No, we aren't thinking of disrupting our adoption. Actually, it would be a dissolution since our adoption is final, at least in the eyes of Haiti. Disruption would be before an adoption is finalized, like during the 30, 60 or 90 days the state requires between when the child is placed in your home and when you go to court. But we aren't thinking of that either. However, there has been a lot of talk and bashing on blogs lately. And although no one asked my opinion, I'm going to give it. After all, it's my blog : )
Asking would you do that if it was your birth child is not an applicable question. If someone hadn't given up their birth child, a child wouldn't have been adopted. Children are given up at birth and children are given up or taken from birth parents at older ages too.
And if the question is, "Would you send a birth child to another family?" that would depend. When you give birth to child, you already have a bond and the child quickly learns to attach--we are talking the normal family here not a mom with mental health issues or addictions etc. You have many wonderful memories of first steps, first words, birthday parties, handmade cards etc. So if your child goes a little crazy in their preteen/teen years, you still have a strong bond and many years of shared happy times.
This is not true when you adopt. The child may come in literally kicking and screaming. He may hate you on sight. He may resent you for taking him away from his home or culture. He may tell you every day that you aren't his real mom and his real mom is so much better. He may spit on his food, throw it on the floor, kick your cat and pee on your couch. This is your first exposure to the child, so there are no early years of happy times to remember. There are no shared memories. Often there are no good memories at all.
So the birth child versus adopted child question makes little sense. For me, if my birth child suddenly started going the wrong way, I'd get counseling. If that didn't work, I'd look for an out-of- home placement to get help with the understanding that he would return when he had dealt with the issues that made it impossible for him to live at home. I'd do the same for an adopted child. But if the problems start young, there often isn't that option. And insurance does not normally pay for long term help. So you are looking at thousands a month.
Most of you know that we got Jeff from Haiti at almost age 5. We kept him in home until a couple months short of 13 years old. Then we sent him to a farm setting for kids with problems. We assumed that he would be there 1-2 years and then return. And I really thought it was probably my fault because I just didn't know how to reach him. He's been there over four years and still has issues. They don't feel it would be best for him to come home. It's hard because I think that now I could do so much better with him. I was horrible at separating the child and the behaviors. He'd steal from me and I'd take it personally. I was often angry. It started escalating right before his 13th birthday and at that time his "friends" started coming over and threatening my girls.
Dissolutions were not readily available when we made the choice for Jeff and changing homes would have only helped if he was an only child in a therapeutic home. But we lived with storm clouds constantly over us. He is staying there now because he is so close to graduating under their ACE program but would be a year or two from it under our county's requirements.
The point is, for those who have ended adoptions, it's not really accurate to compare it to a situation with a birth child. It's more like a mail order bride. You read a description. It sounds like a good match. So you send for the child. You might get to visit, but visiting at an orphanage isn't really a true test of how the child will fit into your family. And the description may be inaccurate or totally false. What parent would adopt a child if they were told the child may have health issues and probably has serious mental health issues. They hate authority and haven't shown any signs of attachment. Or parents aren't told that the parent used alcohol and drugs during their pregnancy so they child most likely will have problems understanding right and wrong and consequences. They may conceal the fact that they child was sexually abused in his home or used sex to get enough food to survive in her village. They don't tell you that your birth children or younger adopted children may be abused by this child.
Instead, a cute photo is posted with a description something like, "Johnny is near the top of his class. He has many friends among his peers and is considered a leader. Johnny is sad because so many of his friends has gotten families but he hasn't." Who wouldn't want to give this little guy a chance at a home? So you bring him home expecting to have a son to play catch with, to give a chance to be in gymnastics and soccer and scouts.
But instead you have an angry child who resents you for taking him out of the only life he knew. He turns his anger on you and tries to hurt you by hurting your other children and destroying your things. He manipulates people and often you look like the bad guy. After all, you keep him with you at all time. You don't let him attend birthday parties or sleepovers. You don't let other people buy him things to make up for all he missed in life.
(I am not talking about our own story here in any of this except what I shared about Jeff. This is just generally how things can go wrong. And we did face some of it, but not the worst case scenarios.)
It gets to the point where you dread getting up in the morning. No one realizes what you are going through. And you are faced with the question of what to do.
Okay, so this is really getting long. So go get the clothes out of the dryer and fold them. Grab a soda and come back : )
That brings me to another point. There is a big difference between a family who isn't prepared for the issues an adopted child brings with him and one who is blindsided by the child they receive. A family may be the perfect family with obedient children. They have a great family life so they decide to adopt to give a poor orphan a home and let them experience that wonderful family life. No problem with that. But all adopted children will test you. Some less than others. Parenting is hard. Adoptive families need to realize that. If you want your life to go on the way it is with things running smoothly and a schedule in place, adoption may not be for you. You may want to help by donating to an orphanage or sponsoring a child instead.
It is hard to see a family give up on a child after just a few weeks home because they have challenging behaviors or a personality far removed from anyone else in the family. I think that parents should try an extended period of play therapy, family counseling and just allowing the child to adjust before making any changes. At the same time, if a family comes to resent the child, the child will know. He will know the family doesn't love him or cherish him. And every child deserves to have a family who thinks he's worth the work. I'd rather see a child have a new home than live with scorn and rejection.
Sometimes there just is no choice though because of safety issues. On the one hand you understand that the child is hurting your other children because of things done to him in the past, but at the same time you know that you absolutely must keep your other children safe and now deal with his or her trauma because he or she was abused right in his/her own home. Well, for one thing, that must be reported to the state, and that child will probably be removed from the home for the safety of others.
The problem is that he will be thrown into the foster care system. That's not always bad if there is a therapeutic placement available and the child will really get the help he needs. But the parents will have little to no say on where the child removed from the home will be placed. It's up to the state. Sometimes the adoptive family is investigated even though they had nothing to do with it. It all goes back to early abuse the child suffered. Often good adoptive families are dragged through the mud and their business made public in these situations.
Sometimes a parent will find a new family on their own for the child so they can pick the kind of family their child needs. They can arrange to keep in touch or visit. And there are some families who are excellent at dealing with children who have serious issues. They also have the advantage of knowing in advance what they are up against.
So, what am I trying to say? I have no idea.
I'm just seeing a lot of judgment going on online. And until we have lived in someone else's circumstances, we don't know how it feels. I catch myself watching a parent grabbing a child while in the mall and marching them out and I think, "Oh, what a cutie. Look how that horrible mom is treating him" and I remind myself that that same cutie probably has already had several warnings and has been pushing his mom's buttons for the past hour while she's tried to do errands and that I've done that same thing. It just looks different when it's a child you haven't had to deal with.
If you are thinking of ending an adoption, make sure you've tried everything. Even see if someone can take the child for a few weeks so you can get a fresh perspective on things. Remember that something has happened to make that child act that way. If you need to end the adoption, know that you will have a vast number of emotions-- guilt, relief, guilt for feeling that sense of relief, confusion about whether you could have done something else, grief that the child has had another hurt in his life and that your family has been hurt, anger at being lied to about the child and for the money you spent only to turn around and have the child leave and so on.
And if you are someone who knows a family who has had to end an adoption, be careful how you judge. Often you see what the child wants you to see. That little angel in your Sunday School class who cuddles up to you and says, "I wish you were my mommy" is playing you. Don't feel flattered. It's a game. That same child is probably being totally spiteful to her own mom.
Okay, okay. I'm shutting up now. So now it's your turn to talk. You know where the comment button is. What has worked for you in dealing with rough adoption transitions or kids who came with lots of baggage? What advice to you have for pre adoptive families? Families who are thinking of disrupting?