Monday, March 13, 2017

Empathy - When It Is Hard To Love

Do you know what is so hard about parenting children who's lives would be "so much better" if only they hadn't been adopted? 

Empathy. Being empathetic when a child is intent on proving that you ruined his life when you adopted him, therefore you must pay can be devastating.

When he cannot face the pain of accepting that his birth mom/dad messed up or whatever the case may be, he has to project that anger and frustration somewhere. Guess where? Usually it's mom.

In order for the child to heal from past trauma, he needs someone who can take his pain and his rage and still love him in return. That is hard, really hard.

Saying "I am so sorry you cannot live with your birth parents," while remembering the situation your child was removed from can be difficult. Add in the sacrifices your family made for this child, sacrifices that you made willingly, but the child brushed aside and trampled because he is so full of pain and rage from things done to him by his birth family, and it is doubly hard to be empathetic.

When your heart is torn between sympathy for your child and pain for what the rest of the family has to endure because of his rage, it is tough to keep things in perspective.

It would be so much easier to say, "If that's the way you want it, then have it your way," effectively closing your heart to further pain. But the hurting child wouldn't heal and he is just as much a victim of circumstance as you are, although it can be easy to lose sight of that fact when he is the one unleashing havoc in your home.

As an adoptive parent you will have to choose between empathy and closing your heart. The latter is easier but the former is the only way to healing.

Parenting children with trauma, especially when that trauma causes attachment difficulties, means opening your heart to pain and anguish. 
It means making choices for your child, choices that may make your child turn against you for a season because he cannot see the big picture. 
It means fighting for your child when everyone else wants to give up or punish him for the seemingly atrocious acts he has committed, without looking at the driving factor behind the act. 
It means loving a little wildcat who would sooner die than allow you into his heart because he has learned that adults only want to hurt him.
It means holding your child close after he intentionally destroyed a project you spent weeks completing.
It means choosing love when your heart wants to wither and die from the pain this little person has brought into your life.
It means loving again and again, when you really wanted to throw in the towel the day before yesterday.

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