I apologize in advance to any fathers who are visiting today. This post is about mothers, but feel free to keep reading.
It came out of nowhere, Elizabeth hit me. She was one-year-old, and it was the first time she’d done anything like it. What caused her to lash out at me? I was about to leave the house to take her to visit her bio mom (Elizabeth was in foster care). She had quickly figured out when we were going to those supervised visits, and she was mad because she didn’t want to go.
She continued with this growing animosity toward me, so we thought it best that my husband, Justin, take her to those meetings. This change helped a little but there was still a difference in the way she treated me verses my husband. This attitude against me continued for a few years.
It was heartbreaking! I did everything I could to love my little girl (we adopted her when she was almost two). I was consistent, I hugged her, I played with her, I was fun and tried to be funny, I took her to do special things, we painted and made things with play dough at home, I read to her and picked her up every time she fell, and so much more, yet, I was still blamed for everything.
Mothers are often blamed by adopted and foster kids. Moms are the scapegoats, we get attacked for everything, and everything is our fault. Why? Because we are all born to mothers, and when that mother doesn’t meet a child’s needs our children blame the next one who comes along. Us.
I was blamed for anything the world threw at my daughter. Elizabeth took all of it out on me. If someone made her mad or disappointed her, she faulted me. If she fell down because she tripped on her own feet, she got angry with me. If she dropped a book on her toe, she gave me The Eye. Because the other mother in her life had neglected and abandoned her, I, as her new mother, was the one to find all the fault with. The other woman had hurt her deeply, and I’m a woman, therefore I must be the same; untrustworthy.
I found ways to help my daughter see that I wasn’t the one causing her pain. First, we always worked on bonding. Second, whenever something happened to her, say she crashed into the kitchen table, I pointed at it, and I said, “Bad table. Sorry the table hurt you. Are you okay?” and give her a hug. If she fell off the slide, I pointed at it and said, “Bad slide. That slide did that to you. Are you okay?” and gave a hug. She didn’t realize what had caused the pain she was feeling, and she needed something to blame, and that first response was to turn it on me. I needed to give her the words and direction of what was actually at fault.
We went through several phases with Elizabeth. When she first came to us, she would fall and not make a peep. (You can read about how I handled that here.) Then for a while, she came to me if she was hurt. Then we saw the blame game arise. Someone else would disappoint her, but it always came back to mom. There is something VERY significant there that needs specific attention.
For the most part she no longer blames me. Once in a while when she’s dissatisfied, she will get upset with me, but she isn’t singling me out as much, now she sometimes blames Dad, or even accepts assistance in dealing with the problem (if she can name it). Her overall ability to cope with situations that don’t go her way are drastically improved.
Over the past couple years she has changed her view of who I am to her. I am no longer (at least most of the time) the mother to blame, I am trustworthy. I knew concepts were shifting in her mind when she started putting lotion on like mommy, wore a towel around her head like I do, wanted to wear jewelry because I was. This past summer my greatest joys came when she wanted to hold my hand, and wanted to sit by me in church, and best of all when she wanted me to wear a shirt that matched hers. I finally got that “Mommy” moment so many women take for granted, and so many of us adoptive moms dream of. There was heartache along the way, but the joy at the end was far more than many moms ever get to feel.
I am really lucky that God has protected my heart through those trying years, and the occasional difficult days we have now. My heart is extremely sensitive, and I KNOW that He has put an armor around it. Not so that I can’t pour out love, but so that when my love is not returned, or even despised, I can move forward, trying again. I am not perfect in this area, it still hurts, but I don’t feel some of the intense pain other adoptive parents experience. If you believe in God, I recommend you pray and ask God to protect your heart, because those darts thrown in battle can leave deep scars. I also encourage you to ask God to help you with those scars that have already formed. They can leave a chasm of hurt, blame, resentment, and inadequacy between you and your child.
Consistently taking blame and feeling the arrows of animosity pierce us hurts. We are experiencing the residual effects of what took place in our child’s past. We didn’t sign the dotted line for this part of the party, but we’re here. We can only recognize that it’s really not us that our child is fighting against, but a past that taught them to protect themselves.
Strong attachment is what will help our children move forward and stop the blame game. You can find more posts on attachment below:
attachment in adoption – the first things we need to know
let’s bond already – creating attachment with an adopted child
Have you felt your child places fault where it doesn’t belong? Is that blame placed on you? How do you handle it? Are there any changes you can make to show them that you aren’t the one to blame?