Saving Mothers' Lives: A Call to Stay Together
Whether it is separation through forced zero tolerance immigration policies, incarcerated mothers who give birth in the prison system, or relinquishment through adoption or to relatives, there will be deep psychological scars and trauma mothers and their children will have to endure.
While locked down due to COVID-19, I planned to paint the exterior of my home. I took a broom to eliminate the cobwebs on my front porch. When I looked up there was a bird’s nest planted within the column. Thinking it was an old one because I did not see or hear sounds of life, I proceed to take my broom and knock it to the ground. As the nest fell, out came three fledglings. I gasped and felt hurt. I had just disrupted their safety and comfort.
As the fledglings began to squeal and hop around shocked and afraid, the momma bird flew in their direction hysterically. She flew frantically back and forth above my head at times hitting the glass window. The urge to save her offspring was more important than the urge to save her own life.
I became more anxious to rescue her babies and return them to their nest so that she will not hurt or risk her own life to protect her young.
Hearing the crises of those innocent uncomforted baby birds, reminds me of the cries of children who are isolated from the security and safety only a mother can provide.
When a child is separated from his or her mother under chaotic circumstances, stress hormones flood the brain and the body. These hormones if hyperactive for a prolonged period can increase the risk of lasting, destructive complications like heart disease, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer. In addition, multiples instances of trauma early in life can lead to mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
When children are separated from their mother, it can have traumatic repercussions for kids’ lives down the line. Separating children from their parents will most certainly cause distress such as, irritable or aggressive behavior, including extreme temper tantrums and lack of concentration. Even possible long-term consequences of an absent mother figure includes antisocial behavior, emotional problems and juvenile delinquency.
Psychoanalyst John Bowlby argued that children arrive in the world biologically pre-programmed to form strong bonds with other people, as a means of survival. Bowlby states that the relationship of a child and mother between birth and 5 years of age is the most crucial to socialization.
Whether it is separation through forced zero tolerance immigration policies, incarcerated mothers who give birth in the prison system, or relinquishment through adoption or to relatives, there will be deep psychological scars and trauma mothers and their children will have to endure. This may include children failing to develop effective tools for managing intense emotions and having the primary mechanisms for coping. Forced and prolonged separation of children from their parents threatens future success of children.
The costs involved in dealing with children separated from their mother challenges government and local communities to confront the economic impact. Financial impacts associated with mother-child separation are: medical treatments, increased staffing for lower academic achieving students, increased funding for social services, foster care, educational costs, adult criminality, and lifelong mental health problems.
Government agencies must work to prevent mother-child separation by providing programs around reunification and keeping families together so that many human troubles would be lessened in our society.
After hours of searching the shrubbery for the three fledglings, I was able to return them to their home I dismantled. Throughout the day, I continued to check on them to make sure they were safe while their mother was perched on a tree branch not far away.
The next day I looked to see if the babies were ok. They were gone. It was then I realized it’s not me God expects to provide care. It is the mother God entrusts to care for and help develop God’s children.