Kids love their parents.

Not because their parents are great or even necessarily competent. It’s not merit-based or skill-dependent.

The names “mom” and “dad” carry a connection that transcends more than we might think. Sometimes even things we can’t bear to think.

In the movie “The Kid with a Bike” (which I strongly recommend), a young boy experiences consistent care from counselors at his group home and sacrificial love from a stranger who becomes his foster parent. Yet again and again he fights to be with his biological dad who shows him nothing but neglect and apathy in the film.

Jonathan and I saw that same staunch devotion in our house. Victor wanted to be with his dad too. He daydreamed about the two of them running away together. No matter how many promises were broken or visits were missed, that wouldn’t change.

When Victor’s counselor asked him to draw a picture of his family, he sketched himself, his brother and sister in the back of the van where they all lived for a year. Dad was in the driver’s seat steering toward a very frightening haunted house.

Victor didn’t miss his dad’s mistakes. They just didn’t change his feelings.

It was a powerful picture of unconditional love. One that required comfort, not critique.

Jonathan and I ached not for Victor to stop loving his dad, but for his dad to have the strength to return that love.

Sadly, that wasn’t the ending.


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  1. Pam H.

    I think that has got to be so hard, where do you draw the line (or if there is even a line to draw) where a child must face that reality of those dreams not coming true? My niece (now 42 years old) never did accept her mother divorcing my brother when she was 12 and to this day hopes they get back together even though my brother finally remarried.

    Reality is a painful place to be. I think that the only hope is to keep loving them and help them to transfer their hope of what can’t be, to a hope in God who can heal the heart.

    You and your husband sound very amazing and completely secure enough to love this fellow through his memories. I’ll join you in praying for this young man’s father.

    • Liz

      I’m a huge fan of therapy and we learned a ton from the kids’ counselor about what to share and when. But we definitely botched it at times. I think the biggest thing is focusing on empathy and honesty.

      Thanks for your encouraging words. At the same time, I’ll admit that more than once, when Victor touted his biological father being so much better and stronger than Jonathan, I got frustrated.

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