In Chapter 4 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Lucious and Draco Malfoy clash with the Weasleys, Harry, and Hermione and her parents in Diagon Alley. Often when the Malfoys show up in the books, they start out by saying phrases like, “Second hand robes….you must be a Weasley.” In this chapter, they are making judgemental statements about the Weasleys financial standing and immediately judging them based upon who they are hanging out with: muggles, non-magical people. The Malfoys believe that wizard folk should never intermarry and mix their bloodlines with non-magical people and that as “pure bloods” they are better than all the wizards who have muggles in their blood lines.
“Foster and adopted children frequently face judgement, stereotypes and myths. People are often hesitant to be near these children.”
Foster and adopted children frequently face judgement, stereotypes and myths. People are often hesitant to be near these children. As their caregivers, people may be quick to praise us and equally as quick to drop us as friends. In 2011, I was experiencing a very rough week as a foster parent. Events were taking place that led me to feel as if one of our kids was being labeled and judged. It all came to a head when I saw my child walk over to talk to another child and then saw my child get pushed away from the other child by their parent. For everyone’s safety, I stayed where I was, stewed, and later went home to write what follows, which I entitled “Don’t Judge This Child.” It was a cathartic experience for me, but it also serves as a reminder to myself and everyone interacting with this group of children to see their behaviors and search for the root cause and help bring healing by balancing structure and discipline with loving compassion.
I do need to note that the statements below are not all true of one child but are rather a conglomeration of experiences of my own children and other foster children I had worked with.
How might you behave if…
- Instead of being held and played with you were plunked in a carseat and had to fend for yourself?
- Instead of being rocked to sleep as an infant you were lying in a hospital with broken ribs?
- You were taken from everything and everyone you knew and taken to a strangers house…repeatedly?
- Instead of playing with other children you were wondering when you would eat again and the fear of starvation (much worse than not wanting a food again that once made you sick) stuck with you for years, even after food was provided on a regular basis?
- Instead of being given appropriate affection as a very young child you were taught to give oral sex, watch pornography, or were touched inappropriately?
- People called you trash or called you stupid all the time?
- You were adopted and then it didn’t work out and you went back into limbo?
- You never knew where or with whom you’d be living on your next birthday or Christmas?
- You were constantly struggling internally over whether loving those who are taking care of you now would be betraying your birth family?
- You were constantly missing the family that gave you life because they are your family?
- You didn’t know who you were or where you came from?
- All of a sudden all the “rules” changed and what was once a way of life is “wrong” or “inappropriate?”
- You were abandoned by those who are supposed to love you?
- You were beaten by those who were supposed to love you?
- You were never shown unconditional love?
- You had to be the adult from toddler hood and care for yourself and others, including the ‘adults?’
- If each thing you did always brought on different responses from your parents, one day something would elicit a smile and a hug and then next a slap in the face?
- The few belongings you have are packed in trash bags to go to your next home?
- For years your senses were not stimulated and now you’re in a school, surrounded by lights, colors, people, and sounds, and your underdeveloped brain cannot properly process it all, but you look like a typical, developing child and are labeled as “bad,” “stubborn,” or “stupid?”
- Smells, sounds, etc. were constantly bringing on ‘flashbacks?’
- Love was gained by sexual acts to adults?
- You spent a lot of your life in the hospital and at the doctor’s office due to birth defects with people always poking, prodding, doing tests?
- While other kids are doing extracurricular activities, your time is ruled by therapists, counselors, caseworkers, lawyers, casa workers, SOC workers, doctors, and the list goes on!?
- Bad things happened at night. Sleep to you equals letting down your guard and your ability to escape or defend yourself. You do anything to prevent yourself from falling asleep. Fear invades every part of your being. Sleep is ruled by nightmares and night terrors and fear that something will happen, and you don’t want to go there?