Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Terminating an Adoption"

In the unfortunately-named NYTimes parenting blog, Adventures in Parenting, another adoptive mom tells of a disrupted adoption:

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!


Wendy said...

I agree, at least it really describes what it is.
As for this woman, and for many others, I don't think they prepare enough for their own feelings. I don't know what they are dreaming of or imagining it will be, but kids come with their own issues, their own personalities, and behaviors--that is just something that has to be expected and accepted.
I don't know if this term has been used here before, but sometimes you have to "fake until you feel it". It may sound harsh, but oftentimes there is an attachment period for parents and children. It takes time.

cfountaine said...

"Socially acceptable"?? Really? That's sad, if you ask me.

I don't know why but this reminds me of the Nebraska law which, for a brief time, allowed parents to relinquish custody (and parental rights) of kids up to the age of 18. After an unfortunately high number of teenagers were "dropped off" at hospitals and police stations by their frustrated parents, Nebraska changed its Baby Moses law back to babies-only.

BTW, last night M thanked me for being her forever mom; that "adoptress" letter really got to her.

travelmom and more said...

I think the parenting classes I had to take to become an adoptive parent in Colorado did a poor job discussing attachment. We had some attachment classes, but everything was about the child attaching. Several mothers in my online support group talked about their problems attaching. I was very thankful to those who were brave enough to come forward to talk about the process of attachment to help me feel less alone when I didn't instatnly bond. Looking back I think my attachment process was very normal and it didn't take me long to attach, but it never occured to me that attachment was a two way streek. I assumed I would see my child and instantly fall in love. Later I found that a lot of biological parents also struggle attaching to their children. We need to do a better job preparing adoptive parents about the ups and downs parents and children go through in the attachment process.

madduchess said...

"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."

This may be my judgemental side coming out, but I think a more appropriate title for this article would be:

Abandonment X 2.


Abandonment, the second time around.

I am not a fan of these pleasant sounding euphamisms designed to ease the adoptive parents conscience. It is abandonment, abandonment, abandonment.

Anonymous said...

I loved it when the person who abandoned him *again* described him as her "son". NOT.

Lorraine Dusky said...

As a mother who surrendered a can understand my outrage at this women, as well as the people who commented and told her "thanks for sharing" and "brave" of her to write this piece. And then, if you are thinking this through, you can also understand what is wrong with closed records anywhere, because adoptions are terminated more than the world wants to admit, and often the natural mother is in a different place and could reclaim her child.
One of our bloggers has just written about terminations at

lorraine dusky

Anonymous said...

Okay, this may be politically incorrect, or socially unacceptable - or whatever, but I'm going to say it hoping that all of these adoptive parents understand it is not meant to offend in any way. Everyone refers to D's "special needs" and how difficult special needs children are, etc. What I noticed in Anita's words, words that struck me immediately, was that she actually expected to feel exactly the same way about an adopted child as her biological children. To me, that is beyond naive. I have 7 children - all biologically related to me - and I do not "feel" the same way about any two of them. I love them all equally and fairly - but relationships depend upon so many things, not least of which is personality. I am not saying that you can not love an adopted child "as much" as a biological child -- all I am saying is that it would be wise to acknowledge that the relationship may be very different - and there are no natural hormonal triggers, which would only make bonding take a bit longer. This child was young -- certainly young enough to be easily fallen in love with -- but loving, caring, and even bonding do not need to be the "same" to be fair or "right." It is not wrong to feel differently about him - and he, being a boy, would have been different from all of her other children even if she had given birth to him! I have to wonder about the professional help she was seeking. Did professionals not explain to her that just because she loved him differently than her girls didn't mean she loved him less or that she couldn't have just as rich a relationship. Surely, we must admit that relationship is the key problem here - not love.

Anonymous said...

I'm sitting here with my adoptive son who was special needs and I'm disgusted. Turning this woman into a celebrity? Did she adopt to really help the child or to stoke her own ego? Let me guess, she's an officer's wife and wanted to show the other ladies at the Officer Wives Club how wonderful she was for adopting a child...Let me guess some she's going to write a book about it? I'm sure the poor child she abandoned will receive some of the proceeds from the book *sarcasm*.

I have two older children (they're adults) and I knew that it would be harder to bond with an adopted child. But guess what - it wasn't at all. As soon as I held him I bonded to him. Maybe our blogger should have stopped being so selfish and opened her heart to the adopted child. Maybe have some empathy for what the child went through? I know, I know, it's probably more important for her to blog and watch American Idol than to actually try and be a parent.

This story just makes me ill and I'm really worried about the lack of ethics in this country. If you don't like something, throw it out and then blog about it. Shameful.

Anonymous said...

This adoption talk is actually whats wrong with the family law in this country. It needs a reform to expose women who get way with these coward decisions. If it was a man, he would have been crucified by society and be called a deadbeat - looser - unfit ect..

I would even go as far to say this is no different from having a child against someone's will, forced him to pay up then do as you please just because the court system empowers the wrong women at all cost.

Unless we change the law to expose unfit parents and wannabes for the wrong reasons, some women will always get away with these double standards acts.

Family Law in USA is a JOKE and women play around with it way too often. The real looser is society at large. There are something that should be sacred and should not be used a bargaining chip for selfish business or publicity.

In my opinion, a child adopted or born out of real love is likely to be an asset to society and the family. Stop the double standard America, wake up!