Sheepish from the abuse (that she believes tells her truth), she looked up at me hoping that I wouldn’t catch her fleeting glance. She was so determined to reject me, but her heart was betraying her. I prayed for breakthrough. It has not yet come, but still I wait.
She screamed and scratched while demanding that we pack her things so that she could run away to find her “mother”. After wearing herself out, she snuggled and sobbed. This baby-girl lay sweaty and soul weary - grateful that we had not acquiesced.
Anger rages and abandonment falsely frames every. single. interaction. There they remain, listless and unable to risk the vulnerability brought by the audacity of hope. To live life as someone that is only tolerated is an unbearable burden that crushes foster children. This childhood prison is a thief that relentlessly returns over and over to snuff out hope, intimacy and the ability to bond.
noun dis·dain \dis-ˈdān\
Definition of disdain
: a feeling of strong dislike or disapproval of someone or something you think does not deserve respect.
If you’ve ever showed up to a gathering where the host was not expecting you, then you understand the awkwardness of feeling like you don’t belong in a place or at that party. It feels like everyone is rushing around to make room for you, but you weren't expected or initially "wanted" there. Can you imagine with me, the reality for foster children who KNOW this is true about their very existence? Children who KNOW that they are cast aside and only tolerated, NEVER celebrated. And we have the effrontery to wonder why the behaviors they exhibit attempt to shun everyone who comes emotionally near them. Understandably, the suicide rate is much higher in these children. The highly developed antisocial traits have proven to be the only comfort they find in controlling the inevitable rejection. It is far easier to survive a (perceived) controlled rejection, rather than riding each wave of rejection as it swamps them completely.
At the House of Providence, we celebrate the very existence of each of our residents. We understand that we are not the “plan A” of their lives. We talk openly about this! We are not bullied by this fact, and we certainly don’t shy away from broaching the subject. We declare openly that we are going to do whatever we can to be the best “plan B” possible (and that they absolutely deserve)! We have to get pretty creative at HOP when trying to be this best that our girls need and deserve. Sometimes that looks like a quiet night in with a movie and healing laughter. Other times, this looks like REFUSING to give up on a child who is begging you to give up, with every defiant action that she can muster. Because, for her, loving us is just to dang risky!
What Michigan’s foster kids have endured, is not a reflection of who they are, and this is a difficult truth to convince them of. It can be equally as difficult to convince society of this truth. If perspective is reality, then we have a big paradigm to shift! Won’t you join us in our attempt?