In my all things adoption group, a woman wrote – “I truly hope the fosterers, adopters, hopeful adoptive parents and those planning to foster really listen to the former foster youth, adoptees and actual parents about the disparities of resources. Listen to the feelings attached to the other side (those most impacted) of the triad. Please listen to what’s being said about why children end up in adoption and the foster care system. Take that info to heart and do something. Work with family preservation. Understand that you are participating in a corrupt system that targets the poor and marginalized. Amplify their voices and vote people in that care about children’s rights.”
One adoptee writes – Lack of support and resources led to me being left. My mother had no money and no support. Extended family would not help, she was not allowed to come home with me. So much dysfunction, really screwed up people. I refer to my adoptive parents as mom/dad because “I have to.” I refer to my first mom as my mom too. I think it’s completely up to the child to decide how to refer to everyone. Nobody else gets to decide.
There was then a huge disruptive discussion over the term “actual mother.” More than one adoptee didn’t like that term, most involved in the conversation understood it. It was defined this way subsequently – “Actual mother means the child’s actual mother and not the fake parent because a signed document says they birthed them, when they didn’t.”
A former foster care youth shared – I do think a lack of resources caused my placement into the foster care system. I’m not 100% sure what could have prevented that placement though. As far as titles, my foster carers told me that I could call them whatever I wanted, their names, mom&dad, Mr&Mrs etc… I was older, about 6 or 7, and I just ended up using their names. I maintained a relationship with them after I was returned to my parents.
She is also a mom whose child was apprehended by CAS (Children’s Aid Society): What would have helped me keep my child with me would have been postpartum support. I was young (19), had just had a baby, didn’t really understand what I was doing or going through and had these people show up at my door saying they were taking my newborn son (5 days old) with them. Also, not having to battle preconceived notions about 1. Young mothers and 2. Generational involvement with CAS. Basically was told because I was a former foster care youth and my grandparents and even great grandparents had involvement, obviously I wasn’t suited to be a parent.
She is currently a step-parent (with custody order naming her)/also called a Kinship guardian/or could be an adoptive parent. (All of this gets understandably confusing these days unless one is immersed in the systems.)
What resources have I received from the placement of the 6 kids ?… nothing more than a low income person gets for biological kids, which is a tax credit… oh, and CAS gave me a $100 gift card for groceries… that’s it… as for what the kids call me, some call me mom or Mama, some call me by my name… 5 out of 6 of the kids still have an ongoing relationship with their biological parents, or at least one of them… and they call them mom/dad… it never bothered me what they called me, one way or another.
But there was more – she went from CAS apprehending her son… to their being ordered to return him to her by the courts… to closing her file by his 2nd birthday… and before he was 5, they had literally dropped 3 other kids off on her doorstep (her step children)… and then, granted her custody of her step children’s half siblings…. all within 7 years…. Obviously, I couldn’t have been that “unfit” to begin with… And the amount of anxiety the whole situation caused her… nightmares, etc… is just ridiculous….
Another adoptee tells this story – a lack of resources is what I was told prevented my birth mother from raising me my whole life. She was an older teen, in a family with five kids and her parents “couldn’t afford another mouth to feed.” The truth, I learned thirty years later, that her brother is my biological father. Both situations could be true, but what led to my relinquishment wasn’t as cut and dried as a lack of resources. As to what I called my adoptive parents, I was never given the option of what to call them. I was adopted at two months old and they were the only parents that I knew throughout my childhood, so I probably would have chosen to call them mom and dad, even though it wasn’t a great situation.
One adoptive parent who adopted from foster care notes – outside of fostering, in my personal life, every parent I know who either lost their child to Child Protective Services OR a private guardianship/custody situations where they have limited-to-no parenting rights, parental mental health was THE driving factor. Poverty, substance use, and poor physical health were often symptoms of the mental health challenges and at the same time exacerbated the mental health challenges in a vicious circle.
The answers and stories go on and on. This is just a few to add some insights. I believe in family preservation. I believe that societal resources properly deployed could prevent most (not all) adoptions that tear families apart. I have read too many of the same kinds of stories over and over to believe otherwise. The lack of extended family support and financial resources tore both of my own parents away from their mothers and it still happens every single day in America.