Monday, February 15, 2016

Further explaining myself...

This blog is really a thinking work in progress because its where I'm working out my thoughts and opinions on what I think needs to be talked about in the adoption industry. So, if you find I'm not very clear, well, I expect to be more so as my thoughts develop.

What do I mean about *Parallel Fates*? Well, David Kirk believed that we had to acknowledge the differences that adoption brings to a family. That meant that even though our beginnings were separate, our fates could be shared. Nowadays, the children are most often adopted after they have been pre-parented by birth parents, and at least one set or more of foster parents. They have already shared their lives, and the first steps of their fate, with many people. 

So, on to how this relates to Parallel Fates -  As you know, between the ages of about 2 and 4, children may be playing in arm's reach of each other, but they are each in their absorbed in their own little play world. They don't share, they don't interact (other than to occasionally try to take the other's toy), they don't have the same rules, or the same expectations, they have limited communication with each other, and they aren't playing the same thing. They didn't intend to be together, they were placed in the situation by well meaning parents who believe the children need the social time with peers or because the toddlers attend the same daycare. 

I think that adoptive families are often doing the same parallel type of thing because even though the parents and children live together, they share little in the way of healthy and positive communication; they don't have the same goals; they don't share the same language of feelings; they don't agree on the tasks to be done or the relationships to be formed; their values differ and clash; and, they are unsupported or even sabotaged by those who don't understand or validate this version of family. 

Furthermore, the children and the parents don't really choose to be together because their family is constructed by social workers and policies and tragedy and loss. While the parents are outwardly focused on creating their vision of a loving family, the children are inwardly focused on coping with brain differences caused by pre-natal exposure to toxins combined with the long term brain impact of early neglect & abuse. The child with substantial brain differences is expected to conform to the expectations and values and goals of neurotypical parents and neurotypical teachers and maybe some neurotypical siblings. Its a round hole and square peg kind of thing and as a result, their lives are less about sharing their fates and more about surviving their fates

This leaves the members of the adoptive family living very parallel lives - in the parent line# most will do their best to provide Junior with everything possible to make this a functional, loving family and to help Junior reach their version of success. However, in the child/youth line, Junior's understanding of family and personal success is a result of what he experienced before this family was constructed and he will continue to react to that version for most of his growing up years. 

As always, I want to state that I strongly believe that adoption is the best alternative for children who can't be raised by their genetic parents. I also want you to know that I truly love my children. But, as I watch the changing challenges in adoptive family life, I believe we need to be having some very different conversations about what adoption means to all members of the family. The adoption industry needs to be seeking the opinions and input of those now grown adoptees who were placed after infancy. It needs to be acknowledging the challenges that current adoptive parents face in dealing with birth family and with brain differences. We can't keep pushing a perception of adoptive family life that might have been true 10 or 20 years ago, we have to deal with what we have now. 

Well, that's today's rant. 

Hey, you are entitled to a better day.Flower by TheGraphicGirl


  1. I just want to say how grateful I am for this blog of yours. So many days I feel absolutely insane and I'm so frustrated that adoptive families aren't being listened to unless things are going well. The current push to get more teens into adoptive homes is theory, and completely irresponsible with the current level of support for adoptive families. So, thank you for your frankness that is anchored in love, but acknowledges that love alone is not enough. I feel validated and even a little hopeful when I read your blog! Those are rare feelings. So, thank you.

    1. I'm glad you feel validated because that is my main goal with this blog. So, grab some joy today, you deserve it.

  2. I agree MM!

    You have put into words what I've always secretly suspected - but feared. When I adopted, I was told that these kids were MINE. Not my property, but MY responsibility. I took that very seriously. I seem to have a sense of responsibility that goes above and beyond what I'm seeing in other adoptive families and it disturbs me. Not that everyone should be like me or that I'm doing any of this right, but SAFETY is my number one priority, and the decisions I've made based on this have not been supported by the school or other parents. This has led to lots of negative feelings (on both our parts) and incorrect (and harmful) validation to my adopted kids that I just don't care enough. In reality, I see the harmful effects of social media on most adolescents/teens and will not purposely expose my kids to that - even though everyone else thinks its ok and are convinced that they've gotta learn on their own what's appropriate. I do not allow children with extensive mental health dx's and the meds to go with those dx's to take drivers training if they aren't stable. A no-brainer, right? Apparently not, because I have gotten so... much grief about that one. I cannot be responsible for putting a driver on the road that has extreme mood swings, no personal accountability for his/her actions and a severe delay in maturity and hope for the best. Other people's kids are on the road too, some of my other kids are on the road, "I" am on the road - I couldn't live with the decision to let them have this "priviledge" when I fear for everyone's safety.

    That being said, I think you stated it perfectly - I am all about creating this loving family, and constantly feel like I'm fighting the very people I love the most to get them to conform to what I think that is, not just what it looks like to the outside world, but what it looks like inside our home. I never thought about them feeling like they have to survive this period of their lives. I assumed they would thrive with the right environment, the right supports and opportunities, the right person to love them. I realize now that if they're successful, it's in spite of me, not because they listened to me and followed my plan. Maybe I will eventually believe that if they don't succeed, and if they end up repeating the lives of their bio family, that it's also in spite of my interventions instead of just all my fault.

    1. Truly recognizing and meeting the safety needs of you kids is never going to make you popular - but it will help to keep your kids and others safer. We have to parent from within our conscience and do what we know it right. Hang in there.

  3. Ah, so happy about this new blog! I am behind, but will soon catch up with the posts. Sooooo much that needs to be sorted through and said.

  4. My own feelings on this is that the adoption of older children needs way more support than it usually receives. I think part of the adoption process should include compulsory continuing counselling care for both children and parents right from the first day. It's almost too late once things start falling apart. The counselling will just be a normal part of life in the new environment.
    I also believe that many older children, especially those from other cultures, have a very different idea of how regular families function and this will most likely be different from their ideal. It could be a cultural difference or it could be a 'dream' difference. If prospective adoptees could be prepared in some way to the realities of difference, it might go somewhere towards helping expectations to be more realistic.
    I think no amount of education for becoming adoptive parents ever prepares them for the toll on health due to stressful situations. I don't think this can be taught; we'd never believe this could actually happen ... until it does.
    We successfully raised 3 older siblings at 9, 12 and 14. They are now 20, 23 and 25. The oldest two are regressing. The 25 year old had 3 children in quick succession (she does know about birth control). She's given them all up, one to adoption and the two older (3 and 2) to their father, while she lives as a borderline prostitute. The 23 year old is currently awaiting jail time for break and entering with assault and robbery, due to a bad drug deal. The 20 year old goes from one abusive situation to another. To them this is what they were most familiar with pre-us. We sometimes wonder if it will ever end.
    The hardest thing is keeping ourselves positive and looking after ourselves. We have had amazing support in the past but once the adoptees have grown up and left home, the support dries up. Sometimes it's just hard to believe what's happening. We are now having to distance ourselves just to stay focussed.
    I have nothing against older child adoption. I believe all children need a family. If I could go back to 11 years ago, knowing what I know now, would I still adopt? Sadly the answer is "No". I love these three greatly, but now I'm tired of the abuse, the lies, the stealing, the manipulation, the accusations that somehow we're guilty for their poor decisions, and so on. We will survive.
    My rant.

  5. I have been thinking and wrestling a lot with values lately so this is very helpful to me. Sometimes I feel if I had different values it would be easier for my children! The kind of families who would better serve my children might never consider adopting or even be accepted as adoptive parents, but maybe indeed my children would feel more at home! Thanks for opening up new windows of insight and yes... for your validation and support! And yes... maybe the goal is together to be on this journey with looser reins and more open and accepting hearts not only for our kids but for ourselves! Keep giving us new insights Brenda!