Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Blessed are the poor in spirit

It was recently suggested to me that a female who has been raped and is carrying the rapist's child should, perhaps, be allowed by even the strictest of conservative pro-life advocates to abort the baby without any repercussions spiritual or otherwise. It's not that this was a new idea to me but the source from which it came was a genuine surprise.

We had been discussing the dysfunction known as Attachment Disorder or Reactive Attachment Disorder. The attitude of a mother toward her baby during the 9 months of pregnancy, delivery and immediately afterwards are crucial for the baby's ability to develop normal, healthy attachments as he/she grows into a little person and begins to navigate life outside the womb. A baby who is born with the innate expectation of receiving love, comfort and a warm breast suffers a debilitating mental, physical, emotional and spiritual confusion when those needs are not met immediately upon birth. When the first experience of life outside the womb is disappointment, a ripple of distrust etches itself in the baby's brain, potentially causing explosive behavior issues and mental health problems throughout the child's life. These children are suddenly born with the potential to become at worst the most nightmarish sociopaths, at best adults who feel alienated and disconnected from the people who love them the most.

So the person who suggested that these moms who had suffered through conception born out of rape should be allowed to abort their babies was simply considering the path taken by the baby and the daily unattachment happening every day of the pregnancy and throughout delivery and beyond. When every moment of every day is a reminder of such a traumatic life event, how is the mom able to attach to her baby? When the baby is born and now presents a visible presence of that trauma, how can even the most grounded mom not feel some strong repulsion and disgust at the sight of her own infant? I still believe that God's grace can cover even this atrocity with healing and joy but for an instant I was tempted to buy into the argument.

Going back to the disordered attachments of children, we do have a child or two who still suffer the wounds of having been born to an unattached mother. Even after years in their God-given family with daily affirmation offered, the initial wounds caused by the rejection during pregnancy and after birth still ripple through their psyches. As I have been seeking counseling for these children and researching the effect of disordered attachments, I suddenly came upon the realization that these children are the poor in spirit. They are working out of a poverty of spirit that comes from being born at the short end of the stick. It wasn't their fault, they didn't cause this to happen or even allow it to happen...it was done *to* them through a series of unfortunate events. And God calls them Blessed.

They are blessed because while they lack the ability to argue rationally and feel appropriately, alongside the mistrust and dysfunction exists a faith that there is a God and He cares about them. Now the distortions of their thinking may say that the God cares and is mad at them or that they will never measure up to His expectations but the faith remains that He is there. Even children whose dysfunction does now allow them to have this most basic faith are still God's blessed. In the poverty of faith and spiritual ignorance they are still blessed because God refuses to leave them lying in the dust of their genetic legacy. They are poor in spirit, They are blessed........They are blessed, They are poor in spirit. It is this cycling through the blessing and poverty that I find myself witnessing as my own children receive sound counsel and are beginning to heal. After years of banging against the poverty of their spirits I am now confident that they are Blessed as well and that the blessing comes from their poverty of spirit.


LucisMomma said...

Mair, that is truly lovely. (sorry if this is posting twice, it says it didn't go through) As I read what the friend of yours thought, I wondered how you would respond. I thought about my own Luci, and how we won't ever know what pre-birth attachment her China-momma had or didn't have to her. I do know I would tell that friend that my child was not attached (she was found on day 2 of life in front of a little store on a chilly October day) yet she is attached now, to a whole family who adores her. Her problem of abandonment by that birth mother is not a problem...the child is now getting spoiled and that is now her problem. :) She lives a fairy-tale come true every day and calls her Daddy "my Prince." JT wrote in a little essay that he is glad that Luci came into his life because she wakes him up everyday with a kiss, saying, "Good morning, Sunshine."

I would argue against aborting that child made from tragedy because that child is precious and has so much to offer--whether as a whole child, offering himself to others someday; or as a broken child who brings out the love and compassion of Christ in others.

Praying for you and your family. You are precious, Mary!

love you, Susan W from FG.

Mairs said...

Thanks for sharing Susan! My friend was referring to the *mom*'s trauma in going through this experience since it radically affects both the mother and baby (in this case a 12 yo girl who had been raped by her own father). She had to relive that trauma every moment of her pregnancy and then through the delivery and as she looked at and tried to parent her baby moment to moment. *She* is broken by her trauma. You are so fortunate that Luci is doing so well. Unfortunately, many children *do* experience dramatic attachment issues that can't be solved with just loving them more (to argue otherwise to their parents would serve only to heap more guilt upon their shoulders). They become a major disruption to family life at home and a danger to themselves and others elsewhere. It is heartbreaking to see children who are so broken from birth. They are the truly poor in spirit and I pray for them and their families who daily have to pick up the pieces of their lives. It is very, very hard. And yet, I would still say worth it in Kingdom terms.