Adoption, Foster Care and Related IssuesTAFKA -- Saturday, September 07, 2002 -- 05:20:00 PM
The title ought to explain itself. All aspects of adopton--old-style sealed, open; successful adoptions, problematic adoptions, and failed adoptions. The foster parent experience.This thread is tagged: adoption
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Oh, of course they do. The odds are far better.In this country, kids put up for adoption are a mess, both mentally and physically, and odds are they are extremely low intelligence as well.
The birth mother pool is far more random and, therefore, far more superior in other countries. That's why Romania has dropped off the list so completely, because they couldn't guarantee better odds.
It's difficult to adopt a domestic kid, yes. But it's also seriously fucked up damaged goods you're getting when you do.
That's why the real issue isn't to increase adoption, but to make sure these women have far fewer kids.
Yeah, I know someone who adopted a kid who turned out to have Asperger syndrome, much more seriously than anyone in my family. She has really been through the mill with him. He has a very high IQ and is currently in college where he plans to study genetics, but yeah--seriously fucked up. She got him when he was five and he had been abused before that.
But it's also seriously fucked up damaged goods you're getting when you do.
Not always, but definitely more frequently than with international adpotions. (Although private, birthmother relinquishments probably have slightly better odds of a successful outcome.) And very few adoptive families are looking for that, nor are they equipped to deal with it when they get it. There are some kids who cannot be successful in a family setting, and I don't think that's been figured out yet by the people who make the decisions.
Some friends of ours who went into adoption just looking to create a family agreed to adopt two boys who had been severely abused -- ages 4 and 6. (Typically, they came from a "love will heal all" mentality, and thought they were qualified to adopt older kids because the mom is a teacher.) Now the boys are 7 and 9, and the oldest one is throwing chairs through plate glass windows, threatening his family with knives, and telling his parents he's going to kill them and his brother. Nobody gets training to deal with that in a family environment, and nobody really wants to deal with that at all. They have him in a psychiatric ward right now, but I think ultimately the adoption will be disrupted.
That's why the real issue isn't to increase adoption, but to make sure these women have far fewer kids.
When we were considering adopting through the public agency, we were told that over 80% of the children available for adoption had suffered sexual abuse. "Damaged goods" is, sadly, correct.
For kids over the age of 5 when they entered foster care, that figure is probably low, except for kids who went immediately to a foster-adopt situation. For kids who've had to live in a shelter or group home environment, I'd venture that the sexual abuse rate is more like 95%. When a public agency talks about "kids available for adoption," they're talking about kids whose parents' rights have already been terminated, and whose foster parents don't want to adopt them -- most of those kids are 6 and over or have significant disabilities.
In this state at least, if you want to minimize or eliminate the likelihood of long-term psychological or neurological damage stemming from past physical/sexual abuse or neglect, you want to get kids who are 2 or under. That said, IME kids who've been neglected have significantly more long-term damage to their mental health than kids who've been abused. But of course, it's all awful, and fucks you up long-term, so it doesn't really matter which is worse.
If you plan to adopt domestically, and are considering adopting kids from the foster care system, your best bet is to become a foster parent. You get the kids much earlier in their lives than you would if you did straight adoption, because with adoption, you don't get the kids until their parents' rights have been severed. That can be up to 2 years from the time they entered care. Also, you learn a lot more information about the family history than stricly adoptive parents are given, and you get to see the child develop over time. We got Nora when she was a day old, and her case still hasn't been transferred to adoptions over a year later. If we weren't foster parents and were interested in adoption only, we wouldn't even have her yet, and then we'd only get her if her foster parents didn't want her.
Of course, you have to weigh the benefit of getting the child at a younger age with the possibility that the case plan might not even go to adoption (we've been extraordinarily lucky there, knock wood, as have many of my friends), so it's still not as "safe" as an international or birth-parent relinquishment adoption.
One of the things states are testing out is the immediate termination of parental rights for any parent who's had their rights terminated on other children within a certain period of time. A Florida law like this was recently overturned on appeal, though, so it's a risky business. We have a similar law in AZ, but everyone's too scared to test it, so the state just goes through the normal process, and kids who could be adopted immediately spend months in foster care instead.
I heard an interview with the director of Happy Endings and the Opposite of Sex in which he spoke briefly about adopting with his partner. He said his own political beliefs were put through the ringer and they realized that they had to find a young girl with a moral code that was against abortion but okay with giving up her baby to a gay couple. It was not easy.
That's funny. But of course you don't have to be against abortion to give your baby up for adoption. There are plenty of women who are in denial about the pregnancy, who don't know how far along they are, or whose Plan A doesn't work out.
Could someone please explain to me what exactly is so bad about adopted kids getting compliments from strangers? In the ChicagoMama blog, she's gotten herself all fussed about the secret racism that led a stranger to tell her that her daughter is beautiful. And people are chiming in with "Oh no!" and "How annoying!"
Most babies and little kids get fussed over extensively at some point or another in their development. Some kids (yes, even white kids, with white parents!) get compliments constantly. I've been out with kids who look like me, and kids who don't, and it appears to me that the compliments are distributed pretty evenly, regardless of the race of the child and his/her parents. It never occurred to me to be annoyed when people tell me my kids are cute. What a first world problem.
And if the possibility of a compliment being race-based is going to irritate you, then why would you do a transracial adoption? It seems to me that a little more work needs to be done addressing your own inherent racism if you think that everything people say to you about your family has something to do with your child's race.
Then there are those idiots (I'm talking to you, TOM CRUISE!) who've done transracial adoptions and say things like "I don't see color." Well then you are doing your child an unbelievable disservice and really should've found yourself a white kid to adopt. How in God's name would you expect to raise a strong black man without acknowledging that, hey, he's black??
I'm sure she'll delete me, but here's my comment:
The nerve of those racist pigs. Telling you your kid is cute!
Next up: the racist scum who don't tell you your kid is cute.
Followed by: the disgusting creatures who notice that your kid is (gasp) not white.
"we white people have an awful lot of unconscious racism that we display at the darnedest moments. "
Yeah, they sure do! Some of them are so completely obsessed with the subject that they're incapable of believing their kids are actually cute.
Bwah! That made my day, Cal. I hope she doesn't delete you.
(edit) Accidentally hit post before I was done.
You'd be shocked at how many people, especially in the international adoption community, feel this way. I wonder if it's something they glean from training -- that they're supposed to be outraged if anyone notices that they're an interracial family. I really do not get it. It's like they think that by virtue of adopting a non-Caucasian child, they get to adopt the victim mentality -- "Look at all these horrible people treating us differently because our child doesn't look like us," whether or not that's actually the case.
It makes me truly nauseous.
She hasn't deleted yet, Cal.
The commenter after you begins "As a white parent of a coc I think ...". I did figure out that "coc" means "child of color" but they might want to rethink that bit of jargon.
Oh, I don't know. Look at the comments over Angelina Jolie's baby in the Celebrity Gossip thread. If the baby weren't African, would everyone have swooned so much about her beauty?
God, the hypersensitivity of these people. People are just looking for something to bitch about. And it goes back to linking every. single. thing. back to adoption, when some things (like baby cuteness) have nothing whatsoever to do with adoption. Look, YOU think your kid is cute, right? So just say THANK YOU and move on! Not everyone who speaks to you is trying to get some subtle "dig" in. Seeing racism in every interaction says more about your own comfort level with your adoption than it does about the world's.
We're wired to a certain extent to find some features not prevelant in our own race or culture appealing or attractive. It's the "exotic" factor in attractiveness measures.
It's fairly common for people of one race to find the infants of another race highly appealing. Infants have a combined one/two bunch of having universally recognized traits of attractiveness (large eye to face ratio, round head, etc all things we also find attractive in baby animals too) and the appeal of "exotic features" for people of other races.
What is disturbing is when a culture has so demonized 'foriegn' traits that it overcomes the universal human appeal of an infant.
If the baby weren't African, would everyone have swooned so much about her beauty?
The baby is just very pretty, period. It has nothing to do with her race. And most babies are pretty cute, anyway.
mimi unmuddled the noise in my brain and said it much more eloquently than I.
I wonder if these people sound just as whiny if you're their RL friends and know them and their kids. Imagine how fun it would be to get 4,000 phone calls over 18 years from your friend, who is always whining about how "Every time I go out, people are ALWAYS telling me how beautiful Z. is! GOD, the NERVE of these people!"
Now there are a bunch of people over there saying "but you don't know Chicagomama" and "give her some credit...if she thinks it was racist, it was!"
I can only imagine how her kid is going to feel if chicagomama is rolling her eyes, cursing subtle racism every time there's a compliment paid.
I ended up posting too. I can't help thinking, "you posted about THAT? Wow, I hope that's as much 'racism' as your daughter will ever experience." Because unless there's more to the story than she wrote about...
I do understand the "shock" of realizing that your family is "conspicuous"---adoption classes yammer on and on about this, but it's funny/weird when it happens for the first time. However, in the end I have realized that I really, truly, deeply don't give a crap. And I think it's the "not giving a crap" subtle cues that are good to pass on to our children, so that they grow up secure that their family is just their family.
It's sort of how I feel about the fine line between doing too much "heritage" stuff with a transracially adopted kid and doing none at all. We do certain things to make sure Nora will grow up knowing about China and being proud of it. However, relentlessly pushing silks and dance classes and culture camps on a kid icks me out, because it's so clearly saying, "HEY! YOU'RE NOT REALLY PART OF OUR FAMILY! YOU'RE SPECIAL AND DIFFERENT!"