Tricky Situations

I get it.  Sometimes family isn’t really safe.  What’s a foster parent to do, in order to keep lines of communication with original family open ?  And do it safely ?

First of all it may take time to build trust and allow the original family members an opportunity to get to know you as a real and caring human being.  When the original family can see clearly that you are caring for their children in a manner a loving parent would want their child cared for that can go a long way towards developing that trust.  It is about having rapport with one another in common cause.

As a foster parent you may have to put aside your thoughts of worry and/or fears.  Begin by just engaging with these kids’ parent(s) from a perspective of one human being to another human being.  In other words, common courtesy and good manners. Don’t bring up conditions like – “you need to be safe for contact to begin or continue.”  Wow, is that ever a sure way to get anyone’s heckles up. Of course, if something dangerous actually happens, then as the responsible party you will have to make the appropriate call, but don’t anticipate it.

No finger pointing, looking down your nose at the original parent or assuming the worst about them.  Try to put yourself in their shoes.  Think about how hurt you’d feel if some stranger put conditions on seeing your baby.  If this parent does get violent, well of course, you are going have to end that visit.  Logic would dictate that you don’t need to tell a parent in this situation.  In child protective situations, they already know the issues.  As the foster parent that will just need to be the move you make IF the time comes.

Don’t  listen only to or form an opinion solely based on other people’s opinions.  Depend first on your own personal knowledge of the original parent(s).  Your direct experience.  Give this parent who has already suffered the worst possible loss a chance to redeem themselves.  People change.  People learn from mistakes.  It is terrible to be stuck into a permanent box over temporary behavior that was so very wrong – admittedly.  This is not to be in denial of danger or to reject out of hand what you’ve been told but balance that with what you experience for yourself.  Forewarned but NOT pre-judgmental.

Get away from the governmental system as much as possible.  Try navigating the first family relationships organically and as naturally as possible.  If possible, make contact with other extended first family members.  Extended family – aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents – can be absolute gold in a foster child’s life.

Realize that child protective services and social workers may not be motivated to assist you.  You may have to find the extended family yourself.  You can try searching on Facebook and reaching out to them privately and directly.  It would be a rare case that someone in the child’s genetic extended family didn’t want anything to do with these kids.  There would likely be someone who would love to be in their life and has been prevented with obstacles put in the way.

I want to be clear that I have never been a foster child or adopted, I have never been a foster parent or an adoptive parent and I have never been a biological/genetic parent who had my rights terminated.  I have been intensely educating my own self for 2-1/2 years (even since I began to learn the stories behind all of the adoptions in my own biological/genetic family).  I work very hard to gain an accurate understanding by considering and listening to ALL of the related voices and perspectives.  My desire is to be as balanced as possible, when I write blogs here.

Exactly How Is It PRO Life ?

The latest manifestation of “caring” among some conservative people is that we should allow massive amounts of death among the old or immune compromised and just get back to work and crowding public places.

When it comes to MONEY it is clear that Pro-Lifers are really only pro birth.  Once that baby is born, they could care less about the quality of life.  And for some, even better, please surrender that baby to us.  We will BUY your baby through adoption and we could care less about the pain and trauma that you and that baby go through due to our selfishness.

I know this sounds harsh.  I’m not in a generous mood at the moment.  With the Coronavirus, the new trajectory for these Pro-Life people is – let’s sacrifice the old folks on the altar of pandemic and get this over as quickly as possible – so we can go back to living like we want to.

Yesterday, the United States set a new record – the highest single day death count on the planet since this virus began spreading.  And still, they support this president – who lied to us about how lethal this disease was going to be and who did NOTHING to prepare for it.  Even now, he projects blame everywhere else but accepts NO responsibility for his own failure to take this threat seriously in the earliest stages (or even before it reached our own shores from China).

Forgive my rant.  I wonder how many of these people will crowd their churches for Easter ?  Maybe this country would be better off without them – though I wish no one to die from this wretched enemy of too many people.

Too many are Pro life unless you are old, poor or in jail.  Then, they could care less – really.

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.

So Much To Worry About

We are ALL being forced to live through perhaps one of the most extraordinary times in our collective generations history.  It will certainly be long remembered and remarked upon.  We can not see clearly where all of this disruption will leave our country and the world, much less our families and our selves.

It is crucial that we learn to manage the anxiety.  I had to recently make a point to my own husband that his anxiety was not healthy for me.  That if I had a heart attack I could end up in the place where I really don’t want to be at this time (though truth be told, I never want to end up there for that reason).

It is a moral and social responsibility incumbent upon each of us to do our best to minimize our own role in and help to curtail the spread of this contagion.  We are all having to make adjustments and modifications to the way we would prefer to be living.  We are having to give up those things we like to do best in favor of not doing much of anything that we can’t do in our very own homes.

This can be a challenge for anyone with children in their home.  It is best to be truthful in an age appropriate manner.  I heard a young child at the grocery store yesterday ask their mother, “why can’t I touch things ?”  It is definitely a teaching moment and where day care is necessary for those who must continue to work – good hygiene and distancing can even be taught to young children.

So, I want to say to you today – It’s OK to be worried. It’s normal and it isn’t an overreaction. If that is how you feel, it’s your feelings. Feelings can’t be wrong.

It has helped in our family to have a plan.  I am the most likely to become infected because I am the supply officer for my family.  We are fortunate that we have always lived this way (though there are a few more inconveniences and necessary actions that weren’t necessary before).  We have a home-based business and our children have always been educated at home.  We have less to adapt to and we also live in sparsely populated rural wilderness.  Not always an advantage but at the moment, one we are grateful for.

 

The Sad Truth

“That’s something that was, but my parent beat it.”  Nothing could ever be sweeter to the child of an addict.

If you are one, please know this – an addict doesn’t love drugs more than you. They are sick. There is always hope for a recovery.  Never give up hope, even if you have to be pragmatic and realistic about the situation as it is.

An addict is not capable of fully parenting while under the influence.  If there is a significant other in their life that can fill the gap, then it becomes possible.  Sadly, addiction often causes neglect, which can cause the child(ren) to be taken away from the parent(s) by the courts or child protective services.

Drugs are often the choice of the addict because there is a bad pain that they need to dull.  Then, the drug takes over their life.

My first marriage was destroyed by heroin. I wish I could have made a difference. Eventually I realized that I was not helping the situation and left with my daughter.  In an ironic twist, after our divorce, he refused to pay child support. I struggled as a single, working mother doing low wage work and having to provide not only food and shelter but daytime child care and medical services. Her paternal grandmother had cared for her while I worked from the time she was 3 months old.  I was offered an opportunity to make real money driving an 18-wheel truck.  I didn’t know if I could do that work but I was desperate enough to try.  I always thought my daughter’s time away from me would be temporary.

I never agreed to my ex raising our daughter.  His mother turned her over to him.  Had he not remarried a stronger woman than I was, with a daughter of her own, and had they not had a daughter together and were able to give my daughter a family, I would have intervened once I was strong enough financially to support her.  We did have visits.  It wasn’t much but I did what I could to stay connected to her under the challenging circumstances.  Recently, I learned some sad truths that her childhood home was not as happy as I would have hoped for it to be.  It is her reality and I am some cause of that.  I fully accept my responsibility.

It is my lifelong sorrow that it never happened for her to return to being raised by and living under my own roof but she survived and we remain close. Though I don’t forgive myself for not being there, she understands that we were all doing the best we knew how. At least that.

I understand the pain of any mother who loses the opportunity to raise her own child, however that happens.

 

The Child Of Separation

Family separation has taken on a new meaning in the current government administration.  Many of my friends and myself included are horrified at the barbaric and cruel images of what is being done as we witness these.

Rainer Maria Rilke wrote – “Every happiness is the child of a separation, it did not think it could survive.”  I think in the context I am considering, one could not equate happiness with separation.

Family separation means something different in my life.  It means my parents being taken away from their mothers.  It means families so broken they cannot be put back together again.  There is so much damage done when any baby is taken away from the mother who’s womb that child developed within.

Activists and reformers within the adoption world are hoping to see the common place separations end.  We seek stronger safety nets for mothers with children with no judgement applied.  It is not about how hard the mother works or how well she does trying to provide for her children but about the children themselves.  Seeing that children grow up in safe spaces with loving relatives with enough to eat and enough usable clothing to wear.  With a roof over their heads to protect them from the environment.

This is really not so much to ask of society and especially the wealthier members of our society – that we each accept a responsibility to the future generations of human beings on this planet.

Recent advances in the science of brain development offer us an unprecedented opportunity to solve some of society’s most challenging problems, from widening disparities in school achievement and economic productivity to costly health problems across the lifespan. Understanding how the experiences children have starting at birth, even prenatally, affect lifelong outcomes—combined with new knowledge about the core capabilities adults need to thrive as parents and in the workplace—provides a strong foundation upon which reforms can be created.

Not all stress is bad, but the unremitting, severe stress that is a defining feature of life for millions of children and families experiencing deep poverty, community violence, substance abuse, and/or mental illness can cause long-lasting problems for children and the adults who care for them. Reducing the pile-up of potential sources of stress will protect children directly (i.e., their stress response is triggered less frequently and powerfully) and indirectly (i.e., the adults they depend upon are better able to protect and support them, thereby preventing lasting harm). When parents can meet their families’ essential needs stress can be reduced rather than amplified.  Families are better able to support a healthy development in their children.

A Need To Educate

The general consensus in society is that adoption is a good thing.  I used to think that way too.  Both of my parents were adoptees.  Both of my sisters gave up children to adoption.  Adoption was the most natural thing in Life to me.

Then, I learned the stories of my original grandparents and how sad and tragic the loss of their babies were for each of my grandmothers.  I joined a large but private Facebook group that has been educating me about how it feels to be adopted and how it feels to lose one’s child to adoption.  I have also read a lot of books about the subject from all perspectives EXCEPT why it is so wonderful for anyone to adopt a baby that was conceived and birthed by someone else.

The reason I don’t go “there” is that I no longer can claim that adoption is natural nor can I say to anyone that it is a good thing.  Having my eyes opened up to many experiences of other people who have been adversely impacted by the practice of adoption and the methods employed by a profit motivated enterprise, I feel a duty and responsibility to shout my newest understandings out into the world.

Maybe I can save some other desperate young mother and her child from the all too common impacts that others have suffered due to a society that promotes the separation of mothers from their children one way or another.

If you who are reading this adopted with the best of intentions, I do understand your heart was in the right place and whatever damage has been done, it is done.  Get counseling for yourself and your adopted child.  If you are a mother permanently sad and depressed by what you did, I know you were doing the best you knew how to do at the time.  Get yourself counseling and always be willing to meet your child face to face and find out the honest truth, so that each of you can heal.

If I help even one other person by sharing what I have learned, it will have been worth the effort . . .

Adoption and Overpopulation

While overpopulation is a valid concern, the two issues should never be interconnected.  A prospective adoptive parent who believes adopting a child, rather than procreating, is solving the problem of overpopulation, has objectified the child.

A child is not an object.

The issue of AI is important to me.  So consider this.  What are the ethical concerns associated with our use of automated intelligence ?  What if that AI has been taught to feel emotion ?  It is non-organic.  Yet, it has feelings.  It is an object.  Do we have an ethical responsibility to it ?

When an adoptee is treated as an object to solve a problem, it is the same consideration.  And adoptees are so often denied their basic human rights.

Adopting a child to satisfy a personal mission unrelated to the welfare of the child is simply the wrong reason to do so.

Actually, adoption needs to end.  Guardianship that supports the welfare of the child without stealing their identity from them is a better choice – and not for reasons of solving overpopulation.  Every child deserves consideration and respect for their innate humanity.

Forbidden Words

One can be human and do really bad/evil things.  This is a sad truth of reality and society.  There is a sickness in men, sadly.  It is as old as humankind and it takes what it wants whether the object of its passion is willing or not.  We give that behavior names, rape, incest.

It becomes complicated when that bad behavior results in the conception of a child.  In abortion language there is often an exception for this situation that allows a women to take away the physical memory embodied as a fetus and go on with her life.  Of course, she will never forget regardless.

Some of these “results” end up being adopted.  Some adoptees have such an unfortunate experience that they wish they had been aborted but not all adoptees feel that way.  In fact, there is no one size fits all when it comes to adoption experiences.

Perpetrators are real people with real problems who do something that healthy people cannot justify. They may have stressors in their life. These may cause them to act out in inappropriate and inexcusable ways. Pretending that men who commit rape are born broken and inhuman takes away the responsibility they should still bear for their actions.

Anyone conceived in rape or incest must embrace their own inherent self-worth and insist upon their human rights.  Know this – what any ancestor did whenever they did that whether it is directly related to a subsequent person or not – this is not who we are individually.

At one time, such an event would have labeled the result a bad seed with flawed genes.  While it is true, we inherit much from our genetic foundation, we also have the free will to make of our own selves what we will.

The #MeToo movement is an effort to bring sexual violence out into the light of awareness so that we can begin to understand how such things happen and why such behavior is wrong and how all of us can do better.

This is not a blog for or against abortion.  It is a plea to give all people, including adoptees regardless of their origin story, human rights – dignity, heritage, truth.

Blame

I recently read an essay about “blame” in adoption.  Many adoptees struggle with the realities of their childhood.  It is not only the adoptee or their original parents who suffer but the people who adopt these children sometimes suffer as well.

Adoptive parents may feel they should be able to take the grief of adoption away for their adopted child or may even wrongly believe they could have somehow prevented it in the first place.

When I met my nephew’s adoptive mother (who is a loving, caring and supportive person in his life), she expressed that she had had such feelings as well.  Learning about my youngest sister’s reality, helped lessen her feelings of guilt.

I am able to see how in the case of all of the adoptions in my own family, thankfully, the outcomes have been good.  We’ve been extraordinarily lucky that all of the people involved have been good people.

Goodness does not alleviate the suffering.  It does not worsen the suffering and that is a kind of blessing under the various circumstances.