It’s About the Kids
Children who are permanently removed from their homes have their own timeline for grieving and healing. So what does this mean for the adoptive parents?
Kenny arrived at Matthew and Sherri’s home when he was four years old. He had just been removed from his birth home because of severe domestic violence. Kenny was curious and playful, while also very anxious, angry, and full of distrust. He connected with Matthew right away but struggled to connect with Sherri. Often she was the target of Kenny’s anger. Sherri was very patient with Kenny, never imposing her own need to be accepted by him.
Sherri and Matthew are a great team, modeling what a healthy relationship looks like, which is so different from what Kenny experienced the first four years of his life. Through their actions as parents, they have communicated to Kenny that all family members are accepted unconditionally. This allowed Kenny to grieve the loss of his birth family at his own pace.
Play therapy was a key part of Kenny’s healing process. Through play he was able to speak to his birth mother and “punish” her for leaving. He also worked on self control and using his words to express how he was feeling.
Kenny has come a long way from the little boy who first came to Matthew and Sherri’s home. Sherri shared a story about being at the playground the other day when a child called out, “Look, there’s Kenny’s mom.” Kenny looked up surprised, expecting to see his birth mother, but then realized the other child was talking about someone else. After a while Kenny turned to another parent and said, “I have a mom named Denise but she couldn’t take care of me so now she’s my mom,” pointing to Sherri.
Sherri and Michael respected Kenny’s timeline for grieving the loss of his parents and did not impose their expectations on him. Their patience and respect for Kenny’s need to process his grief led to that day on the playground, the day Kenny said, “She’s my mom now.”