Friday, March 28, 2008

So much to consider..always the same outcome

Wow—a lot has gone on since my last post and there have been so many things going through my mind.

About 2 weeks ago quite a stir was caused in the Kazakhstan adoption world when an announcement came out that Kazakhstan was closed to adoptions from the United States. This of course sank many hearts, mine included. The next day we found out that it was really a temporary suspension that only affected dossiers that were not sent to Kazakhstan yet—those already there would continue to be processed. Big sigh of relief—this meant that I was okay but still sad because many people I have come to know through the blog world were affected. Now we have heard that the suspension is lifted and all is continuing on as before. Again—big sigh of relief for all who are in process. I have to say that I harbor a little uneasiness yet because this makes me realize that anything can happen during this time I am waiting. My really big sigh of relief won’t come until I am home safely with my daughter.

I have also seen on TV or read in books or magazines a lot of stuff about adoption—maybe I’m just tuned in because I am now in the midst of it but it seems there is a lot of information out now. I will list the things that stuck in my mind and try to express some of my opinions and thoughts.
• A TV segment where a couple adopted a daughter from the Ukraine when she was 4 and she is now 10—the Mom was at her wits end and wanted to send the child back because they just haven’t been able to bond and to learn to love each other. The Dad and the rest of the family did love the little girl and couldn’t bear to think about sending her back. The solution they came up with was to get the mother some help—both in taking care of the child and house and in learning how to bond.
• People magazine had an article about a woman that ran a ranch and took in adoptive kids that were having a very hard time adjusting to their new live and acting out. She sounded very loving but had strict rules and chores for the kids and you could say “ran a tight ship”. Parents who were at their wits ends would send their kids here—most would return home when they were doing better but some ended up staying at the ranch and never returning home. One featured girl was 16 now and adopted from Kaz-she was one that never went back home and loved living at the ranch. It did sound like she was an amazing woman but too sad that a place like hers had to exist.
• My sister told me about a friend of hers that adopted a boy from Russia and he had severe attachment problems and several people advised her to give up and return him because it was disrupting their family but she did not listen—instead she quit her job and did intensive home therapy with him—it started out where she was with him nearly every second even sleeping, in the bathroom, etc. and holding him whenever he started to act out. I don’t know how long this went on or what the whole progression was but now she has a teenage boy that is doing very well in school and at home.
All of these stories broke my heart in many ways. Most of all for the kids who just want to be in a good loving home. My heart also hurt for these parents that felt they weren’t able to give the kids what they needed. I know that things may not always be easy but I also know that I want this more than anything and I could never give up on it. In hearing about my sister’s friend I thought “Bravo for her”. I don’t know of any parents that would give up on their biological child and plan to send them back. An adoptive child is no different—we need to be prepared to do whatever it takes to give them a successful life, just as if they came out of our womb. We also need to realize when we need to enlist help and use our resources. Our goal shouldn’t be to have a child love us but rather to give love to a child whatever the outcome.

• Another waiting parent and blog friend (Lisa) wrote “Can you miss some one you have never met?”
She nailed it exactly. It is truly amazing how every day my thoughts turn to my daughter and every day I miss having her. I try to tell myself that the wait is long and I shouldn’t spend so much time thinking about it but that just doesn’t work. As the days go by I can only think about it more and more—it practically consumes my thoughts and is certainly the main consideration in any future plans I make. “If I have to travel then…” or “When my daughter is here…”. Etc.

• I read an article written by a man who was adopted as a child and as an adult went back to his homeland—the first place he felt at home. He wrote about how children shouldn’t be taken away from their country and their culture—that it denies their birthright and forces them to live differently than they were meant to.
I think that in a perfect world all children would be taken well care of by their original families and in their own culture and all who wanted to be parents would be able to have children but…since we do not live in that world, we need to have solutions. To me bringing together a loving parent with a child who does not have that is a good solution. I have really oversimplified his article and my response as the intricacies of both do offer a lot to think about and it is clear the topic is not black and white but has a lot of grey.

Through all of this musing, I remain steadfast in my plan and desire to adopt a daughter from Kazakhstan. It just feels so right.


Alysa said...

I admire your conviction and know just how you feel. I'm definitely more tuned into anything "adoption" since I've headed down this path. It is scary and sad to hear all these stories of problems adoptive parents and kids have. I constantly remind myself that it could happen, but far more that you never hear about work out just fine.


Matthew and Suzanne said...

Good for you. Keep your head up and follow your heart.

Suzanne said...

Gah! Why do they only write stories about freaky, weird adoptions-gone-wrong?????

We are not those people! This I know.


Angela said...

There are so many issues with adoption, aren't there? I think about all of these things. As you wrote, we must be aware and prepared for anything. I have also read about people sending their child back or just leaving the child in the airport in their home country.

Like with a biological child, there is all this focus on the adoption process, but it is life together afterward that is most significant.

We can do the best we can and be prepared to go to the ends of the earth physically, emotionally and mentally for our children.

In my humble opinion, it is good to question and examine things from time to time. It helps me know where I am going is where I need to go.

Kelly and Sne said...

I love this post with all of the stories and you did a wonderful job of presenting the opposite views. I completely agree with your view that adoptive children should be thought of just as biological children. Who would consider "giving their child back" when things got rough? The attitude seems to emphasize the already too prominent viewpoint that it is liking picking a puppy from the pound (even then I don't advocate giving the dog back because there are behavioral issues - all it usually takes is some work and dedication). One of my husband's relatives said to us (and his parents!) "you know that 90% of Kaz kids have FAS". I was appalled! First that is wasn't even true and she had everybody in a tizzy. Second, because she thought we should not go because of the risks. You know there is 'risk' in every birth and every adoption and all you can do is minimize them then play the hand that you are dealt. I have 2 very close friends who have severely autistic children. Did they plan for this? No. Do they plan on "giving the kids back?" Hell no.

Finally, while I do agree with the fellow who wanted to stay in his home country that the country should attempt to adopt the children to family or locally whenever possible (and Kaz does this - and I celebrate every referral that is "lost" to a local family or the birth family) - you share my point that it isn't the end game. Though I do think that cultural awareness and sensitivity should be a pre-requisite for all prospective parents. I am deeply offended by those with the attitude that Kaz is a hell hole and that they have to get the kid out of the country and back to the good ole US of A, change their name, and essentially erase all of their cultural heritage (especially when they can't pronounce it anyway). In fact, my mother was at first angry that we'd put up a Kaz flag in our child's room rather than an American flag until I set her straight. I think that all families adopting from other cultures have an obligation to nurture and celebrate the multi-cultural aspects of their family. And if you haven't got a clue how to do so - take an interest and learn!

Wow - thanks for letting me air out my views on this too. They are great topics and you seem to have a very healthy attitude toward it all.

McMary said...

Thanks everyone for the great comments--you said so many things that I agree with.
Alysa said there are far more successful adoptions that aren't written about and this is so true.
Suzanne said--we are not those people which is also so true.
Angela said we must be prepared for anything and that life together after the adoptions is most important and I couldn't agree more. Kelly said so many things I agree with but most of all that we should help our kids celebrate their heritage and keep alive in them a love for their home country. That is so important. You guys are the reason I blog--it's great to have friends who understand.

Tammy said...

Ah...I have several comments on these thoughts.

First, I agree with a lot of people not understanding that my child needs to have her culture a part of my everyday life. I don't know how many times someone has said to me, "You know she'll be American too, right?" I try to explain that she will be immersed in the American culture and she will automatically be fluent in our culture but it doesn't really convince them. But at least over time they have just accepted it and even support my decisions, even if they don't completely understand them. I keep thinking (hoping?) that someday that will understand. But if they don't, they don't.

Second, unfortunately, there are a lot of parents of biological children who want to give their children away. I am a delinquency social worker and parents get very frustrated with their kids behavior problems. Now, in my work, the kids usually have behavioral problems because of their parents' lack of parenting skills. But about every other week I get a call from a parent telling me they want their kid placed because they are sick of dealing with them. Sometimes placement is necessary. If a kid is a danger to other people (especially the family) or if they have treatment needs that simply can't be met with the frequency and intensity they need in the community, then placement is the only option.

Aside from those reasons, I think the biggest problem is that there is this myth of the stereotypical child/family. When reality doesn't meet our dreams, it can be a hard pill to swallow. How many of us dream about our children purposely breaking our favorite valuables? Or how often do we pine for those days of our children hitting us or hurting our pets? When I sit in the nursery, those aren't the visions I have.

I am not justifying placing your children unless under the criteria I specified above. I think this is what we sign up for when sign those adoption papers. We should have some wording such as "for better or worse". We pledge to care for our children even when our own dreams are shattered. But unless you have seen children who are totally out of control or seemingly heartless, it's hard to put ourselves in the position, especially on this end of the adoption process.

Anyways, that is MHO.

Regina said...

As you said, all of these things do have gray areas. The answer is seldom black and white, and there are always scary questions to ask yourself when embarking on this path to parenthood.

I personally can't imagine that children who are not being raised in a loving family just so they can grow up in their native countries is a good decision. The most important thing is getting an opportunity to reach their full potential and be happy, healthy human beings who contribute positive things to the world. I'm sure there is a mountain of research that can prove the better outcome more often lies in being adopted.

In regards to "giving children back" I agree that we must make every effort to make the relationship work, realizing that the fairy tale is not always the reality. Of course! But, we need to also remember that there are many bio children that have to go live "on a ranch" because they are so destructive, dangerous and out of control. It's not always a matter of where the child came from.

Noah and Josh's Mom said...

You are right, in a perfect world no child would starve for food, love and a family. The whole "give them back" issue is absurd. You said it perfectly, people need to be prepared for whatever happens. It baffles my mind some PAP's that seem to have their expectations set so high when traveling. Do they really think their child is going to be on target with an American child that has never been in a orphanage? This only leads to heartbreak.

I posted on my blog last night a McDonald's should check it out.

dnd82001 said...

As with anything in life we all face the many unknowns.......adoption is no different and how we handle things - not everyone will agree or think we are doing the right thing but we do what we have to.
Many of what we hear is from people who really just don't know anything about the subject of adoption therefore they really have no clue on what they are talking about. I don't waste my time or energy trying to explain the process because what I want to do is not what they think I should do - just like anything in life.
Adoption - espically international is not for the faint of heart by any means -we will do what we have to which is how we all got here.


Brad and Stacy said...

Mary you are so right and looking at everything in the perfect perspective! People look at adoption as a second choice. It is so ridiculous to look at any child as a second choice. It doesn't matter how they get to your family, they are your children. You will love them no matter what. They wouldn't return their bio child, so why is it an option for peopl to return their adopted child.
Yes adoption is a leap of faith, and that is just it. Faith is what you need to have. You will be lead to your child. Good job for sticking in there and just know you will find your daughter. Yes there will always be someone ignorant that doen't know when to shut there mouth. Just smile and move on, they are the ones missing out!!