Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Adoption & Abuse

Sometimes it's HARD to decide what to blog about.  My usual problem is not finding something to post about, but in deciding what NOT to post about.  Believe it or not, I don't actually blog about everything that crosses my mind or my computer screen, though some days I know it seems I do! 

I've been trying to decide whether to post about an article, which is a followup to something I posted about before, but couldn't decide if it was "new" enough to bother.  And I admit, I'm sometimes leery about posting on topics that annoy readers (doesn't always stop me -- UNICEF, anyone?!), and this one seems to. But when a recent news story caught my attention, I figured I needed post again on the topic of adoption and abuse.  It is important enough.
Remember a while ago I posted about the spike in reported cases of starvation abuse of adopted children in Washington state? The article noted that the state was appointing a study group of experts to study the issue of child abuse in adoption, to determine whether there is a link between adoption and child abuse, what causes it, etc.  I think the unanswered questions are important enough to report this followup that lists the questions the group will be trying to answer:
  • Are neglect and abuse, including withholding food, on the rise? And are they more prevalent in adopted homes?
  • Are changes needed to foreign or cross-race adoptions procedures? Or in the foster care adoption process?
  • Do child welfare agencies maintain adequate long-term data on adoption outcomes?
  • Does a push to have more foster children adopted sooner created risks to child safety?
The story that made me think I should post these questions?  This one about the death of a child at the hands of her prospective adoptive father:
A Fort Drum soldier wounded in Afghanistan in 2009 admitted Tuesday that he killed a 4-month-old girl he and his wife were trying to adopt by banging her head against a hard surface and throwing her into a crib.

Jeffrey Sliker, a native of Middletown, R.I., could get 15 years to life in prison at sentencing on March 14 — almost a year after his arrest at the couple's home near the military post in northern New York.

Sliker, 23, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Laurne Clark, also known as Mollie Sliker, who was found dead with a head injury after Sliker's wife alerted authorities.

Prosecutor Cindy Intschert said Sliker told the judge "he had had very little sleep, he was getting ready for work, the child was crying and he became frustrated."

* * *

Defense attorney Sheila Crowley said Sliker was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The most important thing now, I think, is to figure out what we can learn from these cases to try to prevent them in the future. 

Yes, I know biological parents also abuse children, so it can't be exclusively an adoption problem. But what can we do in adoption -- better screening? better preparation? better post-adoption support? -- to prevent abuse?

I think the study group, which expects to issue a report in May, is asking the right questions. What other questions do you think they need to answer?


Anonymous said...

Children that are in the process of adoption should be screened to be given to the best family there is,and also thier should be a reliable follow up with the adopting families,lets not forget about these children who started with a sad beginning of thier life,lets not pretend that raising adopted children is the same,adopting families need special attention,because think about it if we hear all the time that children are abused and most children live with thier biological kin than why should we more catious with adopting family????????and i am not talking just phiyscal abuse also emotional abuse.Its a know fact that non biological kids are at higher risk for abuse.

Anonymous said...

correctoin to the first post:why should'nt we be more catious with adopted children??????

in my adopted family i was litrealy at risk from phisycal abuse from my adopted brother did anyone check??hell no!!!
they only remove children from biological families......

Anonymous said...

This idea of rushing to allow kids to become adoptable sooner is a terrible plan. Of course young kids may adjust more with less exposure to bad environments before adoptions however the priority should be to get more help for at-risk parents and much better short term or long term facilities and homes to place children in.
Rushing helps nothing and no one in this scenario.

Everyone should watch the movie "The Unloved" and then consider where kids are really worse off in. The state swoops in to "save" kids from a bad situation and then places them all too often in much worse conditions.

The issue of murders, starvation and abuse in adoptions should show the world that not always is a child assured a better scenario than the one they were taken from. Often the situation can become much worse!

Resources offered to at-risk families, mentors available even daily to ensure kids are staying safe, food programs and health care, education for parents, rehab if needed... all of these steps and many more will help prevent separation and maybe even save the government millions long-term.

Yet, the answer always seems to be to take them from the poor or vulnerable and give to the rich because in our world, money seems to equate success and health even though we all know wealthy and middle class suffer from mental illness and family disfunction too!

I hope that the panel who will investigate these issues does not do so with bias and judgement! I hope they REALLY look at the problems adoptees and foster kids deal with.

Anonymous said...

From theadoptedones

They need to address the culture of denial in the adoption community. When you have a community that denies it is a problem, you also have a community not willing to step up and talk about it honestly. It's understandable because they don't want to be painted with the same brush by the public, but it is NOT acceptable to the ones abused.

You can see the denial on-line when an adult adoptee says they were abused - they are dismissed by the phrase "I am sorry you had a bad experience but not all adoptions turn out that way" Do you think that type of statement would fly with a bio child? People have to figure out why they are comfortable talking about abuse in bio homes, but refuse to believe or talk about it in adoptive homes.

They have never kept track of adoptive families and because of that you have so many unanswered questions like: is SA more common within adoptive families either between siblings or parent to child because of no biological connection. Is there physical and emotional abuse from the parent who went along with the other parent on adoption, or because the child does not match up to the dream child a parent can't get over. Those are two scenario's that come up time and time again in adult adoptee conversations and people need to start taking the adult adoptees words as truth - stop brushing them off.

There are REAL concerns that go unaddressed because there aren't statistics about adoptive families.

Anonymous said...

I always say that adoption give me a different life in no way a better life.

this is why i belive that helping children staying in thier fimilar enviorments should be the number one focus.

Anonymous said...

"Disabilities are considered curses upon the family..."

Malinda, with due respect for your thoughtful and thought-provoking blog, that is a sweeping statement. In China's huge population, as in probably all countries the vast majority of children, NSN or SN, are raised by their families of origin, are not abandoned and never become available for adoption. Like most parents everywhere, most parents in China and those who are ethnic Chinese residents or citizens elsewhere will love their children and do the best they know how to do for them. Certainly there are those who will have difficulty accepting a child with disabilities and it is true that in general, social awareness of disabilities and the resources to accommodate them are not as widespread as in some IA receiving countries, but deep prejudices and ignorance remain among some people and within many systems all over the world. Those are not specific to China.

In the US, it has only been within the last 20-35 years that various federal laws have given children and adults legally protected equal access to education, employment, housing, public accommodations, transportation, etc.-- well within the conscious memory of many adults with disabilities, and as one knows, laws take a long time to be realized to their full potential, including to this day.

China is perhaps one or two generations removed from the US in that respect, but as the Love Without Boundaries Unity Fund, shows there are families in China who do, or would dearly like to keep and help their children to their fullest potential, and there are many loving orphanage staff and foster families who care for children considered SN. Some do adopt these children or would have liked to had they been allowed.

I know this is not the main point of your post, which I will address later in another comment if I can, but the part I quoted paints the situation with too broad a brush that may unwittingly reinforce some stereotypes.

Anonymous said...

Most recent Anonymous here. Apologies. I left the SN comment on the wrong post by accident. I will leave it on the correct post too. Not intending to spam. Malinda, if you wish to delete this one for clarity of the discussion, I will not object.