Sometimes we can just get it wrong. There is no malicious intent but our pre conceived ideas and judgments mean that we misunderstand a situation or think that we know the reason for a Behaviour without actually asking.
Earlier this week after school drop off, child 4 was scootering in the skateboard park. 9am is a good time for him to use the equipment as the majority of the local teenagers are in school. Whilst I stood watching him, occasionally with my heart in my mouth as he navigated the highest and steepest slides a chap from our parish was out walking his dog and stopped for a chat. He commented on how brave and confident our youngest child was and it was lovely to see that he wasn't clingy anymore.
Hmm my first confusion, child 4 has never, ever been clingy - nope he tends to be completely independent. He didn't even cry when he first joined us, we had to teach him that it was ok to ask for help if he hurt himself, kissing his hurts better and cuddling him when he did tumble. Very occasionally these days he will snuggle in or hold me in a death grip if he doesn't want to do something.
This was followed up by tales of his daughter who had taught in an inner city primary school, where the school was full of children who were difficult to manage, there was a child who would sit in soiled underwear, no matter what the staff did, children who couldn't sit down at all, children who would intentionally cause trouble and all these children apparently had terrible parents just like child 4's birth parents and he was lucky to now be with us! I was so shocked that I couldn't comment, this man had already written off child 4's parents as well as all the parents in his daughters school as uneducated, likely drug or alcohol dependent and deserving of losing their children. It may well have been that child 4's parents were indeed unable to keep him safe, it may be that their parenting fell short of good enough parenting. But he doesn't know child 4's story or the story of his parents. I have learnt over the last 3 years that preconceived judgements are the most damaging. People have their own stories to tell and without walking in their shoes we really can have no comprehension of what has happened to them or why their stories shape how they behave. I have compassion for my youngest child's birth mother, We met his parents before he moved in with us and the knowledge I left with filled me with sorrow, a young girl full of self doubt, attachment issues herself and no support network, a girl searching for a happy ending desperate to be loved but unable to see that she is looking in the wrong places. This meeting opened my eyes to the need for compassion and support for those not good enough parents, I make a conscious effort to not judge but it's certainly not easy especially when you are aware of the damage some birth parents cause their children.. Our adoption story so far has definitely not been the traumatic story that others have had so perhaps it's easier for me to be compassionate.
I guess I should wonder what about his history, education or fears made him so quick to judge these parents (and children) so harshly, why was he so interested in the behaviours and not the causes of those behaviours.
Interestingly later that day, a friend I was with said that she has kind of forgotten that child 4 is adopted, she remembered the other day that he was and that highlighted how he just was the baby of our family. That comment was the highlight of my week.