When Adoption Doesn’t Work

MendedNobody goes into adoption with the thought “What if this doesn’t work”. Nobody. I have been quiet here because I have been busy thinking. There was a minor brouhaha at another adoption blog. The blogger is in a tough spot and I would not personally have the gonads or the presumption to tell her what the right thing to do was. Apparently, there were enough people who put their opinions out there. There were the “protect your *real* children” crowd, which were inevitably followed by the “all the children are *real*  children crowd. Last I looked, the *real* issue is safety– no more, no less.

Her situation really wasn’t out of the ordinary. She had adopted an older child, a teenager. The child had mental health and behavior issues. When you adopt an older child, that is what you have to deal with. This lady, in particular, had the added weight of being days away from delivering a child and having her husband walk out on her. She was physically unable to keep her teen, younger child, herself, or a new born safe. Families do not work when the parent(s) can not keep everybody safe. It is not a matter of choosing one child over another because of their *realness*.

Serious mental illness is more common  in adopted children, but biological children are not immune either. The mental health resources in this country are scarce and insufficient to meet the needs of the people, including children, who need them. Families who are fortunate enough to have their own resources to use can keep their families together by such over the top measures  as renting two apartments or buying a second house. For most people, that kind of solution is out of reach.

I have more than a few friends who have had to disrupt an adoption. Like the vast majority of adoption that don’t work, mental illness and traumatic experiences were part of the child’s experience before they were adopted.

The parents have used every resource they found- social workers, therapists, medication- read every book, tried every method and hit the same wall- nothing they do keeps their child safe. Disruption or dissolution of an adoption is never easy or pain free. These people have poured more of themselves into their child to make the adoption work then any outsider could imagine. They freely give of their resources; emotional, financial and physical. When their adoption fails, the pain and guilt stays around for a long time- sometimes forever.

The real solution to the disruption/dissolution dilemma is to fix the underlying problem. This country has outstanding medical services. It is time we had mental health services to match.


No Answers

Another tragedy. Another shooting. Still no gun control. Still unwilling to fund necessary mental health treatment.

Politicians insisting on protecting unborn fetuses, while refusing to commit to caring for these children after they have taken their first breath.

Having several adopted children with RAD or the adult version of Borderline Personality Disorder, yet not having community support or even a consensus of what treatment will help.

My youngest is still struggling every single day. I did not take her from her mother. I did not cause the damage that torments her. I try to make a difference and then hear RAD is just an excuse to abuse children.

I have no answers. Do you?

Professional Crap Not Needed

Still recuperating from surgery. It is difficult to be down for the count and try to manage things from flat on my butt. One week and three days and I will be mobile again. Lots going on here, but I just couldn’t muster up the energy to post. A friend had an experience yesterday, my adrenaline started  flowing, and this was the result.

All of our children deserve the best medical care we can find. When the child has special needs, it is even more critical. Those of us with a high maintenance special needs  child know it is necessary for our family’s survival. And there’s the rub… our families do not look or interact like typical families. There are an infinitesimal number of highly qualified professionals who also understand that since our families aren’t created out of typical children, they will never look typical. We are ordinary people in  extraordinary  situations. Some of us are overweight, some of us are not socially adept, some of us are performing most of the time, some are always moving, others of us are  a perfectionist or overly critical. We are imperfect people, like everyone else.

It is really discouraging to have an outstanding team of professionals lined up to treat our high maintenance special needs child, only to have one of them veer off into you and what you need. I had one tell me it was unfair to GB to keep Hope. In my world, neither helpful nor a solution. If GB’s shrink spent her appointment discussing how much weight I needed to lose, that would also be neither helpful nor a solution. If my kid had cancer, everybody would be shocked at an oncologist who spent forty-five minutes telling me how much weight I need to lose or how much stress my child’s cancer is putting my other children under and how I need to make different arrangements.

Our children have specials needs through no fault of theirs or ours. We are people trying to do the best we can for our kids. We do not need professional crap.

Trauma Mama

I have been reading Lori, over at (link removed at blogger’s request)  for a while now. Why? Her viewpoint is very different from mine and it is usually good to hear contrasting views. It makes you think. You can read the whole post, if you want, or here is an excerpt:

Pet Peeves….

Ok, there is something that just makes me want to scream.  Yep, I am intolerant of certain things after all, I am human.  So I figured that rather than ignore this stuff, I wanted to put it out there, after all, I am betting I am not alone!

Kids –

Specifically other people’s children and certain places and behaviors. 

I hate when I am trying to buy groceries and there is a small child, or even a large child, pulling things off the shelves and putting them here there and every where in the aisle or several aisles over…. Nothing like reaching for a box of cereal and getting a handful of the quickly melting ice cream that the kid picked up in frozen foods – just as mom realized she hadn’t picked up the cereal…..

I hate when I am trying to enjoy a meal and the people’s kid behind me, or even close to me in the same section is screaming and/or sharing their food with the entire area.  After all, you know I paid for that meal as much as they did.

I hate it when a child is a smart ass.  No one thinks your kid is cute when they are being nasty and rude….. and swearing and being nasty are not ever cute.

As I was reading this, it pushed a button in me. There are a lot of children that are special needs, older, have behavior problems. Society wants us to adopt. When we adopt these children, they don’t know how to function in a family, much less in the world. That is the job we accepted (knowingly or unknowingly) when we adopted them. This is the post I left in response.

How do you expect them to learn if they are never exposed? Three of my adopted children came to me after the age you would expect them to know how to act in public. None of them had ever eaten in a restaurant, gone to a play, or even had experience going to B&N. The only way they get this experience is to take them places. We always talk about what they can expect when they get there and what behavior we expect from them. It is a process and we rarely get through these experiences without a meltdown. We always take them to the car when they do meltdown, until they are regulated and can try again.

People who try to pierce the back of our heads with their glares are not appreciated. There is a whole other adoption world out there that you have apparently missed. Birth mothers and the trauma they left behind do not leave the option to pretend they don’t exist. They are part of our children and we are always careful to be both positive and honest. Those pictures go in treasure boxes, safe with the child. The anger some of my children feel at their birth parents came with them, not from me. I am a Trauma Mama and damn  proud of it. I live and breathe to see my kids make it, not only in my family, but in the real world. A “paper mama” couldn’t begin to do what I do.

It has been a couple of hours since I left this, but I am still hot. I am going to file this away until I cool down.

I have cooled down. I am trying to figure our why this blog sets me off  sometimes. A birth mother railing  about “Life’s not fair” is only part of it. This particular post had nothing to do with being a birth mother or really adoption at all. If I had a birth child who was autistic or bipolar (like my sister) these behaviors would still be an issue. Even though it would be a child who had always be mine, these issues would still be real. Maybe I am tired of all the judgment that happens everywhere, while seemingly totally inappropriate behavior is glorified in the media.   Maybe I am so out there that I am looking for compassion coupled with standards. Or maybe it has just been a long couple of weeks and I just need to stop reading her blog. After all, she is probably doing the best she can, too. Just like the rest of us.