Mega AP's stuck with mega problems and many unmet special needs

The other day, I received a letter, and it upset me because I really didn't know how to respond in a way that would provide quick steps to an easy solution. 

I am the oldest biological child from an adoptive family of 24 children. My mother was a single parent. That's an dangerous combination. NO parent has enough patience for that many children...and especially that many children with disabilities!!! It shouldn't have happened and shouldn't happen in the future. This is my problem. I don't know where to go for support and action to help a horrible problem that we have in the United States. 

 The issue of "mega families" who are abusive is one horrendous issue to be dealt with, but I have one more glaring issue that I have a question about. I had to call CPS on my own family while I was in college - everyone under 18 was taken out of the home...but, my siblings that were OVER 18 were LEFT there!!!!! Who protects them?? They're disabled, they're children, they can't protect themselves either. But, there's no where for them to go, so people just pretend that they don't exist. Come to find out, anyone can "claim" a disabled adult, lock them up in the basement, abuse them, and collect their money. No one stands on their side to see if they're in a good situation!!!!! It's horrendous and overwhelming. I know some states are better than others at providing rules that better protect them, but no one is out searching for these "kids". I don't know where to do to help. Do you have any ideas??

My own experience is limited, and from what I understand about the "care" industry, he who pays the bills and has legal Power Of Attorney, wins.

I'm amazed how often an AP will adopt and adopt and adopt one "special needs child" after another, only to realize, 20, 30, 70+ international adopted kids later, those kids have needs that are being ignored and those kids are being abused and neglected because there are not enough helping hands to go around to meet some very complex, complicated needs.  The worst part is, many mega-adopters follow the Evangelical Christian belief that God will provide, which is fine, until one realizes the person who agrees to take on more and more may be too brainwashed to realize some miracles in life DO need a lot of outside human intervention.

How does an adult child deal with such a burden brought on by an Amother who could not say no to yet another adoption-plan....

And how do we warn others about the troubling burden/future consequences that come with those adoption plans that revolve around short-sighted APs, many children with "special needs" (disabilities), and "the need" or "the call" to create a mega-family through adoption?

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Addiction

That is a very tough letter to read.

I think many of these families are almost like addicts. They reach a point where they can't turn off their need to take in more kids. It's not always about money and subsidies, it's about a savior mentality and the high they get with each new kid.

The kids suffer.

Where was the social worker in this mess? Why was he/she allowing this? (rhetorical question)

"addicted to adoption"

I knew someone posted something about those who seem as though they are addicted to adoption.... and sure enough, I found it among the PPL files.... Angelina Addicted to Adoption?

[Three cheers for contributing members!! ]

But seriously... note what's being noticed, by others:

The real problem I have, however, is that Angelina Jolie is capable of having children. Adopting is for people who cannot. In her recent "mission to adopt" a child, Pax, you will note from all reports, including officials in Vietnam, Angelina was put ahead of the list, things were rushed through, and there is a shortage of children who can be adopted from Vietnam - more applicants than children. Based on this ratio, and we know that most people applying are those who cannot have children of their own - Angelina showed a gross disregard for those people who have followed the process, filed the paperwork and are waiting. These people CANNOT have children like Angelina, yet she finds it okay to push them all aside and use her celebrity power and money to bypass them all? For whose good? The child's - the child that will forever live with cameras in his face? It's hard enough to be an adopted child, let alone followed by paparazzi 24/7. Yes, these children will be afforded the best travels, the best food, the best clothes and the best schools. But, will they get the best attention and love when their "mother" is traveling the world to keep her face in the paper? This same mother, who is divorced from her husband and wore his blood in a vial around her neck?

As much as I am eager to jump on the Hate-Wagon, I also have to take the time to pause and ask:  Is adoption really for people who cannot have children?  Cuz I cudda sworn adoption was supposed to be for THE CHILD put in a really terrible life-situation, littered with a lot of terrible (temporary?) surrounding circumstances.

 

Large families...

Here's a different viewpoint:

In the adoption world, there is a strange notion by the SW's of America; "normal healthy infants/children are to be placed with young couples."  Most older PAP's know that they are going to be offered a special needs child; they are even given the impression that is ALL they can adopt: like it or lump it... and most older PAP's take it.  It is NOT all the AP's fault that they have several special needs children.  It IS their fault when they keep going back for more.  It IS addicting to hear, "THAT is doable!"  When you call and ask about a waiting child that NO ONE is wanting to adopt, they JUMP on you with both feet; they help MAKE these adoptions so easy, that an older PAP feels very empowered. 

I believe that NO single parent should take on more than one special needs child.  When I adopted, there were two of us, and I STILL ended up raising them alone, even when he was here.  I heard so many times, from other AP's, "I get to adopt another child, and he gets a big screen tv."  NO LIE... and these people were adopting special needs children.  This was back a few years.

In a "normal home" with many children, there are times when several children take a back seat for another child to get needed attention.  In a household of MANY special needs children, there is NO time set aside for each child; it's like, take a number and wait.  It just can't be done properly because each parent needs alone time, too, and if that time is not allotted, then things get really tense.

Sexual abuse in a large family can happen in different ways:  There are so many kids that no one notices; there are so many kids that they cover for each other because of the fear factor; there are so many kids that there is no time for the AP's to have sex, so one parent finds it easy to prey on an innocent child.  It's never the child's fault; most always it's self preservation that keeps a child from telling. 

Most adoption agencies are tickled to death to place special needs children by the bus load into the eager, older PAP's home...  they'll tell that family:  I KNOW you can do it!   And look at the mess we have now in America's adoptive families who bought into that thought.

Teddy

Overwhelmed, with profound sadness...

wow... sometimes it hurts so much to see it in-print:

Most adoption agencies are tickled to death to place special needs children by the bus load into the eager, older PAP's home...  they'll tell that family:  I KNOW you can do it!   And look at the mess we have now in America's adoptive families who bought into that thought.

I'm sitting here, making dinner for my healthy brood (yes, there are days I hate having to cook for so many in my house,,, but they are my children, and I want them to have hot dinners, like I never had growing-up in "The Perfect Family"), and I'm crying,,, tears flowing down my face, because I KNOW how these adoption agents operate.

This is when I look up, and ask God, "WTF are YOU DOING about this?!?!?"

It's so sad...so so sad, on so many levels....

Hope these facilitators are happy. 

Do you think they sleep at night, like we victims do?

Do They Sleep At Night?

Most SW who place kids internationally have had their pick of all the children in the offering... it was so funny to go to one "plane delivery" and see the SW's teenage daughter from Korea, and the rolled eyes of that SW as her daughter sauntered around in her mini-skirt with a gloom-and-doom look on her face.  We all were older AP's greeting the newest special needs child being placed into one of our homes.  We totally felt vindicated to know that even though THEY had their pick of the tiny healthy babies, it didn't mean they would grow any differently than ours: puberty is a fickle old woman in drag...  Did she sleep good at night?  She had stated she HATED to see 50 year old women with adopted babies in their arms, but yet she placed hundreds of SN's babies with 50 year old women.  Her sleepless nights came from her OWN adopted childrens normal problems, not because she had "placed babies into older adoptive mom's arms.

Teddy

Doing anything about it?

It is enough to have a general look at who older families generally come to adopt. Unless they can afford a private adoption with a real expensive lawyer, they will be told they have to accept an older child. Not neccessarily one with visible special needs, but  with a long history of institutionalization, foster care or neglect. After having lived a comfortable D:I:N:K:s'-life , they discover a sudden need to become  a parent. They will accept all conditions. And then some shy little guy, or some bossy young lady, will end up with folks who might well be their grandparents. Frustrated grandparents, in that case. As soon as every day life really begins, it shows that raising kids is no walk in the park. Especially when there is no way to return them to mommy and daddy, as grandparents normally do when they get tired of the job.
 
Jared

another voice in the dark...

Thank you, Jared,  well put...

Teddy

After "The Honeymoon" (then what?)

After having lived a comfortable D:I:N:K:s'-life , they discover a sudden need to become  a parent. They will accept all conditions. And then some shy little guy, or some bossy young lady, will end up with folks who might well be their grandparents. Frustrated grandparents, in that case.

This reminds me of the post-honeymoon phase of a relationship... the part that leaves one or both partners asking themselves, "Now that the fun, the novelty, and excitement is over, NOW what do we do?" .  In the case of an adoption relationship, the Aparent role replaces the role/lifestyle that goes with the double-income with no kids (the single, within income and no kids) or the empty-nesters who no longer want to sit and listen to the silence that grows between two people who don't feel the need to focus on their own intimate relationship.
The child brought into that dynamic (the adoptee) could be very lucky, and hit gold.
OR, the child placed in that dynamic could find life as the new-found distraction a real pain and burden.
The real trouble, I think, relates to what Teddy described: 

Most adoption agencies are tickled to death to place special needs children by the bus load into the eager, older PAP's home...  they'll tell that family:  I KNOW you can do it!  

Call me cynic, call me overly critical, I don't care... I call things as I see them, and in many cases, I think the placing agents STINK because far too often their actions prove their focus on adoption issues is way off the child-centric mark.

Based on what has been shared with me, in private, there are many complaints coming from overwhelmed APs who say the placing parties/SWs are not thinking about transparent adoptions or what's best for the new-parent OR next adoptable child on a given placement agency's list.  These (often paid) service-providers seem to be thinking about one thing, and one thing only:   meet and exceed those quota... that number an agency is trying to match or exceed, because lovely perks and benefits go to those social services that meet set adoption numbers. 

  

In the USA, little media coverage is given to cases where children are wrongfully removed and put in-care so an adoption plan can be made.  However, in the UK the media is keen on following anything that links itself to MP John Hemming:

In a case that could make legal history, Goodwin plans to go to the European Court of Human Rights to prove the adoption of her daughter was fraudulent.
The irony of Goodwin's situation is that, initially, she welcomed the intervention of the social services. For 10 years she had been in an abusive marriage in which she had had five children. When the marriage collapsed, Goodwin had a breakdown. At the time, her youngest child was three months old and social services came forward offering to help.
But within a few weeks, the social workers' attitude had changed. "They started visiting two or three times a day and phoning the children's schools daily." Social workers turned up during the middle of one of the children's birthday parties and sometimes would arrive to carry out spot-checks at 10pm, shining torches into the sleeping children's faces to check it was them.
Then the threats started. One social workers said it was her aim to get the children into care. "They also said that they'd had two or three people phoning in daily to say they'd seen my kids out playing till all hours or that I had left them and gone out drinking. The stupid thing is that often I had a social worker round at the moment this was meant to be happening."
The social services claimed to have issues in three areas. First, with the state of Goodwin's house. "It was messy," she admits, "but it was just toys and clothes; it was never dirty." So Goodwin stripped the house, redecorated and bought new bunk beds for the children. "When I did that, all they said was 'Where did you get the money from?'" She was also criticised for her children's poor school attendance. "I did find it difficult to get them all up and out in the morning. I was sending them to school in a taxi and that worked fine, but the social services decided I wasn't allowed to." And third, they highlighted missed medical appointments. "I missed two dental appointments," says Goodwin, "and I refused to give my two youngest the MMR because I wanted more information."
The social services decided to push for a an interim care order and Goodwin soon found herself in court. The youngest four children were ordered into foster care for six weeks while the eldest was allowed to stay with Goodwin, "which was ridiculous because she had the worst school attendance of all". Goodwin told her children they were going on holiday and packed their bags. "Two social services cars and a police car turned up and just took them. One of the very first things they did was dish out the MMR." Two were sent to foster carers and two to their father, "a violent alcoholic who's been arrested 10 times. The court psychologists seem to think that if you're an alcoholic it doesn't affect your parenting skills." That was 2004; Goodwin has been fighting for them ever since.
"Pauline Goodwin's case is one of the more extreme examples of appalling behaviour among people in the area of public family law," says MP John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat member for Birmingham Yardley, who is chairman of the Justice for Families group and is helping fight her case. "I have great difficulty in understanding how what has been done has benefited any of these people. The mere fact that the judges resisted providing her copies of the judgment, which she needs in order to appeal [it took her over a year to get them] rings alarm bells as to whether the rule of law is in operation in Liverpool County Court."
Social services refuse to comment on individual cases, but Hemming believes Goodwin's story is part of a wider phenomenon that started seven years ago when the government decided to speed up the adoption process. A target was set to increase adoptions by 50 per cent between 2000 and 2006; the number of babies taken into care rose from 1,600 in 1995 to 2,800 10 years later, while the number of adoptions jumped from 810 in 1995 to 2,300 in 2005. This has led some to say the social services are acting to to meet quotas.
"Pauline is the tip of the iceberg," says Hemming. "Statistics suggest there are about 1,000 cases in this country where children have been wrongfully adopted. It's possibly even more than that. I know of a number of cases where all sorts of intimidation is used to discourage people from fighting back."
More worrying is the increasing number of very small babies who are being taken. "This is a disturbing trend," says Hemming. "I am aware of cases where babies are put in care because their mothers get post-natal depression. This is an evil way of working."
[From:  Are over-zealous social services acting on orders to meet adoption quotas?, 2008 ]

Nevertheless, bits and pieces of the American Way are coming through, as more agencies boast how higher adoption numbers benefit many. 

Now, keep in mind, much time has passed since I last added an article about cash prizes for hitting adoption targets in the UK, but I did (not that long ago) find the link between state negligence, agency oversight, federal funding, and the plight of the forgotten and abused adoptee, and sure enough, I finally found the information I wanted/needed about the USA.

Below is parts of a published report provided by the good folks at NACAC (North American Council on Adoptable Children).

Successful Older Child Adoption:  Lessons From the Field

by Mary Boo, Assistant Director, NACAC

Published in the Summer 2010 issue of Adoptalk

In fall 2009, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rewarded 38 states for increasing foster care adoptions. Some states were particularly adept at finding families for older youth—in 2008, adoptions of children nine and up rose 39 percent in Florida, 25 percent in Texas, and 91 percent in Wyoming. We asked state leaders in these and other states how they were so successful at placing older children. Each state’s story is unique, but several themes emerge.

The article features key factors needed for good quality permanent family/home-placement for adoptable foster kids. Boxed remarks are from the original article.  Comments outside the box are my own, as I redirect readers to re-life foster/adoption-stories that put these key concepts into a somewhat better, more honest, context. Keep in mind the following rules ("key factors for quality permanent placement") do not apply to those sticking to a foreign adoption plan, because hey... aren't foreign orphans so much easier, better, and with much less day-to-day hassle than your troublesome domestic foster-adoption planned addition?

Key factors needed for good quality permanent family/home-placement for adoptable foster kids

1)  Have specialists do case mining. 

Searching for people—past and present—in an older child’s life is a great way to find adoptive families. It can also require special skills and be time-consuming. Every state we surveyed says that case file mining was a factor in their success, and most note that specialists do the work.

Read:  Abuse clues in Fla. twins case put spotlight on child services 

In this particular case, living relatives, who claimed to have wanted to adopt the twins, lived in another state.  They were overlooked as adoptable options.  As a result, the twins were "kept" by their foster parents.  Even during the foster-phase, flags and questions were raised about suitability, but those warning signs got overlooked, dismissed and ignored.  The end result proved to be a tragic reminder:  the children were placed in an abusive environment.  The case resulted in a brutal death of one of the adopted twins.  The case proves "specialists" are NOT doing the work needed to keep children put in-care safe and protected from harm.

2) Involve children and youth.

The best source of information about possible resources is often youth themselves,

Later in the paragraph:

But working with youth takes time. In Florida, workers may build a relationship with a youth for months before having conversations about whom the worker should contact.

Of course, it is important to involve children/youth in the decision-making process of future placement, but given the rate of prescription medication use, one has to question how clear and well-informed the foster child is in terms of voicing his/her own concerns and preferences.  [See:  foster-kids on prescription medication  ]  Children/teens under heavy doses of meds may easily agree to things that may turn out very bad. Having the added burden of having agreed to things only makes matters worse.

3) Stick with the adoption plan.

Although youth are empowered in permanency planning, several adoption managers state that youth cannot just opt out of adoption. Kathy Waters, Florida Department of Children and Families adoption program and policy manager, quotes a youth on an advisory board: “The only time the worker listened is when I said I didn’t want to be adopted. Now I have no one.”

Florida now trains workers how to respond to a youth’s fears and concerns. “When a child says ‘I don’t want to be adopted,’ it’s the beginning of casework not a change to APPLA [Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement].”

The case of Logan Marr illustrates what can happen when a child protective service-provider tries to stick to an adoption-plan.  The insanity is fatal.

4)  Rely on birth and foster families.

A key outcome of case mining is adoptions by birth family members.

However, later the following example reflects how far a state will go to look for birth-family members who would in fact, be willing to adopt:

A few years ago, senior adoption staff from around Florida helped Miami increase adoptions by meeting with foster parents to discuss how they could make adoption possible. As Bob Rooks, director of Florida’s Adoption Information Center, explains, “The state never lost sight of foster parents as a valuable resource.”

Given the level of abuse in foster homes, it may be very naive for placement specialists to believe foster parents would make ideal permanent placement choices.  This point is made very clear in the Victor and Nubia Doctor case , as readers should read and reread the news article,  Abuse clues in Fla. twins case put spotlight on child services .

5)  Provide leadership.

 Staff in each state emphasize the critical role of high-level support for children’s services and adoption. In Florida, for example, Governor Crist identified adoption as priority during his election campaign and appointed a state chief child advocate when he took office.

It's interesting to see how Florida's foster/adoption system is becoming a focus.  As many people know, election campaigns fight for symbolic issues, ("Family Values"), using children and/or the elderly as bait. Governor Crist may have identified adoption as a priority in his election campaign, but what attention was given to the  (prescription)drug-problem in Florida's  foster care,  before and after he got into office?  Surely a driven man building political platforms would have known how bad the drug-problem was for the in-care population... wouldn't he?  [One cannot push the adoption-option without knowing the details  that  define the downfalls that go with foster-care.   One has to wonder why foster care is so unfit for a developing child, and why so many believe unmonitored adoption will right those wrongs.]

6)  Partner with private agencies.

States have varying relationships with private agencies. All of Florida’s child welfare services are contracted to Community Based Care (CBC) agencies, and those agencies typically subcontract adoption-related services.

Again, Florida is given thumbs-up rated approval, but those in-the-know know Florida is one of the most commercial adoption systems with many dubious lawyers and agencies operating there.  [Utah being another state that ought to be studied VERY closely...]  Florida is also the largest supplier of children for the European adoption market, making it a state to watch as adoption agencies like Amici dei Bambini pitch their own adoption campaigns to eager and anxious candidates.

7)  Focus on teamwork.

Each state also cites teamwork as a key factor in its success. In small states, like New Hampshire and Wyoming, collaboration is easier. All 12 district offices in New Hampshire meet at least monthly to work on permanency plans and assign tasks to keep the plans moving ahead.

8)  Improve court performance.

In Tennessee, several private agencies identified court delays as a barrier to timely adoptions. The agencies reduced adoption delays by training court staff; one even housed a staff member at the court to improve collaboration.
Florida recently held a statewide dependency summit for judges and attorneys at which judges trained their peers on how to expedite TPR. In New Hampshire, a committee of judges, administrators, and social workers is establishing new protocols to enhance court practice.

TPR = Termination of Parental Rights.

9)  Expand post-adoption services.

Through the program, families can access support groups, be referred to services, and receive more intensive, short-term, home-based services.

Well, this might explain why so many AP's show a growing interest in Attachment Therapy... and maybe why some foster kids don't WANT to live with an agency-approved family.

Conclusion:

Finding families for youth takes leadership, collaboration, creativity, and commitment.

So what does the state get as a reward for increasing foster care adoptions?

<drum roll>

The Adoption Assistance Program.  A program the grants federal funds to help facilitate "the timely placement of children, whose special needs or circumstances would otherwise make it difficult to place, with adoptive families".

Additional Funding Available
The Department of Health and Human Services announced the release of $187 million authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support adoption assistance and foster care programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Nearly $98 million will support adoption assistance programs, while nearly $89 million will go to foster care programs.
[From: Title IV-E Adoption Assistance and Foster Care Programs ]

Now, keep-up with me, because in Adoptionland, there are those who would argue not enough is being done to support the adopter during tax-time, AND will also argue long-term mandatory monitoring of APs/Afamilies would be an invasion of privacy, (you know, because back-ground checks and the home-study, done by trained, state-licensed social workers weed out the bad adoption candidate). 

<ROLLING EYES>

The key word in all of this is, of course, "timely", because who wants an increase number of kids sucking state funding and "languishing" in poor foster homes, with crap foster parents, if they can be adopted by licensed/approved foster/adoptive parents?

Are we picking-up on the punch-line yet?

Because I DOOOOOOO love to remind readers which "chosen" "home-studied" "agency approved" adoptive parents not only stole money from tax payers, not only ripped-off the government by making bogus tax claims "entitling" them to ridiculous tax breaks, but also did the lovely favor of abusing - (in some cases even killed and kept the bodies hidden) - children put in their care, thanks to "timely" adoptions and "thorough" investigations done by state licensed professionals AND agencies that receive money from... the federal government.

Great, great stuff... isn't it?

[The UK's "adoption crisis" doesn't look so bad, in comparison, does it?] 

Pound Pup Legacy