Attached for Life

There is nothing like a baby to captivate our hearts—they’re rather magical. For starters, they sure are darned cute, but I think there is something more. Perhaps it’s the raw, untapped potential that arrives with each newborn. We are enchanted immediately; even our demeanor changes around a baby. If you don’t believe me, try talking to a baby in a normal voice. This is all part of an important developmental process called bonding. We instinctively promote bonding when we interact with babies, like smiling, cooing, kissing and holding. Babies even emit pheromones from their heads! The natural bonding process between new little people and their primary caretakers supports the ability to make lifelong healthy relationships, and when vital, primary attachments are broken, permanent damage in development can result.

Bonding begins in utero and is a lifelong thing—even when a mother and child are separated at or shortly after birth. I found the following amazing story from InfoRefuge: A woman was visiting Oxford, England, when she found her world turned on end. She was standing by a river when a group of young male students walked by. As the boys passed, the woman had the unmistakable and instant feeling that one of these youths was the infant son she had given up for adoption only a few hours after his birth. The young man said later that he had experienced a similar visceral, gut reaction to the female “stranger” standing by the water. As he walked by, a thought flew into his brain: That’s my mother! (Kodis, 1998, pp.12-13) My heart aches for mommies who miss the opportunity to bond with their newborn babies. The sad fact about babies born to mothers who are incarcerated in North Carolina is that the mother/baby bond WILL be broken. These women will experience a crucial gap in bonding with their newborn child. What is more, we have a populace of children in our state who will experience a crucial gap in bonding with their mothers, creating a significant impact on their development. All of this has a trickle-down effect on our communities…on YOUR community. How?

There is a critical gap in healthy, safe, and proper living situations for these children. There is currently no allowance for nurseries in our prison system (something Pharaoh’s Daughter is trying to change in our state), so these impressionable neonates must be entrusted to somebody! But who will care for these children? Ideally, kinsmen would be the perfect choice, but relatives often can’t care for these children well. In fact, mothers in prison tell us that “home” is more often than not, a scary and unsafe place…and they know from experience! This is the kind of breeding ground for the vicious cycle of crime and recidivism (returning to prison): robbing these kids of their futures, sucking up tax dollars, and creating dangerous communities.

Okay, but there is always Social Services, right? Not a bad option, but only if the mother is able to contact her child within a year (yes, even if she is in prison); otherwise, the child can be adopted without the mother’s consent. This leaves the mother at the mercy of the fostering family to be faithful to bring her baby to prison visitations, regularly. Incarcerated mothers have to choose between having their kids raised in hard environments or risk losing them entirely. We want to give them a better choice. So we have a dilemma. How we handle this piece will impact us and our world into the future. What part will you play to influence these difficult situations in your community? (**HINT**) Pharaoh’s Daughter is prepared to take on this concern for our community. This is a HUGE problem with a potential risk to be overwhelming. This is the time of year we think about giving, the most. Some of us are thinking about what to give those on our gift list who already have “everything.” Some of us are thinking about year-end giving for tax purposes. Some of us are thinking about how to emulate the Three Wisemen in their giving to God. Whatever your “giving situation,” this is a perfect time to think about how your gifts can actually make a bigger impact…on your neighbors, your community, and even ultimately, your local economies. **See below for our first ever T-shirt Fundraiser. Sport a Pharaoh’s Daughter T-shirt, tell the world, and support this important ministry!**

Have a VERY merry Christmas…and remember as far as it depends on you, live in Peace! (Rom. 12:8) Christmas Blessings! ~Susan