Adoption Language: Forever Families

by Marlou Russell, Ph.D.
©2002, All rights reserved

Adoptive parents, hoping to instill a sense of security in their child, will say that they are now a "forever family." On the surface, this sounds comforting and reassuring. Who wouldn't want a "forever family?" It conveys the commitment and continuity that adoptees need. However, is it realistic to expect adoptees to embrace the "forever family" concept?

I'm not fond of the term "forever family." Maybe it's because I'm a therapist and have seen too many "forever families" break up. Maybe it's because, as an adoptee, I have trust issues. Or maybe it's because saying "forever family" evokes the uncertainty of it. Do non-adoptive parents tell their kids they are in a "forever family?" I don't think so.

There is also the issue of when exactly you know if you have accomplished the goal of being a "forever family." Is it like marriage where you only know if the vow of "till death do us part" has been upheld by one of the parties dying?

I imagine an adoptive parent or professional created the term "forever family" to offer reassurance to adoptees and their families. I can appreciate the intention but worry that the term reassures the adoptive parent more than the adoptee. Stating you are a "forever family" is like someone saying s/he is going to be honest with you. It raises suspicions and doubts.

Adoptees tend to be sensitive about promises, lies, secrets, and honesty. Adoptees appreciate the truth because it validates their experience and honors their intuition. Don't promise an adoptee something you can't deliver. A parent can't guarantee that s/he won't die or won't get divorced. The world is filled with random events and situations that are out of our control. Can a parent promise a "forever family?" Not really.

So what can an adoptive parent do?

Instead of saying you are a "forever family," be one.

  • Show adoptees that they are valuable members of the family.
  • Be interested in who they are and what interests them.
  • Prove that family is important by spending time together and appreciating what each person brings to the family.
  • Acknowledge the importance of birth family connections.
  • Let adoptees know you love them even if you aren't thrilled with their current behavior.

Adoptive family relationships are built upon shared moments and daily interactions. Trust takes time, a very long time for adoptees. Allow adoptees to gather family moments, piece them together, and draw their own conclusions. Hopefully with the passage of time and a collection of consistent moments, the adoptee will feel like s/he is in a family that will be there for her/him... forever.

http://www.adopting.org/adoptions/forever-families-adoption-and-adoptive-parenting.html

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More recent Fast Facts?

The most recent statistics I found that represent just how many children are DENIED "Forever Families" through adoption were posted within the Adoption.Con pages:

How Many Adoptions Disrupt?

  • Most adoptions do not disrupt before legalization; over 80% remain intact. (Groza and Rosenberg, 1998)
  • Most adoptions do not dissolve; over 98% are not terminated after legalization. (Groza and Rosenberg, 1998)
  • Very few adoptions are contested: less than .1% each year. (Groza and Rosenthal, 1998)
  • Adoption disruption and dissolution rates have remained relatively consistent over the past 15 years, ranging between 10 and 20 percent, depending on the type of adoption. (Barth and Berry, 1988)
  • Disruption can range as widely as 3% to 53%, depending on group being studied and the calculating techniques being used. (Stolley, 1993)

What Kinds of Adoptions Disrupt?

  • Less than 1% of infant adoptions disrupt. (Barth and Berry, 1988)
  • 10% to 12% of adoptions of children aged three and older disrupt. (Barth and Berry, 1990)
  • Of children placed for adoption at ages 6 to 12, the disruption rate is 9.7%. (Barth, 1988)
  • Of children placed for adoption at ages 12 to 18, the disruption rate is 13.5%. (Barth, 1988)
  • Of children of any age with special needs placed for adoption, the disruption rate is 14.3%. (Groze, 1986)
  • Placements of older children and children with histories of previous placements and longer stays in the foster care system are more likely to disrupt (Stolley, 1993)
  • The disruption rate increases as the age of the child at the time of adoption increases. (Boyne et al., 1984; Barth and Berry, 1988)
  • The overall decrease in disruption percentages in 1988 from 1984 can be traced to the introduction of post-adoption services, an important factor in containing the number of adoption disruptions. (Barth and Berry, 1988)  http://statistics.adoption.com/information/statistics-disruption-dissolution.html

Are there any statistics that better represent the REAL numbers of REAL children getting lost to nobody but state-services?

As opposed to temporary families?

We've got a sign on our door that says "Families are Forever". I got it as a little jab at all the people CPS sends over here, back when there was still an imminent danger of losing our children. To me, it was saying that our family is forever- they could separate us temporarily, make up lies about us, try to destroy us, but no matter what they did, our kids will always know who their real parents are, and even TPR only lasts until a child turns 18. 
 
The sites with pictures of children who "need forever families" really bug me. It implies that the children originated in temporary families, that just dissolved like sugar cubes in hot coffee, but now they need families that are forever, like diamonds. Well, I guess in some ways that is an apt comparison, at least in terms of socio-economic levels of the families involved.

Time-limits and Loss

I lost two sets of families.  One was lost through adoption, and one was lost through neglect.  I am almost 40 years old, and I fully accept I am an orphan.  The irony is, I never was...not even when I was in the orphanage I was sent to live that first year of life.  I was simply taken and sold as one, and I will always think that was wrong.

"Family" in my mind has always been the word that describes the people who will leave me.  It wasn't until I became a mom, myself, that I realized a mom isn't "family"... she's The Mom...the life-source and spiritual entity that develops through her own creations.  For myself, I find the role of Mom incredibly annoying, frustrating and alienating, yet I find the feelings behind my confusion very cleansing because I am often left in a mangled mess of emotions that renders me speechless and amazed. I like to think this essence is timeless and it's supposed to defy words, because it's just too complex, yet so simple to feel and see.

The bottom line is, I know my children will one day leave me to live a life on their own.  That used to scare me (making me feel like every relationship I allowed inside me would only be temporary,)  But the older they get, the more I realize: they can't leave without taking a part of me with them.  I am in their blood... I am theirs, and they are mine... and for better or worse, that simple fact can never be changed or erased.  There's tremendous peace in that for me, because I know that will keep me where I need to be for them.

Temporary TPR's

Now I learned something here. I always wondered what happened to those 'adoptable' children who were not adopted. Would they remain without family. But no, of course TPR's are temporary - until 18.

Logic, as childhood is temporary.

I've always been of the opinion that no permanent solutions should be found for temporary problems.

Terminating Parental Rights

It's ironic, once "Family Services" gets involved, (whether it be through a religious organization or a public service) the issue of parental rights and child placement gets thrown to the wolves in heated debate, in and out of the courtroom.

The truth is, all a parent needs is a series of false allegations, or complaints made by "an authority figure", suggesting a certain parent is unstable or incapable of putting a child's needs first (making abuse or neglect of said child a possibility), the witch-hunt for rights and ownership begins.  Of course, you can imagine how the moral-minded see single-parenting as a huge risk to child-safety, and how much money some people are willing to pay for a baby.... so the mind-games and legal tactics can indeed get very dirty -- all in the name of a child's best future.  [Nice, isn't it?]  Credibility and reputation are the legal factors that power and influence a child's place in this world... and considering how corrupt so many of the family-services are, I shudder to think just how many families are broken and torn from a series of  false testimonies.

Perhaps this is where Family Preservation and Adoption really part ways from the state-run foster-care system because FP accepts the reality that a family crisis can (and does) happen to ANY FAMILY, at any given time.  Should legal rights and support be given only to those who are married or have money?  [Are they immune to the powers that bring loss and control?]   What does marriage have to do with a person's ability to get pregnant or be a good parent?  [Who is immune to the stresses caused by loss or grief?]  Why does the word "permanant" change when circumstances and personal situations change?  [Should nothing be preserved and kept permanant in a person's family anymore?]

The problem I see in child placement services is how "temporary" and "right" is used against a parent during times of crisis, and how money (or social-status) is almost always at the root of each of these family-problems.  Yes, the power to influence has more to do with money, than morals.  There should never be a debate over a child's name or family origin... those were decided already, by God, or whatever life-creator there is for sexually-reproducing animals.  The issues for debate should be in relation to the type of help a parent needs to repair a family in crisis, and how much support will be needed from the community to make this recovery possible.  After all, not every parent comes from a loving supportive family.  What options does a person with no family-support have, other than the support found in the surrounding community.  [Didn't Hillary once write a book called "It takes a village to raise a child"...? ]  When a parent has no help or support from extended family-members, that village's resources are all that adult has to make things better.  What resources do single-parents have to help keep and raise their own biologic children these days?  ANY Temporary Placement Option should help problem-solve the ills that affect a family-group, not create new problems for the child and the surrounding social-community.

Below is a discussion I found over at Adoption.con's Foster Parenting Support section  [I'll copy and paste the discussion, because the enormous ads for adoption agencies block and break the flow of the written conversation]: 

The birth mother of my two foster children, ages 4 and 2, called me and told me a few weeks ago that she was going to sign her rights away on January 11th, the tpr trial date, so that my husband and I could adopt them. She told me that she knows she wouldn't win the tpr trial and that the kids are better off with us. I was shocked, but very happy.

Come to find out, she was about to give birth with another child and was trying to sign away her rights on my two so that they would leave the new born alone. I guess that as long as the case is closed, dss can't go after any other children. She gave birth Dec 22nd. They took that baby and gave it to the boyfriends mom, who I guess is a great lady and is taking good care of that baby. Now birthmom is mad.

Then, she decides to have a visit two days ago with the kids, which she hasn't in two months, and tells me that she's going to fight it.

So, now it looks as if this thing is going to court. The trial is in 5 days. Anyone have any words of wisdom about trials? How long theirs was? Do the courts usually go by what social services recommends?

I've never been to one, but this is what I heard about one child's (a child I was supposed to go to committee on, but the current f-family decided to keep her). At the first TPR court date the trial took longer than they had reserved time for (I forget if they had scheduled one day and they needed two, or if they had scheduled two and needed three), so it had to be rescheduled (a delay of 3 months), then the next trial date the bmom got in a car accident on the way, so it had to be rescheduled again, and the next available court date for a 3 day trial required a 4 month wait. They are still waiting.

I have attended 2 TPR trials. They were both originally scheduled for the same day but one of the **'s fired their attorney at the courthouse so court was postponed so she could get a new attorney....it's amazing how much they get away with. Although it was only postponed for two weeks. When we went back to court for this sibling group, the trial lasted about 3 hours and in the end the BF's rights were terminated but the **'s were not (this was in Nov.). I have 2 of siblings of a sibling set of 3. The younger brother had been in his foster home for about 2 yrs and they wanted to adopt him, both the BF and the **'s rights were terminated on him. Mother was not against this as she knew that he thought of them as his mom and dad. We were not going to be adopting E & P so she was fighting for them b/c they did not already have stability and she felt she should be able to get them home. I found a lot out in court that I was not informed of when the kids came to stay with me. Like mom had actually completed her caseplan and seemed to be doing great. We have had regular contact with her since and agree. The BF and mother seemed to be looked at together although they were not. He is way out there (that is all I can say about him). We are actually going back to court Feb. 16th and DCFS is asking for unsupervised visits with mom. It was amazing to me how quickly they changed their minds.
The other trial was scheduled for Oct. 27, 2004 and it happened that day. It took about 2 - 2 1/2 hours and BP's rights were terminated. W is 2 1/2 yrs old and we have had her since she was 1 day old, so we are anxiously waiting to be able to finalize (her time to appeal is up).

Does your child have a CASA? They also seem to have a large voice in court. I know you are stressed but DFCS is usually pretty confident they will get the TPR or they would not ask for it.

The ones I've been to have been horrible. I'm so glad my kids' bp's signed so they didn't have to be put through it. DCFS brings up every horrible thing that the parent has ever done. At times the lawyers make them seem subhuman. I know some people have done horrible things to their kids, but I just can't believe that there's nothing good about each of us. I would hate to be treated the way the bp's are at tpr.

Very seldom does DCFS take a bp to tpr and not win. Be prepared for continuances though. One of ours continued for four months and another one for almost six (four hearings in six months). 

 Riley Jolean, and Howdy, thank you for your input.

My caseworker told me to have the next few weeks available. She said some last a day a week or even a year! So, I've been stressed. Plus, don't they have to reassign the attorney's to the case and reschedule? I think this is an open and shut case and reading your replies leads me to think it wouldn't last more than a day.

Who knows until it happens. Time for some wine this weekend. I wish it was Tuesday.

 

Been through one getting ready for another. First one was awful. Lasted 15 days! Bio appealed and it took over 3 years to finally adopt our newborn placed with us at birth! But well worth the wait, I still dread the thought of going through it again. I wish the bp of our second would just sign cause it is most likely going to be a slam dunk tpr.

Just to let everyone know, we went to court this morning and it ended like Jolean's. The birthmom fired her attorney, and it gave a 2 week delay before we go back. It is what the birthmom was looking for, she is stalling. It's not so that she can spend some more time with her babies, (as she doesn't show for visits regularly)... it is about control or who knows why. She walked out happy. Or, maybe it has something to do with her mental condition (bipolar,manic depressive). Bizzarre.

But we go back to court Feb 3rd. The county attorney says this is an easy tpr but it could last months! I guess in our county, trials last weeks usually or months, sometimes a whole year! 

I'm sorry! I know that was not what you were hoping for! I hope the birthmom will not continue to play games

Wow! I'm so sorry as I know how stressful this is. We had our TPR trial today for our two foster kids (ages 5 & 2). It was HORRIBLE! Ending up terminating both birth parent's rights. EVERYONE (including me) in the court room was crying. It's just a tough tough situation when this happens. We will adopt the children as soon as we are able to though. We will have an open adoption with both parents if they are willing. Good Luck to you!

Yes, our trial was 15 straight days. It was not continued. I suppose they had a lot to present against the bio. He also presented several character witnesses, etc. so it dig drag out. I understand in some counties they can be continued and that's what makes them last months. Like you would go for 2 days then come back for 2 days, several months later, then again several months after that. It's all depending on the court's calendar and when they can fit it in.

Can they usually terminate parental rights based on best interest of child., as in, they are bonded to family and also if a bp is unfit due to mental illness or something like that?

Judges will only take attachment into consideration sometimes. If DCFS is saying the mother is mentally ill they will have to prove it in court and then the bmom has a chance to fight it and prove different. It takes a long time.

I am sorry that you ended with a continuance today. We once had a BP fighting a long term relative placement and it was continued 6 times. We had to be there every Wednesday for 6 weeks, it was a mess. It is amazing what these people do just to have control...and that is all it was in this situation. I will be praying that things work out on Feb. 3rd.  

http://forums.adoption.com/foster-parent-support/182069-whats-tpr-trial-like.html#post689006

 

Imagine how many  unwed-mothers  there are in each country forced to make the following decision:  do I fight  for the right to keep the baby that was once inside of me, or do I let-go like everyone else has, and suffer alone?  [Damned if you do, damned if you don't!]

I believe each family has the right to be fixed and restored to a healthy happy state, no matter how long it takes.  This state of peace and harmony benefits EVERYONE.   After all, what message is being sent to the child when he/she learns, "something bad happened in that family, so they were sent away."
Removing a problem doesn't make "that problem" go away... the ghosts of unresloved conflict simply multiply and come back to  haunt others in new and different ways.

Bad things happen in all types of families... we need to find a way to fix them, so no child has to suffer the consequences of abusive power and criminal neglect.

When we adopted our 5 year

When we adopted our 5 year old son from foster care, we used the term "forever family".  We didn't introduce the term, although we embraced it.  It was how his caseworker and foster mother described us in preparation for his adoptive placement.

Even if I was a bit uncomfortable with the term at first, I wasn't about to "correct" them as far as my 5 year old son was concerned.

"Well son, we're not really your "forever family" because we might die one day, or get a divorce, or simply grow tired of you and send you back to foster care."  Nope.  Sorry - wasn't gonna happen.

The author brings up some very good points, and some that fall a bit flat.  I'll start with the latter, then work my way back.

She's right, intact biological families never have use for the term.  It's assumed.  Kids who grow up in an intact family don't fear removal in the dead of night.  Mine did.  For quite a long time.  He had five foster placements, two failed reunifications, and a garbage bag full of meager possessions and broken dreams.  13 years later to this day, I can still see subtle behavioral signs of his fear of abandonment.  Not so much by his adoptive family, more so perhaps in peer relationships (girlfriends, close friends, etc).

Also, the term "forever family" wasn't so much reassuring to me as it steeled my resolve to make it happen, as much as it was humanly possible.  We didn't fear losing him back to his natural mother or foster care, as we only considered children who were legally free for adoption (parental rights were already terminated by the state).

But the author is correct, in the end these are just words.  It takes time, lots of time to heal those kinds of wounds.  Years, perhaps.

A few months after being placed in his "forever family" we booked a trip to DisneyWorld.  We showed him the brochures, airline tickets, talked about meeting Mickey and Goofy.  On the morning of departure, he was no where to be found.  He was hiding in his closet under a pile of clothes, sobbing quietly, hoping to remain undiscovered.

He didn't care about the words.  All he saw was packed bags in the hallway.

Finally, the author notes five bulleted points for good parenting.  Four of them can be applied to all families, biological or adoptive.  Here's the exception.

-  Acknowledge the importance of birth family connections.

Always.   Always.   Always.

My first real adoption mentor (the director of our agency), stood up in our first adoptive parenting class and said:

"If you want your children to forget their biological families, if you want them never to seek out those connections, then there's the door.  Please go find another agency."

She had something like 10 kids, most adopted from foster care.  She had a PhD in early child development.  She facilitated reunions at no charge for something like 100+ adopted children, most of whom had a history of abuse and neglect.

She was dead on right.  It doesn't matter what circumstances led to their adoptions.  It matters not if your children were adopted as infants, from foster care, or internationally.  Always acknowledge the importance of birth family connections.  Always.  There's a million ways to do this, but that's a discussion for another time.

This is my first post.  Looks like a great forum, Pound Pup.  Thanks!

Dad

Nothing lasts forever, (or does it?)

Thank-you Big D, (forgive me for having a difficult time referring to you as "Dad"), for your thoughtful response, from the AP perspective.  Your written observation is one I think many choose to ignore, or equate to being a "relinquishment reaction": 

13 years later to this day, I can still see subtle behavioral signs of his fear of abandonment.  Not so much by his adoptive family, more so perhaps in peer relationships (girlfriends, close friends, etc).

I think what saddens me most in child-placement issues is the long-term consequences and implications "removal and replacement" has in the mind of a person who wants to belong in a loving, caring, intimate relationship.  Superficial relationships are always much easier than those that require commitment and responsibility.  Add physical intimacy to the equation, and it's easy to see how an insecure heart , full of mistrust, can get lost.

In this sense, you are absolutely right when you say:

It matters not if your children were adopted as infants, from foster care, or internationally.  Always acknowledge the importance of birth family connections.  Always.

A broken relationship brings loss and a broken heart, no matter what the age -- so imagine what it means to the child who grows to believe "no relationship is worth keeping".

 

No relationship is worth keeping

And we do "grow" to believe, "no relationship is worth keeping."  We are NOT born believing this!  We are born, I believe, with
the ability to bond to the most important relationship; the first and God ordained relationship of mother and child.
God wanted baby Jesus to know that bond and nurturing from a human mother!  That's why He did not just appear as a
full grown man!  God knew... down the road that it would make Him able to bond to sinful humans He was sent to save!
Women are SUPPOSED to bond to their babies.  I even believe that God gave substitute mothers the ability to bond to a
child that is not hers biologically.  But I wonder to what extent that is; not knowing the complete bonding of giving birth...
How sad that makes me.

IN A WORLD OF WHY,
Teddy

Good question Teddy

I have thought about this myself in terms of losing that bonding of giving birth as I have never given birth, though as a past labor and delivery nurse I have been to enough deliveries to last me a lifetime. :o)

That first moment, the first contact with mother and child, I have always thought about that, how it is supposed to be, that instant bond. So many of those moments I witnessed brought me to tears, it is amazing to seen. But I have seen many cases though when it wasn't as it should be, mothers wanting nothing to do with seeing their child or holding them, not wanting to try. It was always so hard to wrap my brain around that, why-this is the supposed to be the most natural thing, that bond between mother and child, I would beg them to just try.  I wish I could understand those times, but to this day those deliveries are the ones that baffled me the most. Leaving their newborns in the nursery the whole time and only spending time when they had to. It frightened me when we discharged them, would those babies be loved and held, would that bond finally kick in?

I can't say I worried about not bonding with a child, I always felt as humans we are given that capacity to bond and connect and attach to others from birth and as long as that is nutured as children and throughout our lives, that continues. I always felt like I bonded with my nieces and nephews, I would certainly die for them.

We did adopt and the feelings and bonds I have with my kids, well I can't imagine anything stronger, would it be different if I delivered them, possibly, maybe, I don't know, it is hard to imagine feeling anything different or stronger than what I feel.

My heart aches knowing that so many children and adults have not had that experience, to know what "always" is or  to not trust in a relationship.  It is just so hard to comprehend what that must feel like.

For what it's worth

that instant bonding business and birth experience business is a big bunch of hoo-ha.

going through labor and giving birth is like (literally) having the worst diarhea cramps ever with no bathroom in sight.
so it's more just a relief when the time comes, and it is very much like having a bowel movement.
i seriously doubt that overblown event has any formative impact on the child.
so you're really not missing anything.  the tears and squeals are just signs of exhaustion from drama queens.

me, i ended up having an emergency c-section and i therefore didn't even get to see my child get born. 
i took home this thing that needed feeding every two hours and i felt like nothing more than a cow.

it took me several months before i had the opportunity to get any rest and not feel burdened by my charge, get used to my responsibility, and accept my child as a person. 
i needed time.
but it quickly became me and her against the world.  together.
and i turned out to be the most awesome mother on the entire planet. 
this is why it's wrong to take babies away from new young mothers.  they need support.  and they haven't even been given the opportunity to have any moments with their children.

Maternal-Newborn Bonding

I have thought about this myself in terms of losing that bonding of giving birth as I have never given birth, though as a past labor and delivery nurse I have been to enough deliveries to last me a lifetime.

As a RN, I find it surprising you couldn't understand how/why many mothers DON'T instantly bond with their newborns.

Considering the physical pain and hormonal shift that's associated with labor & delivery, many new-moms are simply not their normal natural selves after birth.  I think there are more women who will tell you child-birth is far more traumatic and scary than most care to imagine.  Watching a woman give birth is NOT the same as experiencing birth, no matter how many times you have seen the experience.  I'll never forget watching a birthing movie in my lamaze class and I began to cry in panic:  holy shit...  this baby inside of me has to come out, and I don't like either option I have ahead of me!

I was one such new-mom who wanted nothing to do with her baby right after birth.  Even after attending so many (work-related) normal and high risk deliveries, I was not emotionally prepared for the arrival of my own small warm body that was looking back at me, as if to say "How are you going to take care of me?"  Again, pure panic took over me:  do I have it in me to do this right? 

If not for the support of the nursing staff, teaching me how to comfortably breast-feed my newborn, and telling me how to best treat and care for my episiotomy,  I don't know what I would have done.  [Words cannot express how overwhelmed and helpless I felt those first few days!!!!!]

I have to confess, there' was a funny/sad reality that hit me soon after my first daughter's birth:  I suddenly realized - for the first time in my heart of hearts - my own mother never took me home.  I remember being told to prepare for discharge, and I was asked if I needed help getting my baby dressed for the first time.  I actually asked the nurse, "You mean I take her home with me?"  That's how raw I was:  "I get to keep her?"

No one prepared me how that would feel, knowing I was relinquished by my own.  No one prepared me how adoption would come back to haunt me, through my own child.

I imagine there are far more women giving birth who came from broken/dysfunctional families than warm loving ones.

How a person is parented definitely affects their own parenting fears and skills, and those associated feelings manifest themselves in all sorts of different ways, at various different times.

As a nurse, we are trained to know, and not judge these little truths; it's our JOB to educate new moms and dads that ambiguity towards a newborn is normal and with time, the feelings of bonding and attachment WILL grow.  For many, all it takes is a little reassurance and comfort to kick-start the inner-parent that lives in most of us.  For those who need more, support should be given at home so their feelings of insecurity, doubt, and physical exhaustion don't get the best of them and their new parenting role.  Without education and calm, encouraging support how good will any parent become?  In the world of new-parenting, who wouldn't benefit from a little extra patience and nurturing?

D- Thank you for that

D-

Thank you for that wonderful post. I think you hit the nail on the head. I appreciate your insight!

not just words.

that is a great post, big D.  (i, too, feel discomfort calling anyone dad)

and also heart-warming to know your son is so in touch with his feelings and that you are learning to be sensitive to them.

however, i re-read the original post and the message i got from it was the opposite of what you got - to me, it read that words are very very important and shouldn't be thrown around indiscriminantly.  that the words that make the parent feel better are insensitive to the young child.

while i'm not a big fan of political correctness because its lost all sense of context, i nonetheless throw all my support behind changing our lexicon to be more sensitive.  i'm really happy there are no longer only policemen, but that there are now police officers.  words can define us and limit us.  or set us free.  most of us transracial adoptees have suffered greatly by being strereotyped, and marginalized through the use of words that tell us we aren't good enough or we are different or by limiting what we have access to.  and if you go to any transracial adoptee website, you will get an earful about all the racist things parents say to their own children. 

i would highly recommend transracial adoptee parents take both a communications and an ethnic studies course. 

he,he,he...i'd like parents here to post and i enjoy a debate - but we're not going to let things like this slide by! 

keep it comin'

and just to help you guys out - here's my list of things i'd wish i'd had from my adoptive parents (kind of just responding to other posts generically - not directed at you personally)

friendship, not parental control
moving to a community where i wasn't the only goddamned asian adoptee
not bringing up my heritage or my adoption or anything about it - letting ME bring it up when and if i chose to
not hearing my adoption story be told to strangers
not having it assumed that i am interested in every thing about my former culture that i am no longer able to participate in. 
ANY parental self pats on the back are irritating - your sacrifice was still for your own interests and you're an adult, so it's not really appropriate to tell me how you suffered to get me.

and as for the bonding thing,
the one thing that really bugs me about adoption is the length of courtship. 
i mean, think about it - you pick someone out from a photo.  you meet them once and take them home on a plane with you. and then they have NO CHOICE but to make the best of it.  they don't know you from adam and suddenly you have to live with these people - forever.  a lot of adoptive parents call the warming of relations bonding, but actually the adoptive child will just call this becoming resigned to ones dependence.  if that happened to you as an adult, you would have the person arrested for unlawful imprisonment!  this is why there is a website called transracial abductees.  i mean, it's harsh and all, but damn it, they have a point!  wouldn't you be a little pissed too?  i pat myself on the back for not being a screaming banshee after that.  i never said a thing about it.  but it sits there, irritating me.  if i were an oyster and you ripped me open, i'd have a huge black pearl sitting there.

in my perfect world, bonding would be a PRE adoption occurance that happens through an investment of time and making the effort to win the trust and love of the child.  obviously, this would require a local adoption and not crossing oceans and cultures. this total disruption thing is just a nightmare, if you can only imagine.  they have to leave their community, their culture, the friends they've made at the orphanage.  and most kids i am guessing aren't really wishing for new parents unless they are truly orphaned.  they're really wishing their own families could have worked out and that they lived in better conditions. 

UGH!

That UGH! was the sound of the pain I felt reading your words, almost_human...You make it all so clear and the truth of your words hurt. 
I'm at this end of adoption and as I look back, I can see the points being made here and they are real points.  This bonding thing:  My words are that every baby is born WITH the ability to bond, and NOT that they instantly bond... It seems to take time for both the mother and the child to make the neediness of an infant and the mixed up hormones of a mom blend into a bonding. How much time depends on the circumstances of that birth. 
It seems to me there is a head knowledge of the love that is supposed to miraculously appear, but if we really think about it, love develops over a matter of time for anyone.  Love at first sight, IMO, is attraction with a little lust thrown in for spice. 
Love is supposed to change over time; from new and exciting, to old and comfortable.  Me, I prefer the comfortable.  But I do not see this mother/child thing as starting with new and exciting... maybe new and scary that gets to older and more comfortable, quicker than adult love does.   But what do I know?  LOL

And yes! We AP can say the stupidest things, can't we...

IN A WORLD OF WHY,
Teddy

umm, thanks i guess.  i

umm, thanks i guess.  i really don't want to hurt anyone!  just be provocative is all. 

yes.  bonding is not instant.  and forced bonding due to being totally dependent on someone is not exactly what i would seek as a potential parent.  i truly would rather be a big sister or work with orphans and get to know them first and adopt based upon a bond that's already formed.  like a good friend told me and i am using his words way too much - i only want volunteers in my life. 

you know,  in my even MORE perfect world, CHILDREN would adopt parents, not the other way around. 

Pound Pup Legacy