What would happen if children received a catalog or a referral of adoptive parent options?
Children are so fragile, especially as they become teens. But when they are real little, they don’t really see adoption as a “choice” for them. They just live with their parents and learn to love them. Young children don’t even realize anything is wrong with them until they are told, or until they find themselves sitting in an orphanage with other kids who also have no idea why they are there. The “what are you in for?” question starts to circulate.
Little kids don’t really understand what adoption is until they are put with a family that is not their own. And even then, if the new family is not forthcoming with them, they begin to exist in a world where they feel different but don’t actually comprehend why they are different. The difference could be color, hair, height, ability, disability…..but the most obvious one is blood.
See, parents have options when they decide to add people to their family. One of these options is adoption. They can look at a catalog and go “children shopping” in order to get them feeling warm and fuzzy about the idea of another child, or their first child. Or they are sent referrals by adoption agencies and this begins the virtual process of bonding with a child they have never met before. And then comes the socialization visits that many times end in tears because the new parents will be with the new children and have to leave them and return to “real life” as they may call it. And the child sits there and waits…and waits….and waits for their new mommy or daddy or both to come and get them. But why are they coming to get them? Don’t they already have a mommy, daddy or both?
We did not choose to be adopted. I didn’t, I know that for a fact. I can say this because I look at the life I have lived, and the way I was treated as the adopted child and think “what did I do that was so bad that my mother didn’t want me anymore?” I can’t shake that off my lips, and I’d love to. I love to just sit back and be appreciative. I’d love to thank God that I was somehow saved from my fate (which according to my Adoptive mom and others was DEATH). But I didn’t choose her. I didn’t choose them.
I wonder what it would look like if I had the catalog in my hand and I could pick and choose who I wanted to live with. I think that is how they got to choose who they wanted to be part of their family. And why me? Was it because I was mildly retarded (yes, slow, and functioning at a very low level). Was it because I was 4 years old and still couldn’t walk, or talk, or barely sit up? Because if I look at photos of where I was, I see many in my same situation.
Was it savior mentality? Did they choose me because I was the most banged up and they would feel better if they could “heal” my disenfranchised body? Because they didn’t. A body that was once unable to express itself became a body that depended on the white man.
They chose me, out of the adoption catalog, or accepted the referral given to them. They went up to my crib as if I were a puppy waiting to be adopted. “That one…I think I’ll choose that one!”
Children don’t get to choose. I think about my daughter who is now 12 years old. Her biological mother who loves her sooooo much has actually been the person I look up to the most for several reasons. When my daughter was about 4 years old, her and her sister were dropped off at my father’s doorstep. I happened to be there, wondering “what the hell does this woman want?”. She had a 6 month old baby hanging off her arm, a 3 year old and a 4 year old. She begged me to take the children. I already had two foster kids with me at the time. My goal was to educate them, give them healthy meals and travel the world with them which was part of educating them.
She proceeded to hand two children over to me, and I fought her by giving them back to her immediately. She began to cry, and through her tears I understood that she could not care for them. One child had heart problems and the other child was basically the caregiver-she was four when she learned how to use charcoal to cook the meals for the family when her mother was out.
“Ok” I said. “I will help nourish them and put them in school, but that is it”. She was so happy I was going to take them that she gave me the biggest hug. She thought that I would keep them forever. She thought that she would never really have to see them again. She was wrong; to make sure she new I was only helping her out for a short period of time, I sent her kids to her on the weekends. I sent them with canned beans, a bag of rice, their bottles, their nappies, and their favorite toys. She would have to be with them every weekend. She was not happy about that because this meant that she could not continue to mess around. This went on for about 3 months. I found out one weekend that the oldest was being left alone with all the children and that there was another child in the oven. I was not a happy camper. Here I was trying to help get these two kids healthy and functioning and the biological mother was off riding horses (you know what I mean).
So I stopped sending the kids to the biological mother. I had to make a decision, send them over there and risk the 4 year old playing mommy all weekend or keep them with me and cut out my entire social life. Not to mention, at this time I was a full time teacher and foster parent to two older kids (8 and 12). My social life had to go. I didn’t feel I was finished getting the two sisters healthy so I continued. November rolled around and many changes had been made. The youngest returned to the biological mother because my work wouldn’t allow me to take off any more sick/personal days to take her 2.5 hours away to the children’s hospital for heart issues. So she returned but I continued to help financially. I tried to return the older child because my intention was really NEVER to adopt her but she wouldn’t go. At almost five years of age she wouldn’t budge. I remember her wrapping her feet around the stool so tightly that it took me, my older foster daughter and the live- in nanny to get her off of it. When we got her off, she just ran to the couch and cried, kicked and screamed.
You see, she saw something different. She saw something that she didn’t want to let go of. She saw a life that she did not see before. I told her mother that I would continue to educate her and take care of her but at some point she would have to return. To make a long story short, she is now almost 13 years old and legally adopted by me. She did not get the chance to choose her new mom or dad. But she did get the chance to choose to stay.
For her biological mother, she chose to give her child away. For me, I had an option to force her to return or to have her stay. She chose to stay but I think if it were a different situation, and another family offered the same help, she would have made the same decision. She saw something that she wanted, and she new she could excel, and she chose to stay.
Adoptees don’t get to choose their new families but they do get to choose to stay or go when they get older.
For many reasons, I chose to go and cut ties with my family and many won’t understand why and many may say i’m unappreciative, and many may say i’m lucky why did I do such a thing, and others will say i’m a spoiled brat, and some WAP may say i’m an angry adoptee, and still others will say I’m a RAD child and ungrateful. I say “yes” to all of the above. But everything happens for a reason. I didn’t one day just wake up and say “I hate everyone”, it was gradual and lead to my book: A Failed adoption, who is your larimar? and yet it also lead to my book: What part of me is Saved?
As an adopted adult I find myself asking many questions. If I were asked “would you like to be adopted” I would have probably said “no”. But that is not how it works for us, we are forced to accept who we are paired with and I don’t believe that all of it is God breathed.
But on the other hand, after my daughter had been living with us for a few months, she decided that that was where she belonged. I think her decision was influenced by many different factors but she chose to stay as a child.
I feel that many adoptive parents want to label their child once things get difficult or they have decided to emancipate themselves. Not all adoptive children will be quiet and submissive (this is what my Adoptive mother wanted). Not all children will bow down. But not all adoptive children will be destructive, angry, hurt, scared, or difficult.
As soon as I realized that emancipation was an option, I had one more label put on me by my adoptive parents. Instead of asking the “Why” questions….they pointed the finger and said “you….have always been a difficult child, never wanted to hug, never wanted kisses, never wanted to cuddle…. “and so on and so forth. Instead of attempting to understand the feelings the child is going through, they pointed the finger. The berating never ended and the sad part of it all is that it still is present.
When adoptive parents realize and try to understand that the children didn’t have the choice, the parenting styles and expectations will begin to shift in a healthier direction. The blame game stops, and families begin to embrace on a whole new level.
My prayer is for all Adoptive families to start asking more questions and stop pointing the finger. No one is perfect but we can all work towards a better understanding of each other. I pray that Adoptive parents open their eyes to the reality that the child probably didn’t see a picture of you before you saw a picture of them. They did not CHOOSE you, your options lead to choosing them.