Friday, April 27, 2012

Fear of Men

Most of the adoptive families that we see at FEJ are White Americans/Europeans/Canadians. Today, there was a surprise in store for everyone. Little Sparkle’s adoptive parents came from Canada today. This is the first time they are visiting her. Little Sparkle’s adoptive parents aren’t like the normal parents that pass through here, they are actually Haitian-Canadian. The parents speaks three languages at home : English, French, and Haitian Creole. The mother was born in Haiti and later on immigrated to Canada with her mother. They have two biological children at home, two boys. Both of the parents are part of the police force in Montreal, so I know Little Sparkle will be well protected by the adoptive parents.

So you would think that if adoptive parents are both Haitian and can communicate with their adoptive child directly in Haitian Creole, there shouldn’t be any problems right ??? WRONG ! The meeting today between Little Sparkle and her adoptive parents was super complicated and filled with obstacles. In Haiti, many of the children have a fear of men, especially the little girls. This is due to the fact that men aren’t always present in their lives and often times when they are present, it isn’t presented in a positive light. In majority of the cases, multiple generations all live under one roof, but more often than not, it is made up of siblings, the mother, aunts, and the grandmother. Female figures are always the most stable figures children come in contact with, while male figures are often unstable, other than their siblings or other children from the community. So this creates a phenomenon where Haitian children react strongly to male adult figures. It is either one of two reactions : either they are super excited and super curious about male adult figures, or they keep their distance due to distrust and sometimes they are super petrified to the point of yelling, screaming, crying and literally running away in terror. The latter is usually a child who has experienced some kind of trauma (physical, verbal, psychological, sexual) due to a male adult figure. Little Sparkle’s reaction to her adoptive father was the latter.

Little Sparkle already had strong reactions to White male adult figures in the past, but today it was an Haitian male adult figure, so it definitely pushed an alarm button somewhere inside her. She was petrified of him. It was very hard to see her this way. Whenever the adoptive father started to enter the room, she would scream and run toward me or the nanny and start climbing upwards our bodies. She grabbed on so hard and was covered in sweat from head to toe. I have never seen her this way before, or any child this afraid of someone. It was really staring at fear in the face. We tried everything to calm her down, but in the end it was just not working. The adoptive father had to be out of sight for Little Sparkle to calm down and start to bond with the adoptive mother. She was super joyful and happy with all the female figures in the room. Her demeanor was really like day and night after the adoptive father left the room.

I went out and explained Little Sparkle’s reaction to the adoptive father and he was very understanding. I can’t even start to imagine just how hurt he must have felt due to her reaction. Being rejected in any way hurts, no matter how calm and strong you are. I really pray that, with time, Little Sparkle will be calmer and start to be able to bond with the adoptive father. Later on, when Little Sparkle was taking her nap, I had the adoptive father come in to give her a kiss and held her in his arms for a while. We took lots of pictures for them to take back with them. I’m really happy that the father at least got a good moment to hold his adoptive daughter before the day was over. It is going to take lots of patience, tolerance, and love on the part of the adoptive parents for Little Sparkle. It is going to be hard work, but it will be worth it in the end. I have no doubt that the adoptive parents will take great care of Little Sparkle and give her all the love and care in the world.

Little Sparkle. She is always smiling and happy. Very joyful child

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