I saw it in Marco's eyes. Something had changed. That glint, that brightness was gone... replaced by confusion... worry. Then Dr. Rivas told me: Battered Child Syndrome. These words tell me what was done to him, and his three sisters... and that the pain is not over... it may never, in this life, be completely over. The effects are different from child to child, but there are always lasting effects from child abuse.
When I first saw these four children it was clear they came from a world of neglect and abuse. The girls had to have their hair cut short because of lice and hygiene issues. They had to be taught to bath, care for themselves, and... read. But... there are things that are almost impossible to teach. Like how to get past the pain, that they don't really know is pain, because it is all they've ever known.
Childhood development... these words in the “normal” world bring warm thoughts of home, attentive parents, teachers, first words, ABCs, stuffed animals, “I wuv you”, and loving hugs. It is during the crucial developmental stages of childhood that our view of the world is molded. Our childhood experiences become as much a part of us as our own skin, and not until much later do we realize not everyone has the same early life experiences.
At every point in the development of some children all they know is abuse, until they are removed from their “home”... but even that removal, to a child, is abuse-- necessary--but still abuse. Abuse for which they, more often than not, blame themselves.
Dr. Rivas went further, with his calming voice, knowing how much I loved these kids, and how painful the news. “For two years we have tried to help Laura but we have been unsuccessful. She needs to be in a home that can give more intense psychological help than we can provide. Her attacks on the other children are becoming uncontrollable. And the other two are showing signs of the same disorder. And little Maria (the youngest) will have to go with them.” Each of us looked at the ground, shook our heads, and the tears came.
Little Maria... all smiles and joy, at least she has been spared much of the abuse her older siblings experienced. But now she must experience separation from the life and loving parents she has known at Rivers Of Mercy. Another abuse... but it is either separation from the home, or separation from her siblings. This is part of the criminality of parental child abuse, once it begins the child is put in a state of abuse that can be mitigated, but never completely overcome. Parental child abuse puts these painful, hard decisions on others, and, in that sense, broadens the abuse to an untold number of people who care for abused kids. Stop it... stop child abuse... Stop it.
I'm glad I know a God who loves children. I have seen what He can do for these kids, and I pray... I pray for Margarita, Laura, Marco, and Maria. I pray God will do what only He can do. Will you pray for them?
Thank God for children's home workers who pour their lives into these kids, but I wish the need wasn't there. I wish there was no abuse, no self-centered, abusive parents, so... not only must I pray for the children, I must pray for parents. When I pass a family or child through the day I silently pray for the parents. When I see the new born babies in the birthing centers, I pray for the parents. I pray that the abuse will stop. Will you pray?