Please Don’t Make Me Stay

This is how an open adoption can become really tricky.  I read this morning about a situation where the biological child is allowed to sleepover at their original parents home every other weekend.  What is happening is that at the end of the weekend, the child does not want to return to the legally adoptive parents.

Now the adoptive parents are mad and are blaming the biological parents for the situation.  They are insisting that the child choose between the two sets of parents.  If the child does not, they will sever the adoption.

After the adoptive parents insisted on the child being returned early, which the biological parents complied with, now the child is screaming and crying that their biological parents should come and get the child.  That this child doesn’t want to be there anymore.

Not surprising, the adoptive parents are blaming the biological parents for causing the child to behave that way.  They also blame them for now breaking up what had been in their own minds a happy home.

It is clear that they ALL need to go into therapy. The child should be seeing an adoption trauma competent therapist.  The adoptive parents also need to see a therapist to help them understand the child’s behaviors and triggers.  While in therapy, the adoptive parents should also work through their own fears and insecurities.  And the biological parents should be in therapy as well.  It is difficult to explain to their child why they cannot legally come and get her without the adoptive parents permission.

These are the kinds of wounds MOST adoptees are all too familiar with.  Once the child is surrendered (not a decision that child made for their own self) and the adoption is finalized, then the living with this situation begins and for the adoptee, the processing of this reality will consume their entire lifetime.

That is why the adoption group I am a part of is always counseling mothers and/or their partner to try to raise their child before taking this permanent step (and as the case above reveals – can be terminated – which is how some children end up in second adoptions, which just compounds the trauma for the child).

Addiction Is A Sad Reality

The issue of drug addiction is close to my heart because I have seen it’s effects up close and personal.  Losing physical custody of one’s child as a mother never feels like a happy outcome.  Today, I was reading the sad story of a woman who lost 3 of her children when Child Protective Services took them from her due to her addiction.

She was promised by Child Protective Services that her children were going to go into a safe home, a God fearing home, wealthy, and she knew this couple had been the foster parents for the last 2 years she was able to visit her children prior to their adoption.  She signed the adoption papers because she needed to survive the addiction. And she needed to save her children from her own self.  She believed as she recovered that her children were safe. It was a closed adoption and so she lost contact completely.

Somewhat recently she learned that her children were so severely abused by those adoptive parents for a number of years that they were taken back into the foster care system for a subsequent 2 years.  Then they were adopted a second time.  These children are now 20, 18 and 16 years old.  This woman had 2 more children as she was recovering from her addiction and she is raising them.  Though she has tried to reconnect with her older children, they rebuff her efforts.

Some of the things we do in our youth and ignorance will never free of us of the consequences of our choices.  The effects are permanent.  One can understand how these older children might blame this mom for their difficult, even painful, childhoods.  And while, it is sad that there is no happy resolution for this shattered family, it isn’t difficult to understand the damage that has been done.

She asked adoptees for advice on whether she should keep trying to reach out to these older children.  One was brutally honest (as adoptees often are if you are willing to listen).  “As an adoptee we don’t owe anyone anything, not a explanation, not a relationship, not communication not even a hello. You gave up that right. You need to respect their wishes, don’t reach out again, they know how and where they can reach out if they choose to. From what you have said they have lived a horrendous life and they as adults now deserve the right to make the decision to have any contact with you.”

The fact is – adoptees had no say in what happened to them.  They are totally within their rights to take back control when they are old enough to exert it.

Speaking Out

Adoptees are speaking up about the suffering they have endured and I am grateful to each and every one of them who tells the truth at great risk to their relationships.  The truth needs to be heard and healing cannot happen unless the reality is faced.

Sometimes we do what we have to do.  In our heart we know that there are going to be repercussions but the truth needs to come out.  Not everyone is going to appreciate it but it is always what must happen regardless.

It’s okay, and normal, to fear change. It’s going to run strong with a history of separation anxiety untreated.  If you’re suffering right now, I understand that it sucks when people abandon you. You need to focus on your self and commit to healing and improving yourself. It is easier said than done but necessary.  I have lost contact with people who do matter to me because their pain was such they could not face it directly but needed to blame me for the suffering I did not actually cause.

There are wounds that cruelty and separation cause that can never be undone in this lifetime.  I wouldn’t know every thing I do if adoptees weren’t explaining their perspectives.

Please know this.  You’re important, you’re voice and feelings are important, and although this may cause a riff with another person, it needs to be said for a better way to emerge. That doesn’t mean that the riff will ever feel good within your own heart.  Hugs.

Facing One’s Own Selfish Reasons

It wasn’t God who called upon you to adopt, though you might prefer to believe that.

“I wanted to have a child to love me and I couldn’t seem to have that with my own body.”

“I wanted to do those things with my children that everyone else was doing – the parties, the sports, the performances, the popularity – that some children shine at, and to shine in their reflected glory.”

Stop making God the scapegoat for your own desires. You did what YOU wanted to do for your own selfish reasons.  Before adopting, every couple should first come to terms with the reality of their infertility and then, consider the choices available to them to fulfill their desires.

When my husband finally decided he wanted children after 10 years of marriage, and by then we were already in our forties, it became clear that we could not conceive without assistance; and so, we considered briefly whether or not we should adopt.

We decided against it and now that I know more about everything related, I am glad we made the choice we did, even though it is rather a complicated situation.

Blame

I recently read an essay about “blame” in adoption.  Many adoptees struggle with the realities of their childhood.  It is not only the adoptee or their original parents who suffer but the people who adopt these children sometimes suffer as well.

Adoptive parents may feel they should be able to take the grief of adoption away for their adopted child or may even wrongly believe they could have somehow prevented it in the first place.

When I met my nephew’s adoptive mother (who is a loving, caring and supportive person in his life), she expressed that she had had such feelings as well.  Learning about my youngest sister’s reality, helped lessen her feelings of guilt.

I am able to see how in the case of all of the adoptions in my own family, thankfully, the outcomes have been good.  We’ve been extraordinarily lucky that all of the people involved have been good people.

Goodness does not alleviate the suffering.  It does not worsen the suffering and that is a kind of blessing under the various circumstances.

Branded A Scarlet

 

When I was a schoolgirl, we were made to read The Scarlet Letter.  Now as a grown woman, I wonder about that.  Who’s idea was it that young girls should read literature of that sort and what was the intention in making us do so?

Imagine my surprise, when upon discovering the granddaughter of the second wife of my grandfather, she writes to me –

“Another thing about your grandmother as heartbreaking as it was a women having children outside of marriage was considered a total disgrace usually  branded a scarlet and forced to relocate and start their life anew, which explains your Dad’s adoption and I feel pretty certain abortion back then was not a common practice.”

My dad’s mother was unwed.  My dad’s father was much older and married to a woman way much older (27 years older) than he was.  It isn’t a wonder to me that he was unfaithful and found a vulnerable young woman to attract the romantic attentions of.

I’m pretty certain that my grandmother didn’t know he was married when she started seeing him.  I’m also pretty certain that she did know he was married by the time she discovered she was pregnant.  Because her childhood was difficult, she learned at an early age to be self-reliant.  She took herself to a home for unwed mothers run by the Salvation Army.

My dad was with her until about eight months of age.  She was still breastfeeding him when the Salvation Army who had taken legal custody of him, adopted him out.

What is amazing to me is that this step-cousin was still blaming the woman for her grandfather’s lust.