Saturday, July 21, 2012

The big "D" in Adoption... When it all falls apart

It's the thing no one wants to talk about.... Shhhhhh.... Disruption.

I guess in the world of adoption this is the unforgivable sin right? And now I'm finally gonna talk about it. Sigh..

This post started in my head years ago. I'm going to confess here. There is a time I held judgment in my heart when I heard that someone had disrupted an adoption. I'm sorry. Truly I am.

I was young, stupid and downright ugly.

Now when I see anyone, especially from the adoption community, tearing down someone who has made this decision it breaks my heart. I'm not really angry at them. I just feel so very sad cause my view of the world has changed.

I guess I'm not as young anymore and I don't see it as black and white. I have friends now who have disrupted or chosen not to complete an adoption. I have adopted a precious little one from a disruption situation. I've had a chance to walk with people through that terrible valley.

In some of the cases I saw that I may have been forced into the same decision. In some cases I would not have made the same decision but saw why they did. In some cases I knew I would choose a different path. Yet, in each and every case there was something in common.

These people were absolutely broken. These families had put blood, sweat and tears into adopting these children just like I had. These people wanted it to work. What they were doing was a nightmare for them. They held a belief that this is what was best for that child.

As I walked this journey the thought occurred to me, "Why is it that the adoption community frequently offers virtual sainthood to a birth mother who makes the decision not to parent for a perceived good of the child but is ready to stone an adoptive mother who does the same?"

Why is it that if we go out on the limb to adopt and then fail the adoption community may just saw that limb off and let us fall?

Do I like disruption? Heavens no!!! I hate it.... I hate it with every fiber of my being. I hate it just like I hate divorce and children being orphaned and that we even NEED adoption and infidelity and bankruptcy and malnutrition and HIV and children with no education. I hate the brokenness and nature of the fallen world we live and love in.

Here's the truth though... These families that adopt... Sure, maybe there are some who are just TRULY evil and don't care about the child and were purely selfish. Let's be honest though... Not a whole lot of that kind of people jump through the hoops of fire required to adopt a child. These are people who not only took on the incredible task of parenting but took on the additional challenge of parenting a child from a hard place.

Maybe they shouldn't have done it. Maybe they didn't have the tools. Maybe they had unrealistic expectations. Maybe they made the wrong decision. Maybe they should have stuck it out.

Maybe.... Maybe not. I don't know. You don't know. And even if we do know it's kinda WAY beside the point isn't it?

Cause the truth is that few people are brave enough to adopt. These people were and then it failed and they feel like they failed. They are making a decision to give up a CHILD, to give up a dream, to give up what people think of them.... I can guarantee this is the worst time of their entire life and was not in the plan EVER.

Then the friends that have been their support are often the ones that pick up the sharpest, biggest stones. Maybe it's because we are afraid. Maybe we think if we yell loud enough it'll stop it from happening. Maybe we are afraid it'll happen to us.

I know the statistics now. This atmosphere doesn't stop disruptions from happening. It just means they happen underground and the people slink away to hide and hope they are forgotten because it's better than being condemned.

I don't want to be a part of that. I don't want to be a part of smashing someone who is already broken to bits. No matter why they are broken I want to be the one who is a safe place.

Whatever caused them to enter into the worst nightmare of their life I'd rather be a part of the healing than the sentencing. Maybe it was impossible... Maybe it was all their fault... For sure they are paying a steeper price than I can fathom without my heaping guilt and anger on top of them.

I want to be part of the solution. I want to be a safe place where adoptive families know they can turn no matter what they are facing. I want to learn tools to help parents walk their children to healing. I want tools to help parents who are broken and can't connect because of their own trauma. (which is quite common) I want to educate people on what the beauty and challenges are in adoption. I want to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. I want to help children be placed in homes where the parents and the children can find deep connection and thrive together.

So anyways... Disruption. That's where I am on that. In CASE you were wondering. :-)

Hugs, Angel


Wendi said...

Thank you. Amen. It's the sum of the gospel: love God, love others?
Did you see Jody Landers repost of Bob Goff's quote...ties in perfectly

Melinda said...

So appreciate this post! I used to feel the same way, God actually humbled me big time regarding this issue!!!! We found ourselves in this same position this year, never in a million years would I have thought we would walk through this! Adoption is HARD!!!! So many things that play a part in disruption, so many things you never consider when adopting. I have much to say about this topic but will end it here for now, but wanted to thank you for posting this!

Marissa said...

You summed it up well. I used to be that judgmental jerk until I lived in. I understand the choice now and I want to be part of the healing in some way. Even if it's just a kind word that says "I understand."

Julie Gumm said...

Couldn't have said it better myself Angel. I was judgmental too until I really thought about it from the child's perspective and every single situation I've known about (where i've known details) the family has been doing what is best for that child so they can heal. I know not all of them are, but the adoption community could do so much better in this area.

Reba said...

I am sure I had that same judgmental view at one point, just like I was a perfect parent at one point in my know, before I had kids. :) I have been humbled on all accounts. I won't lie. We did not disrupt either of our adoptions but the thought has crossed my mind more than once. And some of those thoughts have been in recent days (five years after the adoption!). It is hard. Parenting is hard. Parenting an adopted hard can be even harder. Sometimes it is more than I bargained for. I wasn't a perfect child but I was a pleaser. So having kids who go out of their ways to not please is not an easy thing. Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts!

The Roberts Family said...

I really appreciate your post here on disruption. It's so much harder and more complicated on the inside than people ever see, know or realize from the outside. Thanks for being a voice for each part of the equation. Blessings!, Shelly

Karla Marie said...

Wow! Someone needed to say it! I was "that" judgemental person until........READING THIS! You are right on the money. I have always been very "child focused" when dealing with families. I did not like seeing situations where the parent was so excited to be a parent that they were blinded to the fact that adoptive parenting in many cases is a completely different road. I spent most of my time trying to prepare parents for the age, scenario and background of the child and give them ways of handling hard situations. When these same parents would get angry and throw up their made me furious!
However, you are absolutely correct. It just may not work. For the best of the child and the families future, this very hard decision may need to be made. These families should not be shunned or cast off.
I have adopted 3 children from foster care and am now in the process of adopting 3 more in the next few months. I pray I will never be in the situation to make this decision. Your post has helped me to be a little more merciful on parents that are. Thank you!
Karla Marie Williams
President, Family by Design

Beth Templeton said...

Angel, I so appreciate what you have written. Well done. You have expressed the unconditional love of God-- applying the truth of the gospel to a very painful reality for some people. May we love families dealing with disruption with power and humility. Bless you!

Anonymous said...

I understand your point, but can't say that I am total in agreement with you on your overall view. I think the difference is whether you are looking at disruption from a parent's or a child's perspective. To me, you are leaning towards the family choosing the disruption - but what about the child's side of things? What about the child who is not part of the final decision (at least, purposefully)? While I do have sympathy for these families, as obviously no one would ever choose this route, first and foremost in my mind is always the child and what they will have to now go through after disruption.

Vicky said...

Thank you. I am not an adoptive parent, but I know many adoptive families. One has gone through a disruption and was slammed by the adoption community. Having witnessed that, I am passionate about supporting adoptive families in any way I can.

As I read this post, I kept thinking, "YES! That is what I've always wanted to say!" You gave words of eloquence to my jumbled thoughts. I shared a link to your post on F@cebook, quoting your paragraph that begins, "I want to be part of the solution..."

To answer Anonymous above, I think one can see disruption as best from the child's perspective as well. Is it hard? Yes Does it add another layer to the healing process? Oftentimes, Yes. Does it provide a better opportunity for that child to find healing? Again, yes. I have known families who have adopted through a disruption... and the children have thrived and healed far better than they ever could have in their previous adoptive family. Like a birthmother choosing adoption, most adoptive families do not choose disruption because it is easiest for them-- it's not. They choose it because it is best for their child/ children.

Mama D’s Dozen said...

Wow! Perfectly said! I am so glad that Vicky posted this on fb. I look forward to reading more of your blog. :)

"Why is it that the adoption community frequently offers virtual sainthood to a birth mother who makes the decision not to parent for a perceived good of the child but is ready to stone an adoptive mother who does the same?"

I have thought of that so very often. It is incomprehensible to me.

We adopted 3 siblings from Africa. 16 months after bringing them home we discovered that the older brother had been abusing his youngest sister for many years (in the village, in the orphanage, in our home). We could not possibly protect our 5 younger children from the abuse of this teenage boy. We chose to find him a family who didn't have any other children at home. He has been with his new family for over 2 years, and absolutely loves it. He is spoiled rotten. (Ugh!) But, he never really liked being a part of our BIG family (with 13 children). We keep in touch with him, and it was definitely the best decision for him and for the rest of us. However . . . we were practically "stoned" by the local adoption community, by our small group at church, etc . . . We ended up having to find a new church after being there for 8 years, and being a part of starting an Adoption Ministry. So sad. So hard.

Now . . . we have had to made the most difficult decision to place the youngest sister in a Residential Care Facility. She just has not been able to heal from the years of abuse and trauma in her young life. Once again . . . we are being judged and condemned when we absolutely believe we are doing the very BEST we can for our precious daughter. Heartbreaking.

THANK YOU for writing this. May I write an excerpt and link up from my blog?

mama of 12 (ages 10, 10, 12, 13, 15, 19, 21, 23, 23, 25 26, 28)

Christy said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this. This was really hard to come to grips with in our own situation. Adoption was forever in my mind. I feel like I could have let my son go sooner had I not been hindered by pride and feeling like our family was the perfect place for him and that if I just tried hard enough I could "fix him." It was a very humbling experience to finally admit that maybe we weren't the perfect family for him and that I could not fix everything. Moving a child to a new home is not always as traumatic as it is made out to be. Our son is thriving where he is and we couldn't be happier for him.

yellowgirl said...

i appreciate what christy said- 'moving a child to a new home is not always as traumatic as it is made out to be..." this is so true. i've seen kids move laterally without much difficulty or pain and adjust beautifully to a different home. it's probably harder on the parents who are letting go...and feeling like failures. i also think a lot of folks go into this with the wrong motives- like they are doing something wonderful for a) God and b) the child. this is not about us or what we do. that's the dangerous side of the adoption movement...we begin to feel like we are God's only hands and feet, when really- we are just human beings with faulty wiring who make huge mistakes and do even wonderful things for hidden reasons deep in our own woundings. it's not our job to get every child out of every orphanage, it's our job to ask what is His will for us, for our family. too much pressure and hype has caused a lot of families to adopt unwisely (pat robertson aside). there is a time to say NO. God, after all, is in charge of it all. He does not manipulate us emotionally to take on more than we are capable of, realistically.

Denise Horrocks said...

Thank you so much for this article, so well written. To reply to the comment Anonymous made about it being about the child, that's not entirely true. The whole FAMILY needs to be considered. The child was not adopted into a single person environment. The health and well being and safety of every child in the family is as important as the child who may need to be disrupted.

Sharla said...

Love this! Thank you for sharing your heart on this. I have a number of friends who have walked this road and the judgment has been harsh. I know that in one of our adoptions, were we in a different situation (if I were a single mom, if we did not have an incredible trauma and attachment treatment program where we live, etc.) disruption would have been the only option.

I'm going to be sharing this all over the place in the hope that it is salve on some wounds.

Anonymous said...

Why does the adoption community make saints of birthmothers but stone adoptive moms who give up their kids?
Birthparents are entitled to raise their kids; nobody is entitled to raise somebody else’s kid – that is why PAPs/APs are (and SHOULD BE) held to a higher standard. That is why APs are required to pass homestudies, security checks, provide reference letters, demonstrate financial means to care for another kid, etc.
Because a kid in need of new parents has already been abandoned at least once, and the onus is on grownups to ensure that kid isn’t going to need a second, third, fourth “forever family” a year or six months or three days down the line.
The best way to prevent disruptions is to do a much better job of matching kids to families in which they have the best possible shot at thriving. Research has shown that 1) adopting multiple unrelated kids simultaneously increases the odds an adoption will fail, 2) allowing each kid 12+ mos to settle into their new family before adopting another kid significantly increases the odds an adoption will succeed, 3) families with the resources to get not covered by insurance therapy for their new kid and respite for themselves have significantly better odds of their adoption succeeding, 4) adopted kids do significantly better when they receive a lot of parental attention, which isn’t possible in really big families. The adopted kid’s needs MUST come first, and this means 1) banning the simultaneous adoption of unrelated kids, 2) requiring 12 mos minimum for an adoptive family to start the paperwork on a second adoption, 3) ban fundraising and require APs to have $$ set aside to integrate the new kid into their family, and 4) a family with more than , say, 5 kids in the home should not be approved to adopt at this time. Period.
I do agree that there are certain circumstances in which the APs have no choice but to disrupt – kid murders the family dog, kid molests his sibling. But there are also tons of APs who give up on their adopted kids so quickly, that they likely should never, ever have been approved to adopt in the first place. These are the lovely people who:
Adopt 4 unrelated Ukrainian kids simultaneously, disrupt 3 inside 12 months, one after all of 35 days (!), none of whom were violent/aggressive. Who gives up on a kid after 5 weeks?
Ship their newly adopted kid back to Romania after a few months (after they’ve lost Romanian citizenship, but before you’ve acquired Canadian citizenship on their behalf, so they are stateless), despite no violence/aggression:
Heck, even the Ukrainian Embassy admits that something like 25% of older teens adopted by US families unceremoniously ship the kid back to Ukraine in under a year, despite no violence/aggression:
I also feel very strongly that any family that has disrupted (regardless of the reason, even if the kid killed the family dog AND molested all their siblings) should never EVER be allowed to adopt again. Period.
This will not be a popular sentiment, but in my opinion, Laurel’s family should never have been approved to adopt in the first place – no adopted kid (let alone 3) could receive enough personal, one-on-one parental attention in a home with 10 biokids still at home. Better parental supervision would likely have caught the molestation earlier or been able to prevent it.

Jenn said...

Thank you.

Sonya said...

Oh my, this just tears up my heart. I am an adoptive parent and while this has not touched my own immediate family, I do have the sad experience to a disrupted adoption within my childhood home. What a terrible, horrible thing all around. I've followed through Mama D's blog (she comments above), their heart-wrenching journey, and now a friend who is adopting a very young child who's been rejected by someone all her short life. Because of my own experience, I just have to side with the child first. The adoptive parents are adults and the child is living the best he/she knows how, generally having never received the stable love of a family. Rejection or even perceived rejection is not something easily (if ever) gotten over. Life may seem easier for the child but what's really buried deep within their hearts? I don't have the answers for others. I don't pass judgement on my parents or Mama D, but have a strong opinion about the family who rejected my friend's new child. Some adoptive parents are wanting the perfect child and aren't willing to work through the hard stuff. Thankfully, there are also stories of parents who have made the life-style changes necessary for mending the broken child/family. And thankfully there are families willing to parent the "disrupted" children.
This is definitely a hard subject surrounding adoption but so important for those considering adoption and even those on the outside looking in.

Evelien said...

Disruption must be so very painful for all involved. However, if the child thrives in another family it is the best scenario. It would be so much better though if families would get more preparation prior to adoption. I see American families adopting within a couple of months, whereas in my country it takes at least one and a half year of obligated preparation before we are even allowed to adopt. I can understand people wanting to adopt fast (I wanted that too) but sometimes it best to take your time and make sure that you are prepared for the issues that can arise.