Saturday, April 10, 2010

My turn

The first time I read about little Justin, my heart was troubled.

You see, for many children, orphaned life starts out this way: being left somewhere with a note or maybe a little backpack with some food, or even nothing at all.

But Justin had already been through all that...he was being abandoned for the second time.

Now that some time has gone by, I've been able to get away from the tragedy of the situation and think more about the logical implications.

Getting help- return to sender?
-How many adoptive families have the thought cross their minds to send the child "back" to where he/she came from? Let's face it, the decision to adopt is life-changing and anyone might find himself wondering whether or not he made a mistake, regardless of whether or not the child (or parent!) develops psychological problems. It is like any human relationship with its ups and downs. read more/-

There are certainly cases where the child should be removed from the home. However, I think the situation should be dealt with by appealing to U.S. social workers, and not to the child's country of origin.

If you are taking a child out of his native country, you are implying that you believe your country has the best environment for him.

-For some reason people are always shocked when children are implicated in violence, but doesn't it make sense that witnessing violence or being a victim could lead to further violent acts on the child's part? I know I would be nervous if someone in my house was setting to fires and threatening to kill family members.

I am not excusing any parents for abusive behavior, but I can understand the feeling of panic and desperation when you just do. not. know. what. to. do. Don't we have some kind of crisis/emergency services for this kind of situation, without having to wait for a court date? Hot-lines? Maybe I've been living out of the country for too long...

-And here is an interesting cultural note. American independence sometimes leads to abuse or missed opportunities because we are afraid to get help. There is a stigma associated with giving up. In Russia there is far more precedence for turning one's child over to professionals for "retraining."  For example, by living in an orphanage, he escapes living with his parents' alcoholism. And there is less precedence for adoption, because there is more caution exercised toward taking on a big responsibility (I'm generalizing here).

-Many are afraid that adoptions of Russian children by Americans will be halted. I can think of quite a few families right now who would be affected, and I hope everything works out for them. However, I wouldn't blame the Russian government for wanting to take disciplinary action. Maybe something in the procedure needs to be revised in order to better protect adoptive families and kids.


  1. Having been on the homestudy end, it is hard to know what more could be done....psychological tests, question after question.... Of course, I don't recall common sense being tested in any way. Or, the ability to make a commitment. Not sure those things are something you CAN test.

    I do sometimes get the impression that some areas in Russia may choose to export their troubled children via international adoption. This occurred to me simply because in Ivanovo it was the STATED purpose to find a home for the "most intelligent and well-balanced" children, those who "will be a blessing to their families". I think it is THIS effort - to select the CHILDREN as carefully as the parents are generally selected - that might make the difference. Though, as this woman apparently slipped through the cracks, some troubled children will slip through the cracks, but I think there would be fewer troubled adoptions. And more children who could benefit from a family getting one.

    However, to be honest, I don't think there ARE that many troubled adoptions, comparatively. Since I work with families and children for a living, I see a lot of different families and know quite a few who have serious problems with their biological children. It is just that those problems can't be blamed on adoption.

  2. Good points, and I agree, it is hard to "test" these things ahead of time. There ARE problems in biological families, but for the most part, you can't "reverse" the fact that you have become a parent, nor can you choose what your children will be like, so you put everything into raising the ones you have. They are YOURS. And part of me wants to believe that adoption should be the same way... you are making a long-term commitment to embrace even the surprises of a child's character.

    Meanwhile, I am torn over the whole "selection" concept. You can only tell so much from a few encounters, especially with language/ cultural barriers. Yes, it's good to protect both parties by being cautious. Is it okay to take a risk if a child seems emotionally troubled? Or on the other hand, is it right to dismiss some children as "unadoptable"?

    And another point: if Americans choose the most "intelligent and well-balanced" children, isn't this a form of Brain Drain? I know this doesn't classify all international adoptions, but think of the implications for those who stay behind...

  3. I read this story and then within a day read this one: I thought they made an interesting contrast, especially when considering the commitment level of the parents involved. I find it so hard to understand how someone could enter any kind of parenthood and consider their children "returnable". I wonder if this is a result in a way of divorce being so prevalent, that more and more relationships are seen as terminatable (is that even a word?) if they don't work out as we wish. That may be a stretch and I think I have more thoughts in my head than I can express right now. Maybe you have better insight than I do. :)

  4. Thanks for the link, Shelly! I wish Sue would chime in here too.

    I definitely disagree with regarding a child as "returnable," although...what about the parents who gave them up in the first place?

    I am of the view that while kids may become a part of your family, that doesn't mean they will always physically live under your roof. They may rebel and run away, or need to live somewhere else for a time. But you will be that person whom they can call and spend the holidays with at the least, and become their beloved family in the best-case scenario.

    It isn't about a child being "returnable," it's more about the fact that you are coming from different backgrounds, and needing to be patient with each other, and realizing that everyone is "broken" in some ways. It isn't like starting at the beginning with a little baby.

    I think it IS a lot like marriage/divorce, but I wonder how far you could draw the parallels. For example, I don't know how much time adoptees spend with their new families before the adoption. Probably not as much as a couple does when they are dating! And another part of the puzzle is that kids who are being adopted had something BAD happen to them which left them orphans. When you're single, you're just single. It is a stage of life, like childhood. But when you're an orphan, it means you were abandoned in one way or another.


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