Knowledge: When is Knowing Better Than Not?

We spend our school years acquiring it. We can spit out facts at the oddest times in our lives. You may be in the middle of a conversation and all of a sudden remember the 7 continents of the world, all of the capital cities of the United States or even the most obscure trivia item related to science, math or a foreign language. They say knowledge is power- yet when does too much knowledge become a dangerous entity?

Before adopting our daughters, social workers arm you with as much history as they can about the children you’ll be parenting. Stacks upon stacks of previous assessments, hospitalization and treatment plans if applicable- the amount of information depending on the age of the child would astound you. You can be inundated with the hundreds of pieces of paper that you’ll read. The toughest question you have to ask yourself though is this: can any previous piece of information allow you to develop a complete description of a living, breathing and consistently changing child?

We are going through a challenging phase in our family. I don’t know how to describe completely the feelings that I’m feeling as my children go through natural child development through their changing bodies and hormones- plus struggling with emotions unresolved from their previous birth families and follow up placements in foster homes. As we learn more about what has happened to them- what they are comfortable speaking to us about- it tears me apart that I wasn’t there in those early years to intervene. If I could develop a time machine much like Back To The Future I would erase all of the pain, the neglect, the abuse, and the wonder of whether the next day would be a good day or if the law was going to be involved in a bad way for them.

As they remember more, feelings of fear overtake their bodies. Can I trust my mom and dad to keep me safe? What if I tell them what happened, will it come back to life again with them? They don’t know if attaching to us will make the love sustainable or if once again by extending themselves they’re doomed to be hurt forever.

We’ve had our youngest daughter in our lives for close to 3 and a 1/2 years. The longest we’ve gone without a temper tantrum from her in our care has been 2 weeks. The desire to live in what she knows of her world outweighs the possibility of a new life free of pain, of suffering, of feeling that she can’t depend upon herself to achieve all of her dreams. We wonder how much she’s really made an attachment to us- or if she sees mom, dad and sister as people who merely exist to get her needs met and little more.

That’s why I struggle with knowledge in my family. Both of my children are smart, very observant of their surroundings and excellent at sizing people up. They’ve had to do that their whole lives to survive. Other adults look at their chronological ages and how the behave in public as a well adjusted, natural family- yet if you spent significant time around them in a home environment you’d see that emotionally and mentally they aren’t 15 and 11.

We read up on adoption, we have support from other adoptive families as well as our own, and we wonder at what point will the tide turn and they decide that change can be permanent. I don’t want to think that the world didn’t give my children a fair shot at turning their lives around and being the happiest, healthiest and caring humans on the planet.

An interesting quote I heard on the September 2009 Success magazine CD interview that publisher Darren Hardy had with producer/ musician David Foster talks about “good is the enemy of being great.” Is it wrong of me to want greatness for my children? Is it wrong of me to believe they can move beyond their past into a wonderful future? When will pulling us closer instead of pushing us away become the norm?

Think about times in your life where knowledge worked against you rather than for you. How did you handle this? What types of changes did you make to come through better in the end? What sorts of struggles did you have to resolve?

As you can see, I feel like a father in limbo on this one…

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