NATALIE MORALES: ALL PARENTS HAVE FACED THOSE HUMBLING MOMENTS

From Natalie Morales, TODAY host and national correspondent

Posted by Jen Brown

October 1, 2009 / allDAY MSNBC.com

On Thursday we will be talking to Anita Tedaldi, a woman who adopted a child and then gave him up 18 months later.  As horrible as that headline sounds, you realize how just complicated the situation was and how agonizing the decision to give up little “D.” was when you read Anita’s own account.  It’s a piece that will bring you to tears.

When that essay was first published in the New York Time’s Motherlode blog, many people accused Anita of being irresponsible for taking on more than she could handle, for not trying hard enough to make her adoption work (even though she writes about trying everything from months of therapy to bonding sessions with a psychologist, etc.).  Several others, however, applauded Anita for her courage and the strength she showed in making what she felt was ultimately the best decision for the child.
 
No matter how you feel about Anita's decision to terminate her adoption, her story is one almost every mother can relate to on some level. That’s because this is not necessarily about terminating an adoption as it is a story of a woman coming to terms with her emotions and accepting the fact she couldn't be the kind of mom she thought she would be to her adopted child.   As much as we all like to think we can do it all, we’ve all had that humbling moment – or many humbling moments -- when we must recognize our own limitations.  When was the last time you felt like you weren't a good enough parent?  How often have you asked if you are doing the right thing, whether in loving or disciplining your child?   

In her essay, Anita describes struggling to bond with D. the way she bonded with her five biological children.  I know many women who have experienced that with their own flesh and blood.  Upon becoming a parent we are often told that you will experience a love like no other.  All this is very true, but some mothers don’t have that instant bond the second this brand new life is placed into their arms. It doesn't mean they don't become amazing supermoms and love their children more than anything, but we all love differently and some need time to forge that bond.   

So perhaps some of you will still find fault with Anita; others might sympathize with her situation a little more when considering her story through the lens of a parent with their own limitations and shortcomings.  We can all, I think, agree Anita did not fail in giving D. a better life in the end. Where might little D be now?  Perhaps still in an orphanage in a third world country with a variety of health issues.  I asked Anita if she felt she saved little D when he needed saving, and to that she responded with a resounding "yes." 

I hope you read Anita's essay with an open mind and an open heart --  it will make you think, it will make you cry, it will make you question what it means to love as a parent.    

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Anita's own account

[As it's posted/published to the related link]

She gave up adopted son who ‘wasn’t attaching’
One mom struggled to connect for 18 months before relinquishing her child
By Anita Tedaldi
Contributor, Motherlode blog /MSNBC

The first time I considered giving up D. I was lying alone in my oversized bed. It was about midnight, my children were asleep and my husband was deployed. I was so taken aback by my thoughts that I bolted upright, ran to the bathroom and splashed cold water on my face. It was dark, but I could see my silhouette in the mirror and I stared to see if I was looking at a demon instead of D.’s mother.

I ran to D.’s room, afraid that he was already gone. But he was there, lying on his Thomas the Train sheets, sucking his thumb and breathing evenly. I caressed his cheek with two fingers and he exhaled. “I love you little man,” I whispered, and kissed his forehead, swallowing down the knot in my throat. I went back to my room and sobbed into my pillow.

D. was my adopted son. He’s a little boy from South America who came to our home several months before that frightening night. He arrived through Miami International Airport on a Monday afternoon, and I was so anxious that on my six-hour drive to pick him up, I dug my nails into the steering wheel for the duration of the trip, leaving marks I can still see today. I couldn’t contain my excitement. After waiting many long months, I’d finally hold and kiss my son.

I had wanted to adopt for a long time, even before I met my husband or had my five biological daughters. I’ve always wanted a large family, like the one I grew up with in Italy, and I love the chaos and liveliness of many kids.

I did lots of research on adoption, including attachment problems and other complications that older adopted children can have. I spoke to my therapist and went through a thorough screening process with social workers to figure out if I, and my family, could be a good match for a child who needed a home. We were approved, and began the long wait for a referral. When they told us about D., I was ecstatic and convinced that I’d be able to parent this little boy the same way I had done with my biological daughters.

When he arrived in the U.S., our pediatrician diagnosed our son with some expected health issues and developmental delays. His age was not certain — he had been found by the side of a road — but the doctor estimated he was a little younger than one year. D. lacked strength in his legs and had a completely flat head, from lying in a crib so many hours a day. The first few weeks at home, people often asked me if he had experienced a brain injury. D. also suffered from coprophagia, or eating one’s own feces, which my pediatrician assured me the majority of children outgrow by the age of four. Most mornings, when I went to pick him up from his crib, I’d find him with poop smeared on his face and bedding.

But the physical or developmental issues weren’t the real problem. Five or six months after his arrival, I knew that D. wasn’t attaching. We had expected his indifference toward my husband, who was deployed for most of this time, but our son should have been closer to his sisters and especially to me, his primary caretaker.

His social worker, his pediatrician and his neurologist all told me that he had come a long way, and that attachment issues were to be expected with adoption. But D.’s attachment problems were only half the story. I also knew that I had issues bonding with him. I was attentive, and I provided D. with a good home, but I wasn’t connecting with him on the visceral level I experienced with my biological daughters. And while it was easy, and reassuring, to talk to all these experts about D.’s issues, it was terrifying to look at my own. I had never once considered the possibility that I’d view an adopted child differently than my biological children. The realization that I didn’t feel for D. the same way I felt for my own flesh and blood shook the foundations of who I thought I was.

I sought help and did some attachment therapy, which consisted of exercises to strengthen our relationship, mostly games because of D.’s age. He fell in my arms many times throughout the day, we sang songs, read books, repeated words while we made eye contact. We built castles and block towers and went to a mommy and me class.

Still, I struggled. One day (I’m still not exactly sure what was different about that particular day) I was on the phone with Jennifer, our social worker, who merely asked “what’s up” when I blurted out that I couldn’t parent D., that things were too hard.

As soon as I said these words out loud, a flood of emotions washed over me, and I sobbed, clutching the phone with both hands. Jennifer didn’t say anything, she waited patiently, and when I had nothing left, she asked me to start from the beginning. We talked about my family; about the problems my husband and I were having with D. and, as a result, with each other; about the girls and their partial indifference toward D.; and about some of my son’s specific challenges.

For the next several weeks Jennifer and I spoke daily. She mostly listened and told me to focus on D.’s future and well being above everything else. Eventually I told her that I’d look at profiles of potential families, but stressed that I wasn’t committed yet, just considering options.

My thoughts and emotions were disjointed and came in waves. One moment I was determined to keep D. because I loved him. An instant later, I realized that I wasn’t the parent I know I could be, and that I should place D. with a better family, with a better mother.

Roots to a future relinquishment

the physical or developmental issues weren’t the real problem. Five or six months after his arrival, I knew that D. wasn’t attaching. We had expected his indifference toward my husband, who was deployed for most of this time, but our son should have been closer to his sisters and especially to me, his primary caretaker.

"He should have been closer". 

As one who experienced postpartum depression, and had to deal with newborn twins whilst my spouse was spending 16-18 hours days at Ground Zero during the rescue/recovery stage of NYC's infamous 9/11, I can understand how "should have beens" can affect a mother's ability to function as a loving attentive mother.

I was terrified, alone and needed help... and there was no one (family) around to offer the help I really really needed.  After a few months, I knew something was going wrong...I had essentially become mute because there was no adult for me to talk to.  I was beginning to have panic attacks so badly I thought at one point, I was having a heart attack.  After that especially scary trip to the ER and a few doses of Xanax, I went back to my primary doctor and asked if I could have something for depression, even though I was still breastfeeding.  I was put on a low dose of Paxil, and it got me through that first year.  The only thought that was going through my mind was:  NO ONE is going to take my babies away from me because I can't take care of them.  [Adoption issues really do run deep....]. " Lucky" for me, all four of my children were very young, and it was a crazy time for everyone... no one had to be removed and no one had to be taken away.  I could not... can not... imagine what I would have done if either took place.

Since I can so easily empathize with "doing without" and what sort of loss, grief, and depression that can bring, it's interesting to note how post-adoption depression is becoming a theme for some women adopting (another woman's) child.  In another article, These boys deserve so much more than I can give them , Adoptive mom Michelle Brau was kind enough to share some of her thoughts and opinions on post-adoption depression and how it led to the termination of her role as "forever mother" to a chosen adoptee.

While in that thread I noted postpartum depression used to be "a right" reason/excuse for "protective services" to remove a child from a mother, (and place that child for adoption), it was Kimette who brought to light (and two more sides) to post-adoption depression:

I'm not an adoptive mother, but I also have suffered of post-adoption depression as an adoptee. Particularly  during the six first months after my arrival, I wished to be dead, I cried and prayed silently each night to go back to my homeland, but nobody acknowledge my post-adoption depression. 
I was told by my birth sisters that our father died three years after losing me as liver disease by drinking too much. Maybe, my birth father have also suffered of post-adoption depression.

People and experts are failing to recognize that two other important members of the adoption triad might also be victim of post-adoption depression: the child and the birth parent.  

[From:  Post-adoption depression vs postpartum depression ]

For the sake of discussion, are there precipitating factors, like the absence of a supportive spouse, that lead mothers to believe "I can't do this?"  And does permanent removal of a child have to be the answer/solution to a temporary parenting problem?  [When is it best, for the child, to be sent away, and never returned?]

You asked...

"When is it best, for the child, to be sent away, and never returned?"

I have two children placed in group homes.  One is 19 and was not allowed to come home after he had spent 4 years sexually abusing four of his siblings.  His words to me were this, "mom, don't let me come home because I'll do it again."  He has continued to sodomize boys at the group home and one in the public school.  At age 19 he is said to be doing better.  He is a young man who would eat his own poop, sodomize the dog, and cum in the mouth of his two sisters.  He suffered severe abuse and neglect in Korea: first the mother's home, then the father's home; and when he was placed into a foster home they were so scared of his acting out that they hid it until he was adopted and in my home.
The other is a child with moderate retardation and moderate Cerebral Palsy.  He lived in an orphanage and a foster home where he was sexually abused.  From my home,  he was placed in two foster homes and both homes demanded his removal within days because he pooped everywhere and tried to touch the little girls whenever there was a chance; plus he would go outside and take his clothes off; which is why he was removed from my home in the first place.  People do tend to call the police.  He is almost 15 years old and has settled into the group home with the possibility of going to a home in the town where there is a more homelike atmosphere.  He has made false allegations, sexually acted out with two other boys who have been moved; plus screeched and laughed so much he was suspended from school twice.  But this year he is doing very well.  I could not parent him any longer.
I adopted children with some severe needs.  I would say there ARE times when a child should be placed in a more specialized setting where they can receive 24/7 care.  Not all children are capable of living in a family setting...  the former abuses and neglect DO cause some children to not fit into a family; PLUS, the abuse they may suffer in the adoptive home may further the problems.  My two were abused before they came to America; plus they abused each other as siblings. 
The abuse in my home was my husband abusing my daughter, and I know this is unforgiveable.   But the abuse among the siblings was a well kept secret game that finally came out and was dealt with; is still being dealt with: boundaries, therapy, and a desire to heal.  Five children are thriving, and two are doing the best they can.
Now I know I will be trounced hardily for my honesty, but this is the truth as I see it.  And this is my answer to the question asked.

What did I ever do to deserve this... Teddy

Truth is what sets many free

I can and do wholly agree with the decision to remove two children from the same adoptive family.

One is 19 and was not allowed to come home after he had spent 4 years sexually abusing four of his siblings.  His words to me were this, "mom, don't let me come home because I'll do it again."  He has continued to sodomize boys at the group home and one in the public school.  At age 19 he is said to be doing better.  He is a young man who would eat his own poop, sodomize the dog, and cum in the mouth of his two sisters.  He suffered severe abuse and neglect in Korea: first the mother's home, then the father's home; and when he was placed into a foster home they were so scared of his acting out that they hid it until he was adopted and in my home.
The other is a child with moderate retardation and moderate Cerebral Palsy.  He lived in an orphanage and a foster home where he was sexually abused.  From my home,  he was placed in two foster homes and both homes demanded his removal within days because he pooped everywhere and tried to touch the little girls whenever there was a chance; plus he would go outside and take his clothes off; which is why he was removed from my home in the first place.  People do tend to call the police.  He is almost 15 years old and has settled into the group home with the possibility of going to a home in the town where there is a more homelike atmosphere.  He has made false allegations, sexually acted out with two other boys who have been moved; plus screeched and laughed so much he was suspended from school twice.  But this year he is doing very well.  I could not parent him any longer.

That reads to me like extreme behavior, the sort that cannot be tolerated around other children and as such, I believe removing these children was the best course to take.  Here's my personal opinion -- it seems perhaps, these two children would have benefited from an adoption made by a couple that did NOT have other children in the house.  Would you agree or disagree?

 

another truth...

NO ONE wanted to adopt these two four year olds...  I have the paperwork where there were two other families who were considering (the one who is 19) and the reasons why they said no.  One was from another country.  The severity of the abuse was covered up by the time I was interested, and I only got some of this information about other families by mistake when I received the legal papers.  And the one with C.P., we were lied to, saying he was very mild, when he is very retarded and his C.P. was/is quite  involved.  NO ONE even considered him when the paperwork stated it was mild.  Not many people adopt children with C.P. that is a major concern.  When we arrived in VietNam, I was in shocked by his disability and his behavior, but never thought about saying no.  It wasn't until he started growing that it became more obvious that he was quite retarded and would never walk; he is in a wheel chair now. 
NO pats on this old woman's back.  I was entirely stupid in continuing these two adoptions.  But at the time I had a husband.  I did NOT know the other child was molesting the other little kids and would turn his anger and acting out on this disabled brother who could not fend for himself.  This child just went along with the sexual acting out because to him it felt good; which made it more obvious about his abuse in VietNam.  I met the foster family several times... and they were very strange in their behavior.  They went on to adopt the illegitimate daughter of one of the officials in the government.  And when I visited 3 more times in VietNam, I saw how they treated her... and it made a lot of sense the behavior of my son.  The culture is opposite of ours here in America, and this makes a big difference on how an adopted child fits into an adoptive home.
I do not think ANY home should have adopted these two boys.  Whether it was sexually abusing each other, or had they been placed into the home where there were no other children, it STILL would have happened to some other child they came in contact with.  The governments KNEW these boys were not adoptable and yet, they made big bucks placing them in my home where things happened that would have happened ANYWHERE they were. 

What did I ever do to deserve this... Teddy

This makes a VERY interesting point...

The governments KNEW these boys were not adoptable and yet, they made big bucks placing them in my home where things happened that would have happened ANYWHERE they were.

What, in your own opinion, makes a child adoptable or NOT adoptable?  Is there "a limit" adoption agencies should respect and follow?

honesty...

If governments and agencies were 100% honest, and then if a family chose to apply to adopt a child with HONESTLY stated problems, then there would be less unadoptable children.  Children with severe needs should be provided with the help they need UP FRONT before they are placed up for adoption, and that help should continue after placement.

To me, unadoptable means:  ANY child who, when placed, would cause the family to be damaged is, IMO, unadoptable.  It's not something the agencies don't know from the start; they KNOW which child could/would abuse another child.  I was sent an telex after placement stating:  " PLEASE keep "him" away from little sister because we don't know what he may do."  AFTER placement.  AFTER I told of his acting-out and my concerns...  THEY KNEW when the foster mother finally came forward and told of his sexual acting-out in their home that THEY had made a mistake.  Was I offered any help?  NO NO NO!  Holt told Korea, "this is an experienced family and they can handle it."  NO NO NO!  NO ONE told me what COULD happen when puberty hit!  THEY KNEW!  And when this social worker found out about his leaving our home, she said this, "I wondered how he could hold it together all these years."  And she didn't tell me this sooner????????????????  SHIT!

What did I ever do to deserve this... Teddy

Preference scale

I would say there ARE times when a child should be placed in a more specialized setting where they can receive 24/7 care.  Not all children are capable of living in a family setting... 

I can't agree with you more. Over the years a prefence scale has become part of thinking about child placement, where foster care is considered better than institutionalization, and adoption is considered better than foster care. The thinking is based on the notion that children in foster care in general do better than children in institutions and adopted children in general do better than children in foster care.

Like your story demonstrates, for some children a family setting is not appropriate for some children, especially not when there are other children in the house. Some may also need 24/7 care, like you said, in which case no family can do the job properly.

The idea that one form of child placement is in general preferable to another is silly and harms children. Each form, whether it is institutionalization, foster care, permanent guardianship or adoption should be applied when in the best interest of the child, not because there is some dictate that says one form is always preferable to all others.

[TODAY's coverage of the same story]

By Mike Celizic

October 1, 2009 / TODAYShow.com

No decision she ever made or ever expects to make was more agonizing or more controversial. After 18 months of pouring her love and efforts into bonding with her adoptive son, Anita Tedaldi realized it wasn’t working and gave the child to another family.

“I loved him and I cared deeply for him,” Tedaldi told TODAY’s Matt Lauer Thursday in New York. “I tried to do the same exact thing I did with my biological children, but over time it became clear that our family maybe wasn’t a good match for him, that we were unable to meet some of his needs.”

Tedaldi inspired both praise and condemnation when she wrote in The New York Times’ Motherlode blog about the orphan boy she and her husband adopted from South America, where, they learned, he had been found abandoned at the side of a road.

The child was somewhere around 1 year old — his exact age could not be determined. His legs were underdeveloped, and his head was flat in the back from being left in a crib unattended.

The controversy has spread to the blog written by TODAY’s Natalie Morales, who wrote about it after reporting Tedaldi’s story. After reading Tedaldi’s story in the Times, Morales observed: “It’s a piece that will bring you to tears.”

She did her homework
It also brought Tedaldi to wrenching tears. She and her husband, who is in the U.S. military and is frequently deployed overseas, had five natural daughters. They wanted to adopt to share their blessings with a child who otherwise would have had little hope.

“I had wanted to adopt for a long time, even before I met my husband or had my five biological daughters,” she wrote in her blog entry. “I've always wanted a large family, like the one I grew up with in Italy, and I love the chaos and liveliness of many kids.”

Tedaldi said she wasn’t going into adoption blind or with false expectations. “I did lots of research on adoption, including attachment problems and other complications that older adopted children can have,” she wrote. “I spoke to my therapist and went through a thorough screening process with social workers to figure out if I, and my family, could be a good match for a child who needed a home.”

She was ecstatic when she picked up the boy, whom she identifies only as “D,” after months of waiting, Tedaldi recounted. But as much as she poured herself into the challenges of raising him along with her five daughters, she realized that she wasn’t connecting with him, and that he wasn’t bonding with her at that visceral level that only a parent understands.

As time went on, Tedaldi began to consider giving him up to another adoptive family, but first, she sought out a therapist to help her bond with D.

“Still, I struggled,” Tedaldi wrote. “One day ... I was on the phone with Jennifer, our social worker, who merely asked ‘what's up’ when I blurted out that I couldn't parent D., that things were too hard.

“As soon as I said these words out loud, a flood of emotions washed over me, and I sobbed, clutching the phone with both hands.”

An agonizing decision
Problems with D were also affecting her marriage, and when her husband was home between deployments, they found themselves fighting nearly constantly. Finally, the family made the wrenching decision to go to an agency to find a new home for D.

Tedaldi and “Samantha,” D’s new mother, spent days meeting together with the boy to smooth the transition. Tedaldi wrote movingly of the last time she saw D.

“I kneeled down and pulled D. close to me, desperately wanting to impress an indelible memory of my son on me, and me on him, inhaling his scent, feeling his soft skin and touching his coarse hair. In our last moments together, I stared into his eyes and told him that I loved him and that I had tried to do my best,” she wrote. “His new mom would love him so, so much; my little man would be OK. He didn't cry, he stared back at me, then looked to Samantha and asked for more juice.”

Forthright opinions
Comments were quick to come, from those said they admired Tedaldi’s courage to those who said they despised her cowardice.

“I have heard our society called ‘Throw Away’, this woman, and I cannot call her a mom, just threw this little boy away, again. What message have we embedded in this little boy's mind? He has now been thrown away not once but twice. Have we created a future psychopath? Will he ever trust another person?” wrote one reader to Morales’ blog.

On the other side of the debate was this comment: “I watched Anita tell her story with Matt this morning and, as a mom, it broke my heart. It is not anyone's place to judge her. She was looking out for little "D's" best interest and it had to be a very hard decision for her and her family. Why are we as a society so quick to judge!!!!”

Tedaldi told Lauer she knew the criticism was coming. In fact, she had been critical of other mothers who had done the same thing.

“I did do the same thing two years ago,” Tedaldi said. “I wrote a column where I criticized somebody who had done the same thing. I understand where the criticism comes from, because, of course, this is not the outcome that anyone would hope for. But ultimately, we had to do what was best for the child.”

‘Not a rental’
There are more than 130,00 adoptions in the United States every year. Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and author of "Adoption Nation,” told Lauer such cases as Tedaldi’s are rare.
“It happens, and the one message we shouldn’t take away from this is that adoption is a rental where you try it out. It’s not. It’s permanent and it’s loving, and it’s like every other family, but that doesn’t always work,” Pertman told Lauer.

Lisa Belkin, columnist and editor of the Motherlode blog, told Lauer, “The point was not to say, ‘Look, this happens all the time,’ and to frighten people away. The point was to say, ‘This happens sometimes and knowing about that going in — more information — is better.’ ”

Months later, Tedaldi said D and his new family are doing well.

“I’m not sure that I failed him. I loved him and I tried my best — in that respect I didn’t fail him,” she said. “He deserves the best life that he can possibly have. I wish that I could have been the one to give him that life.”

This is not a rental

Maybe I should have more sympathy for this mother but she signed up for the job and she didn't complete it.
I understand what she feels she didn't connect with the boy "on a visceral level that only a parent understands" but attachment isn't some magical experience that either happens or doesn't - it can be hard work and it takes an ongoing effort, often for years! It took two years until my youngest son hugged me with affection that felt genuine, and about 6 or 7 years before he stopped raging. It takes many years to attach to children who have experienced trauma and have had their trust shattered. 18 months just doesn't cut it.
It seems to me this amother expected to fall in love with him, and handed him over when that didn't happen - yet it is dressed up as being in his best interests. I would be more sympathetic if this little boy appeared to be a severely disturbed child who was posing a danger to other children in the family and was attacking people, but that doesn't appear to have been the case - based on what I've read.  I can only hope that she doesn't adopt any other children.

Residency requirement

When I read the article, I couldn't but help thinking, "what if this child was born to this woman, would she have taken the same step?" Why do some adoptive parents give up on children, when they are not born to themselves?

The idea that placing this child with another family as in the child's best interest, is only part of the story. The bigger story is certainly not in the best interest of the child, being first placed in a family that couldn't love him to then be taken away and placed with yet another family.

The article states only that it involves a boy from South America, so it's not possible to know what the adoption procedure was like in this particular case. When it comes to inter-country adoptions, I am in favour of a residency requirement. At least that way there is some room for adjustment and assessment before the adoption takes place. There is no point in adopting a child when it's not going to work out and making the adoption more gradual could avoid situations like these.

Residency requirement

I'm not so sure. I know the residency requirement ruled us out from several countries because we had a child with special needs who couldn't be left at home with others and who wouldn't have coped well with travel. Following the adoption of our first son, I went to meet and travel with our other adopted children while my husband stayed at home with the the rest of our family. Authorities in our children's countries wouldn't have been able to assess our interaction as a family, and I wouldn't have been able to stay in their country for more than a few weeks.
Countries with residency requirements tend to attract richer adoptive families (usually two income families) and those without other children. Adoptive families with more modest incomes, or more experienced families who are interested in adopting older children and children with special needs, may not be able to meet the residency requirement.
Countries with residency requirements usually only have a matter of several weeks between the child and aparents meeting and the adoption being completed. I don't think that would be sufficient time to assess anything other than the most inadequate aparents.
IMO, we have to go back to the preparation of the adoptive parents rather than the assessment of them. Did they undergo a rigorous education process? Did they know how neglect impacts on the neurological development of infants and children, or how attachment may be affected? Were they familiar with the different forms of attachment issues, and how to address these? Was one adoptive parent required to take leave from work and be home with the child full-time for at least the first year (as required of all adoptive parents in Australia)?
My experience is that the overwhelming majority of PAPs make decisions that are within their capacity to manage, if they are adequately prepared for the full gamut of issues a post-institutionalised child may face. We have a very low rate of adoption breakdowns in Australia, and I believe this is due in large part to adoption not being sugar-coated. When you prepare PAPs well, the less hardy tend to self-select out of the process.

returning to the issue of residency requirements

I do agree with you that preparation and screening is most important. In the Australian context that is possible because State and Territory authorities are responsible for adoption application and processing. In the United States adoption is a semi/pseudo commercial activity with relatively limited government oversight. Even the accreditation process has been outsourced to the Council on Accreditation, which is formed by members of the industry. So in reality accreditation is mostly a peer review process. The result: far too many accredited adoption agencies, including some very dubious ones.

It is not to be expected the United States will do much to regulate adoption practices more than the very lax and lenient practices in place now. If anything, it will try to seek less government oversight instead of more.

That's why curbing corruption and malpractices needs to be sought in sending countries. Apart from Australia and maybe Canada, receiving countries are not likely to institute any legislation that will take the heat off the adoption process in certain countries. Most countries did nothing when Guatemala became an obviously corrupt mess. No country has done anything yet about the exponential growth currently seen in Ethiopia.

These growth patterns were also seen in several Latin American countries, including the corruption going hand in hand with such large export numbers. Most Latin American countries instituted residency requirements to put a halt to these practices. As a result the number of adoptions have fallen dramatically and with that the commercial interest in this line of business.

It's interesting to note that most receiving countries have residency requirements themselves. Australia, Austria, Denmark, Canada, Iceland, Italy, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, all require adopters to be legal residents of their country to become eligible for adoption. Why do sending countries expect other countries to keep their borders open, while they close their borders themselves? 

Open for business

Why do sending countries expect other countries to keep their borders open, while they close their borders themselves?

This opens-up a very interesting discussion, because if you look at the history books, child trade began as a way to rid unwanted children, and help populate developing nations.  [See:  A sending country sends its apologies?? ]

Australia, Canada and the United States accepted white children, knowing they would help fill newly built schools and whiten a land filled with colored natives that required their own breed of 'special attention and education'.   [See:   Child Migration: An Overview and Timeline , Legacy of Canada's residential schools, Facing up to Canada's dark history , Australia's forgotten children and "Good White Stock": Child Refugees of the British Empire.

Centuries later, we have poor countries filled with colored native-residents opening their borders to foreigners with money.  With this money, unwanted  children (so-called orphans with costly medical conditions, or those who represent a chosen cause) are being sold to paying buyers and at the same time,  schools are being built, by  celebrities with money and health clinics are being erected by those wishing to be seen as do-gooders offering charity.

So what will happen when these poor nations are well-supplied by those with wealth and influence?

Will child trade between poor and wealthy countries finally end?

O/T, but not really

For those following the disruption-in-adoption theme, Grown in My Heart Adoption Network features a story of yet another Amother at the end of her rope... another Amother is wishing to be relieved of the burden her adopted child from Haiti has placed upon her and her family.  According to the posted piece that features the story of AngryBoy, readers are encouraged not to judge, but help find a new home for a child that was promised a forever family.

 I am helping a family find a new family for their son. Despite all of the backlash in the news lately about disruptions and dissolutions I believe this family does need help. I believe this little guy needs a family to help him. And, I believe there may be a family in our readership.

When adoptions fail so miserably and the entire family is affected, it may be time to to find another family for your child. For those families who need to consider dissolving their relationship as a last resort there are reasons:

  • The child is an inappropriate match to your family (there are no bad children, only bad matches in adoption). I believe there is an appropriate family for every child;
  • The adoptive family was not prepared for the special needs of the child;
  • The child had poor preparation for the adoption process;
  • The adoptive family lacks a strong support system;
  • The child develops emotional or behavioral issues that were unknown by the adoptive family at the time of the adoption and which the adoptive family can not adequately handle;
  • The dynamics of the adoptive family does not match the characteristics of a family that would be in the child’s best interest;
  • The adoptive family and the child have not bonded despite efforts;
  • Family stress factors (financial or marital problems, unresolved infertility issues, etc.) that prevent the adoptive family from committing to work with the child’s needs.

[From:  Dissolving an Adoption, a Call for Help, October 10, 2009 ]

The fact that "bad matches" is mentioned as a first reason to dissolve an adoption is an interesting point to read, especially if one considers the role/duties an adoption agency has in each placement.

According to 10 Things Adoption Agencies Won't Say, items eight, nine, and ten (in abbreviated form) read like this:

8.  "This child may have major development problems"

Some agencies would have you believe that children adopted overseas are mostly healthy kids in need of nothing more than your love and care. But many children adopted from other countries arrive in the U.S. with serious emotional and physical problems—as great or greater than those faced by children in domestic foster care.

9. "Our information pipeline is seriously flawed"

Once you know the potential for health problems, you’ll face another hurdle: getting specific medical information about your prospective child from the birth country. Record keeping there might have been slipshod, or the child may have been abandoned. Even in such cases, however, some helpful information is usually available—if your agency bothers to secure it. According to a survey conducted by the Adoption Institute, 15 percent of the 1,600 responding families adopting overseas reported that their agency withheld details or gave them inaccurate information about their child.

10.  "Once you've got your child, you're on your own"

The best adoption agencies continue to help out parents after the child has been placed in the home. Some offer postadoption services that guide parents through a range of problems, from how to explain adoption to the child to dealing with “postadoption depression,” a surprisingly common phenomenon among these parents.

Had AngryBoy been placed by a "best adoption agency", would the Aparents still feel the need to send their adopted child far away? 

Why are concerned "outsiders" (found on the Internet, no less) doing the work adoption agencies should be doing, at the very beginning?  [This point, being a twisted irony, because it's widely known by those familiar with the adoption industry, many agencies lack a physical location, and many are run from a person's home.  As Adam Pertman,  executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, states, "Nobody's watching for cheaters".... so common sense dictates buyers adopters MUST beware.

Pound Pup Legacy