I have heard this phrase twice in the past week.
The first time, it was from our "daughter" Kim. You can read about her in this post.. She had a financial crisis recently, and we helped her out with money for rent. She sent us a great thank you saying that this is the longest she has lived anywhere and that she loves it and that it means so much that we "have her back."
Then I was talking to another adoptive parent who mentioned that maybe just maybe that is what adoptive parents really need -- to feel like the government, or the system, that placed the kids with us, "has our back."
And when we don't feel that way, it is so easy to just get angry. We have children placed with us that are so difficult to parent. We are often misled, either intentionally or by our own naivete, to believe that their issues are not as severe. Sometimes we fight great battles to get to keep our kids, at great expense to us. We do all this and, by adopting them, save the government thousands of dollars. We take on the responsibility for life of kids destined to drain society of it's resources and we teach them a better way so that maybe they can become productive members of society.
But sometimes, we just can't do it. Sometimes they are damaged to such an extent that we can't rescue them. Sometimes their mental illness or organic brain damage or lack of attachment makes them too damaged, too aggressive, too out of control to have in a home setting.
And so, wouldn't it be a great idea, if the very system, the very government, had our backs when this happens? Wouldn't it be nice if we were not taken to court, did not have "Child in Need of Protection or Services" petitions filed against us, not asked to pay for residential treatment and services, not investigated? Wouldn't it be nice if someone said, "Thank you for what you are trying to do. You aren't doing anything wrong. Let us HELP you figure this out?"
I'm not saying nobody gets this. I'm not saying that sometimes we aren't treated this way.
But by far in talking to other adoptive parents, this is the one thing that bugs us to our very core. We can excuse the behavior or our children and forgive that most of the time because they are damaged and they are, after all, children. But the hollow feeling that we have when we ask that someone "have our backs" when things get tough and are told "NO, this is YOUR fault" is like none other.
It leaves a vast emptiness, an unquenched pain, a seething anger. I haven't felt it personally lately, but I feel it others -- I read it in their words, I sense it in their voices, I see it on their faces -- the fear of criticism when we're honest, the fear of being ignored when we need to speak up, the fear of being blamed when we're doing all we can. Even in writing this I fear what people are going to think, what they'll say. And I've never been like that.
Would it be too much to ask for someone to have our backs?