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As I was doing a presentation on trauma and the effects on young immigrants, to some young and very dedicated lawyers of a non-profit law organization, I could feel the questions and my answers were not quite helping one of them. Finally she opened up and told her story.  She and a social worker had been working very hard with this boy, who was around 10 and he had become very attached to them, anticipating their visits and showing his pleasure when they came. He was in a shelter center, waiting to be sent to reunite with his family. After a month, when the announcement came,  that he was going to be sent home to another state to his mother, stepfather and siblings, he reacted very angry, saying he did not want to go.  He wanted to stay in the shelter, because he liked it there very much. He kept rejecting the idea, refused to say good by and when the day came, he hid and he had to be taken kicking and screaming. Obviously he was very scared to join this family and mother he did not know and he felt he could not survive well this emotional roller coaster, while he had two very caring adults in this center, coming to talk to him often and making him feel special. The lawyer was telling me that her heart was broken seeing the pain in this child and that she felt he was experiencing another loss and what good was that! She felt like she had let him down too. I could certainly feel her pain and I could relate to it as well. Even though this lawyer of course understood that the mother had a right to try and rebuilt her relationship with her child, she somehow felt that the closeness she had given him was going to make him distrust adults even more, because he had to separate from this adult too. So I told her that, on the contrary, even though there was pain in separating, the caring and loving relationship he had experienced with her was something that he could fall back on always as a wonderful experience. In my work counseling youngsters in the schools, I told her, I had seen many students who had shared with me about having a very special experience like that with some adult, or counselor in another school, and they were so moved to even see tears in the adult’s eyes as they narrated their sad story. That human encounter of being seen so deeply and cared for was invaluable to them.  I also shared with her that in supervising counselors, they feel at times just as frustrated and sad in losing contact with a child, or so helpless in that they did not create much change in their life circumstances, but I would always remind them that they had given them a precious gift: the experience of having a deep connection with a caring adult and they should not underestimate that gift. It made a difference, it touched their heart and left a lasting treasured memory that will make them move towards trusting and searching for help when needed. And that was wonderful! This lawyer was touched and thankful for the reminder, just as the counselors that heard these thoughts always were.

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