What Pro-Family Preservation Is And Is Not

I would NEVER advocate for ANY child to remain in an abusive or neglectful environment. That’s NOT what being pro-family preservation is about.

A family is a fundamental institution that provides a sense of identity and feelings of belonging. However, conflicts can affect the functioning of the family, which endangers a child’s development. In homes where there is a high level of conflict between parents, the children are at a greater risk of developing issues with concentration and managing their emotions.

A surprising 70% to 80% of Americans consider their families dysfunctional. While violence, abuse, and neglect are common forms of dysfunction, many families reported feelings of estrangement, emotional disconnection, and non-traditional family structures as well.

This has led to the development of family preservation services to strengthen the community and ensure safe environments for children. The aim is to create good quality parenting that advocates for emotional support and positive reinforcement within families to reduce conflicts.

Family preservation is a movement by state and child welfare agencies aimed at helping families cope with whatever stressors are affecting their ability to nurture children. This movement grew due to the recognition that family separation leaves some lasting adverse effects on the children. It’s possible to protect children from unwarranted traumas by offering information, guidance, and support to parents.

Millions of children worldwide live in care institutions worldwide, but a shocking 80% of kids living in children’s homes have at least one living parent. The increased number of orphanage-style institutions—coupled with an increase in people wanting to adopt babies—has motivated families in vulnerable situations to willingly take their children to the orphanage. Most of the parents who would do this are simply hoping this will give their children a better life.

Although these institutions offer refuge to such children, even the best caregivers can never replace biological families. The separation from family can harm the child emotionally and affect their cognitive behavior. The effects are worse the younger the child is and an infant is as much at risk of separation trauma as an older child. Do not think because they are preverbal that they don’t have an instinct for the mother who gestated and birthed them.

Family preservation services can benefit any parent who needs a non-judgmental environment to learn parenting strategies and other beneficial skills for their families. Typically, all families will face financial, employment, parenting, substance abuse, or illness cycles that affect the bond between members. In such challenging times, rather than giving up on your family, you need the proper support to help you safely stay together.

Much of the above (with some minor modifications from me) came from the source of my image – Camelot Care Center. There is more about their services at the link. I am not recommending them or do I have any complaint against what they do. I simply wanted to address that wishing to see fewer children adopted and more vulnerable families supported does not mean that I do not recognize that some families are in difficult straits for whatever reason. Some of those children will end up being removed. Some of those will be placed into foster care. Others may be adopted. If there is any good quality to their parents, that is where they need to grow up.

Please Be Mindful

Please be mindful of what you say about an adoptee’s birth parents and extended birth family – regardless the circumstances or how you personally feel. Remember that this person shares genes and inheritable aspects with that family of origin.

From an adoptee – As a child I internalized the messages about how I was so much better off adopted, that I was convinced my mother must have been a very evil person. I thought perhaps a witch or a prostitute and would tell everyone this. I was secretly petrified I would be just like her. (Note: she’s not, she was a vulnerable woman who was not supported to keep me.)

Of course, it is known that children have no filters or sense of decorum and will often repeat the perspectives of adults around them – thus comes this sad recollection. One of my earliest memories is from when I was 5 years old and a classmate told me I was adopted because my biological mom didn’t love me. It was so hurtful and it took me a long time to get past it.

The same advice applies to one parent or family bashing the other parent or family. Regardless of whether these are biological, foster families, adoptive family. All of these are part of a child’s history and life experience and when you do this, you are saying in effect that a part of the child is equally bad.

Sad Stories

Not just sometimes, many times, I hate what adoption does to families.  So today, yet another sad story of a mother separated from her child.  An open adoption agreement that turns into a lie.  This happens too often to not be expected going in but the ones who go in trust the agreement until it is broken – and many times it is.

A woman became pregnant at the age of 18 and was 19 when her daughter was born.  I can relate, that is what happened to me although I was married first – thankfully – it could have turned out differently . . .

She chose adoption because she really didn’t believe that she had another choice. She had never heard of an open adoption. The family she chose was the first and only family she looked at. They sounded great to her.  They were also adopted and had relationships with their biological parents. She believed that, if anyone could relate to anything her daughter might feel growing up, these people could. Upon meeting them, she was offered an open adoption.

So things were going great for 3 years. The agreement was for 2 visits a year. Aware that her vulnerability could risk a rupture, she was cautious in her behavior at these visits.  She didn’t want to over step her authority or make the adoptive parents uncomfortable. She never referred to her own daughter as that around them or in direct communication with them.

It appeared that all was well until the little girl turned 3.  A visit was scheduled and 2 hours before she was due to arrive, the adoptive parents asked if they could reschedule the visit to take place a few weeks later.  The woman waited 2 months for a date.  Finally, she tried calling them. The number was no longer in service.  I have encountered variations on this story more times than I might hope to believe happens.

Her adoption worker, from that day on, always said she had no idea where they were and hadn’t heard from them. Fast forward 14 years.  Her daughter turned 17 in April.  The original mother found her daughter on Facebook and sent a friend request. She didn’t really think it through and admits that maybe it was selfish of her but she understandably just wanted to see her daughter’s face and know she was okay.  When my own adoptee mom was searching, she said to me that as a mother herself, she would want to know what became of her child.  Unfortunately, by then, my maternal grandmother had already died.

Back to this sad story, the woman was immediately blocked.  The adoptive mother messaged her asking her not to reach out to her daughter again, at least not until she is an adult.  This woman is willing to respect their wishes, sadly to me adding, “she is THEIR daughter”. The adoptive mother claimed in receiving the friend request, the daughter thought that her original mother was a stalker.  The adoptive mother claims the daughter knows she is adopted and about her original mother.  She said the girl doesn’t have any questions and doesn’t want to know anything more.  She just wants things to go back to normal.

The whole exchange does not feel entirely believable to this woman.  The turnaround of 15 minutes was too fast.

This woman went on to give birth to a son who is 12 years old (he is 5 years younger than his sister). When the woman did speak to the adoptive mother, the adoptive mother shifted the blame, saying this woman was the cause of contact ending because it was too hard for the original mother to bear.  Yet the adoptive mother knew the original mother had had a son and believed this woman was now happy with her life as it had become.

The rub is – the only way they would have known that was by being in contact with adoption worker. All those years of the adoption worker saying she didn’t know where they were, it was a lie.

Lifetime No Contact Order

I didn’t know this was a thing.  It seems draconian and excessive.  There seem to be some cases of children placed into state custody where the parent has not only had their parental rights permanently terminated but is denied permanent contact forever with their own children.  It may relate to addiction.  But lifetime ?  This just seems wrong and it may not actually be “lifetime”.

I read that – the court order essentially is in place until the kids turn 18.  It is thought that the kid’s can choose whether to extend it or let it lapse at that point.

In the case I read about, which is typical of many poor people who encounter the legal system, the mother was coerced through fear tactics to sign this as part of her plea bargain.  I agree with the person who shared this story that such a permanent lifetime no contact order would do more harm than good for the kids and their mom over the long run.

People do change.  Lord, how I know that up close and personal.  I’ve done some pretty stupid things in my lifetime, even put my sweet baby girl at risk in my naivety.  Thankfully, she survived my immaturity.

It may be that how this particular situation resolves will depend on the relationship that the foster parent has with the genetic/biological parent.  Hopefully in this case, both the foster parent and the mother can let the caseworker know they object to this stipulation that was obtained under duress.  It may be that getting all of the parties to request the court make a change will prove successful in allowing the potential for contacts within this family.  If the judge is not willing, there is always hope in an appeal.

Part of our modern reality is that there are parents now who have gotten into addiction – often it begins with a valid need for pain relief – or it did, until society woke up to the fact that the pharmaceutical industry had a profit motive in getting people addicted to begin with.  End of societal inequity and/or injustice rant for today.

It Is NOT God’s Plan

Many Christian couples who struggle with infertility begin to believe somehow that this signals God’s desire that they adopt someone else’s newborn baby.  This baby is not a blank slate. Newborn or infant adoption is not mostly trauma-free simply because this human being is pre-verbal.

I don’t believe for a minute that God is deliberately punishing you by causing you to become pregnant under difficult circumstances only to hand your baby over to complete strangers and then more or less throw you away (forget you ever existed or mattered).

What is actually selfish ?  Saying that giving a child up for adoption is the most selfless thing someone can do is flawed logic.  Does that mean biological mothers who keep their infants are selfish for keeping them ?  It is selfish not to give your precious baby to the more privileged minority of people who have much better financial resources to parent with ?  If that logic were true, then all biological parents would give their children to someone else to parent, since it is selfless towards the child to keep them when someone else has greater resources.

Using God to take away someone else’s baby is exploiting a vulnerable person and trying to use any belief in God they might have to coerce them to YOUR will.  This is not God’s will, this is you trying to use God for your own purposes.

I will never be able to get behind the idea that God got the wombs mixed up when he gave a baby to their mother.  God didn’t give a little baby to one mother for her and her baby to go through the rest of their lives with trauma simply to “heal the infertile wounds” of another couple.

It just doesn’t work that way but Christian couples are very prone to use their religion to justify taking a baby away from a vulnerable mother.