Five or six months after his arrival, I knew that D. wasn’t attaching. We had expected his indifference toward my husband, who was deployed for most of this time, but our son should have been closer to his sisters and especially to me, his primary caretaker.
His social worker, his pediatrician and his neurologist all told me that he had come a long way, and that attachment issues were to be expected with adoption. But D.’s attachment problems were only half the story. I also knew that I had issues bonding with him. I was attentive, and I provided D. with a good home, but I wasn’t connecting with him on the visceral level I experienced with my biological daughters. And while it was easy, and reassuring, to talk to all these experts about D.’s issues, it was terrifying to look at my own. I had never once considered the possibility that I’d view an adopted child differently than my biological children. The realization that I didn’t feel for D. the same way I felt for my own flesh and blood shook the foundations of who I thought I was.
At least in this one, she doesn't blame the child. I'm afraid we're going to see more and more of these confessionals, now that it's more "socially acceptable" to admit to a disruption. And all statistics say that disruptions are going up; but most of the disruptions involved older child adoption, where it is perhaps to be more expected. But I'm hearing of too many cases like this one, where it's infant adoption. Sigh.
What do you think of the headline to the story, "Terminating an Adoption?" Certainly better than "re-homing." It sounds clinical, final -- deadly. Maybe that's more apt than disruption.
P.S. 8/28/09 This is what I wrote in the comments to the story on the NYT's website after reading through 155 comments praising the author for her actions:
No, we shouldn’t judge; but we also shouldn’t tolerate everything.
Many commenters have suggested that this story doesn’t have anything to do with adoption — after all, biological parents give up their children, too. But do they do so in situations like this one?
Do you really think in a situation like this one — a solidly middle class two-parent family, not inexperienced teenagers, but experienced parents to other children, with medical insurance to cover the costs of medical care for a special needs child, at least one breadwinner with a reliable income, and a special needs child who apparently is not so special-needs as to need institutional care and who can apparently function in another family, AND the child had been the biological child of those parents — you’d be throwing around terms like “brave” and “loving?” Would you call that mother the child’s “guardian angel?”
Somehow I don’t think so. What makes this situation more “socially acceptable” than similarly-situated biological parents abandoning a child is that for so many biological ties are stronger, more legitimate, more real, more lasting, than the “fragile ties” of adoption. In other words, for many of the commenters, and for Anita, whether consciously or subconsciously, adoption is less than, adoption is second best.
I look forward to the next NYT guest blogger — a biological mother in this same circumstance, who gave up her child. Those will be interesting comments to read!