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When an Adoption Falls Apart

A little while ago there was a bit of a stir on my local Facebook debate group about an adoption disruption article.  It was about a lady who adopted a baby boy, and then ‘gave him back”  Read the article HERE.  The idea of being able to ‘give back’ your adopted child really angered a lot of people in the group, and fueled some very heated judgement towards the woman.  You may be shocked to find out though, that I sympathize with her… I get it.

Shortly after reading this article, another one started making the Facebook rounds, describing another family’s disruption story.  Read it HERE!  In this second article, the lady describes the adoption of their 5 (turned 6) year old daughter, who they eventually needed to relinquish their rights to.  This one wasn’t debated in the debate group, so I’m not sure what the reaction would have been, but I suspect, that while some would sympathize with her struggles, they wouldn’t have approved of disruption.

The argument seemed to be that if you adopt you should just be SO grateful to have that child that you should ‘suck it up’ and live with anything and everything they have to dish out, because, no biological parent would ever consider giving up their children when times get tough.  The implication was that this mother was simply trading up, to get a better child, because her first one wasn’t what she wanted, and biological parents can’t do that, so why should adoptive parents be able to.  But let’s be honest, that is completely un-true, on many levels.  For decades, biological parents did give up their ill children.  They shipped their children off to institutions and orphanages, sometimes for issues much less extreme than the children in the above articles.  Yes, there was a lot of stigma around mental/physical/behavioural issues, and yes, there was a lot of pressure from professionals, family, and even the church, to hand these children over, and hide them away.  Surely, now that we know better, things have changed though, right?  Wrong.  This still happens today.  Children with <strong>extreme</strong> cases of mental illness and/or behavioural/developmental issues are often sent to group homes, residential schools and hospitals, where they can receive intensive specialized care.  This does happen less and less, as parents are provided with more and more resources and education to be able to keep their children at home, but in extreme cases, despite the love and yearning, home isn’t always the best place for these children.

Whether your child is adopted or biological, decisions like this don’t come lightly.  There is a big process that has to take place before an adoption disruption can be granted.  There are several people involved in the decision.  It doesn’t just happen over night.  Often the issues don’t even present themselves for several months, and then it takes months to go through the normal channels of involving health care professionals, therapists, and possible even your case workers.  Eventually, the decision is made to start the process of relinquishing your rights as the parent.  Again, this doesn’t always happen over night.  A new foster home or other appropriate place for the child to go (like the hospital) needs to be arranged.  You will most likely do some transitioning, both for the child’s sake, and your own.  And then it ends with a court appearance to make everything official.  It’s a long process, and by the time a disruption is suggested, you’ve exhausted all other options.

Non of the parents in these cases felt good about their decisions.  In the end, however, putting their children back into the system was the best thing to do, for everyone involved. It means that the children will get all the specialized care they need without the parents having to worry about anything.  Under the guardianship of the state, they won’t have to go on waiting lists to see specialists, or get into therapeutic programs.  Under the guardianship of the state, their level of care won’t be based on what the parents can afford, or what subsidies they may qualify for.  Under the guardianship of the state, these families won’t have to live in fear for their lives, or worry about how to keep a roof over the head.  They will never stop loving their children, they will never stop being a parent in their heart, but the intensive care required for these two little kiddos was beyond what love could give.

Now, please don’t think I am naive to those families who do abuse this process, because I know that it is becoming an increasing problem for internationally adopted children to be put back into the system because parents didn’t get what they wanted, but it is still very rare.  The overwhelming majority of cases are more like those above.  And yes, I agree, as a biological parent, it does seem unfair in a way, because, let’s face it, if we had extreme issues with KB, we wouldn’t really have the option to just relinquish our rights (the option is there I suppose, and I have heard of a few cases in the media, of people ‘abandoning’ their child because they just can’t handle them anymore, but it isn’t really an acceptable option, in society’s eyes).  But I will say, if it was an option, and it meant that you could give your child a better life, then wouldn’t you do it?  Having never been in that situation, I honestly, can’t give you my answer.  Of course, I would like to say that I could never do it (and I truly BELIEVE that I never could), that while I get why they did it, that I would be above that, but in truth, until I’ve walked in their shoes, so I can’t judge.  I will say though, that because I love my children more than anything else in the world, I would do anything for them, anything I could do to give them the best life that they can have, and I believe that is what these parents did!

I may take heat for my opinions, but please be kind!  Thanks so much for reading, Take care:)

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