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.