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Friday, April 5, 2013

Adoption Is NOT A Contest!

I was getting ready to write this and Erika came up and said, "Mama, do you just think of posts to write and write them?" 
I told her, "When I have something on my heart, I write it."
She replied, "You should really just do your book because I really DO want to go to Disney World!" LOL


But, I DO have something on my mind.

Over the last week, there have been two very public families that have announced that they are either planning to adopt, or that they have already adopted and are thrilled with their child.  One family plans to adopt internationally, the other adopted through the foster care system and has been advocating for the adoption of Children through the foster care system. 

The negativity within the adoption community has been rather unreal!  Who's side are we on? Do we want children to find forever families? 
Why do we call into question these families? 

Here is a quote from Nia Vardala's blog:
" Nine months later through their various connections, we were "matched" with our daughter. Working with a private lawyer, our adoption was finalized within a year.
And yes, she is perfect. She is a toddler, under the age of five, and to say she's adapted well would be a huge understatement. The experience of transitioning this child was astonishing and well, just too personal to go into now. We kept it quiet for almost a year to protect her privacy and give her time to adjust.
Last November as the holidays approached, my husband and I thought about the 129,000 kids waiting for a family and decided to announce our daughter's adoption to raise awareness of National Adoption Month.
This is why I'm writing about this now. Maybe there are other people out there who want to adopt a child through FosAdopt."

It sounds to me like they understood this child's needs and kept her protected for a YEAR!
She has also written a book <---Link  about their experience in order to help others navigate through the foster care system.  I have not read it... but I want to!

It seems that the negativity may be coming from those who are struggling with difficulties, and their view of a successful adoption, is that the people are clueless or don't know that their child really MUST BE emotionally disturbed.....

Umm.  Where is the joy for a child finding a home?  Where is the joy that THIS child is doing WELL?
Where is the joy that a very well known person is advocating for children to find MUCH NEEDED FAMILIES???

I have a friend who has adopted from Foster Care and their little girl has been a sweet blessing from DAY ONE!  They are excellent parents, educated themselves, and their daughter is flourishing!

I know of other families where it hasn't gone so well. :(    But that isn't the point.
Why are we assuming that because something is going well, it can't be real?

All four of our girls are flourishing at home.  I don't think it is luck. And I seriously doubt it is "luck" with this other family.    Maybe they adopted an easy child?  Maybe they educated themselves and this child is flourishing BECAUSE of that!
Why do we judge and make assumptions about somebody we don't even know???

And the quote that really got me, and the reason I wrote this post in the first place was the headline... "Adoptive Parents wish NV would shut her big fat Greek mouth!"  How rude can that be?

That is very bothersome.
I don't want her to shut her mouth. I want her to shout her experience from the house tops!

For the other public family, I think if they are open enough to adopt, they will most likely be open enough to educate themselves too, and then make a decision.  Public families can grow and learn, just like us.
I pray that their adoption brings about growth within them and within the child that God has chosen for them. :)

For all of us in the adoption community, let's be kind, and SUPPORT each other! Let's give these families credit for stepping outside of their comfort zone to follow a calling to be parents!
If somebody is doing WELL, BE HAPPY FOR THEM!  If they aren't, offer support and prayers. 
FOR ALL OF US..... A little HUMOR goes a LONG WAY and let's not take ourselves so seriously that we think we are the only ones who know anything.

Jealousy and Strife have no place in adoption.



11 comments:

Vickie said...

Very well stated. I believe there is a family for every child/orphan out there. God calls some of us to adopt via the foster system and He calls some to bring home an international child. We are all to listen to our own callings and not come down on how and where others adopt from.

Sergey and Tatyana said...

It this really sad that people are really negative and can be very judging. I wish that others would be more supportive or at least not judge. We all have our own purpose in this life, and #1 is to be a person.

Diana said...

"You have been candid about it, a 3-year-old little girl who had a hard life at that point and it wasn't easy, it wasn't overnight she adjusted although i know you loved her overnight.

Yes, oh man that adjustment, i write honestly in the book what happened from the minute she came to live with us. it was eyes downcast, she was withdrawn, she got very angry the next day. she bit my finger to the point where i was like, medic! it was really, really hard. she wouldn't let us hold her or kiss her and i'm here today because within six months, by the time we finalized her adoption she was completely transitioned, and loving and attentive and attached, and that's the fear that people have.

that's the fear you speak to in this book, i know that's why you're coming out because i think people are afraid to adopt an older child out of fear there may be some damage that's irreparable and you're here to say that's not true.

it's strange, isn't it, we'd be more likely to take in a dog we found in the street. i say in the book a dog who could eat your face while you're asleep and yet here are these children and there are so many children..."

This is the quote that got her in trouble with the adoption community. It's not in the printed article, but what she said on TV. There's no one that isn't happy for her and her success. Most were even really happy about what she was doing and saying UNTIL she said this. Unfortunately, in her zeal to advocate, and her good fortune of having a relatively easy experience so far, she basically told everyone that the "adjustment" isn't a big deal and that attachment disorder isn't real or something they need to worry about.

That's exactly what is referred to as "unicorns and rainbows". It's not reality and it's way too sugar coated. It leaves people thinking "well, I can live with a kid who bites my finger." Yes, but can you also live with what wasn't said? What about one who poops in the heat vents, runs away, tries to burn down your house, kills your dog, rages for hours on end, kicks holes in your walls, smashes furniture, and stands over you in the middle of the night with a butcher knife?

Any of us who live with very ill children, and who were so very often lied to about the severity of our kids issues (happens frequently both internationally and through the US foster system), whose families have been shattered and and whose lives have been ripped apart, those who live in a prison created by their kids, but can't find help anywhere, those of us whose kids don't bond with us in 6 months...or a year...or even 10 years no matter how much love they are given, and how well intentioned the parents are, will tell you that attachment disorder IS very real and that it IS something prospective adoptive families need to be concerned about.

Her child is also only 3 and they've only been together for 6 months or so. It's a bit premature to be calling her fully attached and healed, especially since attachment is a 2 year process. I'm truly happy for her if that is the case and her child really is doing well. Really, I am! I would never wish what I've been through on anyone.

more...

Diana said...

...continued

Unfortunatley, I know of way too many cases of honeymoooning...and that even when kids are attached, there are often still HUGE scars left behind by abandonment, rejection, and trauma. Those scars can drive a whole lot of crazy behavior and still cause a LOT of problems.

This is where the concern from the community comes in. I'm all for advocating for kids. They all deserve a family and a chance to be loved and make something of themselves. However, I'm also very real about it. It's never a good idea to get caught up in the unicorns and rainbows or be sucked in by the sad eyes. As a good friend of mine said, rainbows never happen without rain and unicorns are both mythical and also have horns that can be rammed into your rear when you least expect it.What I always tell people is that adoption can be, and IS a wonderful blessing and I have NO REGRETS. Even knowing what I know now, I'd still do it again and I'd still adopt the same two kids. BUT, If you're not willing to take the chance that your story might end up like mine instead of the unicorns and rainbows that are so often spewed (especially by celebs), you'd best think twice and put in a whole lot of prayer before jumping in with both feet.

I also always advise people to make sure they're doing it for the right reasons. Wanting to save a child isn't one of them and is, in fact, one of the worst reasons to do it.

I firmly believe that these kids can and do heal and I'm a big advocate for that. But it is HARD on everyone involved and no one will make it through the process unscathed or unchanged. If you're expecting a child to come in and gratefully conform to your family, you're going to be in for a rude awakening. If you believe it's the child's job to adapt to you and your needs, you're going to be very disappointed and are probably adopting for the wrong reasons. If you're not willing to change your lifestyle or work as hard as you expect your child to, you're going to have a tough time at best.

I think all anyone is saying is that if you're going to advocate, at least please be real about it!

Christie Minich said...

Thanks for commenting Diana. Her daughter has actually been home much longer than that. They waited an entire year before exposing her to the public.
I get your point, at the same time, I think things were taken out of context.
I want to read her book, it has very good reviews from other adoptive parents.

The title of the post I read was what really upset me. "Adoptive parents NV to shut her big fat Greek mouth." I was aghast with that.
thus my post.

Also... I always look at life experience as a process. They may adopt again, maybe not. Either way the experience will be different and I'm sure she will be honest about it. I have been told her book was very honest.

She only has her experience to go by, just as we all do.
We can learn from each other if we let ourselves. :)

My older kids are all now in their 30's now, some of their experiences raising their own kids have been very norm, some not so norm... I sit back and watch as opinions change, with life change, just like us. :) What I thought 30 years ago about raising a family is vastly different than what I think today. So I don't get all upset if somebody's experience is different.
I'm glad she is out there promoting adoption!
That is a good thing!
It is up to the EDUCATORS AND SOCIAL WORKERS to educate on the realities of what folks are doing.
I think their job is to scare you to death so you don't move forward unless you are really serious! LOL
(that is exactly what we were told in our classes)
Every week, she'd say, "I'm surprised you are still here!" And the class DID SHRINK greatly from the first to the last.
SHE DID HER JOB.
Nia's goal is to promote adoption and help people navigate through the foster care system. She doesn't know about the rest, as it is not in her personal experience. I appreciate what she has done.
I hope they adopt again and again!

Christie Minich said...

One more thing. We were told some pretty awful things about 2 of our girls, in particular.
I am SO GLAD we chose to walk through the door and look at our children as CHILDREN and not a diagnosis.
I think kids are OVERLY diagnosed in this country and therapized to death. I totally agree with Karyn Purvis and Heather Forbes that talk therapy is NOT good for children. If you need therapy, see a therapist to help you with ideas on how to parent.
Too much therapy for a kid can be damaging to them.
Healing happens at home.

KateK said...

@Diana - I absolutely understand and appreciate that many people do not get the unicorns/rainbows version of adoption... but that doesn't necessarily mean that the unicorns/rainbows version of adoption doesn't exist. It sounds like Nia Vardolos' adoption was one in which the stars aligned.

And I'm not so sure doing away with all expectations is such a good thing either - kids tend to live up (or down) to expectations. My BFF (from the age of 4) is the oldest of three girls born to parents unable to conquer their drug/alcohol demons. K was neglected, abused and grew up in foster care til she landed herself in juvie at 16 (junior year) - and begged our English teacher to adopt her. The teacher did (along w/her sisters). K only lived with her aparents for about 9 mos (til college), but is attached and went home for summers/Xmas/etc - and is now married, a doctor and a mom (to my adorable godsons!!). If K can overcome in utero substance exposure and neglect and seriously bad judgement (crime that landed her in juvie), surely it is possible for any kid to thrive after a rough start.

KateK said...

@Diana - I absolutely understand and appreciate that many people do not get the unicorns/rainbows version of adoption... but that doesn't necessarily mean that the unicorns/rainbows version of adoption doesn't exist. It sounds like Nia Vardolos' adoption was one in which the stars aligned.

And I'm not so sure doing away with all expectations is such a good thing either - kids tend to live up (or down) to expectations. My BFF (from the age of 4) is the oldest of three girls born to parents unable to conquer their drug/alcohol demons. K was neglected, abused and grew up in foster care til she landed herself in juvie at 16 (junior year) - and begged our English teacher to adopt her. The teacher did (along w/her sisters). K only lived with her aparents for about 9 mos (til college), but is attached and went home for summers/Xmas/etc - and is now married, a doctor and a mom (to my adorable godsons!!). If K can overcome in utero substance exposure and neglect and seriously bad judgement (crime that landed her in juvie), surely it is possible for any kid to thrive after a rough start.

Christie Minich said...

KateK,
Thank you for commenting about your dear friend. I too have a dear friend who was a former foster child, never adopted, but came from a severe trauma background. She had many issues as a kid, but developed into the wonderful person she is today. :)
The Lord can Heal ALL WOUNDS! :)

Annie said...

I so totally agree with you. Why should only ADOPTIVE parents be made to "face" the "harsh realities" of parenting? Frankly, lately I've come to think that adoptive families have it EASY!!! Adoptive families have an easy out - and can blame the bio parents, or their genetics, or their poverty, or poor nutrition, whatever.

Lately, the parents who have been coming to me for support - having head of Ilya's death, Anastasia's pregnancy, etc. have been parents whose BIO kids have these issues - and worse! When they were expecting no one required "training"; no one raised an eyebrow, asking them what they were getting into, no one suggested they should do research on Asbergers or autism, ODD or ADHD or Downs before they do something so RISKY as to have a child.

Yet, when they deal with these things, they deal with professionals from the doctor to the teachers (and forget about neighbors and other school parents) who blame them and hold them 100% accountable for every thing their child does. Frankly, the burden of it takes my break away. Only in talking do these parents have I come to realize the enormous release valve I have in that my kids were adopted! (I can just point to my bios for "proof" that adopted kids' issues were not caused by MY parenting!)

Becoming a parent, however you do it, is a crapshoot. More so than getting married - and look how many marriages fail!

My cousin was murdered by her bio son.... She and her husband, who had a great Christian marriage, loved this boy to distraction. So did my aunt, his grandmother. Yet, despite all this love, and a secure, loving home....there was something wrong with him. I always thought of the movie "The Bad Seed" because when he became a teen, something seemed to take him over that just seemed "off" and no amount of professional help, school assistance, nothing made a difference in the end.

And, then there was the dear therapist friend of ours - he and his wife had two perfect, articulate, lovely daughters and a schizophrenic son who, at age 17, murdered his dad in the kitchen one night. Who would ever guess?

When you become a parent, you take a risk, and that is just that.

Christie Minich said...

Annie, you are so right. Biological families are not immune from problems. Not at all!
I can look at my own family and guarantee that that is the case!
Schizophernia, depression, unlawful activity, alcoholism, are all in my extended family. :(

It is part of the human race.
Honestly, I too know people with children born to them that have had horrific problems not much different that with your sweet girl.
Life sometimes can be very hard.
We all need to love each other. :)

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