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Adopting? Keep This in Mind.

So well said by one of my adoptee friends—please take note if you’re interested in adoption:

There seems to be an abundance of adopters/hopeful adopters so enmeshed in getting their own “needs/wants” met.

Adoption should be about the child’s needs FIRST and FOREMOST.

Children just about never have the ability to “opt out” of this process if they don’t like it.

 

 

 

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I’m Going In…Part 2

I didn’t get what I wanted last week.

(Click on the “last week” link to go back to Part 1.)

I marched into the meeting armed with a thick file of psychological testing, neurological testing, notes I’ve taken through the last five years and a box of thirty-odd adoptive parenting books. I wanted to show the team we’ve done due diligence and our homework. Our daughter’s in-home therapist accompanied me.

A few days prior to the meeting, one of the lead therapists in the assessment company spent several hours on the phone learning about our situation. I’m sure she’s also thinking of the financial gain of a new client but she seemed very dedicated to helping our girl get what she needs. She even offered to join the meeting by phone. However, the night before the meeting she called to let me know the community services rep told her not to call. I thought it was a little strange; using every resource seemed like a good move to me, but I figured this wasn’t the rep’s first rodeo. She must have her reasons.

As the meeting started, I explained our situation, laid out the path we’ve taken to try to find answers and explained why we feel having an assessment (which is a large expense) would be helpful for our daughter. Several companies nationwide in the U.S. provide the service; some appear to have better results than others and many are very far away. This company is our closest option and has received great feedback from former clients.

The meeting facilitator asked for additional information about the company. I began handing out the company brochures as the community service rep spoke up. “Unfortunately, no one from the company was available to join us for this meeting, so we don’t have additional information.”

Wait, what?!

Mid-reach over the big oak table with a brochure, I locked eyes with the rep.

“Actually, she was available. She called me last night stating that you told her not to call in.”

The rep flushed, then said, “Well. Yes. I did. I have to say, the behavior discussed here is nothing like the sweet young lady who sat in my office.”

For half an hour. She saw my daughter for thirty minutes. She thought I was making this up?

The facilitator’s eyes flicked back and forth between us, possibly concerned I’d jump across the table.

I gritted my teeth and

sat down on my inner WWF wrestler* alter-ego,

who really wanted to pound the rep.

*Her name is Tai-Chi-Mama and she wears a cape. 

Our girl’s therapist told the group she’s familiar with the program and thinks this partnership would be very helpful. Unfortunately, she was a young newcomer and many of the team members were…seasoned. Although they were mildly interested, her words held no sway with the group.

Another team member spoke up just then, explaining that she’s seen excellent results from the assessment with some of her own young clients. I’m not sure why she didn’t say anything earlier; maybe she was waiting to see if I needed help. Her testimony turned the tide from good-luck-getting-that-approved to we’re interested but not sold. 

I still didn’t get what I wanted.

The facilitator told me I’d need to go back to our adoption district and request the funding in a process that can take up to two months (color me not thrilled) by going through the social work team (double not thrilled).

When we adopted, the head social worker in the original district was horrible and the director wasn’t much better. If you’ve been reading a while, you’ve probably seen a few of those painful posts. Telling me I’d need to work with them again was tantamount to directing me to attempt firewalking.

I left the meeting somewhat discouraged. Thankfully, the meeting facilitator offered to call ahead to the social worker. Since the request came from the team, the social worker couldn’t completely shut me down.

Let’s stop here for a quick sing-along: 
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you might find
You get what you need

Today, I got what I needed.

The social worker called. She said,

We’ve had trouble building trust with a lot of our older families because of what happened in the past with other social workers. I want to let you know that things are very different now. I’m here to help you and I want to get your daughter what she needs. I’ve sent you information about the process and some paperwork to get it started. Oh, and let me tell you about a few other resources that may be helpful…

Several of the options she suggested weren’t even on my radar. And to think, if we’d been approved in the beginning, I would have never talked with her.

Sometimes, we think we aren’t getting what we want.

Maybe we aren’t.

And maybe, just maybe, not getting what we want is…good.

Adoption = Interview with I.

My new friend identifies herself as “I.” This interview gave me chills.

I. is passionate and strong. She’s absolutely captivating. 

If you’re interested in hearing more of her story, post your questions below and I’ll ask if she’s willing to provide Part 2. 

What’s your adoption story?

I was adopted at birth through a now-disbanded adoption agency. My adoption process involved my birthmother coming to the United States from Russia early in her pregnancy. She then resided here for the remainder of her pregnancy and shortly after giving birth. It was therefore a domestic adoption.

My biological family does not reside within the United States, nor do they speak English. My adoptive family is not of the same ethnic origin as me.

How would you describe your relationship with your adoptive parents?

My adoptive parents are quite close, and are very supportive and loving parents. And yet, neither were present for a great deal of my childhood. My adoptive father worked from 11 AM to 3 AM a day on average, a schedule that continues to a slightly lesser extent today. My adoptive mother had very poor hearing when she adopted me, and her hearing continued to worsen until she became completely deaf. Up until she received her cochlear implants a few years ago, she would spend a great deal of time in bed watching close-captioned television to avoid her condition’s corresponding vertigo. Today, I still have difficulty with social interaction and confiding in them, but it is a process.

Do you have any siblings?

I have one sibling, a brother who is 7 years older than me. He is my adoptive parents’ only biological child. We have never gotten along. He is a very aggressive person, and has physically abused me since my childhood. Some instances resulted in my leaving my home to live with relatives or friends for up to a year. Likewise, he sexually abused me for some time, however an attack of that kind has not happened in 8 years.

What did your parents get right?

My parents have tried their best in bringing me up. They put a great deal of effort into our relationship. It’s very nice to know that my parents are there to help me when I need it, and try their best to understand how I feel about my adoption. In my opinion, It would be ideal if people felt more open when talking about adoption. But at least in my situation, it is definitely an unspoken taboo.

If you could change something about what your parents did, what would it be?

One thing that I wish they had done differently was tell me about my adoption sooner than they had. My adoptive mother told me I was adopted when I was 6. She told me because I was complaining that I wanted to be adopted, because my best friend at the time was adopted. As a child, I didn’t really understood what it meant to be adopted and I assumed that I was kidnapped. But it wasn’t just the delivery or the timing. Even now, they tend to slip out information about my biological mother only when it’s convenient for them, and sometimes what one parent says does not agree with what the other says. They don’t seem to understand the weight of what they say with regards to my adoption, and what I term the ‘vast unknown’ of my biological life.

Are you interested in contact with biological family members?

I have been trying to find my birthmother for three years now, but searchers I have hired have had difficulty tracking her down. Nevertheless, I am only aware of my birthmother’s information, and I am not sure even she knew the information of my birthfather. I would like to meet my birthmother’s family.

What are your thoughts on adoption?

My opinion of adoption: It’s a very kind thing for people to do. I see parents who adopt as very loving and strong individuals. Exceptional bravery is involved in the lengthy process of adoption. Likewise, the idea of taking in someone else’s child, potentially from a different culture, with a different language, personality, and different interests is a daunting task – but adoptive parents often do it so beautifully, with only the intention of love and respect. In this way, I think adoption is a very remarkable thing.

However, there are many scenarios where adoption results in distress for the child. Whether it’s the separation from parents, siblings, or a culture – the child can be affected negatively. I would not agree necessarily with separating a child from their country of origin.

But even beyond that, what makes me feel most uneasy about adoption is, in some cases, the assignment of monetary value to a child. That I had some raw sum attached to me freaks me out a bit. My adoption cost a great deal more than most adoptions: 70 thousand dollars. Most adoptions are less than half of that. I understand that a great percentage of that money is for lawyers and transportation, hospital fees and care.

In your situation, the adoption cost was a little different, correct? 

In my case, my mother was compensated (which doesn’t often happen, I don’t think). My adoption agency was compensated. Third party groups were compensated. And that was all predetermined. It makes me question what other factors determined the price. Did my gender determine it? My genetics?

And when did these people sit in a room and say, “yes. This child seems like she’s worth that much.”… or even an extended question, “biological mother, is this percentage of the whole enough for you?” …presumably yes. Or maybe it wasn’t about the money. But that’s just it. It comes back down to the whole ‘causing distress in the child.’ The unknowns, again. It’s like a rabbit hole.

I’m ranting now because I don’t know how I feel.

What advice would you give adoptive parents?

Adoptive parents should be more open about adoption with their adopted children. Most of the time, when we ask questions, we don’t intend to hurt you. Additionally, asking questions doesn’t mean that we’re dissatisfied or angry, that we’re thinking of running away or we’re dreaming of a different universe where such-and-such may have happened. We’re asking questions because we don’t have the answers. But we deserve them.

And just like adoptive parents are brave in the act of adopting children, so adopted children are brave. We ask questions when we’re equally worried that everything we care for might crack under our feet, just because it’s a ‘touchy subject.’ Adopted children deserve the truth. Straight-forward, honest truths. Because in the end, those missing truths, the weirdly-shaped and hard-to-solve puzzle pieces, are the only parts left – the parts that we need to complete ourselves.

 I. is 19 years old. She is currently attending college as an undergraduate in the Northeast.

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