Sunday, April 11, 2010

Why is the system failing?

Within the world of adoptive parents, there has been a lot of discussion happening recently.

The topic is disrupting, as in terminating your adoption of your child.

It is an extremely sensitive topic and one that most have a strong opinion on.

The process to adopt is much longer than a pregnancy. You might think about it for years before ever pursuing adopting a child.

For many couples, the idea of adopting only comes after years of attempts of "having" a child. These couples have usually spent thousands of dollars, hours, and tears hoping to see a positive result on a pregnancy test.

I cannot address the issues that surround their decision to adopt, as I have not been there. I know for my sister Jana, she spent years going through all sorts of "treatments" in hopes of getting pregnant and only after she stopped all of this, did she become pregnant. But I don't remember why she decided to adopt my niece Darcey. She knew the chance of getting pregnant again was very slim but my memory of why she wanted Gillian to have a sister escapes me.

I will always be thankful she did, because without Darcey, I would be without Grace and Annabel.

Your first meeting with an adoption agency is like being called to the Principal's office and you begin the first of many times of being grilled to help determine if you are "fit" to be a parent. From there you begin paperwork. Adoptive parents call it the "paper chase" but it is more like a paper marathon. As soon as you think you have all the paperwork completed, there is another set of papers that are required by our government, the government of your child, and then preparing all paperwork to be swapped and shared by the two governments.

With each step is a fee. Some are fairly small, but most are quite large.

The fees not only are sent to the different governments, but before they can even leave your hands, they have to be notarized, certified, and then authenticated. This means finding a kind notary who will cut you a bargain on the stack of documents, before you send them to the state of Texas to prove that the notary truly is a notary.

When the state of Texas decides that the notary really is a notary, then you can send them to the Chinese government, or at least their embassy, to let them say they believe the state of Texas is correct, that the notary really is a notary, so obviously these documents are legitimate.

Somewhere in there you fill out paperwork on every aspect of your life, find friends and family members who will agree/approve of you as a parent, have your employer confirm you do work there and how much you make, have a complete check up with your doctor, and finally get visited by a social worker.

The costs continue to mount and this is before you have even bought anything for your new child. Many families do an assortment of fund raising. To raise money for my two trips to China, I closed out retirement accounts, mutual funds, and even sold my house for a cheaper one.

To adopt is much more complicated and considerably more expensive than what has been accomplished for some through a one night's stand.

The reason I bring all this up, is trying to understand how someone an decide to disrupt their adoption.

For one thing, I cannot imagine thinking of my daughters as anything but my daughters. I don't think of them as optional.

When I decided to adopt, I don't remember anyone saying that if it doesn't work, bring them back. These are humans, not shoes!

Just before we left for China to adopt Annabel, we "adopted" two dogs from the SPCA. These dogs should have come with a warranty that if you did not like them, you could return them, but even dogs do not.

Besides, when you have adopted your child, I decided I could not "adopt" a dog and then take the dog back because she and he did not fit in or meet our needs or misbehaved, all of which our dogs did.

I was so afraid it would affect Grace that I decided these dogs just would not work and that she would think the same thing was possible for her, that we continue to grin and bear our lives with these certifiably crazy dogs.

Both girls had been switched around to so many homes and each time were told this was your "mother" the one thing I want to provide for them is consistency and continuity.

Just before we left to adopt Annabel I was contacted by a woman who insisted she had been to the orphanage when Annabel was only 2 and insisted proper care be given to all of the children, even Annabel.

This woman, whom I only met through emails, had finally adopted a daughter herself, after almost 9 years of involvement with orphanages in China.

This daughter was either 13 or 14.

The woman had decided that it was not working and was in the process of putting her in foster care in the UK, as she could not return her "daughter" to China.

A mother from Tennessee has been in the news for putting her adopted son on a plane to Russia, by himself, with a note explaining it just wasn't working.

One mother, after almost 9 years of having her daughter, suddenly decided she could no longer raise this child.

Others have killed their children.

There is outcry on all sides about these situations.

I cannot imagine how horrible your life is to make such profound decisions that impact a child's life, a lie already filled with more than the average person can imagine bearing.

Why do they go to so much trouble only to "change" their minds? Or even worse, decide they cannot do it, and kill their child?

My children have problems.

Shoot, I had problems.

Did Mom and Dad wish they could have "do overs" with us? If they could have returned us, would they?

That could never have even been a consideration. There was no place to take us back to.

So far I have not found the perfect child, although if you ask my mother, my daughters are pretty close.

Can you imagine the fragile state of mind these children must feel when threatened that they will be taken back if they don't..... fill in the blank, whatever it is these parents demand their children do?

When do adoptive parents quit blaming their children's backgrounds on the problems the family is having? When do the parents take responsibility for being the parent? When do they lay the ground rules and set expectations and make sure everyone understands? Why do they let their adoptive children "torment" them? This worries me a lot. I see parents regularly with their children on a variety of drugs, therapies, and finally trying to put as much time and distance between them and their children so they will not have to deal with their children's behaviors.

When I look at some of the quirky behaviors of my girls, I don't spend a lot of time trying to decide if it was genetic, poor healthcare while pregnant, drinking, drugs done by their birth mothers, environmental, the water, the diet, the whatever else you can blame things on. Instead I try to focus on the here and now and try to find the best way to make us have a good life as a family. I'm not perfect and neither are my daughters, but I do not expect to put them away either.

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