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.


Visiting with J. and Family

We spent two full days with my friend, J., and her family. J and her most excellent husband have adopted three children from trauma backgrounds. Their youngest is very close to Hope in age and behaviors. The two girls became quickly inseparable. GB and J.’s two oldest also enjoyed being together. It was good to spend time with J. and meet her husband. It was good for The Dad to have the opportunity to be with adults who “get it”.


Canada is a beautiful country. I have driven through parts of it before as we drove to Michigan, but this is the first time I have seen Canada in daylight. The reds on the turning trees were beautiful. Beautiful old homes and vast fields with wooden fences that were different than any fence I have seen before. I have always assumed Canada was just like the USA, like a  far north state. It is and it isn’t.


J. and her family were so warmly welcoming it was like coming home. When Hope’s first trip to the bathroom resulted in a shaving cream cans worth of mess, there was no surprise. Hope continued to be Hope and J. was ready for it and the time flew, with everybody enjoying themselves. The acting out behaviors were just a ripple in our time together.


When we had to leave this morning, Hope did not take it well. We stopped at a Starbucks for coffee right after leaving J.s. Hope started raging in the car and continued on the side of the drive thru lane. It lasted for over forty five minutes. Once she was done, it was still six hours to home. She was nasty and miserable for the rest of the ride. When we stopped to eat, The Dad took Hope to sit at a different table to eat. It should not have bothered me as Hope was being so nasty I didn’t really want to deal with her. It did.


J. lives in the middle of nowhere. One thing J.’s husband said last night, as we visited over (good) wine, was that they could never raise kids from the hard places  in suburbia.  Living in a place where 12 or more neighboring families hear your kid rage is stressful. Part of it is the knowledge that sooner or later CPS will show up on your doorstep is wearing. It also makes putting your child outside to rage an option we don’t have.


J. has offered to take Hope in respite for a while. Other people I trust have also offered. My fear is how Hope will react. It is not yet a rational fear. I still have some processing to do.




Back in the Thick of It

Hope raged twice yesterday when the Dad wasn’t home. I didn’t lose it, although I thought about it. Thankfully, GB earned her dollar and stayed out of the room. Hope stayed together enough in the afternoon to have a play date with the brother of one of GB’s friends. It worked out well because the boy Hope was playing with has a PCA  all day Saturdays and their were three adults supervising four children.

This morning, Hope raged before we even got downstairs because there were no clean socks in her drawer. She knocked over a table and a chair, scratched, punched and hit me. She started screaming “I want Daddy” and something broke inside me. The Dad came and I told him to leave, he was not involved in this incident. It took until 11:30 before Hope gave up on waiting for Daddy. She finally calmed down. We cuddled and processed where we started (lack of socks) , result (2 1/2 hour meltdown), and consequence (She has to stay within three feet of me all day). She picked up the things she knocked over and threw. Then I let her cuddle her Daddy. She is now playing quietly with her doll at my feet.

Tomorrow, I will tackle SPOA again. I have no choice.

Tired of Being a Punching Bag

Hope came home from school scowling yesterday. I took her book bag to see how her day had gone, and was sidetracked by the stuff in it that wasn’t hers. Most of it was meaningless stuff- hand lotion, Ben-gay, a barrette. Then I saw GB’s charm bracelet from my DIL. It is important to GB and Hope knows that. Maybe Hope figured the best defense was a good offense. Whatever her reasoning, she went from arms crossed to physical in a tenth of a second. She did her best to beat the crap out of me and called me curse words I didn’t know she knew. I restrained her. Twice she seemed to calm down. Both times, as soon as I let go of her hands, she was at it again. After the second time, I told her I would not give her another chance until The Dad was home. When he came home, he took over the restraint. It took him 45 minutes before she was in control.

We still do not have the results back from the Holter monitor, so we still can’t put her on medication. I am still struggling with viral pneumonia and I didn’t want to get up this morning.