Sunday, February 05, 2006

What we're letting ourselves in for (hopefully)

(You may need to watch an ad to see that for free).

I've been hanging out on a few adoption message boards recently, including the one at Adoption UK. I have to say, it doesn't present an unremittingly positive view of adoption, or adoptive children. One thing that strikes me is that parents of adoptive children have many problems with their children (obviously) and that there seems to be a tendency to put all of these down to either the fact of adoption (disrupted care, attachment problems) or to the abuse or neglect that most of their children have suffered. While obviously this is to some extent true, it's not very encouraging, and given that one can only change the present, not the past, makes the whole enterprise seem rather hopeless. I have even read from parents of non-abused adopted children (e.g. overseas children who were clearly abandoned, but had very little disruption in care and no abuse that they could possibly remember), of problems which have been put down purely to the fact of adoption, and not to other factors such as the child's personality or temperament, which can easily clash with that of a parent, or natural childhood "stages" which all children go through.

I have to say it made me feel strangely reassured to read a book I just bought by Anne Lamott - Plan B - in which she describes her son - not adopted - who displays so many of the characteristics of the adopted children people are describing. She has published some of these columns at (see link above). He is a typical teen - but he has always had some problems, not entirely explicable by his father not being around. He is delightful and charming with other adults, and a complete pill (as my grandmother used to say) with his own mother. He is also, I would imagine, not quite the child his mother could have wished for. She is a writer, read complicated books as a child and loves to have educated discussions. He had problems learning to read, prefers to work with his hands, and could not be described as academic.

You don't always get the child you order - however you get them. Here's just hoping we get one, somehow.


Warriorwen said...

I love Anne Lamott. Just finished reading "Traveling Mercies" recently.

I think there are so many dreamy images we have of parenthood that it's really frightening to think of all the things that could go wrong. Whether you have a child from your own body or you adopt, there will be some sort of challenges along the way. God will hopefully give you the ones that are just right for you and for the child.

As for me, I'm awaking this morning hearing the words an old friend to me said on the phone last night when she questioned how I can be thinking of starting a family when we don't have any of our own family where we are currently living. I had to tell her that I've agonized about it plenty, but there really was no other choice.

I dreamt intermittently about going home and about being a mom.

Thalia said...

It's so important to figure out how to accept your child, no matter what. I imagine that's incredibly hard, but surely that's what they need.

perceval said...

This is part of the reason why we initially went for China - we'd have fewer problems to contend with. aome on Livejournal has a great blog on parenting two Chinese adopted girls. Most of those entries are protected, though. sit_good_dog also has an adopted daughter from China.

My herbalist adopted a four-year-old to whom she is devoted. She says that she needs to work through the whole adoption/abandonment issue over and over again with her kid.

DrSpouse said...

I think my point is really that you cannot guarantee you'll have no problems, even the "classic" adoption ones, whether you have a birth child, a young adopted child, or a child adopted after being in foster care.