Why So Fragile ?

I belong to an all things adoption Facebook group. So birth mothers, adoptive mothers and adoptees are all member and there is also the former foster young and issues of foster care which are tangent to adoption if one understands how the system works or fails to, all too often.

Yesterday, I learned that the majority of members are actually adoptive parents. Many have spoken out how considering the thoughts and feelings of adoptees has changed their perspective on what they have involved themselves in. No one is saying that anyone should undo what has already been done. The group only encourages doing it better.

Some adoptive parents are so fragile that hearing the truth will actually drive them right out of this group. Sometimes the group is accused of being hateful and cruel but adoptees carry wounds, many times wounds so deep and unconscious within them, they don’t know they are there. Others have worked long and hard, sometimes through therapy to open up those places that were hurt and if not heal, at least begin to understand them.

Truth is adoption is a bad practice and many adoptive parents adopted children believing they were doing a good deed in the world. It hurts to hear that maybe you were wrong about that, or that you lack some really important knowledge about the impacts of adoption that only an adoptee can provide to you as the one who experienced it.

At the root of many adoptions is an infertile couple. In the most enlightened situations, the couple embarks upon a journey to find peace with the reality. The couple will seek some way other than raising children to find fulfillment in their lives. Infertility is a health issue and it should be discussed openly, to remove the stigma. Everyone does not need to have children. The world has plenty of people to support already. One could look at it as doing their part to create a balance in global population.

If as a society, we can teach the public that couples don’t need adoption to “fix” their infertility, then maybe society can put a real effort behind supporting families so that they can stay together.  A random discussion about infertility almost always leads to advice that includes alternative methods of creating a family – like adoption, surrogacy, etc – many of which harm other people. We can’t change a narrative when people are being continuously convinced to seek alternative methods to have kids. The alternatives discussed are never about remaining childless.

Being infertile is not a death sentence. In some instances, the message becomes panic stricken, desperate – which encourages the listener to say, “well, just adopt”. That fuels the “must have a child to parent” flurry. Hearing an enlightened couple share their journey of infertility with a composed and educated message can begin the process of stopping the “I HAVE TO HAVE A BABY” narrative.

The couple needs to “process” their reality – the harsh reality – to gain the emotional balance needed to meet the next phase of their life’s journey with compassion and self love. Generally, we are not called upon to be the social educator of the world. Our real job is to care for our self, so we are the best self for whatever life will bring next for us.

Separation Anxiety

Reading about the childcare crisis in America has me reliving my own experiences in the early 1970s as a young mother.  The situation is not new.  A lot of research into the effects of separating very young children from their mother is now available.

This is what happens inside children when they are forcibly separated from their parents.

Their heart rate goes up. Their body releases a flood of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Those stress hormones can start killing off dendrites — the little branches in brain cells that transmit mes­sages. In time, the stress can start killing off neurons and — especially in young children — wreaking dramatic and long-term damage, both psychologically and to the physical structure of the brain.

“The effect is catastrophic,” said Charles Nelson, a pediatrics professor at Harvard Medical School. “There’s so much research on this that if people paid attention at all to the science, they would never do this.”

And yet, in many families, whether due to low income, a single parent household or other factors, children as young as infants must be cared for by some person other than their parents, whether the couple is fortunate enough to afford a nanny or commercial childcare is the only choice.  In the luckiest families, there is a grandmother or aunt who is able, willing and loving to step in.

Suggestions for managing anxiety are to allow at least some preparation time before the necessary separation.  One is to listen to your child’s words of fear.  I remember one family style daycare I had placed my daughter within.  She loved it – at first.  Then, she started exhibiting upset around going there.  One morning after dropping her off and going to work, it troubled me so much that I went back to check on her.  Through the door with a window on top, I could see her being bullied by an older child and there were no adults in sight to intervene.  I removed her right then and found a private home, a woman with a child who wanted a companion for her only child.  My daughter was never better cared for than when she was in that situation.

A few other suggestions include sharing with the child where it is you are going.  Better yet, allow them to visit your workplace so they have a realistic idea of the circumstances and the lack of other children in that place.  Build in your child a realistic expectation of when you will return, how long you will be gone and when possible an exact time the child can expect you to re-appear.

Give a hug but be pragmatic about the necessity that you will have to leave for awhile.  Be gentle and calm, but clear and focused.