Adoption Vows

In there never ending quest to make adopting a child a celebration, here is what one couple is doing –

With adoption day on the horizon, my husband and I plan to recite a modified version of (see image above) to our daughter at her court hearing. Changing “I” to “We” and making a few personalized adjustments for her. Adoption vows . . . loving it. What else did you do to make it a special day ?

The person in my all things adoption group who shared this writes – I want to compose a response that she will hear! Because this is complete bs! What about the kids who end up not fitting in and get ” rehomed” or sent away to group homes… they where made all the same ” promises” and now look where they are. How should I word it where she will hear me or do I even waste the time? She is clearly caught up in the unicorn and rainbow effects.

The first response is – The whole point of vows is that they’re made between consenting adults, who also have a right to break that consent. Adoptees can’t consent. Decisions are made for them. And they can’t easily dissolve the relationship, even as adults.

Another comment – The whole thing is yuck…but especially the “Til death do us part” which could be super triggering for any kiddo but especially those with loss. Not only that but often if an adopted parent dies, the adopted children are no longer seen or treated as family by the remaining family members.

This was confirmed by one adoptee’s experience – The only member of my adoptive family who still treats me like family is my dad. The rest of them turned their backs on me after my mom died.

Another also shares – all I have of my adoptive family is one cousin in California. She was my mom’s very best and favorite cousin. I love her guts but the rest literally told me I was not family and good as killed my mom with my “drama,” whatever that means.

So here was one suggestion –

If you want her to (maybe) hear you it’s important to try to prevent her becoming defensive, so I would keep it semi-validating. Like

Wow !! I can see how much you love her through your excitement! As an adopted person, I want to open up to you a little and be clear I do it to support – not upset. But I’m sure you’ll understand, you seem really open minded. Adoption represents a huge loss. Even if our biological parents are terribly troubled, dead, uninterested, in prison…this is the death of something every human wants – to be be loved by, raised by, and important to their own parents. At the same time, no child wants to hurt the feelings of the adults they now must count on, who they are often silently trying to prove their worth to. I say this to encourage you to remember that in your approach. These marriage vow style things make sense to you, since you are only gaining, not losing, and you get choices. I would suggest having a private, special day where you say to your daughter that you love her, are so happy to have her, but also to validate that it’s ok for her to feel a lot of conflicting emotions. That you accept and love her whole story. Take pictures but don’t share them anywhere and only with her when she’s old enough. Let her be the one to do it, if that is her choice. Adoption is more like a divorce than a marriage. I hope this makes sense. Best of luck.

It was also suggested that the couple modify these vows. Then go and make these vows with each other and their preacher. To make a commitment between themselves that these things are true. Lots of adopted kids hear these kinds of promises and yet, their adoptive relationship is later disrupted. This makes good sense to me.

Finally, this is celebrating the girl’s worst day. One adoptee felt this was unbelievably cruel. She also noted how common it is that marriage vows are broken. Adoption disruptions and dissolutions are estimated to occur at approximately 25% for all adoptions in the US.

Just noting, regarding those vows – Autism is not an illness or a tragedy.

Responses to Reunion Trapped

This is a follow on blog to yesterday’s “Opportunistic Dependency” blog. Some responses to the young woman’s plight.

From one response – Do you know where she is located ? When she says these threats I would call the police or 911 to do a wellness check explain the situation and your concerns. If she is using it as leverage, she will hopefully not want that burden. If she is truthfully mentally not doing well, then you could really be helping her. Even if she is using it as leverage and has to get psychological help, maybe it could get her head in the right place.

While this answer seems harsh, I had to make a similar decision – to cut ties with a toxic sibling for my own mental health. Here’s what the commenter said – There is only so much your own mental health can take, and my view is that this seems to be all about her, not about you. She is your mother, not the other way around. Your relationship should be about you, or at the very least about both of you, not about what you have to offer her. Until she can get to a place where she can have that relationship with you… It’s on her. Disconnect for your own health. If you choose not to follow this advice, I totally understand. It took years of abuse/neglect for my siblings to come around to this way of thinking. Sending hugs. This is so hard. I get it.

I found this to be a direct and reasonable response –  She sounds like she is suffering from a serious addiction. This is not who she really is. That being said the burden isn’t yours to carry. She needs a professional to help her.

And maybe spending time with others facing similar challenges would be helpful, as this woman suggests – None of this is on you. She’s sick in addiction. And appears that abuse and manipulation are her tools. All I can recommend is an Alanon meeting and know that whatever she chooses to do to herself is her choice – not on you at all.

Another one shared – Similar to my story although she was older at 18 and is an alcoholic/depressive which she told me was my fault! I tried but like you she wasn’t actually interested in me…it’s tough and I do think of her but for my own sanity or what I have left its easier to have no relationship and it looks like I never will. Please don’t feel bad in anyway about saying no. Life is so difficult sometimes.

Another woman shared – It took me many years and thousands in therapy to understand that I am not my mothers mother. I had to get to the point where my mental health, family and self came before her. I’m so sorry that you are dealing with this. My mom was a teen mom too. She suffers from active addiction and I “raised” her my entire life. It is completely acceptable to cut toxic people from your life. It can be heartbreaking but at the end of the day you and your family (significant other, kids) need to come first. I personally learned how to compartmentalize the relationship and to politely but firmly say no. It’s hard when threats of suicide and self harm are thrown at you but you cannot be held responsible for her actions. She has a lot of issues that she needs to work out for herself.

And just one last sharing with perhaps a ray of hope –

Birth mom and recovered addict with an adopted daughter in reunion, Addicts are sick and many behave very differently to how they are sober. Not excusing her behavior. I never asked any one for a dime when I was an addict but that was mainly because I chose escorting to fund it, rather than stealing or bleeding family dry. I like to think that shows my character – that I’d rather choose a path harmful to myself than to others. Your mother has to answer for that, My advice would be keep your distance until she’s sober. Don’t close the door forever. She was so young and its tough. She may well be a sweetheart like you – when sober – but definitely don’t give her money and ignore the threats. Mostly anyone who’s going to kill themselves doesn’t barter it for money. I’d say it’s all hot air to manipulate. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if you want the “addict mom” drama. But do hope she cleans up her act. It took me 12 years! But I’ve been sober now for 13. It can be done.