March 18, 2018

I remember visiting one day with a friend I’ll call Mary who had adopted 18 children. She and her husband were known as people who would take children of any color or age into their home, so were subject to frequent opportunities to do so. Not all of the children grew up happy and well. The babies became most successful. It was hit and miss with children who had come into the family later in life, often carrying heavy baggage. One boy went to jail, a couple of them were caught up in drugs and anti-social behavior, but most were grateful for the opportunity that this couple had given orphans to grow up in a good environment.

Of two girls who were adopted close to teen age, I recall that they got into trouble and qualified to have a social worker help them.  I remember the day I arrived just after Mary had endured a confrontation at the office of the social worker. Somehow both girls turned on Mary with accusations that she was the cause of their anti-social behavior. They said she only took them in because she wanted to use them. They were angry with her and said they hated her.

I cried and cried with Mary as she told me what had happened. She felt the social worker who was a minority member had put these ideas into the girls’ heads, that she had encouraged them to act out against their foster-mother in a way that completely stunned her.  I remember Mary sobbing, “We just wanted to help them. We wanted to make their lives more worthwhile. We love them!”

What was the truth? Could a psychologist with her own agenda subvert Mary’s efforts?  In the long run, those two girls were never successful or happy. I think they almost may as well have been left in the orphanage because they were convinced that they were victims and without blame. They owed no gratitude because they had a good life coming and didn’t need to deserve it.

This is oversimplification of a complex issue. Mary forgave. She became whole and effective. To avoid returning anger, to behave as if the affronts had not happened is the only way to heal. Someone said that refusing to forgive was taking poison and hoping the enemy died. However, I clearly remember how broken-hearted Mary was. Such injustice really hurt. And I shared in that grief through her, empathizing because I was a mother too.

Gary and I had four children. Being a parent revealed to me a lot of my own weaknesses and ignorance. However, it is unjust to judge myself for behavior I didn’t know was wrong at the time. My children appear to have forgiven me. I hope it is true that one measure of parenting is seeing how the grandchildren turn out. Ours give us much pleasure. PMA

 

I put in a picture of granddaughter Megan’s kids last week or so. Today I have my daughter Becky Sue Evans and her grandson Luke.

 

 

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