Friday, December 30, 2011

Failed Adoptions at Age 18

So reports the New York Times:
Lamar West has lost parents twice in his life. The first time was when he was 4; the second was a month before his 18th birthday. The circumstances differed, but the outcomes did not.
       
When Mr. West, 20, tries to remember his biological parents, his eyes close and his face goes still. He remembers his mother’s name, Rochelle Griffin. Then he recalls a place — a hallway, an office — and fragments of conversation. “Records. Drug abuse. Termination.”

At age 5, Mr. West was adopted from the Illinois child welfare system. His four siblings went elsewhere. Parental rights were terminated. His child welfare case was closed. His last name and birth certificate were changed, listing his adopter, Frankie Lee West, as his mother. He had a new family.
       
He lived in Ms. West’s Roseland home with her and her eight other children (six of them were adopted) for years. But in 2008, he went to stay nearby with a family friend for a few months because Ms. West’s new house on the Southwest Side had become too crowded. He remained in regular contact with her. Then, in January 2009, he went to her home and discovered it empty.

She had moved — “upped and went,” as Mr. West said — to Atlanta. It was a month before he turned 18, and a month before the checks she received from the child welfare system on behalf of Mr. West were scheduled to stop.
       
“I’ve never felt pain like that before,” Mr. West said of finding the empty house. “My heart was beating so fast. It was like someone was punching me from the inside of my chest.”

Mr. West is what caseworkers and providers refer to as a “failed adoption.” He is part of a growing group that is entering the local shelter system for homeless youths after their families vanish as quickly as the government checks attached to them do.       
This is a failed adoption, isn't it?  The idea isn't just to get the kid to 18, and then all bets are off, right?  Sure, there's no legal obligation for a parent to support a child past 18, but what does it say when the relationship ends as soon as the adoption subsidy checks do?

14 comments:

kyburg said...

This is easily the most horrible thing I have read this year. Going to follow the story - poor kid.

birthmothertalks said...

That is beyond sad. How can someone be that cruel?

Joy said...

How awful!

Anonymous said...

HOW AWEFUL!! TERRIBLE. In my opinion there needs to be MORE post adoption f/u. I've had my child home for about a year and half and although we don't need the SW visits anymore we welcome her when she is in the area. She has been incredibly helpful. I know not every one has great SW's but I wish everyone could have one like ours and I wish post f/u would be required for longer. A check in at least. If nothing else, a SW can help trouble shoot issues (sleep, etc) and/or validate that you are doing OK. And, in situations like the one in the story protect the kids. Terrible!

Molly W. said...

That is just heartbreaking. Poor kid.

Robin said...

The question that comes to mind when I read horrific stories like this is "Are adopted children really members of the family or is adoption just a form of long-term foster care?

Anne said...

Oh wow. That is awful...I can't even imagine.

Anne said...

This is a sad story, but no more sad than the number of biological parents who dump their children on the state prior to age eighteen.

theadoptedones said...

Anne said: This is a sad story, but no more sad than the number of biological parents who dump their children on the state prior to age eighteen.

No different than loosing one and only set of parents?

Loosing your biological parents due to abuse or neglect, and then finding your forever home after who knows how many foster placements in good or bad homes, and then finding out your forever parents and home only lasts until age 18 because the checks stopped...and your forever parents really only wanted the check not you...

No different - really?

Anonymous said...

anne - my adopted child is more a party of our family than many kids in bio families. that comment made me sad. we are a tight family of 3.

Anonymous said...

sorry - that was for robin, not anne.

Lori said...

Children adopted out of foster care often end up in the streets - almost as often as children that simply age out of care. When I worked as a residential treatment center counselor over half of my case load were adoptees... that was in the 1980s. It is doubtful that those statistics changed for the better.

It is horrible that people use children in that fashion - worse for the child that is taken from a natural parent or family - no matter the reason.

When are the children going to come first?

Anonymous said...

Doesn't it seem that monthly payments for adopting a child are going to lead some people to adopt a bunch of kids for the money? I had until recently thought that only foster parents received money and that adoptive parents were expected to financially support their children. Someone who adopts 8 children, all with checks coming in, sounds very suspicious...
Courtney

Anonymous said...

Heartbreaking. Just beyond heartbreaking!!