Caught In The Middle

Some circumstances in life are just plain hard to judge. I understand the point of view of this adoptive mother, even so, where is the compassionate middle ground. I haven’t decided. Here is one adoptive mother’s point of view –

I had to discuss with my son’s biological mom that there are boundaries and if she wanted to be involved in any way then she needed to understand them and honor them. My son is MY son, not hers. We came up with a special name that we refer to her as. Never mom. Also we discussed social media. She is never to address him as her son. He is not her son. She is to call him by his given name. I understand that biological moms have to deal with the emotional aspect but so do the adoptive moms. She is no longer his mother. A mother is far more than giving birth. A mother raises you and puts you first. I am very close with his biological mom. I have a great relationship with her for my son’s sake and it was a surrender. She was not forced in any way. But she is not his mother any longer. I am. I accept her role in his life as a special person who loves him. But I am his mother, not her. And she understands and respects that. She is thankful that I allow her to be a part of our family. I didn’t take his mom away from him. She took her role as mom away from herself including by making bad choices and choosing drugs over parenting. I’m his mom and will always be. She will always be a special person in his life but never his mom. Advice to other adoptive moms – set boundaries and don’t let biological moms walk all over you. Let them know their role in the family now.

The person who revealed this mindset commented – I find this very sad and very controlling. What if the child decided one day to call his birth mom “mom” ? She can’t call him her son ? This is sad. Birth parents grieve too. They hurt too. Even parents from foster care. They grieve. They lost their child. I wish we can offer empathy to birth parents especially from foster care instead of looking down on them and using innocent children to hurt them and the child.

I do feel that putting a child in the middle of this situation isn’t fair to the child. The same kind of thing happens very often in divorce. I remember trying to walk that difficult middle ground. “You still have a mother who loves you. And you still have a father who loves you. But we are not going to all live together anymore.” Life is complicated enough. So how to simplify the situation suggested above ?

I do agree with this perspective – “I’m sure the only reason the biological mother agrees with this is so she can have something to do with her son. There is a difference between a ‘mom’ and a ‘mother’ but it is ultimately up to the child to decide how to view each one of these women. Not the biological mom or the adoptive mom.” These two should not be playing their own issues off with the child caught in the middle.

Someone else disagreed and I do see this point as well – No difference between a mother and mom to me. I have two moms and two mothers. Same difference. It’s not confusing. I see no reason to distinguish a difference or set them apart.

And in fact, this is a valid point – If it wasn’t for the biological mom, the adoptive mom wouldn’t even have her son in the first place. I don’t give a damn if the biological mother’s rights where legally severed, she is still his mom at the end of the day and always will be the woman who gave birth to him.

I am still seeking what I sense is an important middle ground. I understand the need for the adoptive mother to be the final say in most of what happens in this child’s life, to maintain her parental authority to make decisions – at least for a minor child. Yet, emotions and feelings are less clear. I believe that most children actually are capable of keeping the two women in a separate yet proper perspective. My heart tells me that is the truth.

What I am sensing is a possessiveness, an ownership of one person over the love of another person, by putting the magical role of motherhood into the middle of this situation. As the divorced mother of a daughter who’s step-mother married her father and so, the two of them raised my daughter, I already understand what a difficult balancing act these situations are. I did attempt to put my daughter’s feelings and interests ahead of my own. My daughter and I have discussed how similar her childhood was to that of someone who was adopted.

When Adoption Fails

There is a dark and dirty little secret in adoptionland that goes by the name of “rehoming”.   It’s usually the oldest in a sibling group adopted from foster care the adoptive parents want to get rid of. Clearly, adopting an entire sibling group just to obtain a baby/toddler is common. Rehoming is also sadly too common. It’s always the littlest ones the adoptive parents want to keep.

One adoptive parent wrote – “If you heard screams echoing out of the mountains on September 9, it was me. Along with most other parents of adopted children, I was horrified with the news about ‘rehoming.’ Once again, members of a group we belong to were becoming infamous. Once again, we were as shocked as those who don’t belong to our group. As always, we knew we would be answering questions about why people in our group do what they do.”

“As adoptive parents, aren’t we supposed to be the vanguard for saving children? Aren’t we supposed to be the forefront of child protection? Those misconceptions are part of the problem.”

A plan to adopt begins with selfish reasons, and then evolves.  The challenges that face adoptive parents are often different from those that plague biological family builders. The author of that piece goes on to say, “I know because I have built my family both ways. Even though challenges are different, they are tough, regardless. Is it easy for biological parents of children who are born with severe autism? Of course not! Do they abandon their child? Here’s the point: A few of them do. Most of these parents pull themselves up by their bootstraps and go to work on being the best parents and advocates they can be for their challenged child. Others will walk away. Some of the children of these parents will spend their childhood and youth on a carousel in and out of different foster homes.”

This is what can happen when adoptive parents don’t put their responsibilities to a child before their own personal desires for a beautiful harmonious family life.

Some adoptive parents of children with very difficult circumstances say that people who haven’t adopted don’t “understand” how difficult it can be, and they should not point fingers unless they have “been there.”  The author of the op-ed shares, “My adopted daughter loves us and we love her, even though we travel a rough and rocky road. I think there is something very important that is often overlooked. When all we can do isn’t enough, we still need to do everything we can do.”

Attachment problems.  When children are taken away from caregivers after attaching, it causes severe trauma. The more times it happens, the worse it gets. And just like other forms of trauma, each individual processes and handles it differently.

In foster to adopt, the prospective adoptive parents can send a kid back to the State’s care if the situation does not seem to be working out. Another aspect with foster to adopt is that the State can put a stop to the adoption intention at any time if it judges the situation will not serve the interests of the child.

Rehoming is a monstrous act. When our laws allow a parent to turn over their child to a stranger with less paperwork and legal work than it takes to dispose of a car that doesn’t have a title, then something is broken and it needs to be fixed.  No parent should be able to dump their children willy-nilly.

It Is NOT God’s Plan

Many Christian couples who struggle with infertility begin to believe somehow that this signals God’s desire that they adopt someone else’s newborn baby.  This baby is not a blank slate. Newborn or infant adoption is not mostly trauma-free simply because this human being is pre-verbal.

I don’t believe for a minute that God is deliberately punishing you by causing you to become pregnant under difficult circumstances only to hand your baby over to complete strangers and then more or less throw you away (forget you ever existed or mattered).

What is actually selfish ?  Saying that giving a child up for adoption is the most selfless thing someone can do is flawed logic.  Does that mean biological mothers who keep their infants are selfish for keeping them ?  It is selfish not to give your precious baby to the more privileged minority of people who have much better financial resources to parent with ?  If that logic were true, then all biological parents would give their children to someone else to parent, since it is selfless towards the child to keep them when someone else has greater resources.

Using God to take away someone else’s baby is exploiting a vulnerable person and trying to use any belief in God they might have to coerce them to YOUR will.  This is not God’s will, this is you trying to use God for your own purposes.

I will never be able to get behind the idea that God got the wombs mixed up when he gave a baby to their mother.  God didn’t give a little baby to one mother for her and her baby to go through the rest of their lives with trauma simply to “heal the infertile wounds” of another couple.

It just doesn’t work that way but Christian couples are very prone to use their religion to justify taking a baby away from a vulnerable mother.

Dignity

Imagine the circumstances in your young world are such that adequate care and love from your parents doesn’t support you as every one of us would wish for our own self.

A question came up in relationship to foster care where the foster parent was introducing a foster child as that aspect of their identity.  ie  my new foster child Dylan or foster child Caroline.  When people do that it shows just how little they are able to actually empathize with the experience of the child in their care.  That is a terrifying situation to place a child in.

This feels immediately demeaning to me personally.  It highlights a tragic circumstance as the first impression of this child to a neighbor or even a complete stranger.

Why not say something like this is Jake and he is going to be staying with us for a bit ?  Why do people have to disclose a kid is in foster care ?  Actually, simply saying the child’s name is better.  No one needs to know you foster.  The people who don’t know as part of the process, certainly don’t need to know.

This same unthinkable behavior can be extended to include an adopted child – why do people say this is my adopted son or daughter ?

After all, no one announces “this is Suzy my biological child”.  Just simply introduce the child by their name.  No need to add details related to the child’s most difficult circumstances.  Life is hard enough without piling on.