It takes a really cold heart to watch Anne of Green Gables or read the book without being completely taken in and even dropping a few tears. The plight of orphans in the United States and Canada in the late 1800s is depicted well in the opening scenes of this classic. Being passed from home to home, or being placed in workhouses, or living in group homes, were all commonplace scenarios for these children. Poor little Anne was viewed more as a slave than anything else. She was made to feel that the people who abused her were actually her benefactors. Anne was thrown hardship after hardship. Yet, despite her hardships, Anne developed imagination and gratitude. She made a conscious effort to see the good in others and the good in every situation.
By the time Anne is taken to Green Gables, she can hardly believe her good fortune. For thirteen years she’s been handed from one hurtful situation to another . . . and now, luck is shining on her. Anne has escaped her prison and is being given a chance at a life of love and acceptance. It’s not an easy transition. In fact, it looks for a time as if Anne’s dream of a family won’t last. But she survives the trial period and is guaranteed a life with Marilla and Matthew. Through everything, Anne’s inner self is not destroyed. She continues to develop and become her unique self.
Anne may be a fictional character, but we can learn from and be heartened by her story. Regardless of the circumstances our adopted or foster kids come from, they are individuals who have developed character, talents, ideas, and individuality. When they come to us, they may come hurt, abused, neglected, or stunted. But there are sparks of strength and personality inside of them, even if those sparks are buried rather deep. As a new family to these precious souls, it’s our job to help expose those sparks. As we offer love, structure, discipline and consistency, we give our new kids opportunity to feel safe as they break down their protective walls. While we continue to support and love our children, their confidence will grow and their inner strengths will emerge.
Just as Anne’s new parents accepted her imagination and her visualization (even when it nearly drove them nuts), as we accept our children’s unique characteristics, their strength will increase, their confidence will grow, and they will come back to who they really are. Their core personalities will return and they will flourish.
Maybe our kids will feel like Anne when Matthew took her home: “Dreams don’t often come true, do they? Wouldn’t it be nice if they did? But just now I feel pretty nearly perfectly happy . . . You see, I’ve never had a real home since I can remember. It gives me that pleasant ache again just to think of coming to a really truly home.”