Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Learning to Cry

As longtime readers know, we weren't planning on an international adoption. It had really never crossed our minds, until I crossed paths with Mrs. C, the friend of our good friend Father F. back in New York, and now a dear friend herself. We had simply figured that, once our home study was complete, we would add our names to the long queue at Catholic Charities, and wait, hope, and pray.

Once we took on Jude's adoption, though, and started doing the Hague Convention-mandated reading, it broke my heart to learn that orphanage children do not cry, having learned from an early age that it is futile.

Now I want to adopt ten of them.


In Need of Grace said...

Oh my God. This is absolutely terrible!!!

ex-new yorker said...

Yeah, I think I mentioned that a real-life friend with a daughter adopted at around 8 months from China found it disturbing that she'd find her waiting patiently in her crib, never thinking to seek her parents' attention when she woke up.

Kimberlie said...

Even kids in a good group foster home can develop these kinds of behaviors. My youngest son was born missing ribs and developed scoliosis. He came home to us ornery, mean-spirited, and generally very grumpy. We thought it was just his personality. Then in September we discovered that his spinal cord was tethered, and in November he had surgery to release it. He was a DIFFERENT kid afterward. He'd been in pain but as no one had ever been able to fix his pain before, he didn't bother complaining about it or even mentioning it. You.can.not.imagine. the tears I cried when I realized that my boy had learned not to even cry or complain about PAIN because no one had ever done anything about it.

Yes, it does make you want to adopt 10. We had to settle for 4 but if our finances could swing it, we'd add a few more.

Melanie B said...

I remember that was one of the things that jumped out at me when I was reading Leaving My Beloved Children Behind, Takashi Nagai's book in which he contemplates his own impending death and his children's fate once they become orphans. (I wrote about it a bit here.) It really struck me when he said that a motherless child won't cry with the same abandon, if at all, because he knows there will be no one to console him. So a heartily screaming child is a secure child, a child who knows that he is loved and that someone cares. That does help me bear my children's tears and tantrums a little more easily. But oh it breaks my heart for all the little children who do not know a mother's love.

Pentimento said...

I'm so glad you posted this comment, Melanie. I was reading something about Takashi Nagai a few months ago -- I hadn't heard of him before -- but I lost it somehow before finishing it, and I couldn't remember his name. I wanted to read more about him. Now I can. Thank you.

What is really heartbreaking is to imagine how these children have learned not to cry -- to imagine what it must have been like for them in the orphanages in the early days when they *did* cry, in their innermost selves, before language. I can hardly stand to think about it.

Pentimento said...

Melanie, where did you find your copy of Leaving My Beloved Children Behind? I'm looking on WorldCat and I can't seem to locate a copy in a U.S. library. You can email me privately if you want.

Melanie B said...

I got my copy on Amazon-- or, rather, someone got it for me off my wishlist. I'm pretty sure it was a birthday or Christmas present. Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/Leaving-My-Beloved-Children-Behind/dp/1921472057/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1328732248&sr=1-4

Father Paul Glynn's biography of Nagai is very well worth the read, by the way. I'm very sad that only two of Nagai's numerous books have been translated into English-- Glynn's biography has summaries of many of them and they sound utterly fascinating. And I'm very curious about whether he has a cause for canonization. He was miraculously healed through the intercession of St Maximilian Kolbe before he'd heard that Kolbe had died.

Yes, to think of a child learning despair before they even learn language... it's heartbreaking. To think of the profound loneliness and yearning.

lissla lissar said...

That's heartbreaking.

This probably postpartum milk-coming-in hormones, but I've been wondering a little about how the experience of being in NICU is affecting my daughters, in that they're not being picked up when they cry. Their physical needs are excellently taken care of, and my husband and I will try to be there and hold them several times a day, but my previous newborn experience is pretty much never putting my babies down, and being instantly alert to their signals.

These babies aren't getting that kind of attention, and it saddens me.

Pentimento said...

They'll be okay, Lissla. As soon as they're out of the NICU you will be able to hold them all the time.

lissla lissar said...

I know- soon. It's just interesting- I've been in when they're crying, and I'm not allowed to hold them, and they cry for a few minutes, and then give up. My other kids would scream to knock the walls down, but they knew from birth that crying would result in instant nursing.

I know that probably in a few weeks they'll have figured out that Mama or Daddy will come running if they cry, but right now I can see how children learn not to.

Carla Dobs said...

I hear you.

I am in the hospital with Henry right now - croup,
pneumonia and RSV.

He has several major surgeries coming up
in the next year.

My head knows that we need to concentrate
on getting him well.

My heart longs to bring another child home to
the love of our family .


Pentimento said...

Praying for little Henry, Carla.