Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Sometimes it doesn't work Pt 2

For as long as we have been part of the adoption community - a year or so prior to our first adoption - we have known there was a need for adoptive families to access respite care for their adopted child. The reasons are as varied as the children and parents themselves. Maybe the child never sleeps and the parents need a weekend to do nothing other than sleep. Maybe the child has very high medical needs and the parents need a few days to rest up and recharge without constantly responding to the next pump alarm, diaper blow out or tube feeding. Maybe they just need a few hours to reconnect with their spouse. Sometimes the situation is a bit more extreme; a family seeking counseling to get their feet back under them, or a family considering dissolution.

A few months ago Dean and I made the decision to open our home to adoptive families who need respite for whatever reason. Every parent, no matter how amazing, no matter how much patience and training they have, needs a break. . And its not even just the parents! Often the entire family needs a break! Unfortunately not all kids are cute and adorable, particularly if they are post institutional children. Some of these kids can be really difficult to find outside care for. I know, we know, because we have a child who cannot be left with just anyone. We have a child who may be amazing for us, but for anyone else - including school staff - immediately reverts to a feral state the moment we are out of sight. There is no such thing as getting a sitter for this child. And so Dean and I chose to become "those people" who aren't really phased by a kid who struggles to function while his or her parents get a much needed breather. We have also offered respite to families who are barely hanging on by a thread, who's marriages and/or families are falling apart around them. In these situations we request the family be seeking counseling services, being proactive in their attempts to keep their family together, while we are providing respite.

Adoption dissolution, sometimes referred to as disruption, is not a new phenomenon. It is not even rare. I think most people would be shocked to know just how often it happens, mostly because nobody talks about it. It is the deep, dark secret of the adoption community. Adoption dissolution is so common that every state in the US has attorneys who specialize in the process, who are specially trained in the laws of ICPC regulations (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children). However, with the advent of social media, first with blogs, then Facebook and other ways to connect, people are hearing about adoption dissolution for the first time and are shocked this could be happening. Again, its not new. Maybe just new to you.

I think it is difficult for those who have never adopted, or who were lucky enough to adopt an "easy" child, to put themselves in the shoes of the adoptive family in crisis. If you have a biological child, think back those first few months. Maybe you had a really colicky baby and you were frazzled to no end. Now imagine doing that with a child who you have no connection to...or...gasp....who you may not even like. Maybe you had a baby who was super easy, and you looked at your friend with the colicky baby, saying to yourself, "Thank God that's not me!" Now, substitute "new baby" with adopted child.

As I mentioned above, adoption dissolution is the dirty secret of the adoption world. Why? Why the secret? Because of those who have no compassion for the failures of humans. I don't know of anyone who adopts a child and disrupts, who does not spend months in agony over the decision, tearing themselves apart about what they could have done differently, better, faster, or not at all. Some who regret the decision to adopt in the first place. And of course, there is human pride. "I failed." There is much judgement that cannot be avoided. Some families move to other communities where the neighbors don't know a child is missing, some change churches, others just stop talking to anyone, leaving their biological children to answer the questions of others. If you can imagine a situation, it has probably happened.

But what happens next? Where does the child go? That child who wasn't bonding or was difficult to manage. The child one family could no longer care for?

That's the other secret... Part 3.

1 comment:

gps said...

Please help me understand better about adoption dissolution. On the surface, it seems analogous to biological parents giving up their child for adoption in the first place: They got a child they are not prepared to take care of, and have to relinquish him/her so the child's (and family's) needs can be met.

However, it seems that dissolution happens more frequently than relinquishment of bio-children. Is that correct, in your experience? One would imagine that the reverse should be true. That adoptive parents, being required to undergo homestudies and pre-adoptive training, would be better prepared for the issues they would be facing.

So what's going on? How should pre-adoptive parents be prepared better so as to minimize these tragedies?