My children have never lived in a safe place before. I'm not talking about the kind of "safe place" you consider your best friend, where you can say something stupid and not feel judged. I'm talking basic-level safe. Like the kind of place you go when you're hungry or sad, where you get food or comfort. I mean the place you go for a bandaid and a kiss when you fall off your bike. Or the kind of place you sleep restfully in at night. The kind of place where nightmares are comforted, not created.
While some homes they've lived in offered more safety than others in some respects, they still were, at best, inconsistent in their safety and protection of my precious boys.
Everyday we try to instill in our sweet children that they are safe with us, that we will protect them. We tell them we will never intentionally hurt them, and we are quick to apologize if we accidentally hurt their feelings.
We hug and kiss our adorable little guys often and make sure to tell them we love them all the time, because they've spent so long experiencing a world vastly different from that. But four months cannot erase eight or nine years of fear; A small collection of days filled with love cannot wash away the stain of neglect.
The boys' experience shows that the very adults who should be loving and protecting them often do the opposite. The children who I feel like I was created to love have no way of knowing that I won't abandon them, or hurt them; because in their experience, people's words can't be trusted. So, sometimes, the track record of the adults in their life causes them to resist opening their hearts up to us. They feel a little too vulnerable, so they start to shut down to protect themselves.
So we keep hugging, and kissing, and building up. We keep telling them they are safe, and we'll do it everyday for the rest of our lives, God willing.
They don't fully trust us now, but everyday they believe us a little more. And I don't blame them for doubting us. Because, if virtually every adult to this point who was responsible for caring for me had neglected or hurt me, or blurred the lines of appropriateness when I needed them to protect and love me, I wouldn't trust me either.