Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Oh dear


There is a certain adoption message board in the UK (and you won't have to search too hard to find it).
The majority of children who have been adopted are those that have been abused and/or neglected, with a smaller number removed before any abuse could happen, but some of those having been drug exposed.

I get that.

I also get that we are likely to be in a very different situation.

It's just the attitude, not particularly to birth parents (and there are many posters who can be very balanced in that respect) but to contact. From those saying "what's the point of direct contact when a child was removed at birth, they won't have a relationship to continue, and that's the point of contact", to those saying "really you should not think about a relinquished child from the same town, what if members of the birth family - shock horror - saw the baby in the street"... anyway you get the picture.

I am going to have a chat to Mr Spouse about this but I also wonder whether to mention this to our social worker if/when we see her again. Of course there are other adoptive parents who are positive about contact with birth family (even if it's for preventive means, as when a 9 year old will be rational about their birth family being at best exceedingly flaky while a teenager will turn all drama queen and want to go and live with them again).

I just feel like I (completely inexperienced, not even an adopter yet) want to go on a mass re-education campaign. And I know I'm really enthusiastic, and gung ho, converts are the most irritating preachers, but still...


nh said...

I do understand what you are saying, but as I am going to be one of those adoptive parents at some point, I understand the concerns. I think it's important to separate the styles(?) of adoption and what they mean to children.

If your child has come to your family following abuse/neglect; I think that direct contact could be problematic. I know of one adoptive family who meet up with the siblings of their children (also adopted) and watch the children go back into behaviours that were common with the birth family. And I am a big supporter of contact between siblings - it says so on our PAR.

On our preparation course we met a birth mother who had reliquished her baby and she spent 21years not knowing how her child was; what was happening, if they were even still alive. I think that some form of contact is vital to stop this. I also think that contact is important so that an adopted child has a fuller picture of who they are.

I would support contact; I would make that contact happen. But if my child had been abused by their birth parent; if they are removed for their own safety - what then? would you put a child back into a situation where they might be hurt? would you enable a parent to know details about where you live if that child has been removed? How much hurt should we allow our children? How much should we open ourselves up?

And I know that you aren't following this sort of adoption, I hope that you can have the open adoption that you believe in. I wish there was more chance of an open adoption for us but I know that because we are adopting from foster care that this is not the case. I think that there needs to be an acknowledgment from both sides of the debate that there are valid arguments, but there should be acceptance that there are reasons for both sets of beliefs.

Not meaning to cause offence, just present a different viewpoint.

DrSpouse said...

Oh, no offence at all - and I don't comment or really pretend to have any opinion on contact where there has already been an abusive relationship. Though I do see those, as I say, suggeting a limited amount of contact at some ages may be positive - which I can only applaud.

It's those situations where there hasn't been - where the child has no memories of their birth family at all, or even no post-birth contact yet - where I get a bit frustrated at the fear, even, that seems to be expressed by some parties.

DrSpouse said...

(not 100% true to say I don't comment at all - actually - I have passed on the experiences that people have shared with me, but not as my own opinion, just as "what I have heard".

Bernardeena said...

I think the problem is that we look at the matter of contact from our point not from the childs point.

If someone treated us badly and neglected us we wouldn't want to see them again. If someone hurt my child I would want to keep them as far away as possible. But the difference is that it is the childs history and where they have come from and often known nothing different. As they grow up if they are completely seperated from that it may leave more questions and problems then it solves. Obviously the child's safety and well being has to be thought of too, but it probably does help them understand more about themselves. I do think that as a child gets older they should be able to choose not to have contact too.

I know it is often very difficult for the adoptive parents though. There was no contact between my brother and his birth family, but I have foster cousins who have had contact and I know it can be very difficult in terms of behaviour and upset before and after a visit. I think it is one of those where every individual case is different, and being honest when I adopt, depending on the children's previous situatiion, I probably will struggle with allowing them to see someone who has neglected or hurt them, but it isn'tabout what is best for us.

DrSpouse said...

Yes, as I said, that is NOT the situation I'm talking about. I'm careful only to talk about children who have been abused or neglected WHEN I'm talking about other people's experiences and can pass them on as they were told to me.

I'm ONLY talking about children who were either relinquished or who were removed at birth.

Bernardeena said...

Sorry I know you were talking about that too, but skim reading didn't get the full jist as reading and replying quickly. Either way whether there has been a previous relationship or seperated at birth it is still the childs history and past, and there has still been months of relationship in utero. I personally think where contact can be kept then it should be, it is part of who the child is, and by trying to ignore that I think there will be an element of not knowing who you really are.

I can see why not everyone thinks that and why contact can be difficult, but whether that is regular direct contact, less frequent, or just indirect contact, I do think it's important if possible. I don't think we can understand what it is like to never know or meet anyone who is blood related to us.

Denise :o) said...

This has been my experience... we have two children who came to us by two completely different adoption situations. Our son was adopted from Russia, from a Russian Orphanage when he was 15 months old. To my knowledge he likely only spent 3 days with his biomom, if he even got to spend that time with her. We are the only family he has ever known, even though we make a point of making sure he realizes there is a woman out there some where that gave birth to him. He will likely want to know more about her when he gets older, but for now, he is completely content with us being his only family.

Our daughter is a totally different story. My daughter came to us through the foster/adopt program in the US. She lived with her bioparents until she was 13 months old and then was removed. She then went to several different homes until she found her last fostermom who she lived with for a year and a half before coming to our home. Her parents rights were not terminated because of abuse, but neglect. The twist here is she doesn't remember her biomom or biodad very much at all. She remembers her fostermother as her "mom" and that is the person she misses. Our daughter was a month away from turning 3 when she came to our home. We finalized her adoption a couple of weeks ago. I have set up an email account with her bioparents to keep contact because I know my daughter will want contact with them in the future. Both her bioparents and her fostermom lived in the same county. Her fostermom has turned out to be a very strange woman by all accounts, one that I'm not comfortable keeping in touch with, so we don't. We have run into her a few times, but all times, our daughter has not been with us and we didn't really talk to her at all.

Here's the thing... although I am glad I am keeping contact with my daughters bioparents and wish I had some contact with my son's bioparents. I had the chance of letting my daughter visit with her bioparents and I declined. I could let her visit her fostermother, but I will not. The reason is she is way too confused right now. We've had a very long hard road to get to where we are, and where we are is not perfect by any means. I know that it is ultimately in her best interest to have contact for the future, but visits will not come, if at all, until she is WAY older and that is why I continue to maintain contact. It may bite me in the rear down the road, but I don't think it will. I have been able to get baby pictures and pictures of family members for my daughter. That is something I haven't been able to do for my son. I've also been able to get vital family medical history which is invaluable.

So, although in a situation that is not a result of abuse, I think it can be a good thing, but it may not be a good thing for all. It's one of those situations that evolves over time. One day it may be a good thing, another day it may not. It's something you have to take one day at a time and make the best decision you can at the time. Even in abusive situations, the children love their parents regardless.

In an open adoption where the child is placed at birth, it may be a completely different story. If the child grows up with the visits, the letters etc etc, the child will not know a life any different and I think it could be a wonderful thing for everyone involved.

Anyway, that's my two cents. Btw, I found your blog through another friend. I wish you the best in your adoption! :o)