What happens when children are separated from loving caregivers?
We’ve learned a lot together through the years, and I’m pretty sure we can all agree this is a traumatic event with lifelong impact.
As an adoptive mom, and mentor to other adoptive and foster moms, I’m sadly familiar with the impact of this trauma. I live it out each day in my own family.
I never write about political issues here at One Thankful Mom, but this issue is about humanity and is dear to my heart.
Former first lady, Laura Bush, wrote in the Washington Post, “I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.”
Recently, Colleen Kraft, who heads the American Academy of Pediatrics, visited a shelter run by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement. She reported that while there were beds, toys, crayons, a playground and diaper changes, the people working at the shelter had been instructed not to pick up or touch the children to comfort them. Imagine not being able to pick up a child who is not yet out of diapers.
Everything in me rises up at these words. We know attachment is built upon a child’s needs being met (again and again and again) by a loving adult. This builds trust and a sense that the world is a safe place. It is not enough to feed and shelter these children who are suffering.
The harm caused by separating these children from their parents will be long-lasting and profound. It will affect the way the children’s brains are wired and the way they see the world.
This essay describes the lifelong impact of this trauma, Nazis separated me from my parents as a child. The trauma lasts a lifetime.
Defend the weak and the fatherless, uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Psalm 82:3
As for those of us who are followers of Christ, this is not loving our neighbors as ourselves. It is not valuing life and wanting the best for others. It is not defending the weak and vulnerable.
I recognize we may not all agree on immigration policies. We may vary widely in our political and religious beliefs. But when it comes to children, most likely you are as fierce about protecting them as I am.
My friend, Emily, a psychologist (and mom to the cutest baby), asked if I would address the forced separation of children and parents at the border of our country and Mexico. I invited her to write this guest post.
Let’s do what we can to love these children by reading Emily’s words and acting on them.
You have likely seen the news reports of the decision made by our country’s administration to intentionally use family separation (purposely separating parents and young children) as a “deterrent” to those seeking to enter the United States.
This policy is being applied even to those who follow U.S. legal processes for seeking asylum, willingly presenting themselves at ports of entry as allowed and encouraged by U.S. law.
I know immigration is often a polarizing issue, and my goal is not to start a political debate here.
This is not about immigration; this is about preventing unnecessary attachment trauma.
Most of us who read One Thankful Mom know all too well the devastation wrought by broken attachments. Forced separation from loving caregivers is a trauma with long-lasting consequences.
Most of the families experiencing enforcement of this policy have already experienced significant violence and trauma, only increasing the likelihood of profound damage when these children are removed from their parents.
The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a formal statement calling for the end of this practice, citing the detrimental physical and mental health effects on vulnerable children. The United Nations Human Rights office has also officially denounced this policy, calling separating families as a deterrent an abuse of human rights and a child rights violation.
Whatever our political backgrounds, those of us committed to loving children from hard places must protest attachment disruption being wielded as a weapon.
You can help.
1. Call your representatives and request they oppose this practice. This is especially important for any of us living in states with Republican representatives whose voices and votes are especially needed on this issue.
2. Look up your state senators’ information here HERE. Simply look up your state and call the number listed. If you’ve never done this before, it’s really not that scary! An aide will answer or you will be directed to voicemail.
3. Simply state, “This is (your name) and I live in (zip code). I am opposed to inhumane family separation practices. I am calling to request that our senator vote in favor of the Keep Families Together Act.”
If you are not comfortable supporting this specific legislation, you can instead state, “I am calling to request our senator vote against family separation.”
4. This article may be helpful and thought-provoking for people of faith trying to understanding this current situation.
We can play a part in preventing attachment trauma for vulnerable children before it happens.
Thank you for reading this and opening your heart to the issue.
Friends, the more I read, the more my heart breaks.
What are your thoughts?