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Saturday, March 17, 2012

beneath the surface

sometimes things are not what they seem.

today we watched the children in our orphanage scamper and giggle and cling to a group of loving adults. they swarmed the visiting ministry team like little leeches...little hands reaching, eyes bright, voices clamoring, little hearts grasping for attention and physical touch.

"isn't it sweet how they're bonding with the team?" someone said.

i paused and thought carefully before i answered.

"actually," i said gently, "it's not".

the tragic reality is, these children are exhibiting an absolute failure to bond. an emotionally healthy child who is securely bonded to a primary caregiver, will not quickly 'bond' to a temporary visitor.

mine was the task of explaining to our visitors how rootless children, grown accustomed to a high turnover of attentive adults, will develop emotional ADD of sorts, and cling to whomever is in front of them at that moment. the lap-snuggling, hand-holding, 'you're my best friend' behavior are all symptoms of a child who has not attached to one person and so is on the look-out for ever-changing surface relationships.

children who grow up in orphanages develop a coping mechanism for the constant roller-coaster of people coming and going. shift changes in the care-givers...visiting teams who stay a few days and then leave...nobody who is permanently close to them...the little hearts begin to believe that everyone is only temporary and they must drain to the dregs whatever bits of attention they can get.

but it's not healthy. visitors cannot discipline them. short-term workers come and go. caregivers leave at shift change and another mother figure appears. who is there for them to deeply attach to? no one. everyone is mobile. each person who loves them is only temporary.

this sadly often further grows into 'reactive attachment disorder'- ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reactive_attachment_disorder ) to one degree or another. the 'bonding' the team saw today was the disinhibited form of RAD. it appears to be beautiful- but it's not.

precious little hearts. so hungry, so wounded, so insecure.

i look forward to the day when there is no need for orphanages.

i look forward to the promise fulfilled- "i will not leave you as orphans, i will come to you..."John 14:18.

and when He comes, He will never leave.