Today I had the opportunity to speak with a good friend whose children came from the same place mine did. Not just Ghana, but the same orphanage that my Bubbly came from (the Duo lived behind the orphanage in a little “house” with their mother. I use the term house loosely). Our kids all came from the same wounded little community.
This mom and I often talk about the path we’re taking to heal our children. We compare notes on what we’re doing for them. We vent about frustrations, and then we cry about the successes. The successes in parenting a wounded child are like the highest of highs. The setbacks feel like the worst of failures. You need someone in your life who understands how this feels, because the rest of the world doesn’t get why you’re celebrating the fact that your son came into your room last night to actually tell you that he peed his bed. Do you get what a big deal that is?!? He came and told me! Instead of sleeping in a urine soaked bed, he trusted me enough to come and tell me. Don’t get it? I don’t blame you. I wish it wasn’t something I had to “get” either. But, celebrating these type of milestones is now my daily existence. I love my kids. So, I’m cool with it. Well, most days anyway.
This mom and I spoke for nearly two hours today. At one point the conversation turned to the culture in Ghana. We both agreed that we have never been more glad to live in the U.S. Not in a hoity toity “Oooo…I’m American” kind of way, just in a “thank God I don’t live there all the time” kind of way. We realize that our view of an entire country has been overshadowed by the abuse that occurred in our children’s little corner of Ghana, but it is our lasting impression of the culture. Regardless of where you visit in Ghana, it is a culture that is marred by abuse. You were “beaten” as a child, so you “beat” your children. You saw your father have children out of wedlock and not support them, so as an adult male, you choose the same path. It is all you’ve ever known. I hardly blame you, it’s called a cycle for a reason. Does this occur everywhere in Ghana? No. But, it is a predominant problem. We began to discuss how to break this cycle in our children’s little corner of Ghana. What would it take to do this? Adoption is just one answer. Not all the children can, or should be, be adopted. There has to be something that can be done, on a community level, to break the cycle of violence and abuse.
This is where I start to falter and feel weak. This is where I feel like tossing up my hands. This problem is too big, right?!? And who am I to try to retrain anyone in a foreign country on something that is considered “cultural”. Who am I to tell them that it is wrong to “whip” their children. I wonder what would happen if I went back to Ghana and tried to explain to people there what I’m doing with my daughter to try to heal her from the abuse she endured. I would have to tell them how every week we go to a place called OT where she rolls around on a giant ball and climbs inside a giant stocking to try to help her regulate her body after two years of total lack of sensory input. Or, I could tell them how once a week she goes to a “feelings doctor” to talk about how it made her feel inside when people in Ghana beat her, why she is still so afraid and how she can work on those feelings. I can tell you what most people in my daughter’s community in Ghana would say. They would laugh. They would think it was ridiculous. Because in Ghana, and many other countries around the world, when you have been abused (either physically or sexually) you put on your big girl panties and you get.over.it. No one in Ghana ever wants you to dwell on the past. I don’t know how many times I’ve explained my daughter’s story to a Ghanaian to have them say “ahhh…but that is the past now. She is here now, with you, in America”. Yeah, yeah she is. Sometimes though, my daughter’s past creeps up and kicks her present in the butt. This is impossible to explain to people who have no time to dwell on their feelings when they are scrambling to survive. Tomorrow there might not be enough food to feed the baby, so taking time out of your day to examine your feelings, well, not exactly priority numero uno.
So, if I were to try to fix this monumental problem, I guess I would start with priority numero uno. I think this involves making sure that the scramble to survive isn’t quite such a scramble. As we discussed starting at the bottom of this needs pyramid and moving up slowly, the problems become more manageable. I can almost see where to start.
My daughter is here. She made it to America. We are healing her heart. What about her friends though? Are they all forgotten? They still live in that cycle. Every day their little spirits are being crushed the same way Bubbly’s was. It’s time to give back to the community she came from. It’s time to leave a legacy. Not my legacy, not your legacy, God’s legacy. I’m not sure quite yet what God’s legacy will be to the country that my daughter came from. I do know that Bubbly will become part of that legacy. You see, my daughter isn’t my legacy, or your legacy, she isn’t anyone’s legacy. She is part of God’s legacy. I don’t know what He has in store for her. I do know that for such a tiny little thing, the plan must be VERY big, because He continues to move gigantic mountains to heal her heart. Hopefully, someday, she will help heal the hearts of the children where she came from.
who knows that today, Bubbly, ShyGuy and Giggles are breaking the cycle.