Once upon a time I had a daughter. She had long black hair, dark brown eyes and olive complexion. A petite child, Paula came to live with us when she was nearly four years old. Abandoned by her birth mother, she was placed in foster care for six months then handed over to us, her adoptive parents.

No background information, no suggestions as to how this child might fare; the case worker simply dropped her off along with the numerous toys she collected during foster care and a truckload of emotional baggage.

Paula was a troubled child though she hid it well with her “fixed” smile that never quite reached her eyes. She had no idea how to love, trust or bond with another person. It just didn’t seem to be factored into her DNA. We had no idea how to make this happen so we struggled, all of us.

Today there is a generation of children growing up like Paula. Parents addicted to drugs leave little ones to fend for themselves without a loving touch. Like my adopted daughter, these children have been abandoned by parents who have little regard for their responsibility to create a safe, loving environment for their kids. Their addictions are stronger than their biological ties.

Many of these children work their way through numerous foster homes without the option of adoption because parental rights are never terminated, even when adults refuse to clean up their own lives and assume their responsibilities. The kids become the victims.

Being a fan of fairy tales, I had hoped for a happy ending for my daughter. She would grow up to be a lovely young woman, which she did. She would meet prince charming, marry, have a family and live happily every after. But before Paula found her prince she gave birth to a baby girl whose life was cut short by toxic effects from a childhood immunization. Soon after, she married the father and quickly gave birth to another baby girl, but old habits are
hard to kick.

When her daughter was three years old, Paula took her and ran away, a normal pattern for her. Four years later, a reluctant father was called to take custody of his seven-year-old daughter after her mother was arrested. Though the charges were minor and Paula was released after a short time, she never returned for her little girl who missed her mother every day of her life.

My granddaughter, now a beautiful 18-year-old young lady, was abandoned in the same way that her own mother was abandoned. And now, with her father’s recent death, she is struggling to finish high school and make sense of her world. Though her age says she is legally an adult, she is not equipped to make adult decisions and is floating from house to house, looking for a home and a mother she barely remembers.

For many abandoned children, a “happily ever after ending” is difficult to fathom. And though love is a powerful emotion, it can’t always override the effects of abandonment: low self-esteem, detachment disorders, lack of trust and poor decision-making skills, just to name a few. My prayer is that God will grant a happy ending for my precious granddaughter and for the thousands of abandoned children around the world. 

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