact, the language or the history of where it came from, it's philosophy, etc.

I guess what is "sad" to me is that people cannot find an appreciation in those things that are meaningful to others on their spiritual journey and that they cannot see the beauty in place, spirit or various rituals. I may not agree with other people's religious persuasion but I can certainly step outside of my own bias to see and appreciate the beauty, the history and the symbols in other individuals religion. It does make me "sad" that others cannot. Truly, it is not only the blind who cannot see.