Monday, December 26, 2005

Nothing More Than Foster Parents?

One area of the adoption process that many should be aware of is that you may end up being nothing more than glorified "foster parents" when it is all said and done. Many people will proclaim how much good you are doing, but if your children ultimately fail to attach, you may end up with a lot less satisfaction than you expected.

It can be tough enough to raise children in today's world with all the things that can pull them from their family, even when they were born in it. Adding in the underlying feeling that they don't really belong in you family can make it even harder for them to feel a part of things. And this can make you very frustrated if they decide another family is their true family.

I don't know that this has an answer. My oldest child is currently very estranged and my second is chafing to leave home as soon as he can. He is cordial, in general, but the deep tie is missing and I strongly feel that he is just biding his time until he can permanently rejoin his real family. I don't think he really grasps that he can never regain what was lost many years ago. He also needs to know that he has two families now. My daughter (the oldest) viewed getting back with her birth father as the solution to all the problems. Of course it didn't, but such feelings don't go away easily.

My youngest 2 don't appear to have any strong pull in this direction. They have spoken with their birth father, but they don't appear (at least not at this point) to be driven by the need to move there.

My attempt here is to raise the issue, not deal with all the emotions. Be aware of this deep tie.

It does raise a deep fear of many adoptive parents: losing their children to the birth parents, but you are better off facing it that merely pretending it doesn't exist.


Friday, December 23, 2005

Is There Hope?

I will warn anyone considering adopting from the CPS system to do a lot more investigation than most people do. It does take a good bit of idealism to even venture into this area, but watch that your idealism doesn't blind you to the harsh realities that are likely to arise down the line.

Even the best children in the system have been hurt in some manner. And parenting a hurt child takes a lot more than most parents realize. Are you ready for feedback from many who just don't get it? What will you do when your own relatives tell you to just "lighten up" on children when you are just barely holding things together?

Hopefully I can regain my initial sense of optimism, but going through the ringer with such children has a way of rapidly draining away such enthusiasm. As a Christian, I know that God is in charge of everything and I know that He was not surprised, but that doesn't make it any easier to walk through.

If you are heading down this path, find someone who has been down it before. Don't just believe the "adoption stories" shows on TV. They rarely focus on the long term, and I have yet to see one that turned out poorly. (Though what do you expect from a "feel good" show. No one would want to watch and "adoption failures" show after all, at least not outside of trash TV shows.)

Maybe you will be successful, and I pray you will, but you are much more likely to succeed if you find out what you are facing ahead of time.


Thursday, June 09, 2005

A Challenging Task

Adopting hurt children, especially a group of them, is a much more challenging task than is readily apparent at the start. I remember back when we were first seeking children to adopt. We knew we could live with a sibling group, but we wanted to avoid "serious problems". I have a revelation for you: All these children have serious problems! In our case, all 4 have ADHD, one has been diagnosed as having Asperger's Syndrome (mild autism) and one likely has it as well. Another child has gotten a bipolar diagnosis (a bit of a broad brush though). The final one doesn't have any additional things, but that is only based on what we know now, these things seep out after time.

In addition, children coming from this background will have problems attaching. Some still can, but some are much more resistant, and may never attach. I would strongly encourage new adoptive parents to really work on this issue, even if the lack of attachment is not apparent. "Minor" problems at the younger ages can blow up into serious problems as these children reach the teenage years.

I would also not that the CPS system is just as likely to accuse you down the line as it is to be helpful. An unattached child can accuse you of things that will be taken very seriously because most children do not accuse their parents. CPS workers, police, friends, and others will all immediately put you under suspicion, even though it is really the inability of the child to attach.

I still think dedicated people are desperately needed for these children, especially sibling groups of them. But it is vitally important that you get education and support. A number of materials exist that can be helpful, but the support network is very weak. I hope I can play a role in changing that!

I will talk more on this in the future.


Monday, May 23, 2005

The Primal Wound, by Nancy Verrier

I have gone on a bit of a reading binge recently. Learning more about how I can help my children survive and thrive in life.

I plan on writing a full review later, but I wanted to note now that I see this as a very important book for all those involved with adoption, or involved with someone involved with adoption. If you are an adoptee, birth parent, or adoptive parent, this book can give you a much better insight into at least some of what an adoptee goes through.

While I am not 100% convinced of everything in the book, I do agree with its basic point that an adoptee has had a major trauma that will affect them for their entire life. This book is light on answers, but the first step is to see a problem, and this book does a good job of identifying the problem.

While the main focus on the book is on infant adoption, it also briefly covers older child adoption. While some of the outcome might be different, the trauma is the same.

For adoptive parents, this book can give you some idea of why your children act (or will act) the way they do. I know the parts where I have read ahead matched my children, and made me realize that the job of adoptive parent is incredibly difficult, much more difficult than I ever realized.

The book definitely ends up discouraging infant adoption, and I myself have always questioned the overwhelming push to have an infant (my 4 children were older when they came to us). She still allows that adoption is sometimes necessary, but I have to agree with her that it is pushed in many cases.

Her follow-on book goes into much more detail, providing solutions to many of the problems raised here, pushing all those involved to control their own behavior. I have skimmed both, but I am not working my way through _The Primal Wound_ and I will repeat my recommendation: Read this book! It will start a journey that will help you to see the truth.


Thursday, May 19, 2005

Journey of the Adopted Self: A Quest for Wholeness

I very recently purchased _Journey of the Adopted Self: A Quest for Wholeness _ by Betty Jean Lifton and it is making for some very interesting reading. (And costing me some very much needed sleep, .)

Her comments about adoptees give me a whole lot more insight into my own children, and much of what she says fits what I have observed in their lives. It does explain the intense feelings an adoptee on a triad list had here earlier when she felt I should not pull away from my estranged daughter. From what I have read, even if an adoptee is acting poorly, they take withdrawal of anyone as another rejection.

The author does a fairly good job of giving multiple perspectives. Though her main emphasis is on the feelings and thoughts of the adoptee, she weaves stories and perspectives from birth and adoptive parents in many areas.

I have found that all the adoptee-written books I have read have a perspective of children not adopted at birth. This book seems no different and I could not find any stories of children adopted older than 3 to 6 months.

I will be looking for more input on children in those situations, especially those from the foster care/CPS system. While I am sure they face many of the same issues, I think looking only at those adopted at or near birth ignores some significant factors in their background. For example, is searching, especially as a minor, really as good when the birth family had abuse or neglect?

Still, I found the book to be quite worthwhile. I diligently read the first 3 chapters, but after skimming parts of the later book I suspect I will not read the rest cover to cover, since I have so many other things in my "to read" pile. I do recommend it for adoptees, and I hope my own oldest daughter (now 18) will get hooked up with it and other books to help her clear up some of her internal struggle before that struggle ruins more of her life.

If you are interested in the book, try this link to Journey of the Adopted Self



Welcome to my adoption-related blog.

I plan on using this to articulate my thoughts on the many aspects of the adoption arena, something that is not really well understood, though more and more seems to be coming out each day. (Either that, or I am just finding more of it, .)

While I plan on addressing some serious issues here, I also want to have fun and I want to make this both informative and enjoyable.

I am the adoptive parent of 4 wonderful children, a sibling group that came from "the system" over a decade ago. While my children are completely mine, the last few years have seen many shocks, including dealing with a lot of teen adoptee problems, many related to a lack of attachment I had not realized until my wife and I were in the middle of the battle.

I expect to speak quite freely here, while maintaining confidences. I will apologize ahead of time if I offend anyone. Part of my goal is to give the perspective of an adoptive parent. Those are the shoes I have walked in. While I try to have compassion on the views of others, I have not walked in their shoes. I encourage you to write me with your own perspective and comments, especially if they are constructive.

I am very interested in details about those adopted as "older children" (not as babies), primarily from the foster care system. I have found that is an area missing a lot of details.

Now, lets get started on our ride!

Brad Andrews