Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rightful "Claims" on Adopted Kids

At Creating a Family, Dawn Davenport has a compassionate and forthright response to a query from an adoptive parent worried about attempts by their recently adopted son's Korean foster parents to contact them:
While you are 100% your son’s real honest-to-goodness parents and will be for life, he also has two other sets of parents—birth and foster. This is both confusing and sometimes hard for us adoptive parents to accept. Even if we accept it on the intellectual level, it’s another matter entirely to accept on the emotional level.

I sense an underlying concern in your question of the foster family’s attachment or “claim” on your son. While I completely understand how that can be unsettling, especially during the time you are trying to establish this sense of attachment and claim yourself, I do want to gently suggest that they indeed are, and have every right to be, attached to your son, and they do have a claim to him. That’s the nature of love. It is this very love that they felt for him that has given him such a healthy start in life and laid the foundation that your love will build on. Who would your son be if he wasn’t so thoroughly loved and claimed by his foster parents? It is possible to foster a child just for the money without forming that sense of attachment, but it
isn’t best for the child. Your son and you are blessed that this family chose the harder route of falling in love even though he wasn’t going to be theirs forever.

* * *

It is worth examining your feelings about his foster family because in addition to a foster family, your son has a first family, and many of the same feelings you have about his foster family are likely intensified in your feeling about his birth family. Working through your discomfort with the foster family’s love for your son and the “rights” they feel towards him will help pave the way for greater comfort towards his first family and acceptance of their “claim” on him and on his possible desire to have a relationship with them when he is older.
The whole thing is a must-read, including the suggestion that some of what is bothering the adoptive parents (naked baby pictures taken by the foster parents) may be merely cultural differences.


Elizabeth@Romans8:15 said...

Wow--I clicked over and read the whole thing. All I can say is that we feel blessed beyond measure that our son was placed with such an amazing foster family in S. Korea. These families are so strong and wonderful. My son lived with them for 2 years. He was never treated as an "other" or a "less than". He was a son, a brother. One of the daughters in the family is my age and is an English teacher. We are now friends on Facebook, we communicate through email and blogs and she is planning to visit our family this summer. Some might say that is crazy, but I want this relationship for my son. He deserves this much. And they deserve this much for loving him like their own for two long years. There is always enough love to go around.

Von said...

No-one should feel they have claims over another's life.We may want the best for all children but they are not possessions.

Wendy said...

I agree, we have continued to forge a relationship with my daughter's foster parents (and now birth parents as well). We email, mail, telephone, and visit. Seeing the relationship between them after three plus years was so interesting, on most levels she had forgotten them--as in the day to day living, but on another there was a deep bond. They are also her family, and now ours.
Our relationship with her birth family is not as open (their choice), but one day I hope it will be. We are on the road as we just received their email address! It is more us than them at this point, but knowing she can share with them is really wonderful at this point. She can show all of those proud moments (via email and mail). Of course she (and we) want more, but all relationships require work and time.
We value these relationships. With her foster family especially, we are family. They address us as such and we them. We must see foster families/birth families as extended relatives. Von is right on--children are not possessions to be owned, we are all just lucky enough to share their lives.

Diane said...

I feel so strongly about this issue that I fear I wouldn't have been as gracious in my response. Important stuff. I wouldn't have my oldest daughter if I hadn't met the foster family during my youngest's daughters adoption.