It’s A Small World After All

I am constantly amazed at how many people have some connection to adoption or foster care. It isn’t much talked about. I am proud of an all things adoption group I belong to on Facebook because they do some really good work.

Some examples –

We (as a group) helped mom financially with legal fees to revoke consent and get her daughter home. Because of this, several members of this group had to testify in court. We were accused of “child trafficking” and only helping get “O” home, so we could “sell her.” Clearly, DSS and the judge thankfully could see through that BS and “O” was returned home to her mother. Months later, the hopeful adoptive parents are still periodically calling Dept of Social Services DSS. They even created a TikTok and Instagram to slander her parents – months after she went home to her original family.

Every single mom with or without agency involvement has had Child Protective Services CPS called – out of spite. Hopeful adoptive parents HAPs have even told CPS “if you remove the baby, I’ll take her/him.”

Moms have received numerous text messages, phone calls, emails etc from HAPs. When mom blocks them, HAP’s family members continue the harassment.

The online adoption community is a small, small world. We’ve had HAPs find out that we have assisted moms with legal fees, baby registries and it is used against them because “they can’t afford” a baby. Obviously, when a mom has planned adoption for 9 months – she only has days or even less to get everything her baby needs. This is why we do baby registries. It’s also why we now do them anonymously. We will not let it be used against a mom because she simply doesn’t have everything her baby needs, when CPS comes knocking. And they always do, thanks to spiteful HAPs.

Shaming mom online because she has ruined their entire life, comparing their loss to a stillbirth. Yet, they miraculously recover, when the next baby comes along. Because the truth is – any baby will do.

Not only are some of the things above, what the community I am a part of has done but also what we have seen. When a hopeful adoptive parent enters the community, they often don’t stay long because this community’s mission is original family preservation. No rah rah rahs for the whole industry of adoption – though it is acknowledged that sometimes adoption cannot be avoided. Many HAP leave this community angry. Adoptees and former foster care youth are privileged voices in the community and speak their trauma and pain and what it is like to come out of the fog of believing adoption is a beautiful thing. I was in that fog when I first arrived there and quickly learned my place and then, by reading and considering the point of view there, they won me over to their side of the mission – hence this blog.

Anxiety For The Unknown

Today’s topic is stepping into what’s next when aging out of foster care. I don’t know how that feels but I have stepped into the unknown myself, to leave a dangerous romantic relationship with only a suitcase and $500 and drop myself into the city of St Louis where I knew no one and had not job waiting for me. It is empowering to face such great challenges and survive through them, so I am certain this young woman will be fine. In fact, immediately, from my all things adoption and foster care came lots of offers of support.

Right away came some simple advice with which I agree 100% – Make plans but try to stay in the moment, worry comes from living in the future.

The young lady admits – Everything seems to be slowly working itself out. I do have a lot of anxiety about the unknown. Many of us do but somehow we manage to muddle through. And that is what I found as well. Things begin to fall into place as you take the next logical step forward.

Do you have monetary needs ? Two possibilities were mentioned – Dream Makers project and One Simple Wish (both are said to be on Instagram, I’m not, so you’ll have to look for those if you are and are in need).

You can make a great life for yourself. I’m rooting for you to find that out for yourself. If you are in the Bridges program, they will pay your rent and utilities until you’re 21.

I know that many states do have programs to assist young people aging out of foster care. Many help with finding an apartment and a job, other skills a young adult will need to survive. For many, I think simply the huge shift from no responsibility to a LOT of responsibilities for their own welfare, can be scary. In this young woman’s case it includes her young son. Adding a dependent, which I didn’t have, certainly makes the situation more difficult.

More good advice – start out with making do and then improve things a little at a time. Do all of the things that you can for free, while you can.

Not Of My Blood

This topic comes up repeatedly in my all things adoption group. It seems that the incidence of varying degrees of abuse is more prevalent on the part of adoptive parents. Adoptees often wonder and theorize why.

It started with this insight – So many adopted people I know have stories of child abuse by both of their adoptive parents. What is the mentality behind this, what is the psychological mechanism that results in so many adoptive parents getting a child just to abuse them? I don’t think every single case is where adults actively seek out children so they can have someone to abuse, but it’s way too common to just be a case of easy hunting grounds. Is there something that happens inside of the brains of adoptive parents that turns so many of them into child abusers?

Although, anything conceivable probably exists, I do not believe most couples go into adoption with the intent of mistreating their adopted child. There is something else going on.

One thought was this – Humans developed over millennia to raise their own biological/genetic offspring. Our biology knows whether the child is our own or not. Adoptive parents are preconditioned by social workers and adoption agencies to have expectations that “nurture” will adjust the child to be the same “as if” they had given birth to the child but it does not work that way.

Until very recently, and to some extent this remains true, adoption in the modern western version is predicated on treating adoptive parents like they are the original natural parents. Birth certificates are falsified to support that perspective. Often, in the past, adoptive parents lied to the child about their origins. Thanks to more accessible, inexpensive DNA testing and well reported adoptee reunions with their biological families, this fantasy can no longer hold dominance in adoptionland.

Raising kids is hard! They test and exhaust us. This is especially true when there isn’t shared blood and genetics. The frustration isn’t tempered by biology and deep parental bonds. My oldest son was very challenging at the age of 6, when his younger brother had had the lion’s share of my attention throughout infancy and his first 2 years. I actually would say to him, it is lucky for you that I love you. If you challenge other people the way you have challenged me, you could end up hurt very badly or dead. It was my maternal bond with him that stayed me from actually hurting him, though my anger could surprise me.

One adoptee shares – I can only speak for my adoptive parents but I was property to them. I was meant to fulfill a role and anything out of line with that expectation was punished. I recognize that they knew what the social worker looked for and how the system worked, therefore they were very good at hiding it. No one would ever believe me. It was clearly easier for them to take their emotions out on me (an adopted child) than on their own biological children.

Another adoptee shares – When I started calling my narcissistic adoptive mother out on her shit, it caused a huge fight with my whole family against me. And one of my aunts basically said it didn’t matter how they treated me, I just had to suck it up, take it, and thank them, because they “took me in” out of the “goodness” of their hearts when they didn’t have to. This implied they received a free pass regarding how they treated me. Which is obviously wrong. I think that is the mentality that a lot people have, when it comes to adoption, especially among the older generations. Like you could have/would have had it worse if they hadn’t come along, so you should feel “lucky.” It doesn’t feel “lucky.”

What happens when adoptive parents finally achieve the birth of a biological, genetic child ? One adoptee shares – we were all adopted and it was a loving safe environment until I turned 8. Then they had their only biological child and the rest of us had to scramble and grab for pieces of affection. I don’t know if it was regret for adopting, the satisfaction of finally having what they wanted, something else or a mix of it all but whatever the case, we went from cherished to easily replaceable.

Another woman adds – I think can be twofold. Either one, or a combination of, the psychological effects of infertility grief and the impact on an adopted child of emotional neglect as a result of the adoptive parent being unable to meet the needs of a traumatized, adopted child. (Note all adopted children suffer adoption related trauma, ie a belief they were rejected by their natural parents.) Chronic emotional neglect (causes more trauma) and has profound effects on an adopted child. It is worse when the caregiver doesn’t recognize or acknowledge that they don’t feel the love and acceptance for their adopted child that they expected to feel. It’s all too common then to blame the child for not meeting the adoptive parents needs, rather than looking at the emotional content in the adoptive parent. Throw in a societal saviorism belief related to adoption and there are the frustrated feelings of believing they are entitled to a child they didn’t receive.

Another adoptee shares – My adoptive parents were very physically abusive. I don’t know any science behind it but my honest thought was always that because I wasn’t flesh and blood, they couldn’t love me the same. There was no genetic connection… I don’t really know …. but that is how it has felt. I don’t think they adopted me with the intention of being abusive, but they couldn’t control themselves. It’s like if my daughter has a play date and that child is being awful, I’m like their parent needs to do something before I do…I just don’t have a motherly connection to anyone else but my own children…and it might sound super messed up but its literally how I rationalized all the physical and mental abuse I suffered … They didn’t even care if they hurt my feelings. Just like I wouldn’t care if I hurt someone else’s kid’s feelings, if they were little assholes. Of course, I know there are people who abuse their biological children…but I always think that’s generational and based on some mental health issues. The reason anyone abuses a child is complicated.

Someone else shares their perspective – I believe most adoptive parents adopt as a solution to their infertility and to “save a poor baby in need”. They are fed rainbows and unicorn stories that convince them that they are wonderful people doing a wonderful thing and that the adopted child it will be just the same as their own baby. So they treat a traumatized child just the same as they would their own. Except it’s not the same. If they don’t allow the child to have feelings, go to therapy, etc as soon as the child acts out, they won’t understand why the child is behaving that way. Most adoptive parents signed up for the “cute baby and matching sweater” they see on Instagram. Instead they get a screaming demon !! The more frustrated the parents become, the more they refuse to acknowledge their adopted child has trauma. That inability to empathize becomes more triggering for the adopted child. The parents eventually snap under the pressure and enter a cycle of abuse because “we tried love and it didn’t work”. When all they actually tried was to force the child to bond with them and pretend the child is the same as a their own biological child. It messes with the brains on both sides and often leads to the point of violence.

And finally, this perspective – every adopted child has a job. It might be to fix infertility or it might be to take the place of a dead child. Whatever it is, as adoptees we are given a job with no description and unfortunately, we don’t know when we miss the mark until we trip over it. That accounts for a lot of disappointed adoptive parents. Just as the adopted child does not recognize any genetic markers in regard to physical appearance and personality – neither do the adoptive parents. So on top of the heartbreak of infertility comes the heartbreak, disappointment and anger in having to continue living with why you adopted the child in the first place.

Self Indulgent Adoptive Parents

The lead-in to today’s blog expresses an opinion about this couple in my “all things adoption” group.

This is such a self indulgent, sad article to read. It was all focused on what they wanted, conveniently wrapped up as “Gods plan.” They wanted African American twin boys?! They treated adoption like a menu they could pick from, tailor made to suit their requirements. The part that was particularly telling was when she said “one birth mom got in a car accident on the way to the hospital and was in a coma, it was not looking good for us.” An expectant mother has an accident and goes into a coma and all she could think about is – it wasn’t looking good for us?!

This adoptive parent has a huge following on Instagram and regularly uses her children’s stories and adoptee status to promote the brands she partners with. I often wonder what will we hear from these children (and there are many cases of adoptive children being used to promote adoptiove parent platforms), when they grow up.

In one of the comments is a screenshot from the adoptive mother. I don’t even had words for how self-centered the adoptive mother is and yet obviously aware of what is happening to the birth mother – all at the same time. Here are her own words about it.

“The day I posted about bringing the baby home, I explained that those few days in the hospital were hard. There were so many comments on my remarks about why it was hard.”

“Here’s why – two pictures were taken that day the baby was born. One is of me holding the baby with tears in my eyes with the birth mother being held by a nurse because she has tears in her eyes also. I will admit that I was crying because my baby was finally here and yet, I knew at the same time that someone else’s heart was being torn apart.”

What kind of insensitivity acknowledges this so matter of factly. To the adoptive mother’s perspective, the birth mother is only crying because she knows her baby is “where she is supposed to be” (and that is with the adoptive mother – which is plainly NOT, in the natural order of things, true).

She admits that “adoption is every emotion in the book” but admits that “those few days while the baby and the birth mother both remained in the hospital were hard” (and I would suppose, hardest on the birth mother).

She is keeping those pictures for the baby when she is older so that she can know that her original mother’s heart broke. Though the adoptive mother’s perspective is – “so the baby’s heart would not have to be” ? Really ? Staying with her original mother would have been heartbreaking for the child ? This is what entitlement looks like – your baby is better off with me because I am better than you.

The adoptive mother admits that adoption isn’t fair and that it’s hard but she still claims it is beautiful and personal – and like all adoptive parents want to believe – a selfless act on the part of the mother.

I Am Adopted

Hi, my name is Meggan, and I’m a transracial adoptee. I picture myself seated in a circle with other adoptees as I type that.

“Hi Meggan,” they’d respond, and then I would share my story of heartache and sorrow to the only group of people who will ever truly understand. The truth is, though, that kind of support doesn’t exist for adoptees yet, and it should.

I am half white and half black, and back in 1982 that made me undesirable in most prospective adoptive parents’ eyes, so it took a few months until I was adopted. My adoptive family is white, so I never grew up understanding or connecting with my black heritage.

My mom kept in touch with my birth mother through letters, and I was grateful to have at least half of a connection to my roots.

Growing up, I was never around people who looked like me. I was constantly asked questions like “what are you?” or “what’s your background?” I was a mystery that people felt they needed to solve and as an adoptee, I trod carefully and simply agreed with their guesses. Kind of like this…

“What are you? What’s your background?”

“I was adopted, so I’m not sure what my background is.”

“You look Lebanese/Italian/Aboriginal/etc. That’s probably what you are.”

“Sure, maybe that’s it.”

It’s kind of silly, but I’ve had that conversation thousands of times throughout my life. I know people mean well, but this is often the plight of a transracial adoptee who is in the dark about his or her background.

I’m asked about familial history at every doctor’s appointment, and I only ever had half of it.

“Does cancer run in your family?”

“I have no idea.”

The look of confusion used to get to me, but I eventually got accustomed to it.

Adoptees don’t have a right to their history the way everyone else on the planet does.

I used to struggle with my identity feeling like I had none and floating through life like a chameleon. How could I have a voice if I didn’t know who I was or where I came from?

How could I speak my truth when people in my biological family told me not to?

No wonder adoptees have some of the highest mental health issues and suicide rates. We’re told to be grateful that we were chosen when deep down, we feel like we were abandoned.

We’re told we have no right to complain because we could’ve been killed instead.

We’ve been silenced for far too long, and out of respect for everyone around us, we’ve walked on eggshells trying not to disrupt the waters.

It’s only recently that I’ve been able to step into who I was created to be truly. We were never meant to live life without boundaries, without a backbone, or without a voice.

It’s time to change all that, step into who we were meant to be, and live our lives as authentically as possible.

Are you coming?

💛 Meggan Larson has a Facebook group for trauma overcomers: www.facebook.com/groups/weareconquerorsnow

💛 Connect with Meggan on IG: www.instagram.com/sheinspiresfreedom

💛 Website: https://megganlarson.com

💛 Please take a moment and leave Meggan a few words of support, encouragement, and love in the comments.

💛 Join me in raising awareness of adoptee mental health by sharing this post.

#adopteementalhealthstories #nationaladoptionawarenessmonth #naam

No Support

I was reading an article this morning about a social networking site known as Urban Baby.

Urban Baby was part of the first wave of confessional Internet women’s writing about parenting, one that occurred in tandem with our society’s withdrawal of support for parents and children, and the simultaneous ratcheting up of expectations of what makes for good mothering. Blogs like Dooce — that’s Heather Armstrong, also known as the “queen of the mommy bloggers” — wrote openly about struggles with postnatal depression, while others took on the challenges of raising a special-needs child.

This new world of parenting was challenging and liberating, but, most importantly, optimistic. There was the almost-always unspoken assumption that the Internet was going to change the world of mothering for the better.

But that did not happen. For all the delights of the mom blogosphere, its members fell into a trap all too common to our time: We might kvetch about our problems jointly, but we struggle, for the most part, alone.

Despite, say, all the online chatter about the struggle to get a child into a “TT” — that’s Urban Baby lingo for top-tier — private or public school, very few connected their struggles to the greater society and economy causing their woes. Rare was the moment on Urban Baby when someone asked why there were so few TT schools — it was simply yet another problem to surmount. That remained true as the mothering blogosphere and forums lost ground to social media, to Instagram posts by neighbors and celebrity influencers alike about the wonderfulness of their parenting lives.

For my part, I belong to a mom’s group that started out connecting only by email and eventually ended up on Facebook.  All of our children are turning 16 years old this year.  We all conceived within that brave new world of reproductive technology.  We have been together since before we knew we were successful.  We met once when the children were two years old at Elmo’s World.  I’m so glad we did.  One of our more outspoken moms died from breast cancer some time ago and it was heart-wrenching.  She was our second loss to cancer.  More than one of our mom’s lost their spouse in one way or another during our time together.  Only the current politics has divided us and that is bittersweet indeed but all of us are trying – to hold onto what unites us and not pick at the wounds of the country that affect us as well.

Yet that ambitious appetite for change was desperately needed, as our current covid-19 world is making all too clear. We are — even in a life-altering pandemic — the only developed country not to offer paid family leave or sick days to all. Nearly a fifth of families with children under the age of 12 are reporting they do not have enough food.

Children have been out of school since March, and for many, there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight, except for more in the way of subpar online classes that need parental supervision. And forget complaining about the high cost of child care: Our decision to leave it almost fully to the free market may well result, according to the Center for American Progress, in the loss of millions of child-care slots. This combination might well turn out to be cataclysmic — not just for children, but for their mothers, who, minus the child care offered by school, might well find themselves permanently exiting the workplace.

On Urban Baby this week there were final goodbyes, one last show of virtual hands for Zip codes, and final reasons they were here before everyone scattered. As one poster pointed out, “UB has been a release valve for all of the pent-up frustration and all of the challenges of modern motherhood.” No doubt. But, ultimately, emotional release is a thin gruel.

Mothers, fathers and their children need more — more help, more support, more resources. This was true before the current crisis, and it’s even more true now. When it comes to the online world of parenting, the biggest failure is not one of organization. It’s that for all their complaints, all too many of the people doing the talking on sites like Urban Baby still believe that they can individually surmount the ever-increasing challenges of American life rather than changing the system that underlies them. Until that mind-set changes, nothing else will.

My thanks to Helaine Olen’s op-ed in The Washington Post (for all of this except my personal comments).

 

Do It Yourself Adoptions

A couple who were the victims of a pregnancy scam.

I spoken a lot about the whys of not adopting but it’s going to happen.  The internet has changed the way so many people do all kinds of business and do it yourself adoptions have become a thing by leveraging social media.  It is not without pitfalls.

When US couples want to adopt a baby they often post ads online and search social media for women pregnant with a child they aren’t planning to keep. Sometimes it works – but there are dangers. One young scammer has tricked countless couples, just for fun, by stealing the identity of a pregnant woman.

In many countries, social media would be the last place anyone would look for a baby to adopt. In the US, though, most states allow something called private adoption, where couples hoping to adopt and birth mothers find each other independently. The arrangement is then formalized by an attorney or an adoption agency.

When a couple signs up at their adoption agency, they are placed on a list of prospective adoptive parents. They are told to expect a long wait.  Some agencies even suggest the internet for quicker results.

Pregnant women who don’t intend to keep their child have the same choice – to approach adoption agencies, or search for adoptive parents online.  Many mothers intending to relinquish a baby to adoption feel that by making contact with prospective parents directly, they have more control.  My youngest sister didn’t use the internet but she did use an attorney and vetted several couples who sent her packets.  I reviewed these with her and she did make a choice from that group.  My nephew got lucky with a very devoted adoptive mother who helped him reconnect with our family.

Consider this – recent statistics indicated that #hopingtoadopt is hashtagged 44,892 times on Instagram; #waitingtoadopt is mentioned 18,844 times and #hopefuladoptiveparents 10,758. Images of letter boards jostle for the attention of birth mothers: No Bump, Still Pumped, We’re Adopting; Share This Photo and Help Our Family Grow; We are Officially a Waiting Family.

The internet is the wild west and it is a buyer beware situation at this time.