Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What is Adoption really about?

"We couldn't have children"
"We couldn't watch those terrible commercials on TV and not do something."
"We are partners and we want a family"
"It's the humanitarian thing to do"
"It was to save our marriage"
"Harry and I wanted to have the 'child we never had'"
"We needed someone to love us back"
"We couldn't have more children and Jack needed a playmate"
"We had to go the route of adoption because we couldn't have biological children"
"Everyone else in our neighborhood has kids, we felt out of place"

This is why adoption is such a screwed up life for the kids. Show me any one of these reasons where children are the motive! They're not and nor will they be for many who adopt for the wrong reasons. They are targets for those in the adoption space who are modern day gypsies selling snake oil. Think about your motives because you might just learn something about yourself and your desire to adopt.

Adoption has destroyed lives, marriages and most of all, children. Is a child better off as a poor farmer in a 3rd world country or in your plastic-pristine and perfect suburban lifestyle? Take 'em in, send them to school, put them on the path and watch them shine! It's so easy. It's all figured out! Just get them the schooling and they can be anything they want! Sure! Go ahead.

Giving them what you think they need can be very clouded by what you do to get what you want. We all have a very canny way of manipulating the system and one another into getting what we want. Most times, it isn't necessarily what we need or what the children we bring into our life need.

Let me introduce you to hell on earth when the plan above doesn't quite go as planned.........(names and places are fictitious - situations are real)

Sherry had to have a child. Bill wanted to make Sherry happy so he went along. Sherry and Bill couldn't afford International adoption, so they went the "inexpensive" method or going through the state. They did their foster parent/adoptive parent training. They heard some of the good, the bad and the ugly. Sherry always comforted Bill and assured him they would be very careful in making sure none of those things would happen to them. But time went on and the Sherry's bio clock was ticking. They were approaching an age when they would become ineligible if they didn't act. They would have to redo their home study and go through all of this again!

Meantime, Ralph, a graduate in social work got his new placement as a full time social worker within the child services group of his state. He reported to work and was assigned a case that the previous worker, who had retired and hadn't filled. Beth was the worker's name and she had been hesitant to place any of the available children into the home of Sherry and Bill because of the problem past of the candidates (kids) available for adoption when Sherry and Bill's homestudy had been accepted.

Ralph had his first meeting with his new boss, Patricia who had just been appointed from another department of social services. Patricia had been given a mandate to place 10% of all eligible children in the system in her first 12 months. Pressure to place children had come down from the Governor's office. Ralph liked his first meeting and the top file on his new desk was Sherry and Bill.

Ralph read the homestudy and really go into it. This would be his first placement. He was going to make a change and bring a family together. He reached over to his eligible file and thumbed through the available candidates. A young girl, Kristen, caught his eye. He read about Kristen and others but kept coming back to Kristen. The only problem, Kristen was 10 and she was going to be a hard placement. But after reviewing Sherry and Bill's file and realizing they had been in the system for quite a while, he went to Patricia to see what she thought about it. Patricia's mandate influenced her encouragement to Ralph to run it by Sherry and Bill.

Ralph called Sherry and made an appointment. Sherry hadn't heard anything from the state since Beth had retired. Time had rushed by and Sherry was approaching 40. When she heard about Kristen, she jumped at the opportunity for one, a girl and two, an older girl. Her mind started rushing through all of the things they could do together. Shopping and spending time in sports, (Sherry was a track star in her high school years). They could take weekends at their summer home and long walks on the beach.

So Sherry made an appointment and went to see Ralph. She wanted to make sure that Bill would only know if she was happy first. No need to bother him with this. Bill worked hard and he was behind Sherry 100%. Sherry dropped in for a meeting with Ralph and looked at Kristen's file. Kristen had already been involved in sports and was a top student in her school. Her situation was one of hardship as her single parent mother had died of cancer after having been divorced for only a short time. The whereabouts of the father was unknown and the state had to take custody of Kristen when her mother died, as there were no next of kin.

Sherry was beside herself when she got home. She couldn't hold it in and she broke it to Bill the minute he walked in. She was so excited that Bill's questions seemed to just go right by Sherry. Why is she in the system? Isn't she a little old? Is there a reason the father couldn't be found? Where is he? Wasn't it the state's obligation to seek him out and locate him? Sherry didn't have any answers and wasn't open to all of the "negative" feedback from Bill. They agreed to go and have a meeting with Kristen at the group home she was staying at the next weekend.

Sherry thought the weekend would never come. She couldn't contain her excitement. She and Bill had been married for nearly 15 years and never once had thought they would finally become a complete family. Sherry spent nearly two hours getting ready and went through change after change dealing with whether to wear or not to wear makeup. Should she wear a dress or jeans and a nice blouse to appear low key. It was as if though she was the one being adopted and not Kristen.

Bill simply went along with everything hoping this would be the end of all of the frustration for Sherry. After all, they loved each other very much and if it meant happiness for Sherry, Bill would do anything in the world for her.

Saturday came and Bill and Sherry arrived at the group home. They were escorted to a waiting room and a counselor shared with them a little on the background of Kristen. Per their records, Kristen's father simply left and never came home and after her mother died, Kristen became a ward of the state. She had excelled in school and in sports up to her mother's death. Because Kristen only had a distant uncle, Jerry who lived in the UK, she had no options. Her uncle had been there for her during her mother's illness, but had to return to his family and wasn't able to do anything for her as they had no room or monetary support for another family member. Kristen had been in the home for only a couple months and appeared to be well liked and very helpful doing her share of the work around the house. Because school was carried out in the home, Kristen had not had the chance to keep up her sports and was really concerned she would not be able to go to a "normal" school and run and play soccer as she had in her old school. The only negative was that Kristen was very shy around men and didn't want to get too close to any of the boys or male counselors in the home.

Sherry and Bill were shocked when Kristen walked in. She was slim and beautiful, polite and well dressed. She was articulate and very mannerly. What a shame for such a young girl to have to go through such trauma. She appeared nervous as any child would in such a situation, but nothing any 10 year old wouldn't feel being paraded in front of prospective parents. Sherry asked Kristen what she liked and disliked and asked her if she wanted to be adopted. Sherry very much wanted a family. She talked about her favorite TV shows and her favorite sports stars. She loved runners, tennis and was learning more about soccer stars as they watched soccer at the group home every chance they got. Bill remained quiet and simply stayed low key knowing what he did about Kristen's shyness toward males.

Bill and Sherry went out to have an ice cream with Kristen and her counselor on duty and then politely said goodbye. Sherry couldn't contain her emotion. Was it finally going to happen? Was she finally going to be a MOM? After the first meeting, Bill's fears were calmed and he told Sherry he was OK with pursuing adopting Kristen.

The story doesn't have a good ending. Because of information that never got to Ralph (Beth's retirement) and Patricia being brought in to replace the head of the social services group, the memo never made it into Kristen's file. You see Beth got a call from the group home just before she left her position. It seemed that Kristen had divulged, in confidence the following during a therapy session with the group home psychologist. Beth typed up a memo and gave it to her boss. See what missing and incomplete information did to these lives:

The rest of the story you didn't hear goes like this: Kristen's uncle came in from the UK to assist Kristen while her mother was sick. Kristen's mother didn't have any family because she had left the UK when she was a teenager and come to the US. She married but the marriage never worked out because Jennifer, Kristen's mother had been molested and she never felt comfortable with men. She went through the motions because she wanted someone to love her after the horrible life she had lived in the UK. She had a short term relationship with a guy she met and though they got married and had Kristen, he was wild and Jennifer simply asked him to leave after Kristen was born. What you don't see is that Jennifer had been molested by her uncle Jerry. Yes, the same uncle who came over to help Kristen when Jennifer had gone on life support. He never came to the hospital, he simply handled family matters and made sure Kristen was taken care of during his mother's sickness. Jennifer couldn't react because she was already in a comatose state when Jerry came over to assist Kristen. Kristen had been told many years before that she had some family in the UK and that if anything happened, she could call and get help from them. When Kristen called for help when her mother got very ill, Jerry was the first member on the list that called back and offered to help. Kristen being only ten, had no clue. And you can probably finish the rest of the story. Uncle Jerry had his way with Kristen just like he did her mother. And now he's back in the UK and Kristen is starting her new life with Sherry and Bill.

Fast forward: Bill comes home every night and pops back a few. Bill never used to overdo it, but now there's no life at home. You see, Kristen, his new adopted child won't come within 10 feet of him. He's tried to be friendly, but nothing seems to work. Kristen goes to therapy twice a week, but won't speak to anyone else about the terrible things that her uncle Jerry did to her. She cannot come to terms with the fact that her mother is dead and she has no one. Sherry spends huge amounts of time every day when she's not working 50 hours per week to pay for the therapy, with Kristen. But to Kristen, Sherry is not mom. Sherry is refined and likes all the things that Jennifer used to shy away from. Jennifer was simple, Sherry is complex. Jennifer had no family, Sherry has relatives everywhere coming in to "meet" Kristen. Kristen feels like she has to perform for all of them and she simply hates being around just about everyone. She lived a quiet life and now life is anything but quiet.

Sherry has no life outside Kristen's. Bill simply goes to work and comes home and throws a couple back and watches sports on ESPN. Bill works late whenever he gets a chance and now Sherry is accusing him of not spending time with her. Bill's argument is that there is never a moment to spend time with her as all her time is dedicated to Kristen. There are no more weekends at the beach home. It's been sold to pay for therapy and special attention projects with Kristen. Deep down, Sherry thinks Bill has found someone else and she almost doesn't blame him. Kristen fears men and won't go anywhere or do anything without Sherry. So Bill and Sherry now have a family.

So you want to adopt kids?

If you're touched, touch me back with your stories. The world needs to know that adoption is not all great and wonderful and the ugly has to be included with the good. If you disagree, tell me. Read more of my blog and know that I've been touched by adoption and I'm going to "touch it back!"


Ungrateful Little Bastard said...

God this story is so sad

Wraiths said...

Yeah, some people seem to forget it's a little human who may have some baggage no matter how old they are and they need to stop thinking of it as buying blank slate.
On the flip side, while this is really hurting them, I am glad to see it didn't become a "return to the store" story, lord knows there are enough of those already.

Anonymous said...

This story would make one hell of a memoir/novel.

I started getting some shit on my blog a couple of weeks ago for talking too much about my kids' pain, already being expressed by my 6 y.o. and guaranteed to be expressed by my 3-4 year old as soon as he can articulate why it is that he cries inconsolably in his sleep sometimes. I also expressed my complicit guilt regarding their adoptions. I got messages about how sad it is and how bad for my kids that I feel guilty. And was told that they chose me (in some spiritual plane no doubt)! SO NOT!

Anyway, you are giving me the courage to keep at it with the honesty.

And thanks for that incredibly kind comment you left for me. I felt like I might be representing myself as a much better person than I really am. I was NASTY to my brother for too long and feel very bad about it. He's forgiven me more quickly than I have forgiven myself. Why is he not bitter? I mean he's angry, but not bitter.

Anonymous said...

awesome post - wish you could put it in an AP site without getting deleted...

Maria Wren said...

Sad story. Really agree that adoption is so easily made all about what the APs want, as opposed to doing what's best for the child.