Separating Immigrant Children from Parents

This child was not removed from her mother at the border, but her cries demonstrate the stress these children are under even without being separated from their parents. Time Magazine cover.

This isn’t a political blog. And yet there are times when it’s vital to speak out and use whatever platforms we have available. This is such a time.

The US is in the midst of a moral crisis as the Trump Administration continues a border policy that results in the systematic abuse of immigrant children. Many Americans, of both parties and of all faiths and walks of life, are horrified, and we are doing what we can to support these children and their families by sharing our outrage, time, talent, and treasure.

There are some people who insist that these children are just fine. And physically, that may be true. But that comment conveys a lack of understanding about the emotional development of a child and the impact of extreme stress on these young lives. That’s what I hope to address in this post.

I used to work as a mental health counselor for children ages 0-5. Many of my cute little clients were from unstable environments where they were exposed to periods of prolonged stress. My goal as a counselor was to work with parents to reduce stress levels for the child by enhancing stability and predictability in the home, by fostering a sense of safety and trust in caregivers, and by strengthening the parent-child bond. This was the work of creating healthy, happy, socially successful children.

A bit of biology:

Under stress, the human brain is flooded with a hormone called cortisol, which puts the brain on high-alert for a fight, flight, or withdrawal response. In well-adjusted adults, once a stressful event passes, the cortisol levels go down and the brain resumes normal functioning.

Unlike adults, children don’t have the life experience to manage high levels of stress successfully. They require the support of a nurturing caregiver to process stress and regulate emotions (to manage that cortisol). This is often accomplished through cuddles, soft assurances, and tender minding. Over time, this repetitive loving support teaches children how to manage stress on their own.

Why is this important?

Because children’s brains are still developing. Young children who are exposed to prolonged stress can experience a PERMANENT elevation in the baseline cortisol level in their brains. This can cause difficulty with emotional regulation, difficulty calming down, hyperactivity, withdrawal, and difficulty with concentration and learning. These challenges can persist into adulthood and make life much harder to manage successfully. The good news is that prevention is as simple as a loving parent.

(For more on baby-brains, here’s an old post called Why Love Matters).

Many of the immigrant children entering the US come from some of the most dangerous countries in the world. After a frightening journey, they arrive in an unfamiliar land where they don’t speak the language and don’t know where they will end up. They are severely stressed to begin with, and the only thing that they have to hold onto, the only thing that gives them any sense of safety and dependability is mom or dad’s hand. When that is ripped away, trauma is piled on top of trauma.

The US immigration policy of separating children from their parents is damaging to these children and shameful on the part of the US government. It subjects mothers, fathers, teenagers, children, and babies to unnecessary trauma and debilitating stress.

Please be aware, too, that many of these people are seeking asylum, which is LEGAL in the US. Under the current policy, they are considered guilty until proven innocent.

And this crisis is not over by any means:

1) Though children are no longer being removed from their parents at the border (for now), there are thousands of children who have been separated from their parents, and there are no concrete plans in place for reunification.

2) The Trump Administration’s zero-tolerance policy is incarcerating parents regardless of their family circumstances, and by law, children cannot be jailed for more than 20 days. What happens when the 20 days are up?

3) Keep an eye out for efforts to terminate parental rights and put young children up for adoption. Parental rights can be terminated if a parent doesn’t keep in contact with their child. Deported parents who don’t know where their children are or parents who are unable to maintain a relationship due to incarceration are at high risk of permanently losing their children.

A tough immigration policy does not need to be cruel.

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” – Hebrews 13:2

At the Mirror: Out in the Cold

pixabay image

Eli Kyoko and I began following each other this spring. I’m so pleased to share a poet of immense talent with anyone who hasn’t discovered MoonLit Pieces.

Out in the Cold

by Eli Kyoko

I wore your hat to protect my head
from the debris falling from our family tree
but the spilling blues and red,
lumps the purple on my skin
The invisible scars, the indelible tints
Throbs and thumps within
‘Cause father, when you left
I saw how mother went out in the cold
gasping for life, bereft
She wore my hug to warm her skin, to endure your sin
I caught the cerulean falling stars from her cheeks
and wished for …

 

(Continue Reading: Out in the Cold)

Sunday Blog Share: Tears’ Task

A beautiful poem that seems sadly appropriate for the time.

Tear’s Task

by Julia Pennerzook

I cry more than I used to,
……..about those hungry and destitute,
……..driven into torturous perils,
……..risking all for scant hope of survival

children alone, afraid of
war, neglect, poverty, loss of home,
still unable to frame the words,
yet choked by invisible strangleholds.

I weep more than ever for people hated
……..simply for the color of their skin,
……..the conviction of their heart,
……..the level of their competencies

for all caught, vice-grip-like,
in social disparity, mere pawns –
chess pieces – subject to
unbridled narcissism and greed.

I shed more tears than I used to
…….about dogs – cooped up – caged alone,
…….worse still, used for cruel sport,
…….or confined by metal chain

about marine life perishing in polluted seas…

 

(Continue Reading: Tear’s Task)

Sunday Blog Share: an ordinary day

A stunning, heartwarming poem about parenting a young child with diabetes. Love and play and wonder in an ordinary day.

Comments are closed here. Please click through.

an ordinary day

by Sarah W. Bartlett

For ten days I lived the learning curve
of diabetes, partnering with my beloved son
to help his through maternal leave,
given the grace of time to relish
each extraordinary moment.

The first hour’s sing-song babbling
lifts from crib to giggled hugs and undercover
hide-and-seek en route to the day’s first blood glucose test
followed by calculations of insulin and carbs,
breakfast planned to even out
the hours to come.

This child, so gentle and joyful of spirit
accepts each poked finger and prodded thigh
with grace, a lesson I cannot fail to notice sets
the warp of our day through which we weave
our patterned way, each hour
a new adventure.

From Grandma’s blocks we build
to hold what he loved at the aquarium –
octopus by the elevator climbing glass walls,
his giant purple sac blowing up bigger then smaller
carefully reconstructed through his two-year
old imprint, giant tank within winding
ramp, sea lions sunning beyond.

(Continue Reading: an ordinary day)

Sunday Blog Share: Let’s go to the place where the sidewalk ends

Happy Mothers Day! What better way to celebrate than to share a heartwarming story by Allie Potts who routinely captures bits of wisdom from her children. Comments are closed here, so click through to Allie’s wonderful blog and smile.

Let’s go to the place where the sidewalk ends

By Allie Potts

LT sat on the tire swing in our backyard, alone. His brother had gone to play with a friend leaving LT to amuse himself while his father and I completed our chores. His legs were curled up as they wouldn’t touch the ground even if extended. As a result, the swing was nearly motionless except for a gentle sway with the breeze. I watched as his mouth move and wondered what the conversation he was having with himself might be about. He looked content, but it was a lonely image.

The last of my cleaning could wait. “Do you want to go to the park?” I called out, thinking there might be other kids he could play with. LT beamed, eagerly accepting my offer and soon we were walking down the street to our local playground. LT chattered about things like clouds, giants and other friendly monsters, smiling at everybody we passed along the way. Never once did I have to tell him to hurry up, or stay with me, or explain why he shouldn’t be carried. Who was this child?

Continue Reading: Let’s go to the place where the sidewalk ends

Sunday Blog Share: Sing my child, just sing…

Sing my child, just sing

by A@Inner Ramblings Boulevard

My mama told me once,
Child, just sing through your sorrow.
Though the tears fall down like rain,
Sing my child, just sing.

My mama told me once,
Child, just sing through the pain.
Though the heart hurts like it’s breaking,
Sing my child, just sing.

I tried mama’s trick once,
But I couldn’t sing, my voice was shaking.
So I hummed and hummed as best I could,
To ease my heart from aching…

(Continue Reading: Sing my child, just sing…)

Sunday Blog Share: The Evolution of Mom

The Evolution of Mom

By Bridget of The Happy Quitter

Perhaps I shouldn’t be the one posting this since I am not a mother, but then on the other hand maybe that’s precisely the reason why I should post it because I watched all my friends go through all the different stages. I am a witness, this all is true!

The Evolution of Mom

Parenthood changes with each baby. Here, some of the ways having a second and third child differ from having your first:

Your Clothes

1st baby: You begin wearing maternity clothes as soon as your OB/GYN confirms your pregnancy.

2nd baby: You wear your regular clothes for as long as possible.

3rd baby: Your maternity clothes are your regular clothes.

The Baby’s Name

1st baby: You pore over baby-name books and practice pronouncing and writing combinations of all your favorites.

2nd baby: Someone has to name their kid after your great-aunt Mavis, right? It might as well be you.

3rd baby: You open a name book, close your eyes, and see where your finger falls. Bimaldo? Perfect!

Preparing for the Birth…

(Continue Reading: The Evolution of Mom)