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OTHER ITA SITES:
Alien Children in our Midst
Some families because of the demands made upon them by being the head of households, some because of the price that hard times entails, others caught up in the conflict of these times are being torn asunder. The result is that often and for their protection, children, are forced from all that they know and love, and taken away to live in out of home placements.
These children are under tremendous distress and despair and these two forces take there toil on the very entity of their souls.
Foster children are engaged in an invisible war just trying to survive, trying to live in an adult world that has abused and hurt them very badly. Whether the child came from the most dilapidate ghetto or the most well kept neighbor, none of them are immune from the horror and terror imposed on them by being removed, and often suddenly, from all that they knew.
These experiences have a way of negatively changing children’s outlook on life. For many, life has become dull and meaningless. They suffer from spiritual inertia. I have witnessed children who were paralyzed by destroyed beliefs and shackled by the strong chains of discouragement. Manipulated by the system, bad news, bad relationships, bad experiences, and bad everything; the tension builds up and becomes too great. They become like a rubber band that has been stretched and stretched until it can no longer yield its flexibility. And unless, caring foster parents intervene, they will snap under the load. Foster children are overwhelmed by external problems, difficulties, and grief.
Not only are they assaulted externally, but many of our children have fears within. They have not only lost confidence in their families, lost confidence in this world, lost confidence in “the system”, but far too many have lost confidence in themselves. They hold themselves responsible, are worried, confused and frustrated. A cloud of anxiety floats around in their mental sky. Is it any wonder that many of them grow up maladjusted, become gang members, or exhibit other anti-social behaviors?
Many foster children, in their effort to avoid their new reality and to cope with their despair, have built up walls; psychological walls, the invisible walls they create to protect themselves and separate themselves from that which is too painful.
I am reminded of Psalm 137 which describes a time of exile for the Hebrew people held prisoners far from home. Judah had been invaded by the superpower Babylon. They had been crushed under siege and their beloved Jerusalem had been destroyed. The surviving Judean people had been taken by force to the homeland of the victorious Babylonian army. In Babylon, the children of Israel were forced to sing hymns and religious songs in their strange language. But overcome by their losses, they asked, “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” The same can be said for foster children.
Foster children are a band of exiles; like the children of Israel, they are forced from everything they were familiar with and placed in an environment that is as strange as a foreign land. They sleep in strange beds, live in a strange house with people they do not know. With so much of what was once known being supplanted by the unknown, foster children, in a very real sense, find themselves aliens in a strange land and overcome by their losses, wonder how they can sing in a foreign land.
Foster children are far from home, their very lives at risk with no clear end in sight. They wait and watch not knowing what to hope for or whether they should even hope at all.
Anthony Storr in “The World of Children” wrote, “How ignominious it is to be a child; to be so small that you can be picked up, and moved about at the whim of others, to be fed or not to be fed, to be cleaned or to be left dirty, made happy or left to cry. It is surely so ultimate an indignity that it is not surprising that some of us [foster children] never fully recover from it.”
Foster Parents DO make a difference!
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