Saturday, September 12, 2009

On Adoption and Disruption - quasi a rant

There is Christine. Christine and her husband John have a dozen kids. No, really, a dozen. As in 12. They adopted 6 of those children: two of them from dissolutions of adoptions. That is when someone adopts a child and then they un-adopt that child. It is often referred to as disruption, though technically that term means disrupting the adoption process before the actual adoption takes place. Christine has blogged about disruption here. Go and read her post as well as her other posts. I also urge you to go and read Always Ours, the blog of a family who refused to give up their adopted son battling a serious mental illness. Please also read Annie's post, who didn't disrupt, but raised a child who experienced disruption not once but twice. Don't just get my POV on this.

As an early commenter I managed to stir some emotions in that post--Sorry, Christine, didn't want to cause trouble--and that is because I feel like disruption is being viewed lightly by many.

When one adopts a child, they make a commitment. That child should become like any biological child of the person in every legal sense. It is reflected by the fact that on the birth certificate issued after the adoption the new adoptive parents are listed as the parents of the child without any mention of previous parents. In many countries this actually happens. At the point of adoption the parent loses any extra benefits that come from fostering a child, but receives all the benefits and resposibilities that they'd have if the child was born to them.

This is not so in some countries. In these countries adoptions can be disrupted without the consequences that come with older child parental right termination. And that is wrong. Once you adopt a child, you are committed to them and once--for whatever reason--an adoption is disrupted, the family should be followed closely by child protective services, any and all disruptions should be in any potential adoption dossiers, and yes, I believe that people who disrupt should never ever be able to adopt again and the country (if international adoption) of origin of the children needs to be notified immediately. Several Christian agencies just lost accreditation in Russia because disruptions weren't reported within 5 days. There is a reason why Russia and some other countries require reports on all disruptions, and people don't like it. They feel threatened that Russia will shut down for international adoption, or, more particularly, to certain countries.

Many times the child is abusive and parents think that is the best for the child to be removed from the family. There are various options for that, without disrupting. Yes, they cost money. Lots of money, most of the time. Families often claim they can't afford it. Yet, they can afford another adoption. The math doesn't add up there. I also keep wondering if these very same people would be willing to give up the parental rights to their biological children if they turned out to be abusive of their siblings? My personal experience says no. They'd fight for their child, they'd take out a secon mortgage, they'd sell their car or sacrifice all they have.

Another odd thing is that while at adoptions in most countries the children involved are asked if they want to be adopted, yet they have no say in front of the judge if they want to be removed from the family. At least I was never asked, and my disruption took place in Sunny SoCal and I was definitely old enough to be asked. It is purely the parents' decision. And there are very very very few instances when it can be justified. A tiny teeny percentage of all disruptions actually benefit the child.

Adding insult to injury is the disrupting parent who says "X will always be my son!" "I'll always be Y's mom!"

No. You won't. And by saying this you insult the new parents and the child you give up.

Parents often say "I didn't sign up for this!" or "I was never told that s/he had problems like that!" Now here is the thing: kids available for adoption will have issues. Be prepared that the angelic little kid the orphanage will have issues one never dreamt of. And the parents have to be able to handle them. It's the same when one get's pregnant: you never know what issues the child might have and the parents have to earn to handle them.

Therefore many--too many--adoptions end in disruptions. There are even forums where people offer and seek kids in disruptions! Human trafficking at its ugliest, some say. So much for "forever family", the ever so popular--and rather annoying--term adoptive families like to apply to themselves.

And yes, it is annoying and false, because families only last as long as the effort is made. Since many times I read this expression in Christian adoption forums I keep wondering: What will you do when your kid doesn't want to be Christian? What will you do when your kid turns out to be gay? What if your child will never ever share your values? What will you do? Will you still love them? Will you let your gay child come to your home with their partner? Or will you shun their love and put your child in the middle, or worse yet, will you abandon your child emotionally? Will you try to pray the gay out of them or will you love and accept them as they are, as your messiah taught you? Will your "forever family" will be forever after your rebellious child turns 18? Will you want them to be grateful for rescuing them from the life that was waiting for them in whatever land you adopt them from? I wonder if Christian conservative parents have ever considered these possibilities and questions before they set out to adopt, and if they were honest with their answers to themselves.

Adoption is a wonderful thing. Disruption is a nasty thing that is extremely difficult for everyone involved, but it is worst for the child, who, once again, is passed on to someone else: their "forever family" failed the commitment. What message does that give to the child? And what message does it give to the other adopted children in the home? Are they discardable as well? Many children adapt well to their new families and grow up to be healthy, productive people. Many don't. Of course, there is no one to blog about those kids who eventually end up in the system. It is very hard for the parents who disrupt, but I refuse to view them as martyrs for the good of their child.

I admire those, who adopt from disruption. As someone, who is the product of a disruption, I don't think I'd ever be able to do that. I'm too scarred by it and I don't think I could help a child in this situation. Luckily there are people like Christine and John who, with true Christian compassion for all people involved, assist these families, love and pray them through this difficult time.

To those of you, who think karma bites and I will end up in a situation when I'll have to disrupt: I don't believe in karma.


  1. Wow, this is very eye opening, Hevel. I had NO idea this sort of thing took place. I guess I'm quite naive even though we entered the world of adoption years ago. I am shocked to know that disruptions take place post placement. I cannot imagine. My heart aches just thinking about a child old enough to understand this kind of rejection....which wouldn't have to be very old at all.

    "Will you try to pray the gay out of them or will you love and accept them as they are, as your messiah taught you?" Very interesting thought for me. As a family we are grappling through this currently with a family member that has chosen the homosexual lifestyle....he grew up very conservative and he is a christian but he is choosing this lifestyle. I'm sorry if this is offensive to you ....but I am totally against a same sex relationship because of what God says about it. It doesn't change my love for my family member at all but it does make things akward for everyone. I don't know that I'm "praying the gay out of him" but I am praying he will understand truth for what it is based on God's thoughts according to scripture. And I'm praying through what it looks like to love in a nonjudgemental way when you truly believe something is wrong based on scripture. I do stuff that is wrong and antibiblical every day and my family loves me and I'm thankful for it. And I trust them to love me enough and help me through the times when I'm totally "missing it" and living contrary to God's truth which is not relative. I don't know....just my thoughts where I'm at right now.

  2. Melody, I have to say you can't offend me.

    Just a thought, would anyone in their right mind choose a life where they are second class citizens, blatantly discriminated against and hated... unless this is their only option other than a lifetime of mysery faking that they are not something G-d has created them to be? Of course not. It's not a choice.

    BUT the same way you won't convince me, I won't convince you (and that is not my goal either).

  3. Not all families going the path of dissolution are treading this path lightly. Christine helped our family find a woman in upstate NY. We flew there with our son with the tacit understanding that this was respite....temporary....a break.If however, with a single woman, no other children or spouse to feel like he's competing with, he was happier, I was prepared to do what was best for him. Frankly, I had no idea on earth how I'd get on that plane out of NY without him. This break came after almost nine years of therapies, hospitalizations, medication, flying him to Boston to learn NeuroReorg, becoming trained in Filial Therapy, etc. It came after having to get a home equity line of credit for the trip to Boston, for the trip to New York (during which, he ended up assaulting me after 30 hours with her and she who was experienced, couldn't handle him. No, we don't have money for another adoption and if we did, we wouldn't be adopting again. Alex came into the family as our second adopted child, and fourth child altogether. Our entire family has now been identified with secondary PTSD due to his rages that even Lithium cannot help. (I tried many types of homeopathic treatments long before we even considered chemical treatment.) I am angry, totally ticked off! At my son? Absolutely not, my heart is breaking for him. I'm pissed at the "caregivers" in the orphanage who brutalized him. At his birthmother whose own mother told us she just didn't care at all about her kids. At the system in this country that does not provide a safety net for middle income families who just don't happen to have an extra $450 per DAY for residential treatment. I loved my son to try even if it killed me to find him a home that would be better for him.
    Where is he now? He is sitting in juvenile detention..for assaulting me once home. His behavior has removed all control we had as his parents. This is the only way (because our insurance would pay for five whole days of RTC) to get him into residential. I have had to sign papers "giving" him to son is not a criminal but what's being done to him by the system should be.
    ps I completely agree with you about being gay. Who would choose this lifestyle? In my opinion, it's as inate as eye color, it just is what is meant to be.

  4. Jeri, I know it is not an easy decision, as I also wrote in my post. And yes, I am very very influenced by my own experience with disruption. That is the major reason why I linked both Christine and Annie, because people need to read more than one view of the topic to make their own minds up.

    There was a comment here by someone - didn't publish it, for a number of reasons - who opposes the health care reform yet claims he couldn't afford not to disrupt. I think the US is totally screwed up when it comes to supporting families with children with mental illness. I also think that the whole child protective system is majorly screwed up.

  5. Your query on my post was a good one:

    I have often though - if we'd been Maxim's first adoptive family I think he'd be a different person today. It breaks my heart to think of it.

  6. My agency who lost its permit to perform adoptions in Russia is not a Christian Agency. If anything they are a Jewish Agency. The founder, the Russian director, the Travel Agency who arranged visits, all Jewish. Makes no never mind I realize, just wanted you to know that...
    And no matter what my girlz bring to me, no matter who or what they love, I will love them
    They are not just my children because it says so on their certificates, they are mine because we all want it that way, forever.
    I know your POV is as a child who was hurt. I wish you would sign onto FRUA. You would see a lot of support for families who disrupt within weeks of being with a child...Very sad!

  7. Jojo, Julz, Julianne,

    Wow, I only knew of those two agencies through which my little brother was adopted and through which my sister adopted a few years ago. :-( Bummer.

    (now skip the next paragraph)

    About those who seek to disrup so soon I always remember smething that I never understood. One of the things I found is when people consider adopting from Central/Eastern Europe is that they exclude Hungary because of the compulsory 30-day-long stay when the couple parent the child they are about to adopt, making the complete stay around 45 days... Not as if a Ukraine adoption could never go way longer than that, but I was involved with several international adoptions from Hungary, and yes, I've seen times when the child or the parents decided not to continue with the adoption and got a new referral during the 30 days. During those 30 days there is no commitment, and both sides tend to understand that, and yes, children have been known to decide not to be adopted by that particular couple. It is the same for domestic adoptions as well. I think that period of getting to know each other is beneficial for both sides, and since the child is getting to know his or her new family in a familiar setting, with people they know from their children's home being integral parts of the process, the transition is probably gentler. I only keep in touch with three families we met when they were adopting, and all three said that the "Hague hassle" was worth the smoother transition compared to their other international adoptions. My brother and SIL are now in the process of adopting from Hungary, so we shall see how that goes.

    I have to admit I'm not sure what FRUA is. I know what SOAR is (I lurk on your blog!) and I am excited for the work you do! We support two Jewish orphanages in Russia and Ukraine through Jewish charities, as well as an orphanage in Romania for ethnic Hungarian children through twice yearly non-monetary donations and and a school for children of various levels of mental disability that, like many of these establishments in Hungary, has its own children's home for children in state care. I think it's one of the most rewarding things to do.

  8. Hevel,
    I am finally visiting your blog. :)
    I read your comments on Christine's blog, a while back.
    There is much in your post that is so thought provoking. I agree with much of what you have said.
    I also think families DO need to consider, the "what if's". You are so right about that.

    We are also a family who adopted from Disruption, and in our daughter's case, it was good. She was being abused in her IA home and frankly, those folks were a bit nuts. :)

    I am learning some things about you....
    You are the same age as my youngest son. We had 3 preemies out of 4 boys, a long time ago, and one has Cerebral Palsy because of a very large brain bleed.

    We are a conservative family, and our oldest son, is not a follower of the Faith at this time in his life. You asked, "What if they reject the Christian Faith?"
    We love him. DEARLY. We pray for him too. But he is an adult and it is not my job to be his personal Holy Spirit. While I do hope that someday he comes to faith, it does not change my love for my son. I should say, "our love for our son". :)
    There are things he doesn't participate in with us, and there are things we don't participate in with him, but we come to common ground and do things together.
    I think sometimes we forget, as Christians, that it is not our ability to force somebody to believe. Faith is a gift, not something to be forced.
    He is a professional musician and travels around.
    He makes me special copies of his music. For mom's ears. :)

    I was raised in Southern California. I'm sorry that YOU were disrupted! WHY? (sorry I shouldn't ask that) I am sure that our dd was disrupted because of her missing leg and fingers. The mother said, "There can only be one princess in this house and she isn't going to be it!" sick.

    But SARAH IS A PRINCESS... and that is what her name means. :)

  9. Christie,
    I remember when I first happened upon your blog, quite a way before my first comment. I read through your blog in three days and I knew I'd really like you in real life - even though we are so very different.

    Why was I disrupted? I'm not 100% sure. It had to do with my health situation, with some other situation going on in the home (in which my adoptive mother chose her abusive husband over her adopted son), my apostasy, not to mention my coming out. Lots of things, probably. Nothing, really.



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