Evolving Approaches

Why are so many foster parents uneducated about trauma ? It’s 2021.

Yes, training is lacking but it’s frustrating to keep seeing things like the comment below from a foster parent. If I have a biological child with special needs, we change to accommodate her. We change for biological kids. Why not do the same for a foster child ?

The question above was raised by one foster parent, after reading this comment below in quotes from another foster parent.

“I don’t know. This is sad because the foster family shouldn’t have to change everything for a child. It’s give and take. Obviously the child should feel accepted, but that’s also a choice on their part. Half this stuff (sleep in the bed, no TV after bedtime, eat what we’re eating, bond with us, doing chores) is not unreasonable.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t bend rules for the ‘undamaged’ kids in my home, not everything changes for the new arrivals. Foster kids need to understand the world doesn’t evolve around them. In the real world people don’t care if you’re in foster care. They don’t care if you have trauma. You do what your boss tells you to do. They don’t make accommodations for you.”

“We need to stop making excuses for foster children and stop letting others feel sorry for them. Being in foster care shouldn’t be used as an excuse. Everyone is treated the same in the real world. So why should we bend the rules to foster kids? A foster child shouldn’t force you to change your household or your rules. You’re the boss of your own home.”

“They should follow the rules and the values that the family that decided to open up their home to them has in place. We can’t keep allowing foster kids to take and we always give. It’s unfair. It doesn’t teach them anything about giving back or teach them anything about following the rules in life”.

So why wouldn’t foster parents want to provide specialized care when traumatized kids need this so critically ? Why do they choose to be foster caregivers ? Oh right, it is the money, the stipends foster families are paid to take in stranger’s children.

There could also be another aspect. Some foster parents are there for the glory and accolades from other people. This person’s perspective is simply justification for a rigid response. In reality, what should motivate anyone to be a foster caregiver, would be to help the child heal from whatever trauma has put them into the system to begin with. Just removing the child from their parents and home and being put into foster care IS trauma to begin with.

Think about it – if the injuries were visible and the child was then refused help to heal because of BS excuses like, the “real-world” is unsympathetic to your pain and suffering, many people would judge such a foster caregiver (like the one quoted above) as some unfeeling monster who neglects the children in their care. There should be zero tolerance for an attitude like this.

Truth is, parenting should be individualized to the unique person each child is. As parents, we should give more to children who need more. Parenting is not about one’s self or selfishness. A parents job shouldn’t be to make the kid’s lives crappy, even if we ourselves feel we have it crappy.

Finally, this foster parent writes as though fostering wasn’t a choice they made freely. A child who is unwillingly placed in your home doesn’t owe you gratitude or deference. And “everyone is treated the same in the real world”….what a sad excuse for having closed off your heart. One gets the sense that this foster parent has come from a middle to upper class white family and has not experienced a whole lot of the “real” life they speak so freely of upholding.

23 & Me Does It Again

Today’s story from an adoptee (not me) –

Just found some family members through 23 and me, and posted about it to a moms group that I’m in. One of these moms is cautioning me that it might be too upsetting for them to find out about me. I thought that group was supposed to be there for support for me? I guess that can’t really happen anywhere except among fellow adoptees have been told their whole life that their very existence might bother someone. I’m so done with that. My existence is amazing and wonderful and if it bothers anyone else that’s not my fault. I am treading lightly and my note to them was very sweet and sensitive I think. If they have signed up for 23 and me that, they know what might come. They don’t have to have their family tree public.

I am shaking and feel like crying now honestly. I’m so done with people lecturing me about how important everyone else’s feelings are. Wasn’t that what my whole life was about? Shame and secrets? Wasn’t that what caused the 20 years of connecting with my birth mom to be partly wonderful and partly stressful? I wasn’t even invited to her own memorial service. My own birth mom that I was close to, I thought, for 20 years. Connection and truth should not be traumatizing. If it is, the trauma was caused by other people and there is healing that is possible. That’s the energy and vibe I feel and I’m not going to march into somebody’s house screaming who I am, either literally or energetically.

I do have concern about how they will emotionally feel and let them decide how and when to talk to other family members if they ever do. Or not. That’s their choice as well. But I do think I have a right to know who I am and I’m very excited to at least know the names of some of my relatives in my ancestry a lot more.

Thank you for having this group (an all things adoption and foster care and not of the rainbows and unicorns sunshine always variety on Facebook) because I know that the adoptees feelings and experience is centered and of primary importance. They always talk about adoption helping the baby so much and how grateful we are supposed to be. We’re supposed to be grateful for being told our whole lives that we should be careful how everyone feels? And worship only the adoptive parents in this triad? Nope. Everyone in this experience deserves their feelings and thoughts to be fully 100% honored. There is no competition. I’m just sick of people making this like a competition for feelings.

Trying to focus to get ready to go to a job interview now and it’s pretty challenging with all of this on my mind but mostly I am very excited. (Oh, and I might’ve actually gone to school with one of my 2nd cousins….!)

Opportunistic Dependency

In life, one often learns who they must say “no” to, because to say “yes” is never a temporary response but an open door to repeated requests, that eventually cause resentment and regret. Sadly, this is often the case in families. I’ve seen it more than once as I am certain most readers here will have as well. Today’s blog is focused on the story of an adoptee reunion. The young woman is somewhat like my mom was – always knew she was adopted and though she yearned for contact with her mother, was unable to achieve that before she died. From what I have learned from my mom’s cousins about my maternal grandmother, she would not have been like the one in my story below –

I was adopted at birth and raised by a wonderful family. From birth (or old enough to understand) I was told about the adoption and what that meant, it was a closed adoption. I never thought about it much while growing up. I just knew I was adopted and the chances were low I would ever get to know them (birth parents) and I was ok with that. I know others deal with it differently, I didn’t have much of a desire to know the back story.

Fast forward to when I was 27, my husband and I were googling our birthdays and the first post I saw was from an adoption website from a birth mom trying to find her daughter. Low and behold that daughter was me! I was shocked and overwhelmed, and thought it was my duty to reach out to say thank you!

I learned she was only 13 when she had me, others choices were available and she chose life for me. On my first attempt to reach out, she needed more time. She admitted she was on drugs and didn’t want me to know her like that.

A couple years passed by and she reached out again. It has not been a happy 5 years. She constantly pesters me with – can you give me money ?, can you give me shelter ?, can you help me ? And when I kindly say no, she responds with rage. Complete and utter anger. She doesn’t want to know anything about me, just wants to exploit her relationship with me.

I’m a super kind person but I know better than to give her anything monetary. It has reached a point where the relationship is toxic and I don’t want to be a part of it any longer. When I try to break it off, she says she is suicidal and will kill herself if I don’t comply with her requests.

To be honest, I wish I had never opened the reunion box. But I did. Now I don’t know what to do. What if she kills herself ? I would feel so responsible. All of this is so so so hard on me!!! What would you do ? And could you live with that choice for the rest of your life ?

Tomorrow, I’ll share some of the advice she received from sharing her story.

Way Down South In The Land Of Cotton

It was probably a lullaby from the deep south circa 1840.

There’s a little black boy I know
Who picks the cotton from the fields
As clean and white as snow . . .

And momma sings a lullaby . . .

Don’t you fret nor cry.

Today’s topic was inspired by transracial adoption photos of a black girl in a cotton field with two large older white people. The little girl is actually depicted picking cotton in one picture. I noticed her skirt looks like an old patchwork quilt. Just because something is objectively pretty doesn’t mean you can ignore context.

My paternal adoptive grandparents lived surrounded by cotton fields and as children we loved to go out there and pick cotton. It was never a photography shoot. I grew up in El Paso Texas, on the Mexican border; and so, the slavery issues were never a dominant aspect of my life growing up (though one could argue the point that using Mexican labor was similar).

Y’all think this little girl looks happy? Her eyes are not smiling. She may be content, but many viewers doubted she is happy, especially those with adoption in their backgrounds and those most triggered, whether adopted or not, were people of color. Which is easily understood.

Some see a little girl doing what she must to survive. Adoptees have to develop special coping skills that biological/genetic kids living with their original parents can’t easily understand. Adoptees are very good at hiding their true feelings. It is noted that her smile looks forced, as though she is just doing what the photographer asks her to do.

And she may end up at odds with these people who are parenting her, when she hits her teenage or adult years because many adopted people struggle more later in life with the fact of having been adopted, than they did as children.

I really wish a black family would have adopted her.

The truth likely is that this little girl needed a loving home and was available for adoption by anyone qualified. One can question what qualifications were required.

Do these folks need to learn black history ?… yes absolutely!

The little girl appears to be healthy and thriving. The parents look proud to claim her and provide a good home and hopefully lots of love. It is known the foster care system often fails kids.

Whoever’s choice it was to do the photo shoot in a Cotton field – it was a poor choice. Giving the parents the benefit of the doubt, maybe they were just thinking of a beautiful spot for pictures of their beautiful daughter. I would prefer to assume innocence on the part of the parents and hope someone takes a minute to educate them about why the optics are horrible. The photographer should have known better. It may be a regional thing to take photos in cotton fields. Iowans do that in corn fields.

#BlackGirlsMatter

How Old Is Too Old

How old is too old to adopt an infant ?  This is going to be a tough one for me to have a balanced perspective on.  I came across a plea by an older retired couple for any woman to give up her infant so they could adopt the child as they now have the money and time to devote to the child.

After 10 years of marriage, my husband surprised the heck out of me by saying he decided that he actually did want to become a father.  When we married, he was glad I had been there, done that, and no pressure on him.  I have a grown daughter I birthed at the age of 19 who has made me a grandmother twice.  It is true that I do believe that men who are ready to be devoted fathers are actually better fathers.

My own father, when I told him we were going to try to conceive at our age, told me he questioned my sanity.  That has come back to me repeatedly.  I was 47 when my oldest son was born and 50 when the younger boy came along.  At the age of 60, when he was 10 years old, it really hit me that when he turns 20, I will already be 70.  Oh my.

Adoption is a special circumstance that imposes stricter considerations than assisted reproductive medicine but when I wanted to conceive that second child I was put through a battery of tests to determine if it was actually a good idea to let me.  I passed and the rest is as they say “history”.

Truth is that none of us have a guaranteed length of life.  We are all born to die and not all children’s natural parents live to see them grown.  I know this personally since both of my natural grandmothers lost their own mothers at a young age.  My mom’s mother when she was 11 years old and my dad’s mother at 3 months.

So, I have to believe given my own circumstances and family history that there are more important considerations than longevity.  Financial resources are an important one.  Can the parent provide a safety net for the child if the parent doesn’t live to see the child mature ?  Is the parent responsible enough to make arrangements in a will or trust for their child when it is not yet a mature person.  We have done both.

With the 2008 financial collapse, our business took a significant hit that we have yet to recover from.  Thankfully, we continue to get some business and manage to stay afloat.  Given that our sons are now 19 and almost 16, we do have that hope that we can live a while longer to see the youngest reach the age of 21, at least.

In my own philosophical belief system, children choose their parents before birth with a full knowledge of likely outcomes, though I also believe there is free will that affects trajectories and outcomes.  So I do believe my sons knew what their unique genetic/biological make-up would be and that we would be parents that were old enough to be grandparents.

I don’t regret having children at such an advanced age.  Becoming parents has deepened our life experience as a couple.  Our sons are a joy to share life with.  I don’t think I can be objective about whether older, retired couples should adopt infants.

How Grief Passes Down the Family Line

A dear friend pointed out that I don’t seem to believe I have the right to be a mother.  The circumstances of my life have done this to me.  The tears come.  She was quite perceptive.

She noted that on a photo of my daughter and her family (children and husband) I wrote – that I could take no credit for the wonderful person she is because I didn’t raise her after the age of 3.  My friend noted – When men take your children away they really do a number on women.

This is sadly true and it has happened to me with ALL of my children in one way or another.  So, my ex-husband ended up raising my daughter when my own desperation to financially support us led me to try driving an 18-wheel truck to make some decent money because he simply refused to pay any child support and I wasn’t going to spend my life in court fighting against him.

Truth be told, I never intended for him to raise her.  I left her with her paternal grandmother for temporary care that I had no idea how long that would be needed.  The grandmother could be forgiven for viewing that as my having abandoned her.  That was never my perspective but I can see how it may have looked that way as the days turned into weeks and then months.

That her father could give her a family life with siblings had everything to do with my not even attempting to interrupt that blessing (which is how I saw it though I have learned recently that “blessed” was not exactly how it was experienced by her and more’s the sorrow in this mother’s heart).  She rightly views her step-mother as her mother and who am I to argue with that perception.

Then there are my sons who are donor conceived.  Therefore, I do see them as more rightfully my husband’s than my own.  Again, robbed of my own children by the circumstances of my life which I do not claim that I am a victim of but the one who made every choice to bring these circumstances about.

So I wonder about the grief that is passed down the generations.  Both of my parents were adopted.  Therefore, BOTH of my own grandmothers suffered the same kind of grief I experience and my sisters experience (both of my sisters also lost either by surrendering to adoption or the courts) an opportunity to raise their own children.

The only good thing I can say about it all at this point is that our children have survived and are managing to raise their own children, even a nephew who in a sense is fulfilling my friend’s insight as he has custody of his own son after a divorce.  You just can’t make this stuff up.

 

 

It’s Complicated

I find myself in conversation with a diversity of people about a diversity of issues related to adoption and mother/child separations.  I am always amazed at how many people have some such issue in their family and friend’s lives.

Even though I have had a radical change of heart about adoption due to learning about the wounds that causes, I also acknowledge that the issue is not simple but very complicated.  There are times when children definitely need a safe and loving space to exist in.  There are times, when knowing the circumstances, we can admit that adoption was better than the alternative.

But there always are alternatives and some are less damaging than others.  Harder to arrive at is why people become wounded and messed up.  Why they don’t do better.  Why the children are often the ones to suffer the most.

Learning about all of the circumstances at play in my own family’s lives has given me an appreciation for the big picture and how things progress over time.  I am in the midst of editing a new manuscript that I actually wrote the rough draft for six years ago and then events delayed my return to it.

At this point in the story, I am in heaven.  And the topic of predestination and free will comes up between me and a trusted friend of the heart there.  I think this perspective may be close to the truth of the matter and so, I share –

“Are you telling me that everything is preordained and that I had no choice in how my life unfolded?”

“Absolutely not.  The nature of reality in this realm is that everything is adjusting instantaneously to every choice and circumstance that happens.”

What happens if different choices are made ?

“It would have all morphed and changed to suit new circumstances.  In fact, there are layers upon layers of redundancies. There are trajectories and unfoldings that are the natural outcomes of current events and like your own micro circumstances it is all morphing and adjusting continuously.  There are situations that, if they don’t occur,  could delay your next lifetime.  Other situations could speed up your return to Earth in another incarnation.  We really don’t know the hour of our birth, just as we really don’t know the hour of our death; and yet, it is all completely natural.”

Though Life is so very complicated that any action we may take could be beneficial or detrimental regardless of the best of intentions, even knowing all that could possibly happen that we never considered, we act anyway – for not to act might bring some irreversible harm that could have been prevented.

Mothers Suffer

I have said this before but it bears saying this again.  Giving up one’s child to adoption is not a walk away and all is well process.  Most natural mothers who’s child has been removed from them – whether by choice or coercion – will spend the remainder of their lives regretting the loss.

We are so deeply attached at a genetic and spiritual level to those persons who gave us the gift of life, that there is no true sundering of that bond.  To pretend otherwise, diminishes the pain and suffering that both natural parents and adoptees will carry with them their entire lives.  The relationships that should have been but never will be cannot be recovered down the road.  One can only begin where they find themselves if a reunion occurs and develop whatever relationships they can going forward.

For an adoptee, it can be said that the woman who raises them is their mom.  The woman who created them, is the one who made their life possible.  It is possible and indeed the reality for many people, that there are two true mothers in their life.

Even so, it is not true – that in giving up her child, it was like she took out the trash and never gave it a second thought. As though that were even possible for any mom to feel that way.  I do not believe it.  Many women who surrendered a child were very young when they did that.  They felt they had no choice in the matter.

Today, there are adoptee groups reaching out to unwed pregnant mothers to encourage them to go slow, before giving up their child, and seek a way to work through the circumstances without causing a separation.  I’m on their side in this perspective.

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.

Leaving Family And Home

Both of my grandmothers found as they came of age that they had to leave their family and home.  Women in a more stable home environment in the 1930s probably would not have made the choice these women did.

My paternal grandmother, Dolores, certainly wasn’t leaving a place where she felt safe and secure. She was looking for one where she could belong and she found that, I believe, with her Aunt Laura and girl cousins – Gertrude and Eunice.

For my maternal grandmother, Lizzie Lou, once she left her family behind in Eads, there seems to have been no going back for her – even after she lost her daughter and husband. She found a new husband but never had any other children.

For each of them, there was no one to fall back on because they both lost their mothers at a young age.  There was nobody to catch them, it wasn’t an option.  They had to be relatively self-reliant.