Thursday, September 26, 2013

failed adoptions and re-homing: My two cents

Stories about the rehoming of adopted children have been all over the news lately. Almost all of them negative. They sensationalize adoptions horror stories about rehoming (which as usual the media gobbles up) and paint a picture with a broad brush that makes it sound like these few cases are what's typical for rehoming and even adoption. Demonizing adoption is not new to the media! You can find horror stories that exist in any type of family (Biological, Step, Extended, Adoption etc) but does that mean that all families are abusive, sadistic institutions with criminals for parents? But wow, the media sure loves to make adoption sound that way every chance possible, and these recent horror stories of rehoming are a perfect example of that. Two of my children were previously adopted by other families before we adopted them and re-homing them was absolutely the right thing to do! The writers of many of these articles are simply clueless, it's just one of those things where unless you've experienced it, it's really easy to sit in a place of ignorance and point the finger. The reality is that you can take classes on adoption and related issues, you can read books, you can meet with social workers etc etc etc but nothing can prepare you for what it will really be like. I did the research, I read the books, I thought I was prepared. But when it came to living with the SEVERE behavioral problems from our first children, there was nothing on this earth that could have made us "ready." And you can't imagine how much we suffered and struggled. Did we rehome our children? No. But I absolutely can see why some people do and given certain circumstances why that would be the best option for everyone involved. Because just like there's no way for adoptive parents to be "prepared" there's also no way of knowing what issues a child really has. And no, you can't assume age is the only deciding factor for behavior. It is a myth that the older the child, the more issues that child will have. It actually has very little to do with that. And I don't have enough room here to discuss attachment and trauma. The other painful reality is that there are very few professionals (therapists etc) that are trained in adoption related traumas. And yes, it VERY different from normal psychological training. The large majority of therapists working actually do not know how to help with these issues and their therapeutic approaches are often more hurtful than helpful. Again, I don't have enough room here to discuss the differences. In short, there are only a few universities IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY that teach classes specifically on adoption related trauma and how it differs from other types of therapy approaches. So believe me when I say that there is not enough help available even to those that look for it! In our entire state I found ONE THERAPIST that actually knew how to work with my kids. Are there parents that just give up and look for easy ways out, sure but they are few compared to the mass majority that truly have tried everything they can do before resulting to finding new families for their adopted children. So what is the solution? Everyone keeps saying that what's being done is cruel. That rehoming children is wrong etc. So to allow a disturbed child stay in a home that can't help him/her even if they have tried where nothing but fear, resentment, and continued trauma exist, that's better? To out law rehoming is wrong. Some people just can't handle it, for many different reasons, and there's no way to know until you are in that situation. Reading a book and living it can't compare. But there are others that can handle it. I had no idea the strength I was capable of until after our first adoption. I could have never guessed. When I saw what we were capable of, well... We decided to continue adopting older and yes, outcast children. See that's why rehoming is often the best solution. Because there's no way of knowing what the outcome will be until after you've actually lived it. There's no way to truly know what issues a child will have and there's no way to know how parents will handle certain situations (regardless of resources.) So what's the solution? End all adoptions because 10% fail? What of the 90% that don't fail? (I'm getting these numbers from the Time article link below) There's no magic spell to tell which child and which family will be in that 10%, Or in that 90% for that matter. Ultimately the real problem lies in the fact that resources for help simply do not exist or in such a limited supply you practically have to be a wizard to find them. How therapists are trained needs to be changed. The research and evidence is in abundance but the application of this research is practically nonexistent. That's the big problem. And until that changes what's the solution? To end all adoptions? Then what will become of those disturbed children? They and their problems won't go away just because they aren't being adopted! And again, what of the 90% that succeed? Are we to ignore the fact that the large majority of adoptions work out just great? The media ignores that fact because it doesn't make a good story! And of the lesser number of adoptions that fail, most of those children go on to new families where they then succeed, but again that doesn't make a good story for the media either! It may not be the prettiest solution, but until significant changes take place in therapeutic resources, including therapy itself, then rehoming these 10% to families that are better able to take on that challenge is best for everyone involved, especially the children. And even after the changes are put into place and if more and appropriate resources become available, there will always be a need for rehoming because the reality is that not every family can handle every situation. Sometimes families fail. Marriages end in divorce, biological children are sent to live with relatives, are given up for adoption, or end up in fostercare, and yes, some adoptions don't work out. That's just the ugly truth, whether the critics of rehoming like it or not. But ask my children if rehoming made their lives better or worse. Our home, is their true home. It may have been a hard and twisting road to get here, but here is where they belong!
This article in "Time" finally convinced me that I needed to share my two cents.

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