Adding More Misery To The Suffering

Daisy Hohman’s 3 children spent 20 months in foster care.
When she was reunited with her children,
she received a bill of nearly $20,000 for her children’s foster care.

An NPR investigation found that it’s common in every state for parents to get a bill for the cost of foster care. Case in point –

Just before Christmas in 2017, Daisy Hohman, desperate for a place to live, moved into the trailer of a friend who had an extra room to rent. After Hohman separated from her husband, she and her three kids had moved from place to place, staying with family and friends.

Two weeks after living at this new address, police raided the trailer. They found drugs and drug paraphernalia, according to court records. Others were the target. Hohman was at work at the time. No drugs were found on her, and police did not charge her.

Even so, child protective services in Wright County MN placed her two daughters, then 15 and 10, and a son, 9 in foster care. County officials argued she had left the children in an unsafe place. After 20 months in foster care, her three children were able to come back home. Then, Hohman got a bill from Wright County to reimburse it for some of the cost of that foster care. She owed: $19,530.07

Two federal laws contradict each other: One recent law directs child-welfare agencies to prioritize reuniting families. The other law, almost 40 years old, tells states to charge parents for the cost of child care, which makes it harder for families to reunite.

The NPR investigation also found that: The fees are charged almost exclusively to the poorest families; when parents get billed, children spend added time in foster care and the extra debt follows families for years, making it hard for them to climb out of poverty and the government raises little money, or even loses money, when it tries to collect.

Foster care is meant to be a temporary arrangement for children, provided by state and county child welfare agencies when families are in crisis or when parents are thought to be unable to care for their children. It’s long been recognized that the best thing for most children in foster care is to be reunited with their family. While in foster care, children live with foster families, with relatives or in group settings. More than half will eventually return home. There were 407,493 children in foster care on the day the federal government counted in 2020 to get a snapshot of the population, according to a report from the Administration on Children, Youth and Families.

In 2018, Congress reformed funding for child welfare when it passed the Family First Preservation Services Act. That law tells state child welfare agencies to make it their focus to preserve families and help struggling parents get their lives back on track so that they can be safely reunited with their children. But a 1984 federal law still stands, as do additional state laws, that call for making many parents pay for some of the cost of foster care. Among the costs the federal funding pays for: shelter, food and clothing; case planning; and the training of foster parents.

Of parents who get billed for foster care: A disproportionate number are people of color. Many are homeless. Many have mental health or substance abuse problems. And almost all are poor — really poor. 80% of the families in a data analysis had incomes less than $10,000 annually. Try living off $10,000 a year. You’re in deep poverty, if you’re living off that kind of money.

Hohman followed the case plan set out by county caseworkers in 2018 and completed the steps required to get her children back. She went to family therapy sessions and submitted to random drug testing. She saved up enough money to rent an apartment in order to provide the children with safe and suitable housing. The $19,530 bill was just a few thousand dollars less than Hohman’s entire paycheck in 2019, for her seasonal work at a landscaping company. The debt went on her credit report, which made it hard to find an apartment big enough for her family or to buy a dependable car to get to work. When Hohman filed her income tax, instead of getting the large refund she expected it was garnished.

To charge poor families for the cost of foster care sets them up for failure. Mothers, often single, work overtime or take on a second job to pay off the debt forcing them to leave the kids alone and unattended. While it might not seem like that much to have to pay fifty or a hundred or two hundred dollars a month in foster care child support, if you are a very low-income, low-earnings mom, that can be the difference in being able to save money for first and last month’s rent on a decent apartment or not. The mom is at risk of losing her child again because of poverty. That doesn’t make sense from a child well-being, family well-being standpoint, or from a taxpayer standpoint.

Even a small bill delayed reunification by almost seven months. That extra time in foster care matters. It increases the cost to taxpayers since daily foster care is expensive. And it inflates the bill to parents. It matters because the clock ticking for the parents. They are given a set amount of time to prove they should be allowed to get their child(ren) back. Once a child spends 15 out of 22 months in foster care, it is federal law that the child-welfare agency must begin procedures to terminate a parent’s rights to the child with a goal of placing the child for adoption in order to find them a permanent home.

Today’s child welfare system also struggles with conflicting incentives. Laws meant to hold parents accountable can end up keeping families apart. When parents don’t pay, states garnish wages, take tax refunds and stimulus checks and report parents to credit bureaus. In the overwhelming majority of the people in the child welfare program, a significant contributor to the reason they’re in that situation is poverty. Abuse is an issue in only 16% of cases when kids go to foster care. Mostly, the issue is the parent’s neglect. Maybe there’s no food in the refrigerator or the parent is homeless or addicted. These are issues of poverty.

States don’t actually have to go after this money. There’s some leeway in the 1984 federal law. It says parents should be charged to reimburse some of the cost of foster care – when it’s appropriate but it does not define the term appropriate.

The End of Roe v Wade and it’s potential effect on Adoption

Pro-Adoption advocates are likely to cheer the increased availability of newborn infants for adoption if the Supreme Court does basically, at least in effect, overturn Roe v Wade. Adult adoptees will mostly mourn the likelihood.

On this day, I found an interesting blog titled – Christians: We’re NOT READY to Abolish Roe v Wade. The author admits – “I am a man. I am an adopting father. I am a minister. I am Christian. These are my inherent biases right at the top.” He also writes – “as I’ve observed pro-life culture throughout my adult life, I’ve noticed a problem – We’re not ready for it. We’re not ready for all the babies.  Literally.”

He adds this thought – If Roe v Wade is overturned, many of these new babies could eventually end up in the foster care system or be put up for private adoption. And not just once, but every single year. The foster care system as it stands today is already stressed – 400,000 + children are already in a system that is underfunded, understaffed, and suffers from a lack of certified families available to foster and adopt. An additional 600,000-1 million children every year will overwhelm the foster care system in every possible way.

He asks – Are you willing to put your feelings aside and sacrifice space in your heart and home for children who need stability while their family situation is sorted out, knowing they could be reunified with their birth families? Are you prepared to give up several weekends to undergo the education necessary to foster? He also asks – Are you prepared to spend thousands of dollars to adopt privately? 

One of the problems I have had with the whole Pro-Life movement is that it is NOT about quality of life. It is only about getting babies born – and then, who cares what kind of life they or their mother have after that?

These babies that result from ending Roe v Wade may not be white infants; and if coming through foster care, these will likely be children with a host of behavioral, mental, emotional, and spiritual problems. When these children age out of foster care at the age of 18, they will likely end up incarcerated and having babies of their own who will then also end up in the foster care system.  Imagine having nowhere to go during Christmas. Imagine having no family to celebrate your birthday with you. That’s what it’s like for children who age out of foster care. Foster care children (in the literal and legal sense) are refugees in their own country. 

This one could get some Conservatives’ attention – To be ready for all these post-Roe v Wade babies, we’re going to have to pay more in taxes, mostly on the state level.  Many conservatives want abortion to end, but also want to cut the government programs that help mothers and families who decide to keep their babies to survive financially. This would also include stipends from the state that go to foster families to help them cover the additional costs of caring for these children. Are you willing to say that the babies need to live, but need to do it without the aid that sustains them? I believe that this question actually repeats the primary goal of the Pro-Life movement – birth but no financial aid for families.

He then asks – Christians, are you willing to accept that comprehensive sex education beyond abstinence must happen to reduce pregnancies?

Reality bites, doesn’t it ? In conclusion – If you are NOT prepared to do more than vote and post on Facebook concerning abortion, then stop calling yourself pro-life.  You are pro-birth.  You want the children to be born, but you’re not willing to do anything for them after they are born, and thus you condemn them to a life where they’re much more likely to be mired in poverty, crime, incarceration, and a continuing cycle of giving birth to unplanned children. 

False Narratives

Recently the post of a new mother who just gave birth a few days ago and is giving up her child for adoption asked what items from his birth she should keep. She received over 700 comments, mostly from adoptees and birth mothers, urging her frantically to back out and keep and raise her child. The responses spoke eloquently of the reasons why. I thought this one excellent –

Obviously none of us could possibly understand to the full extent your situation or circumstances which led you to this decision, and I don’t doubt for one second that is consumed you entirely the past 9 months. Knowing that you only have just one more day before making probably the most difficult and life changing decision of anyone’s life, I’m sure you’d want to consider absolutely everything, especially if there was anything new which you hadn’t considered before.

Most of the people in this group are either fellow birth mothers or adoptees, so more than anyone else they understand exactly what you and your baby are going through, and will go through.

Knowing the main reasons why women choose adoption being financial and/or relationship instability, we’re all just here to let you know that if those are factors in your decision, there absolutely is support available so that you don’t feel as if you have to make this decision. No one should be coerced or forced into making a decision under the guise of being “best for your baby.”

If finances are an issue, there’s lots of support out there; not only from this group, but government programs, and there are so many church programs and charities. There are so many people here who can help you find whatever services you need because we’ve needed, and used those services ourselves.

We just want to make sure that you know the reality, that it’s actually far more important to have your birth mother in your life rather than having two parents who are non-biological. So if a lack of a father figure is affecting your decision, just please don’t be fooled into believing this false narrative that it’s more important to live in a two parent household, because that’s simply not true.

I’m sorry if you’re feeling guilt tripped, I truly don’t believe that was anyone’s intention.

We all just want to show you that you’re not alone and that you don’t have to make this decision if you don’t want to. We just want you to know that all those typical reasons that society tells us is why women should choose adoption, every single one of those reasons is complete b***sh*t in the real world. But so many people still believe the lies and the false narrative, so that’s exactly why this group is here, to show everyone there’s another way.

One more adds something important – Our mothers’ decisions caused preverbal, pre-personality developmental trauma that we have lived with for decades. It isn’t rainbows and butterflies. Adoption does not guarantee a better life, just a different one. Adoptees are overrepresented in mental health care. We are four times as likely to try to kill ourselves. This is our life, you are about to choose for your son. That is why we are speaking up.

You can find this group – Adoption:Facing Realities – at Facebook. There is a 2 week read only rule because the perspective is rather different from most adoption oriented groups. The comments of adoptees are given priority. Anyone in the triad (birth mother, adoptee or adoptive parent) is welcome but you should be warned that the rainbows and butterflies fantasy narrative of the adoption world is not what you will find there. However, you will find honesty, detailed personal experiences and a belief in family preservation. The group also includes former foster care youths now grown and transitioned to the adult world.

One Can Only Do So Much

A woman writes –

I have a teen in my care for whom reunification is not an option. One parent was not able to parent and has recently left the country. The other parent is an offender. No other bio family in this country. I am fictive kin, case plan is adoption. My foster son is 15 and has started to express feelings like this home is not his and never will be. He feels like an outsider, etc. Home is just myself and my two children, who are biological siblings. I have validated his feelings, reinforced that its OK to miss Mom and want Mom, acknowledged that this situation is not ideal, etc. There are plans to visit Mom abroad in the future. I expressed that its OK to feel this way, but that he is wanted, welcomed and loved in this home and that there will always be a place for him here.

Is there anything else I can be doing? I don’t want to minimize or ignore the fact that he wants to be with his mom and that this whole scenario isn’t what he wants, but I also don’t want him to never feel like he can settle in and get comfortable. This is his home, he’s been here for well over a year, how can I help him feel at home? I just finished re-doing his room and making it really nice and really reflective of him, but I think that just added to his feelings because having a really nice room is such a stark contrast to what his reality used to be. He’s in therapy, what else can I be doing?

Going to live with mom would not be in his best interest. He has mental health concerns as a result of the abuse and neglect that occurred with his mom due to issues out of her control. She is now being cared for by her family. In the country of origin, there would be issues of poverty, education and opportunity. He would not be able to get an education and would be put to work instead.

Some of the responses –

Maybe he is afraid of losing his connection to his mother if this begins to feel like “home”? I would reinforce his feeling of ambivalence as being normal in a very ambivalent situation.

Do you have a hallway where you hang family pictures? Hanging pictures of his mom might be good – and if you don’t have this sort of thing yet, you could have him help pick out photos, frames, a fresh wall color, or piece of furniture to put the frames on.

Adoptees will never feel like they are home. You can’t force or foster that feeling. Home is mom. And when mom won’t be home, there will never be home again. This is an entirely emotional thing he’s expressing. An emotional emptiness, a hole which cannot be filled. In my case, I now don’t really even feel home with my natural family. We lost too much time. Once the connection is severed, it’s severed. You can build a new bond, but you can never have back what you lost. What he does need is therapy with someone who is an adoptee. Anything else will not do.

The original woman admits – I struggle with wanting to “fix” everything – I know that I can’t. I want him to feel comfortable and at home but this is the ugly side of adoption and its possible he may never feel at home anywhere and will always be “homesick” no matter where he goes. Its heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing.

The previous woman added – As adoptees we struggle a LOT with what we should or shouldn’t feel. He “should” feel at home with someone who cares so much, but he doesn’t. He “shouldn’t” miss someone who abused and neglected him, but he does. All of this makes us feel even more wrong and broken. I can’t stress enough the importance of an adoptee therapist to help him work through the complexities of those feelings! It must be an adoptee, no one else can even begin to understand – and this is the very basis of what we need: someone to understand that we are suffering something so unnatural it literally doesn’t happen anywhere else in nature, and we’re expected just to acclimate. We need to talk about it, over and over and over, to someone who understands, so that someday it won’t hurt so much.

Another suggestions was to connect him with other people from his country. It won’t help the loss of mom but might help with feeling connected to his culture.

Finally these words of wisdom – You can’t fix him. This is a really an adoptive parent issue because it’s hard to parent a child when you can’t help them, fix what hurts them. Acknowledging this and knowing you are never going to be enough is key. You have done several things right seeing that he is able to verbalize to you how he feels about you and his mom. That’s a really positive thing for an adoptee to feel safe to do that.

It’s going to take time. He is grieving. He is confused. I am sure he feels conflicted and guilty. Let him connect with other kids and adults from his exact culture. That will help him feel a connection to mom and his extended family. Try to leave “but” out of the conversations. “It’s ok to miss mom but you’re welcome and loved” leave that out and just keep validating his feelings.

Ask if there is anything you can do different for him. Just let him continue to express his feelings, get him in therapy with a adoption competent therapist and just walk beside him no matter what he says or does. You’ve mentioned education and opportunity a few times. Please do not assume this is the better life for him due to his country of origin being poverty, lack of education and opportunity. Those things are things YOU think are important for someone, but he may not. Being taken from your culture, your family, it’s pretty hard to think you are getting a better life. Education and opportunity is what America pushes. To assume that makes someone happy and/or successful is inaccurate. Many people living different lives from us are happy and deem themselves successful. It is not for us to judge what’s better.

Adoptee Remembrance Day

Though I missed the date this year, now I know. The event is meant to serve several purposes.

It raises public awareness of crimes against adoptees by adoptive parents, an action that current media does not recognize. It also allows us to publicly mourn and honor the lives of our brothers and sisters who we have lost who might otherwise be forgotten. It raises awareness about adoptee suicide, shining a light on a difficult topic. Through these actions, we express love and respect for the adoptee community.

Adoptee Remembrance Day reminds others that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends, and lovers. Adoptee Remembrance Day gives our allies a chance to step forward with us, memorializing those who have died too soon, and it also recognizing the loss all adopted people experience, before they’re actually adopted.

While this topic remains sensitive in nature, adoptees who are murdered by their adoptive parents is increasing around the world. It is a time to honor their legacy by setting aside a day just for them. While those who have passed away before us, are no longer able to speak and share their stories or voices, there are many adoptees today who are paving the way for the voiceless to become strong enough to share their voices and stories. We are the voice of the voiceless.

We also recognize that there are international adoptees who are living without citizenship and/or have been deported due to mistakes by adoptive parents, adoption agencies, attorneys, and ultimately, the U.S. adoption system. Some international adoptees must survive abuse and neglect, including in regards to their citizenship, from their adoptive parents. We honor the adoptees who did not survive or are struggling to survive their deportations to countries they left as children where they have no support network and limited access to support services, including mental health care, clothing, food and shelter. Lack of citizenship is a tragic and often unacknowledged issue facing the adoptee community. 

I will seek to be more aware of this date next year and write about it again at that time.

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

Unbelievable But Sadly True

“I am a believer in ripping the bandage off the wound. This is why I believe the biological family should have 6 month maximum to get their act together or move immediately to adoption and have those children in a permanent home by 12 months.” ~ Foster Care Parent

Hummmm, if people were band-aids…. sure. But people aren’t band-aids. We have memories and psychological effects from everything, from smells to interactions. We are a little bit more complex then band-aids.

These types of thoughts are based on the information the general public hears. They also come from “stories” shared about kids languishing in the foster care system, until they are too old and considered unwanted.

The truth is that in some states biological parents are only given 3 to 6 months to “get their act together” before their children are allowed to be adopted by strangers.

Each foster care case begins with the goal of reunification. The parents will be given a case plan with things that they need to do in order to have their children returned home. Children are removed when the situation they are in is deemed unsafe. The case plan is intended to remedy any issues that are considered unsafe, and help the home become one that is more stable and safe.

Some examples of what a case plan may include an alcohol or other drug abuse assessment, counseling, periodic drug testing, therapy, parenting classes, mental health assessments, home visits, even a change in residence if that is deemed necessary, the parent must secure a job or prove dependable income, etc.

How long would it take you to get your act together – if you were dealing with addiction or alcoholism, lacked the privileges a lot of people take for granted, had generational poverty, heck generational experiences with foster care placement ? What if you had lost EVERYTHING, your home, every penny you ever possessed ?

There are former foster youth who are now parents. Some are third generation foster kids. There are generations of a family line that have all spent time in foster care. It’s sad. Trauma is so hard to heal, especially with no support.

Thankfully, reunification does happen. It could take a mom almost two years to completely turn her life around. She might have to face up to some pretty difficult stuff. Some of these successful efforts will go on to help other parents make it through the requirements to reunification with their children, just like the successful person did.

Languishing isn’t the right term for most cases. There are kids who languish in foster care but it’s the older kids and teens with no real permanency goal in their case plans. They will eventually “age out.” A baby being with a foster parent for six months isn’t languishing.

People who say what the foster care parent at the beginning of this essay said are ignorant. Many hopeful adoptive parents turn to foster care with an intention to be able to adopt a baby. Many foster parents can’t even get their own situations together when a placement comes into their home in six months or a year’s time. There shouldn’t be a time frame for the biological parents. People who want to adopt should get the hell out of foster care.

And consider what happens to the older kids the foster parents don’t want to adopt ? Do they believe only babies come into foster care ? What about the 12 year old ? Are they going to adopt the 12 year old ? Most likely – no. They only want the babies.

And it has been shared that some states actually do a better job in supporting family reunification after a disruption like this. In ARKANSAS, the state gives biological parents 12 months. If need be/ if the parents are “progressing”, an extension can be granted. Many parents take as long as 12 to 15 months to complete everything the state requires of them to become compliant in every way.

It is said that ARIZONA or TEXAS are not good states to find yourself in this predicament. Termination of Parental Rights and subsequent adoptions are having to be reversed because the department in charge of protecting children is not doing their jobs properly.

Case in point, this case in ARIZONA. It ended in lawsuits that undid the adoptions. The state had to pay the family $25,000 x 2 kids. Yet, the parents did not get the help they needed. Sadly, 2 years later, the kids were back in foster care. The grandma now has permanent guardianship of her grandkids. These children were adopted, then un-adopted, got to go home to their parents, then ended up back in foster care. The state basically forced permanent guardianship on the grandmother – it all happened very fast (though not adoption). Then, thankfully, the state stepped back out of it again.

This is our foster care system at work or not working.

When Abuse Is The Reason

It is sometimes misunderstood when a reform of adoption and foster care come up that those who support these issues don’t fully grasp the problem of child abuse.  That isn’t true.

One of the books I read early on in my own effort to educate myself about such issues is Etched in Sand by Regina Calcaterra.  You can learn more at her personal website.  She lived it all – from surviving an abusive mother who often left them alone to fend for themselves with inadequate resources to foster care.  It is not an easy story to read.  From her website blog about the book –

“The middle of five children, Regina, and her siblings, Cherie, Camille, Norman and Rosie were born to the same mentally ill abusive and neglectful mother but all different fathers. Their mothers mental illness, and fathers abandonment, contributed to the families instability. They would constantly move quickly shifting from houses and apartments to trailers, homeless shelters, cars and the streets. Regardless of where they lived, the older siblings would work to make each place they lived a home for the younger siblings. Through Regina’s experiences Etched in Sand chronicles how the siblings lived on the fringe of society as they struggled to  survive. All the while avoiding the authorities by keeping a pact that it was better to stay together on their own then be separated and placed in foster homes.Through Etched in Sand Regina shares the scrappy survival instincts, mishaps, adventures and bonds of a group of essentially parentless siblings.”

There is a lot that is broken and wrong about how society deals with cases such as hers.  This morning I read a heartbreaking accusation of a group I am part of that seeks reforms –

“I see a lot of you are against adoption… as if it’s some horrible thing… I see many people in here wishing they were not adopted or wish they were with their birth family…. etc. etc. I’ve seen people say adoption isn’t love. It’s bad. It shouldn’t happen.  And I even see some of you discouraging others from adopting or give up their children for adoption.”

“Why on earth would you guys want me to be with my molester/abuser.  The person who poisoned me with drugs as a child… aka my birth mom… or any other children kept with their abusers? I suffered with her for 4 years of my life being sold as a child prostitute by my own mom. I was drugged by her, in poverty and beaten repeatedly by her and then another 3 years in foster care I was abused until my bones were broken…, why would you guys want this for people? Or maybe I just don’t understand. Because adoption saved my life. I was left for dead by the person who supposedly ‘loved me’.”

“So why should children be forced to remain with their abusers or left with unfit parents???”

While I’m not highly active there nor do I read there every day, I do get a lot of ideas and am exposed to important information, which I often share here in my blog – including today’s (at least I feel it is important to my general mission of educating people about adoption and foster care from those who live it). From our group administrator comes the clearest answer, with which I agree since I’ve been in this group since late 2017.

“No one here advocates for ANY child to be abused. To insinuate that we do simply because we promote family preservation first is pretty horrible. Supporting moms to parent their children, helping them with resources and helping them see the value in themselves and the value for their children is not supporting ANYONE to remain in an abusive situation. No, we do not support that and ANYONE that has read in here long enough would know this already.”

And furthermore, just as I would say my own parents had a “good” adoptive life, the administrator added this (which I share to help clarify my own stance on these issues) –

“I am glad you had a great adopted life. I too had a great adoptive life, but that does not negate that adoption is not and should not be first choice. Moms that want to parent should be able to parent with the right supports. It is not necessary nor should it ever be necessary to seek adoption when you are unsupported, financially lacking, dealing with mental health issues, etc. These are all things that can be helped and should be. I have great relationships with my natural family too. The majority of my story is what adopted parents wish for when they adopt. Still, I am against adoption without a child’s making an informed decision and most certainly when moms just need help. The overwhelming majority of moms that seek adoption do so for financial reasons, which is ridiculous.”

That was the reason my grandmothers lost my parents who were both adopted.  It is definitely the reason one sister gave up her daughter to adoption.  The other sister just viewed adoption as a totally natural choice for a single, unwed mother.  However, in her case, severe mental illness and a period of homelessness, plus the awesome way her son has matured into a fine and upstanding person, makes us glad she did give him up.

There is not a one-size-fits-all answer to the well-being of any child or family situation.  The group I belong to advocates protection under guardianship because adoption is a commercial, for profit system.  Better is a model of “village-care” which is natural in many societies (though not in the US which is so individualistic).  On the positive side is this perspective –

“What we would want to see is that you could maintain your original birth records & medical history while being under the protection of your current guardians.  What we would want to see is that your family grows, not shrinks.  Instead of cutting off branches (the ENTIRETY of that side of your family for your abusive parents actions), we would want to extend your family outward. More care. More kin. A wider community of care.”

 

Whatever Happened To The Village ?

Modern life can be very isolating.  In adoption circles, it is recognized that the reason many parents, and especially single mothers, lose custody of their child is a lack of support – financial, familial and mental health.

It is more difficult for some parents to tap into support than others. Parents who may be new to a particular community; parents who are raising a child with some sort of mental health or behavioral challenge or health concern; parents who are barely scrapping by from pay check to pay check and who may not have the financial resources to sign their kids up for extra-curricular activities that might otherwise bring them into the orbit of other families; parents who are working unpredictable schedules that make it hard to make plans. All those factors can make it extra challenging to find – let alone connect with – your “village.”

If you’re a parent who is finding it hard to find support in your community, start out by looking for that support online.  Online social networking has been a godsend for me because we live a rural wilderness isolated existence.  Therefore, my mom’s group (formed 17 years ago) keeps me in contact with other mothers sharing some unique and similar impacts of daily living.  Our children are all turning 16 this year and our group started as email exchange threads and eventually migrated to Facebook.  Another useful group for me as I discover the effects that rampant adoption has had on my family is a group that is made up of mothers who lost custody, adoptees, former foster care youth and adoptive parents.  This group is especially helpful for unwed mothers considering the surrender of their baby to adoption after birth.

Once you’ve tapped into online support, you may also find groups focused in your own town, city, county or state that bring with them opportunities to create in person relationships in your community. Maybe you can find an online group for parents and kids in your local vicinity – this offers the best of both worlds.  There you may find instantly accessible online support when you’re looking for that.  And advice in the midst of a really bad day (or even longer night!) which every parent faces at times.  You may find in person events, get-togethers that provide opportunities to meet online acquaintances face-to-face.

For many people, that village of yesteryear simply no longer exists.  Happily for many of us, we have discovered that modern technology is allowing us to find a new way.  Even in dire financial emergencies, there are now online methods of fund raising.  In smaller communities, such as the one I live in there are often jars set up near the cash registers of sympathetic businesses to help some local cause.  In community Facebook pages, one can even inquire about jobs or temporary needs for furniture, appliances, clothing etc after an unfortunate event in a family’s life.

All this to say – it is still out there – support for families in need.  It just looks different now.

Inherited Adoption Trauma

~ Miley Cyrus ~

In an apparent case of inherited adoption trauma, Miley Cyrus shared that her mom was adopted. She believes that she inherited some of the feelings her mom had (I can believe that since my mom was also adopted).  The feelings of abandonment are real.  An adoptee, and at times this includes their children, has a need to prove that they are worthwhile and valuable.

Miley also shared that her dad’s parents divorced when he was 3 (same thing happened to my daughter – her dad and I divorced when she was that age).  In Miley’s case, she says that her dad raised himself.

She goes on to share that she did a lot of family history research and found there a lot of addiction and mental health challenges. This was her effort to answer the question – “Why am I the way that I am?”

She firmly believes and I agree – that by deeply understanding the past, we understand our present and create a better future from that awareness.

Miley said – “It’s really hard because especially being young, there’s that stigma of ‘you’re no fun.’ It’s like, ‘honey, you can call me a lot of things, but I know that I’m fun.’ The thing that I love about it is waking up 100%, 100% of the time. I don’t want to wake up feeling groggy. I want to wake up feeling ready.”

Miley Cyrus has now been sober for 6 months.