“Whoever inquires about our childhood wants to know something about our soul. If the question is not just a rhetorical one and the questioner has the patience to listen, he will come to realize that we love with horror and hate with an inexplicable love whatever caused us our greatest pain and difficulty.”
this previous post, I made note that, as was reported in the news media, Lydia Schatz collapsed while being punished (aka “Biblically chastised” in Pearlspeak) for mispronouncing a word. There has been some discussion online that eight year old Lydia was reading from a particular book and purposely mispronounced a word in what was understood as a willful act of defiance. According to Michael Pearl, every single time that a child misbehaves willfully, that child must be punished until they show [subjective signs] of repentance. I did not point out well enough that the family didn't necessarily use discipline for error (though this is sometimes this is the case in the way many people translate child training techniques). My overarching concern when I made my initial comment was motivated by a general concern that children disciplined with spanking in association with their schoolwork could make learning itself an unsafe experience.
In defense of Elizabeth Schatz, I wanted to point out that young Lydia was adopted from an orphanage in Liberia. My brief statement did not adequately address the unique problems faced by these adoptive parents. Lydia's behavior may have been a trauma response or an immature attempt at self-expression (often restricted under the Pearl Method), because she very likely lacked the “emotional vocabulary” and functional self-awareness to express herself in a way that her parents would have found more appropriate. In young children, anger and acting out are often not rebellion but usually indicate fear, pain, or a response to a perceived threat. (Parents often cannot anticipate or identify these threats and they seem nonsensical.)
Though children from all cultures can experience “culture shock” when they immigrate here to the U.S., children adopted from Africa have significantly greater difficulty. Dr. Margaret Jones who was featured here on this website speaks about the problems she encountered when she adopted one of the “Lost Boys of the Sudan” in her book about spiritual abuse entitled Not of My Making. (She's a PhD psychologist, and even she had a failed adoption with an older child who became physically threatening!) Though there are no mechanisms to specifically track Liberian adoptions in the U.S. because of the decentralized nature of Child Protective Services between States, a number of these adoptions fail because of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) issues that parents cannot manage. Some children are placed in the foster system, and some are actually returned to orphanages in Liberia.
RAD describes a pattern of difficult behavior in both children and adults which develops when children are traumatized or neglected in some way, a disorder that is more common among adopted children but occurs at higher rates in children adopted from places like the Sudan and from Liberia. RAD describes the behavior, but Post Traumatic Stress Disorder describes the pathology underlying the behavior (a response that is more of an automatic physiologic response of survival that fails to turn itself off when the person is no longer under threat). People fail to realize that these children have lived in very threatening situations and either lack emotional maturity or regress back into trauma states when they feel threatened due to trauma triggers. Their behaviors are often contradictory and seem like rebellion because they lack age-appropriate emotional maturity, or may lack any experience at or ability to express themselves appropriately in terms of our culture. Children in Liberian orphanages were traumatized. After being relocated to a new culture, spanking only throws that child back into a trauma response.
For those interested in this subject, I have listed may resources followed by a longer entry copied with permission from the No Longer Quivering Forum written by a mother who parented a son she adopted from Liberia. Point to Remember: Concerning children with any degree of RAD, particularly in children from Liberian orphanages, authoritarian methods and Pearl-style discipline prove quite ineffective and psychologically harmful.
Discussions concerning Lydia Schatz, the Pearl Method and Liberian adoptions:
- Stand with an Open Heart (about the book Lydia had been reading before she collapsed, likely triggering her RAD/PTSD)
- Entries by “Jo” from the NLQ Message Board (excerpts quoted below)
Resources from Love and Logic:
- Dealing with Energy Drains (Appropriate Consequences)
- *When Love is Not Enough (Book)
- *Healing Trust (CD Set)
About RAD and Homeschooling:
- The Mouro Family (homeschooling mom of a large family discusses a typical example of seemingly irrational RAD behavior that is typical of the trauma responses in adopted children)
More info about RAD:
- An RAD Exercise (What and what not to do)
Though links are noted above,
I wanted to include some excerpts from “Jo” on the (old) NLQ Forum
with the quotes arranged topically.
Problems with Children Adopted from Liberia
- I know what its like to parent these children from the war ravaged regions of W. Africa. My son is one of those children. He's one of the FEW who has fully resolved his PTSD through intensive and specialized trauma therapy. His former therapist still consults with families whose children have been adopted from the region because the success rate of helping these children heal is SOO low.
My son is so very resilient and lucky. But, for most of these kids, its that resiliency that can then backfire. My son actually trained his brain to maintain a sleep-dream state of consciousness at all times. He had to re-train his brain to have a conscious alert state because the coping mechanism was not necessary anymore. So, even wide awake, he was slow to respond, showed NO emotions (again a coping mechanism to keep you alive when you are in the presence of true evil) and was really retreated into himself...except when his PTSD would get triggered and he wasn't there at all but was raging against the monsters and the demons that weren't there. I was there. I took the brunt of those monster and demons. I got his siblings to safety and restrained him to keep him safe until they passed for YEARS.
I really and truly get what its like to parent these kids.
- I had 3 children when I adopted from W. Africa. There is just no way I could do it now with 8 kids, not unless my kids were older. I devoted my heart and soul to helping my son heal, and he has healed and healed abundantly. But, I knew even then that anymore children than we had in the house at that time and the adoption was NOT going to work.
- So, the situation when this family brought these girls was AWFUL. The Liberian children were in HORRIBLE conditions. The UN had snuck into the grounds of one facilitator's compound with Liberaian officials and tried to get them closed down. The children were traumatized, often stolen from their families, treated like second rate citizens and shipped off to do-gooder Americans as bounty.
- Most older girls from Liberia have in fact been sexually assaulted. I was sick to my stomach when I saw the QF movement start promoting Liberian adoptions.
These were not and are not the children that this subset needs to be adopting.
As for they were spanked in their birth countries...well, my son was stripped naked, tied to a pole, had ashes heaped upon him and mocked by all in the orphanage...all for peeing the bed at night. Does that mean I should have done the same when he got here???
Hardly. I gave him a pull-up. He was 7 and a bit embarrassed but I reiterated over and over again to simply throw the pull-up away in the morning, put the dirty sheets in front of the washer if the pull-up leaked and no more would be said of the situation EVER.
He not only regained his dignity but learned to trust me AND stopped wetting the bed long, long before the nightmares that paralyzed him at night stopped.
When you look specifically at Liberia and Sierra Leone you are looking at two joined societies whose entire culture and society broke down because of a brutal civil war. Who cares what was done to these children in those countries? You don't repeat their trauma and justify it because it was done when society broke-down!
Human Trafficking and Quiverfull Family Interest in Liberian Adoption
- Its extremely dangerous for the QF/P groups to adopt these W. African children. I've maintained that stance for YEARS. But, what I can tell you is that the US has closed Liberian adoptions at this point. Its my hope that the child trafficker will find another scam before the country re-opens and the do-gooder facilitator will finally be dealt with by the state who has been trying to reign them in for a LONG time now.
- They were trafficking, one for cash and the for the glory of God's kingdom. And, they were preying upon highly Conservative, Patriarchal, Evangelical and often Quiverful families for the cash the needed to continue their 'work' (and hefty paychecks but that's not to be discussed). Most adoption agencies don't work with QFs for the simple fact that you cannot get pregnant in the process of adopting. You cannot adopt within 6-12 months of having a baby (depending on the agency and the country). And, you cannot continue with an adoption if you get pregnant.
During [the time of] our international adoptions were actually the only time in our QF years when we were deliberately using birth control. It turned out I had health issues which left me with secondary infertility. But, we were using birth control so we COULD adopt.
Liberia attracted a lot of QF/P adoptive families because these 2 facilitators targeted those families. The 'godly' facilitator was heavily marketed via Above Rubies. Though, I'm sure they never declared to that sect they were not a true adoption agency and had been cited by the state they were in repeatedly for lying about it.
Both groups were actually stealing children from families in Liberia and selling them. It was AWFUL and the QF/P movement contributed wholly to the situation. The only development in adoption that made me happier than seeing Liberia closed to international adoptions was the day Charles Taylor was captured and transported to Sierra Leone to face his victims. On both days, I actually danced for joy to read the news.
- I'm going to openly admit that I would need to go re-check my fact. But, iirc, 50% of children who age out of orphanages will engage in sex trade behaviors in order to support themselves. 80% who age out of orphanages will die within 5 years after aging out. The rate who will be homeless is even higher. Children in orphanages have few attachments, few family support, no material possessions, no safety net, no mentor to help them navigate the world, no realistic exposure to the world outside of the orphanage. In short, they have NO ability to be functional thriving members of ANY society after they spend their entire lives in orphanages. Romania understood this dismal outlook so thoroughly that they deliberately sought orphanage care to create soldiers--disposable people trained to take orders without thinking and no one to object at the risks and high rates of death.
- Trying to stop adoptions is misguided at best and criminal at worst. Fighting for ethical adoptions, and proper training for all who adopt is a better option. There are certain circles that are drawn to certain type of adoption. Liberia was a hotbed of highly punitive, quiverful families who were rescuing those children. China, otoh, doesn't have that problem. Strict quiverful families cannot and will not survive the process for China. And, Ethiopia has been conscious of the issue and tried to halt the problems there. Haiti could be bought, so it was going on even though their laws tried to avoid it.
Concerning Liberian Adoptions and Michael Pearl
- And, into the hands of those Americans, these facilitators encouraged the writings of Micheal Pearl. Now, to be fair, most of these families were already avid followers of the nut job. Most of them were well versed in their plumbing tubing and had raised their armies will great success for years already.
But, they brought traumatized children into a situation where strangers were beating them...in much the same manner their 'rescuers' in Liberia had done. They knew how to survive, but they most definitely did NOT know these people were family, parents, protectors. And, when these people acted like foe, these children respond in the same fashion.
When you put Micheal Pearl's work into the hands of families with these traumatized children, its a recipe for disaster. Four years ago, a little boy came out of the foster system traumatized and into the hands of a woman who was die-hard ad ovate for Pearl. Sean Pollock lost his life for that mistake. Lynn Pollock could NOT distinguish where a 'line' was when she disciplined Sean. And, the reason she couldn't find the LINE is because if you strictly follow Pearl's teachings, there is NO LINE. The LINE is when the child submits, with a cheerful spirit, and nothing less. These children are survivors. They do NOT 'submit'. They fake it, but they don't mean it in their hearts. And, Pearl flat-out says to BEAT THEM AGAIN, make their heart reflect submission. Hit them over and over and over again until their heart complies to what you want, or you will condemn them to the pits of Hell if you don't.
Micheal Pearl's teachings are death to a child who is not attached to his parents. Because, its NOT Pearl that establishes a line that keeps children alive. Read his work. Go to his website. Its very quick easy to realize that there is NO line for Pearl. The real LINE is the small voice in the back of a mother's heart that says, this is wrong, I must stop, I will do damage if I push through any further.
For these children and their detached parents, that voice doesn't exist. These mother's hearts are NOT turned to their babies to protect them because their hearts don't recognize those as their babies anymore than these children recognize them as mother. The danger is in flat-out in following these teachings at all with adopted children, especially traumatized adoptees.
Good, reputable adoption agencies would NEVER promote anything close to Micheal Pearl. The few adoption agencies that were working in Liberia had specific stances against all spanking for these children. Even the largest Christian adoption agency in this country, Bethany, has a policy against spanking adoptees. While agencies cannot screen out every die-hard, they do know to watch for it and to not place children where they truly suspect it exists.
This safety was not in place in Liberia with these facilitators. They encouraged Micheal Pearl, Garry Ezzo and Ted Tripp. They facilitated everything about their adoptions as a Christian duty to rescue these heathen children. And, they firmly espoused that those children had to be trained by the rod to be rescued from their heathen rods.
- As already mentioned, Attachment Parenting was coined by William and Martha Sears...who btw wrote a whole Christian Parenting book about AP and Biblical parenting aka NOT spanking your kids.
Attachment theory probably has some roots in Attachment Parenting, but most who deal with Attachment Therapy and Attachment theory have little to no understanding of Attachment Parenting per se. Pearl and this method of parenting is the anti-thesis of attachment parenting. The style of parenting espoused by the Pearls destroys attachment, not promote it.
Rebirthing is an old, antiquated form of coercive attachment therapy. Attachment therapy per se is recognized and effective. Coercive therapy which was flourished under attachment therapy is debunked and not sanctioned by ANYONE.
But, attachment issues is an aspect of adoption in that adoptees are often not attached to their families. Mildly, its found in the reality that almost all adoption agencies recommend attachment parenting and activities which promote attachment and bonding with adoptees. When attachment and bonding is failing, attachment therapy is primarily a form of therapy whereby a therapist serves as a facilitator to attempt to teach attachment and bonding behaviors to a mother and child.
Both attachment parenting AND attachment therapy would take a strong, strong stance of NEVER spanking an adoptee. Pearl, otoh, says to spank liberally, early and until their submit their soul to your authority.
I cannot speak to all of the die-hard, conservative and excessive parenting gurus found with Conservative Christian circles. But, I can tell you that Pearl was born specifically within the QF movement. The Pearls are QF, home church, reject US society, 100% WOS, homeschooling, etc. Were it not for the QF movement, the Pearls would have been a blip on the radar and disappeared into oblivion. While Gary Ezzo could be argued to be more mainstream, Pearl is extreme even for Ezzo and Ted Tripp supporters. Its only in a world where you must maintain that perfect order of many children in order to be a good witness that anyone would consider it acceptable to start hitting a 6 month old infant with a switch to help her with her willful disobedience.
- Ezzo and Pearl have infiltrated secular parenting circles. A good friend took her children to a new pediatrician. Friend is a christian, new doctor was not. When friend attempted to discuss her concerns that said daughter might be on the autism spectrum, pediatrician recommended---Michael Pearl, with the caveat to weed out the religion.
Adoptees are uniquely vulnerable to Pearl's training because of the need to establish a bond between mother and older child. But the problem is NOT adoption. Its No Greater Joy. It was a ticking time bomb before the rise in international adoptions occurred in the Christian communities. Not all adoptees are at risk of even encountering Pearl-style training. In fact most adoptees are not at risk. Most legitimate adoptions agencies will NOT place children in a home where there is even a hint of that kind of discipline methods are being used. That family did NOT use a legitimate adoption agency. They used a facilitator, one who was lying and deceiving when they adopted and who is blame shifting and pretending they had no idea now that Lydia is dead. That facilitator knew exactly what was going on in the homes she placed children in, because she catered to this community. And, aren't you glad to know she's not only trying to re-open Liberia but trying to open the DNC to allow her to go back to what she was doing again.
- A list of ALL POSTS related to Lydia Schatz, Michael Pearl, and Blind Obedience
- CNN's Reports about the deaths of Lydia Schatz and Hannah Williams, and interviews with Michael Pearl on AC360 and Dr. Drew.
- Posts about Kidney Disease related to the Pearl Method
- Posts about Harm to Children through discipline for religious reasons (including Pearl)