I don’t watch the news. I don’t read the paper. I don’t read magazines or watch previews for the news or read the screen on my email homepage. I like to be uninformed. Information is good, to a point. But when a whole world of negativity filters into your living room, you start to feel like your neighborhood has all the same horrible odds as the rest of the world. And I don’t like to live my life scared. To maintain my faith; my peace- I choose to remain ig’nant.
So. With that said… A very well-intentioned person thought to save a copy of Newsweek for me. It included an article spurred to existence by the actions of the Tennessee mother who sent her adopted Russian son back with $200 and a note in hand to describe her actions to the Embassy. The article went over points I had thought I knew the answers to when I heard about the story for the first time. Such as “Why did this woman not use any of the innumerable services at her disposal to get help?” (her social worker, her local social agency, teachers of her parenting classes, her international adoption agency, etc.) This is a legitimate question. You see, in order to adopt people have to take hours upon hours of specialized parenting classes, learn about attachment disorders and how to handle them, and fill out gobs of paperwork guiding them through thought processes about what to expect. Right? Right?? Well it is slowly coming to my attention that this is not always the case. The article mentioned how many people are led through the process with little to no education at all. That the “end result” is that the child gets a home. Not a happy home. Not the home of well educated parents who know what to expect. Just a home. “Let’s get these poor orphans adopted!” And apparently there are many social services out there that intend to get these children into homes without supplying critical information to prepare the parents. Probably (in fact almost certainly) out of fear that parents who know what horrors to expect would immediately decide to drop the whole process. I usually don’t take articles at the value they claim to represent. In other words, though they claim this is common place, we can’t be sure how common. I know many, many agencies are more than preparing their parents for the woes of attchment disorder. Josh and I were SO educated through our 24 hours of specialized classes in the foster-adopt program that I nearly had a panic attack. We heard some terrible stuff. We heard messages of hopelessness given to us from a highly respected therapist who had spent years studying attachment disorder. This person, who the social agency put up at the podium with their full recommendation, told us that attachment disorder is not reversible over 90 % of the time. You just live with it. So-and-so will never love you, and that’s that. They will never trust. They will never allow good touch. You will adopt and for the rest of your life struggle to make a connection with a child that has given up on relationships from infancy.
GREAT, doc. (Just watched Back to the Future and am now imagining this evil therapist as looking very much like Christopher Lloyd)
I left that session crying and crying. What to do? How could it be? Would God really create us in His image and love us so very much and then allow that we could not be healed from traumas that were incited against us in our innocence of youth? Should we box Him so? After days I regained my fervor and faith and decided that my God is good. He is able and He is powerful. He can heal. Maybe it takes years and more patience than any human being has (without God’s help) but I believe healing happens. It wasn’t but a few weeks later that my wonderful sister-in-law forwarded me an audio link to listen to a doctor explaining her views on attachment disorder on a radio talk show. She was full of hope for these children. She has worked with them for years and makes it her goal to find out how to help them, no matter their motivation to help themselves. She has worked with parents of international adoption and seen incredible improvements in many of the detached children brought her way. What a relief! I looked this woman up- this was over a year ago now- and she works at a children’s hospital not three hours from our house. That’s a resource for me. I am relieved to know that it’s there! (wiping sweat from brow) But the whole issue that this article raised is that many are not even told what attachment disorder is! “But he tried to set. my house. on fire!!!” That’s attachment disorder. “He was cold and hostile toward us. We had to hide the knives from the kitchen for fear of our lives!” That’s attachment disorder. These people are FA-REEKED out- understandably so- because these behaviors are beyond what we’d call “troubled.” But had they been forewarned, they could label the “disease” instead of seeing the child as satan incarnate. They could seek help to treat the issue, instead of assuming that it is personality-driven and unchangeable. Apparently, to get back to my point, there are adoptions happening with no education. There are post-placement check-ups done but the article reports that often these are just summaries of the first year of placement- no one looks for areas where the parents might need help. They just do the report as a formality and file it away. If the parents cried for help during the post-placement study, it would be noted that things are going poorly and then the papers would just be filed. The end. I can believe this happens to many people. It is terrible for them as well as the child involved. These kids are getting RE-adopted to other Americans who can “handle” them. There are a few services mentioned in the article as places that do nothing but handle these “problem” children. It’s like a camp that they can stay at- weekends or until adulthood depending on what the adoptive parents can handle.
Josh and I are part of a group of people that meets once a week from the church. Someone there has kids who are adopting from Ethiopia right now. We mentioned our situation and asked for prayers. Then another couple told a quick story that opened my eyes to adoption problems that exist that I was oblivious to: “Some friends of ours wanted to adopt internationally but they didn’t fit the age criteria for that country. They were devastated. They looked and looked for someone to help them but could find no one. Finally they found an agency that could help. They were so relieved! They thought they wouldn’t be able to adopt! But since the adoption has been finalized they’ve had serious troubles. They were never told to go to classes, nor were they told anything about possible issues that might arise. They just ‘got the child’ and it was over. They are beside themselves now and with no where to turn.” I’m irate at this point. This was our second meeting ever with these people we barely knew and I said very little about this except for expressing my distaste for such a process. But inside I was thinking, “That wasn’t an agency! That was a joke- or worse- the black market! If there is a legal limit on age with a country there is NO way to bypass that. Something illegal happened here. And these people were probably bilked out of way more money than they should have been and left with more heartache than before. And the child! What’s to become of him?” I was pissed. I use that word too much aloud but rarely type it out for everyone. But I was. Pissed.
So I am becoming aware of the broad world of adoptions and all the good and bad ways they are handled. It’s not so black and white as I once imagined it was. Laws are not necessarily followed and social workers are not necessarily taught to guard against future surprises. I am so utterly grateful that Josh and I have found a trustworthy organization run by trusted and recommended people. I am glad they are holding us to our education, even though we’ve already done it before. I am glad, above all, that we have a God who is caring and is settling my nerves at every junction because He reminds me that He is enough. He is power and He is love. He loves this child who we are nightly praying for already. He is preparing her heart for us as I write this. She will gain from becoming a member of our family and we will gain from letting her into our lives. God is weaving it all. And He… is perfection.
So take that, news story! We will continue on, unafraid, and with towering hope and faith that all will unfold within our ability to handle it. Sarah out.