Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hard Truths of Some Adoptions

From the Motherlode blog at the New York Times, Lisa Belkin introduces a post from KJ Dell’Antonia about adopting kids who already have a family, but still need one, as follows:

A friend, an adoptive mother, said to me recently, “I have faced the fact that my daughter is only mine because I have more money than her birth mother.” That is a simple reality of adoption, she says, and yet it is so rarely spoken aloud.
Indeed.  And here's what Dell'Antonia has to say about adopting her daughter from China, about taking her away from a loving foster home:

“I want to go home.”

It doesn’t really matter what or where home is, especially not if you’re a young kid, parted from your culture and country and navigating a world where nothing means what it once did. Whatever home is to you, when you’re miserable, when the world is hard and uncomforting, the craving is universal: I do not want to endure. I want to go home.

When my daughter, adopted at nearly 4 years old from China but from a largely English-speaking home, first came to us, she said those words loud and clear, and she said them often. When you watch Sui Yong, the 8-year-old at the center of PBS’s documentary “Wo Ai Ni, Mommy (I love you, Mommy),” adoptive mother Donna Sadowsky can’t understand the phrase, spoken by her daughter in Chinese — but the viewer can read the subtitles, and Sadowsky can read the rest: the tears, the tone, and the defeated little body curled up in the bed.

In adoption parlance, “Faith” Sadowsky has “come home,” but the Sadowsky house isn’t home for Sui Yong.

When asked by her daughter — later — why she wanted a child from China, mother Donna Sadowsky says she told the girl that “I needed a daughter, and you needed a family.” It’s not an unusual line; in fact, it’s fairly standard. It’s as good a way as any of making sense of the many forces that bring together parents and children in the adoption world. But from that child’s point of view — and from my own daughter’s — it isn’t true. Like many of the older children adopted from China now (and most Chinese adoptions now are of children older than 2 years) Sui Yong, now Faith, and my daughter already had families. Loving, close, treasured families. Families they couldn’t keep.
Zoe was not in foster care, and Maya was.  Maya was the first child her foster parents had fostered, and they've gone on to foster others, at least two of whom were adopted abroad and one of whom was adopted domestically.  Maya was with them for 10 months and they heard her first word and saw her first step.  They were very loving, as evidenced by the ease of Maya's transition to our family, and by the fact that they still -- 7 birthdays later -- send a present for Maya's birthday.

Yes, Maya is perfectly happy and thriving in our family.  But I still feel pain at what she has lost.


birthmothertalks said...

I saw the PBS show that you referred to. It was so sad. This is an interesting post.

Elizabeth@Romans8:15 said...

my son was in a loving foster family for 2 years. They gave us a letter when we went to get him. It said that although they have had to let other children go to an orphanage (in Korea, they only stay in foster care for so long), they would have adopted him. I think they said this to comfort us, in a way, that he was so loved. But we keep in touch with them and I know it to be true. It haunts me, still.

On the one hand, would his life had been better having stayed in his home country/culture, etc?? On the other hand, they would have hidden his adoption from him (they told me) because adoption is so scandalous in Korea and he would have never known his real background.

Deep, emotional, and hard stuff.

Reena said...

Oh this post brings tears to my eyes. Our recently adopted youngest daughter was in a loving foster family for most of her 2 years when we adopted her just before her 2nd birthday.

The family brought her to the orphanage and the orphanage workers quickly took DD from them into a room and shuffled us all apart. It was so abrupt and fast we hardly new what was going on.

*Our* daughter was traumatize, screaming and yelling-- we felt horrible--like we were abducting her. Very conflicted.

It was soooo very heartbreaking. Our guide did manage to slip a note to the FF with contact information so that we could meet with them later in the week.

What a treasure to meet with them and talk. We continue to communicate frequently through email. I am also hanging pictures of the foster family in our home with all of our family pictures.

DD was their 7th foster child. Both the FF and the orphanage staff told us that foster kids are returned to the orphanage around age 14 for more formal schooling and sometimes to start working-- they are not allowed to stay with the foster family.

Has anyone else heard this?

Reena said...

Also-- the foster family had a grown daughter no longer living with them. They had years before adopted a little boy they had fostered. They indicated they would have liked to adopt *our* daughter, but would not be allowed to because of the One-child Policy in China.

Wendy said...

Our daughter was in foster care for 20 of her 25 months in China (the last twenty). Her foster family fostered two girls prior to her and then one NSN girl after through a different orphanage--no longer fostering due to the fact there are not enough children available to foster (a good thing).

She would have returned to the orphanage at age five and then would only have been able to stay/visit with them during the lunar new year holidays. The reason for the return is for schooling--all of the children at her orphanage are special needs and have to be schooled at the orphanage due to local law.

We also have ongoing contact with them, they are a part of our family and we theirs. It is so sad how she was handed over to us, just week's before her foster family would have been allowed to bring her and stay with us; however, one family had major issues so they changed it for everyone. It was devastating being taken from the family you know and given to another family knowing that "mama" is right outside the door. We begged for them to be allowed in--a resounding NO! We did get to see them four days later at the orphanage where we handed our contact info over secretly. We have been in contact via email, phone, snail mail, and a visit since.