Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sometimes, Biology Wins

Today is Kari's 27th wedding anniversary.  If you haven't already, stop by her blog and give her your congratulations.  I'm impressed that anyone could be married so long.  Good job Kari!

This morning she wrote about something interesting her family's therapist had to say:

When we talked with the therapist yesterday about the differences we saw with this PANDAS episode (details I have not shared here), she said, "You will probably find that Java may have to be in several out of home placements in the coming years when your family has safety concerns and she needs help getting stabilized. I know that you are doing everything you can to keep her in your home and it won't be for lack of trying or lack of love or lack of skill. Sometimes biology will simply rule the day. You need to remember that."

Sometimes biology will simply rule the day. Now there's a t-shirt slogan.

In other words, sometimes biology wins.

I think that this is an important point for foster and adoptive parents to keep in mind.  No matter what we do, no matter how hard we try, no matter how good our intentions might be, sometimes biology is going to win out over every advantage, service, intervention, and bit of nurturing we might be able to give.  There are some kids out there who just aren't going to do as well as we would hope, wish, and pray.

All the love, nurturing and interventions in the world can't really overcome certain biological realities.  If a child's brain is damaged from prenatal exposure to drugs or alcohol, abuse, neglect, or just bad genetics, there's nothing we can do to fix that damage.  Sure, interventions, love, nurturing and attachment certainly won't hurt, and might help to some degree, but a child suffering from biological damage will carry it with him for his entire life.

We haven't found a cure for spinal cord or traumatic brain injuries.  Although a person's condition can get better, we don't expect them to miraculously heal from a severed spinal cord or a severe head injury.  I think the same is true for many of our damaged children, and we need to keep that in mind.

Most parents want to keep their children home.  They don't want to place their children in out-of-home placements, and when if it comes to that, they feel like failures.

But the reality is, sometimes biology is going to win.  Sometimes these kids can't be safe at home, and no amount of intervention, love, medication, or anything else will change that.

If this happens, it's not the failing of the parents.  It just is.

If a child is born with a severe birth defect, people don't expect the parents to magically wave their hands and cure the child.  If the child has severe cerebral palsy or spina bifida, people don't blame the parents when the kid doesn't miraculously leap out of her wheelchair and go running down the street.  It should be no different for parents who are raising children with invisible emotional disabilities or brain damage.

We didn't cause it, we've done our best to help it, but we can't fix it.

And it ain't our fault, because sometimes biology wins.

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