The Motherless Ones

Not just poets and heroes lose mothers.  Some lose their mothers to childbirth, still others to drugs and some when they are rescued from women who fracture the skulls and clavicles of children not old enough to walk.

William Cowper at the age of six lost his mother. His baby brother was the cause. They lived the only two of seven to survive childhood in Cowper’s family.

William grew close to his mother’s family, he attended school and studied Latin. It is said that he fell in love with his cousin Theodora, but his uncle refused to let the two marry. From time-to-time he suffered depressions that on occasion plunged him into insanity and stays at the asylum. He tried to commit suicide multiple times but destiny and friendship prevented his success.

At a post-adoption support group we started attending my husband and I listened to the stories of women who became mothers to orphans. These women had many years of experience behind them and a learned patience and strength I marvel at. One woman spoke of a 5-year-old Chinese orphan who tried to strangle her as she drove down a highway. The girl was so frightened, so possessed with an animal fear she could not be convinced of safety in her new home.

These motherless ones often have difficulties. My husband and I leave these meetings with an odd sense of elation. Children do progress (maybe not in the ways we dream for them) and adoptive parents do often survive. No longer do I think it’s that weird to have a child who has been institutionalized. After reading only a small portion of my child’s files I wonder why more children aren’t institutionalized.

The devoted lady who has run this support group for years asks me, “Yes, but what do you love about this child?”

I know she asks because so often these meetings become places where we laugh and vent and paint horrible pictures of all we’re going through with these motherless children.

William Cowper went insane. Did the first spark of insanity come at the loss of his mother? Who knows, but he went on to write some of the most beautiful hymns and poems. He inspired Wordsworth, Coleridge and Martin Luther King Jr. who often quoted from ‘The Negro’s Complaint‘. He befriended John Newton (who wrote the hymn “Amazing Grace“) and became an ardent supporter of the abolition movement in England.

Cowper recovered his sanity for long periods of time allowing for his hymns and poems to be written. Broken children can be incredibly scary to adults. One is tempted more often then one wants to admit to desert. Cowper had people in his life who came beside him, but he had something even more important.

The lady asked me again what I liked about this child who has upset my writing and reading schedule, hurt my animals and threatens to rob my sanity with her incessant talk.

In the quiet of the basement room in the municipal building surrounded by folding chairs under ugly fluorescent light I remembered the day last week when this girl read the neuro-psychological evaluation because she thought I was hiding something from her. She read about her sister’s broken bones and so much more that only now she was beginning to remember and understand.

On the drive this weekend to drop her off at camp she looked out at the blue sky and the soft Adirondack Mountains that seemed to go on forever, one soft peak after another. ‘Let’s worship God for this,’ she said. ‘God did this. Isn’t that great?’ she asked me.

I told the lady at group that I loved how this motherless child cut to the core of things. I told her how I loved how despite being broken physically and shattered mentally she still wanted to get up each day and worship God. If I think about God at all it’s usually with complaint.

Everything is a cliche, you see. Special gifts are given to special children. Beauty can often survive great suffering. Redemption is real. Oh, it’s so boring sometimes.

But sometimes it’s not.

14 Comments Add yours

  1. May unexpected blessing flourish in your lives, may healing come in remarkable ways, and may you and your family be constantly surprised by joy.

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    1. You are a sweetheart.

      xx
      A

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  2. Your adoptive daughter has special gifts. How fortunate for her that you provide safe haven for them – and her – to flourish. How fortunate for you that she feels whole enough to share with you. An incredible moment, touchingly told. Thank you, Adrienne.

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    1. Funny how often we pass over these moments to gripe about the other moments. 🙂

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  3. Victo Dolore says:

    Sending love for you and for her. 🙂

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    1. Thank you! Encouraging words mean a lot to me.

      xx
      A

      Liked by 1 person

  4. carlamcgill says:

    I would love to hear more of this story about your adoption process. What an interesting post! I recall studying Cowper in graduate school (just a little bit), but I had not known his personal story. Dramatic, inspiring, interesting!

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    1. Thank you! maybe one day I’ll write a short memoir about this adoption process but I’m going to wait for a good place to end the story. She’s still not adopted due to the many agencies involved in her case.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. carlamcgill says:

        Wishing you blessings during the journey, Adrienne!

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  5. As you may know, I have much experience in adoption work, but what was stirred in me when reading of your daughter’s comments was one from one of my grandsons, whose paternal grandmother had died when our son was 14 months old. Gazing up at the sky, five year old Olli said: ‘If Granny in the sky hadn’t died, we wouldn’t have Uncle Sam.’

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    1. I think you mentioned it but now I can’t remember–were you a social worker?

      Some kids are really in touch with their spiritual side but it’s so easy to think it’s just their imaginations. I have a niece who has seen spirits and such. She is almost angelic herself to the point it’s a little disconcerting sometimes.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I spent 20 years in Social Work before going into psychotherapeutic counselling and consultancy (including to two adoption agencies). I chaired one fostering and two adoption panels.

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      2. WOW!!!! That must have been very interesting–many highs and lows, I’d imagine.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It was, and there were.

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