Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Right to Grieve

One of our foster kids often had violent tantrums. Smashed windows and thrown furniture were common throughout the years he lived with us. But he was a kind-hearted child at heart and, even when having tantrums, we knew he'd be careful never to hurt anyone else.
When he reached puberty that changed and the day he physically attacked me we knew we wouldn't be able to keep him because he would endanger the other kids. We gave him up and he was institutionalized.
Although we hadn't been able to adopt him because of legal technicalities, we had considered him our son and loved him as our own. And when we lost him, I was stricken with grief.
One relative, who had been a teacher and knew it's possible to love kids you didn't gave birth to, told me she was sorry. Someone else who had been in danger of loosing her kids in a custody battle also expressed sympathy. But that was all the support we got. My mother told me she was glad our son was gone because caring for him had been so hard on me, and other people had similar reactions, if they noticed at all.
A few weeks later the son of one of my friends was killed in a car accident and the entire community offered her sympathy and support. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I felt jealous. Why couldn't those people understand that loosing a child for any reason can be just as painful as loosing one to death?
Since then whenever I hear of people who lose their children in custody battles, have to give them up for adoption, or send them away for institutional care they have my greatest sympathy. Loosing a child for any reason is one of the most painful things a parent can experience.

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