Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Policy on Adoptee Returns

This question might sound much more conservative than my life's political and personal choices would suggest, but whatever has happened to the ability to keep a commitment?

Okay, so culturally, we seem to be transitioning away from the "till death do us part" part of the standard marriage contract; we live in an economy that supports multiple job, career and geographic changes across the lifespan; and our President signs legislation with signing statements that amount to saying, "Well...I might not really follow this law if it doesn't suit me."

And the latest trend in negotiable or contingent commitments seem to be with the children we've adopted. The latest from Theresa's Digg involves an obviously deeply disturbed 14 year-old adoptee who brutally attacked a family member (Family deals with nightmare adoption). In typical Fox fashion, the intro reads, "
... not all adoptions are made in heaven, sometimes they turn into horror stories." Somehow, in the eight years since she adopted him, Rhonda Gary-Jackson's son went from "cute" and "animated" to a sociopath, according to her description. He's now on the block for being disowned although "Florida law doesn't allow her to un-adopt her son."

Of course it doesn't!! There's no such thing as to 'un-adopt,' legally, even in light of the increasing incidences of (euphemistically labeled) "disrupted" adoptions. Adoption's for life, get it? We're just not an ugly sweater to take back to WalMart. Yes, we can be a former firestarter, oppositional defiant, authority disordered, "troubled" and "angry" adopted teen, I can attest to that. Although my behavior never rose to the level of violence described in the press, I suspect that,
even if it had, my 50's era aparents, would never have even thought to consider shipping me back to the agency (although amom often did threaten relinquishment to either police custody or "the gypsies!"). Even though I still believe I should have been raised in my natural family, I'm confident that my aparents (despite all their faults and pathologies) were committed in their adoption.

In Bae Gang Shik's Transracial Korean Adoptee News there's discussion of a therapeutic ranch for "troubled" adoptees in Montana (Ranch raises hopes for adoptees). This piece (with subheaders like "Problems lurk beneath the surface" ooooh! scary, scary adopted demon spawn...look out!) describes a residential setting where, according to aparent comments , seems to do a good job providing treatment to kids with obvious trauma and attachment issues and helps to give parents tools necessary to help their children.

I'm not so sure, on:
The wind howls across the craggy landscape here, 5 miles from the Canadian border. There's plenty of physical activity and virtually nowhere to run. In the early days, Sterkel didn't have much of a treatment plan beyond keeping the kids busy and nurtured.
Yeah....why would a traumatized kid from an orphanage in Eastern Europe, Central America or south Florida, for that matter, need an actual treatment plan? I'm sure there's plenty of chores on the ranch, and we have a long cultural tradition of orphans doing chores, right? Chim-chiminy, chim-chiminy, chim chim cheroo....Please, sir, may I have some more?
And while therapeutic horse brushing (equine assisted psychotherapy - a methodology offered to my autistic son here in Vermont in lieu of actual school programming!) is available, "[t]raditional counseling, meanwhile, is available, but only at a parent's request." So who's calling the shots in terms of kids' treatment? Aparents? I can see it now..."I'm just not comfortable with Johnny processing so much about his biological family..." I remember during my teen years being referred to counseling through school, and when conversations made it around to identity issues, suddenly my adad just didn't have the money for the sessions any more and didn't feel a need to "air our family's dirty laundry" to others.

The article also sites staff telling kids that their "brains are screwed up," and they have a coding system for kids right out of Homeland Security:
Children are listed as green, yellow and red, based on the difficulty of finding replacement families for each. Their numbers have risen so dramatically that A Child's Waiting plans to build transitional housing specifically to accommodate that group, said Crissy Kolarik, co-director. "The red kids have the most significant issues, such as sexual predators," she said.
"Build transitional housing"?! Yeee-haw!! Looks like bizness is boomin'! That angry teenage adoptee gettin' on yer nerves? Well, shucks, send 'em on out to the demon spawn ranch, and we'll fix 'em up with another set a pardners!

Here's another gem:
"It takes a lot before Bill and I will cry 'uncle,'" Sterkel said. "But we have the staff to think about." From here, about one-third will return home, while another third -- mostly those 16 and older -- will move on to Job Corps, an education and vocational training program run by the U.S. Department of Labor...The remaining third will discover that their parents are relinquishing their rights...He rarely judges those adoptive parents who arrive at this painful conclusion. Sure, one couple sent a one-paragraph e-mail ("just incredibly lame," Sutley said). But for the most part, such families are held hostage -- especially when adoptees act out sexually or falsely allege abuse by their adoptive parents. "Sometimes, parents have no choice ... otherwise they risk losing the rest of their family." [emphasis mine]
...the "rest of the family?" The biologically connected rest of the family?

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And to top it all off, they also facilitate adoptee returns, or "double dipping" as some folks describe it, through the notorious A Child's Waiting agency. How many times can you sell a kid, really?

According to one aparent "held hostage" by her adopted child and left with "limited options,"

"All I can tell you is that we grieve for what might have been."


We grieve, too, but for different reasons...not for the loss of the dream of the perfect child who would heal our infertility, who would stand in as if he or she was our real child, who would never, ever be violent and unpredictable and volatile. We grieve for our own ghost parents, for the lives we never had, for the lack of a legal right to our own identity, and for our poor brothers and sisters in adoption, these poor wrecked kids from eastern Europe and Guatemala and Korea and California, Texas, Florida and New York, drug addicted, fetal alcohol, traumatized by abandonment and institutionalization, we grieve for you.

And we grieve especially for hope lost, promises broken, and a dream deferred

I'm not naive; I know these kids, and perhaps even little Jade (formerly) Poeteray have a lot going on and need some pretty intensive care. But when things get rough, they are our kids! They're our kids whether or not we knew their full background (quit yer whining! Not many of us adoptees know our background, and we're able to make it thought the day); they're our kids whether or not the agency lied (big surprise!caveat emptor, baby! And next time, employ some critical thinking on your way to saving the world one child at a time!); and they're our kids when they fuck up in conscious and unconscious expressions of their trauma and grief. While I acknowledge that, even with a biological child, we may feel forced to terminate parental rights in a situation where the child rapes a family member as described in the case above, or when that TPR somehow is in the teen's best interest in terms of treatment or adjudication, let's be honest here....would you be relinquishing this child this easily if he were born to you?

The promise of adoption is to parent forever. The dream of adoption is a loving home for a child who needs parents (not parents who want a child), and if we remember our Langston Hughes, what does happen to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?


Ungrateful Little Bastard said...

I was just venting on this issue myself. I'm going to link to this post

Gershom said...

And didn't you just SKWIRM when you read the comment on how when the ranch owner is telling a child their adoptions been annuled and that their adoptive parents aren't coming back he chose to use the lines "its not your fault you just have a screwed up head" ( or something like that )Grrr I get so mad at the disrespect of outsiders not having a CLUE about adoption or its related concerns and issues. Great post. totally agreed and I'm going to be posting about it tonight :) I"ll link to BOTH of you :)

Jude's BlogLoggin said...

Caught your post from Ungrateful Little Bastard. Visit my blog and read my Adoption is a Bumpy Ride, I would love to hear your thoughts as well.

Your post is amazingly dead-on accurate and positively frightening! Designer Adoptions and Accepted Give Backs look like a scary telling of the future. God Help Us!