One of the sentiments heard regularly around children who have been displaced is the disbelief that these children would want to return to the people and families they came from. It is difficult for people to understand how anyone could think fondly of people that had been neglectful or abusive to them, much less to consider that someone would want to continue that relationship.
But is it really that hard to imagine? When you think about family, what do you think about? For a lot of us, we think about our parents or our children—we think about vacations we have taken, or holidays spent together. We tend to remember the positive things while we minimize the negative. This is not to say that we do not remember the negative things, we just do not put as much emphasis on them as we do the positive.
The same thing can be said for these children. They do not need to be reminded of where they came from—they know. They do not need anyone to tell them about what happened to them before—they remember. But they also know that those people are family. They know that place was home. And there will always be a part of them that wishes for the best of what was.
They are not missing the abuse or neglect that they experienced; they are missing what could have been, what should have been. They miss the idea of family that they see played out in the lives of their peers at school. They miss the idea of family vacations and holidays. They want desperately to know what it feels like to feel safe and loved with the people who supposed to love and care for them more than anyone else.
There is no substitute for it. There is no making up for the fact that these children were mistreated or abandoned by their own family. And it is baffling at times to hear a child talk about their family of origin as though they were the greatest thing in the world. But the truth is that most of them know it is just wishful thinking of what might have been.