Desperate in Adoptionland

I read the final verdict given to Hot Sauce Mom.  [See:  Alaska's 'Hot Sauce' Mom Sentenced to 3 Years of Probation, Fine, for Child Abuse ]

Anyone notice how "desperate" has become a very over-used word by adopters in Adoptionland?

In fact, I'm in awe how "desperate" seems to operate within the adoption industry.  "Desperate" gets people to do rather hopeless acts as a means to survive  something, somehow.  Perhaps "desperate" makes for an easy way out... an escape.  I'm not entirely sure, but I do see "desperate" has become a working word - an excuse - one that creates many problems in Adoptionland, as I'd like to demonstrate.

  • Desperate to save lives has inspired some "desperate" people to airlift orphans after natural disaster, well before the dust has settled long enough to determine which families have been separated, and which child has been orphaned. [See: Church, immigrant groups plan to airlift Haitian orphans to South Florida]
  • Desperate to create something good has moved some "desperate" people to do and say just about anything to get a "friend's" approval and recommendation that will help complete a Home Study  [See:  What's in a "Home Study"? ]
  • Desperate to make a positive difference in the world has motivated many "desperate" people to adopt as a way to help the financially fallen, giving rise to child traffic rings around the globe.  [See: Economic distress drives parents to desperate measures ]

But what boggles my mind is the way in which "desperate" mothers will treat the children they so desperately wanted, back when the pregnancy was a paper-one.  [See:  US Mother Returns Adopted Russian Boy like Pair of Shoes.]  Granted, being returned like a pair of unwanted shoes is far less brutal that being chopped into pieces and stored in mummy's basement freezer.  Nevertheless, the pain and shame of not being wanted -- not being good enough, is deeply felt.  When I talk to abused/abandoned adoptees, it's often said "Abortion would have been a mercy killing".   Imagine the pro-choice lobby using that argument, as rabid pro-lifers bomb abortion clinics.

I understand the complaints "desperate" adoptive parents are making:  they claim they lacked support; they were not properly prepared/trained by their adoption agency to care for children with such desperate needs.  To say they were ill-prepared to parent an adopted child properly is an understatement.

So let's look at some of the reasons why PAPs are so ill-prepared and without much outside support.

Is pride, ego, and arrogance a strong factor?  Maybe. In some cases, definitely.

I think, however, the number one reason behind poor PAP preparation and lame adoption support services is simple.  The adoption industry, as a whole, is motivated by financial greed and gain.   Few agencies are interested in using their not-for-profit revenue to go towards good quality  teaching preparatory courses for the parents-to-be.  Instead, those monies earned (from required fees) are put towards salaries given to the upper echelon of agency directors and CEOs.  In addition, far too many  adoption agencies are "desperate" to stay in business.  This means the smaller mom-pop agency  needs fewer outside costs. ( Can't get hooks in a popular sending country? Try a new up and coming country where orphanage fees run cheap.)  Lowering overall costs may also mean no matter what the size of the agency, minimal care and follow-up will be given to each individual adoption plan, which happens to carry with it expensive required service fees.  (Can't provide a service that helps train the poorly adapting child? Send a lame unchecked referral for a therapy that may turn-out lethal.)  And let us not forget one final ingredient in this recipe for adoption disaster.  Any "desperation" felt by the orphanage or adoption agency will fall upon the PAP, who will blindly agree to pay higher cash fees, (because that's how desperation works in Adoptionland). 

There's another problem with this desperation to succeed in Adoptionland.  It seems to me, most adoption agencies will approve just about anyone with a decent line of credit, provided there is no blatantly obvious criminal record glaring back at the review board.  (How else can we explain some of the AP's found in the PPL abuse-cases?) Bottom line: the screening of PAPs is not as rigrous or complete as it should be.  Last but not least, it seems most adoption agencies will not concern themselves with the way in which so-called orphans are made available for adoption.  (Don't mind the claims of kidnapping, really, trust me, the adoption was legal!)

Gone are the days where a cleft lip, mitral valve prolapse, or Down's Syndrome is the worst and most demanding of "special needs".   In my book, caring for the traumatized abducted child from a non-English speaking part of the world is a pretty big "special need" adoptee, but I'm funny that way.  These days PAPs just love the kids with "special needs".  It looks so damn good on a resume, blog, or facebook page..., just don't hint at child trafficking... no desperate AP wants that association.

We can easily blame the adoption agencies for the wrongs is each adoption that fares badly. However, as bad as many of these adoption agencies may be, good common sense needs to prevail.  Personal responsibility, had by the parent-to-be, must be present, somewhere.

Let's look at the Hot Sauce Case, and similar cases where the adopted child was too hard to handle.  [See: Torture and Forced Confinement cases, for a quick review.]

At some point, before the adoption is made final, and the child is put on the plane, the adopter needs to ask his/her self how good at parenting will that parent-figure be for a child with many complex needs if that person  A) has no training in parenting the traumatized/SN child and B) is already outnumbered by SN children, in this particular case, 3:1?  It's obvious, those who look to profit from an adoption-plan are not going to ask these difficult questions, but someone has to, for the sake of the child being displaced and moved.  In fact, those who wish to be responsible parents need to ask these questions before desperation kicks in.

Unfortunately, I fear few PAPs actually do ask themselves the more difficult questions about quality adoptive parenting.

SO....I wonder how this case is going to affect PAPs and those working the adoption industry. 

Will future adopters demand reform in the sense that adoption agencies must prove they will become more responsible and less profit-oriented for their chosen few?  Or will business in Adoptionland remain the same; business, as usual?  Will PAPs demand a stricter screening process and longer prep-periods, so when the child arrives, they WILL be prepared to handle what life has to offer?  Or will naive parent-wanna-bes continue to believe love is enough to turn a so-called orphan's life around, and the more adoptions, in one home, the merrier all will be?  How many more less-than-ideally prepared and screened PAPs will be allowed to adopt, all because someone is feeling "desperate"?  These questions remain...

This case of discipline-done-wrong helps demonstrate why desperation in Adoptionland needs to end. Desperation brings with it serious consequences, and the way I see it, both time and future case reports will reveal just how the industry - and fellow AP's - will react and respond.


what an article!

I really really like your article, Kerry.

Profound analysis and well written!  For me, this is one of the best reads in a long time.


... I appreciate the feed-back!

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