Loving Enough to Let Go

True love is not selfish. True love will seek the welfare of the one we love above our own desires. It’s been well over two decades now, but I can scarcely think of the event without tearing up. My daughter was just a toddler back then and very sick. We weren’t sure what was wrong with her, we just knew she was starving to death before our eyes and we felt so helpless.  As a young father that little girl was my whole world and I would strolled the valley of Hell itself to save her from pain, but that wasn’t an option. 

We had to take her to a children’s hospital for a biopsy to try and figure out what was wrong. Before they could do the biopsy they had to get an I.V. in her arm which is incredibly difficult to do on a malnourished toddler. They had to strap her down and get the help of several people before they finally got that little needle in her arm. Meanwhile, my wife and I were asked to leave the room, but we were still close enough to hear my little girl scream at the top of her lungs as they poked her over and over again with that I.V. until somebody finally got it in. Listening to her scream, “DADDY, HELP ME!!! DADDY, WHERE ARE YOU?” over and over again as they kept poking her remains a fresh and painful memory to this day. She doesn’t remember it, and we’ve both seen her go through much worse pain, but I’ll never forget it simply because the phase of life I was in. 

To a toddler, daddy is Super Man. I could swoop in from nowhere when she fell in a pool. I’d carry her when she was tired, I’d  bandage boo boo’s, and most of all I’d protect her. She counted on me to fix problems. But I couldn’t fix this problem without help, and for a short time that help meant that she would feel like her daddy had abandoned her.  Little did she know my pain was much worse than her own. 

Just the other day a young teenage girl came up to me and asked, “Mr. Ken, do you think my daddy loves me?” I work for a children’s home, and she had recently been placed in our care largely because of a divorce/remarriage situation. She felt her daddy had abandoned her by putting her in our care. I told her that I don’t know her daddy, but my experience as a daddy is that he can’t help but to love his daughter even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time.  

Now I don’t know the details of the decision nor the character of the parents, but based on what I see in the girl, I’m betting she has at least half-way decent parents. She is after all very pretty, polite, respectful, well-groomed, and intelligent. One thing I do know is that there are times when a family situation can get to the point where the most loving act for a child may be to get them to a better environment then can be established at home. It’s not giving up and it’s not abandoning the child; it’s getting help, and that may be the most loving act possible even if not ideal. 

I have seen a lot of situations like this. Real life is not anything like an episode of “Leave to Beaver.” People make some huge messes out of their lives and they make even bigger messes out of their children. For whatever reason, some parents really shouldn’t be parents. Some love their children very much; they just are not capable of raising them right. It’s a hard fact to face, but denying it may only causes more harm for the child and leads to a vicious cycle that causes more damage. 

I have a niece who has a child about the same age as my own granddaughter. But my niece is a drug addict and even though I think she is trying desperately to stay clean, she is losing the battle. She has stolen from just about everyone she knows and is facing prison time. Even if she got clean, she has a crimson record and no education. But she loves that child.  Even though she can’t raise him, she isn’t willing let him go either. The real truth of the matter is that my niece was born to people who weren’t ready to be parents either. But they tried, and kept trying till they couldn’t take it anymore and then they passed on to whoever was willing to take her until they couldn’t take her anymore. 

I know of all sorts of young successful couples. They have money, education, a stable family and home life, but they simply can’t have children. The younger the child is placed into a stable environment the better chance he/she has at ending the cycle and leading a successful life. By the time a child reaches adolescents, families who try to care for them are not equipped to deal with the damage already done, so the child simply gets passed from one place to the other never reaching their full potential. I know my niece loves her child, but I also know the most loving act she can do for that child right now is get him into a loving family who will raise him as their own. Stating this, I’m sure, will tick off several family members, but I’ve already seen the cycle several times, and it’s heartbreaking. 

I know it’s hard for children who are adopted to understand why their biological parents would give them up. They may feel abandoned or unloved. But sometimes giving them to somebody else may be the hardest decision their parents ever made. At the same time, it may be the most loving thing they could have done. 

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About Ken Sayers

I'm currently employed by a children's home where my wife and I care for a cottage of girls who have been displaced from their families. I'm a middle age man with two grown children of my own and one grandchild. I have worked as a United States Marine, a youth minister, a preacher, a childcare worker, and a truck driver. My hobbies include photography, horses, playing guitar, writing, and fitness.
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