The dangers of the unprepared clueless Amother
Recently, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), a government-funded group of independent experts, addressed a comprehensive review of the available data on ways to detect maltreatment of children.
In a sobering acknowledgment, the USPSTF believes that there is not much that can be done to detect cases of child maltreatment that aren’t glaringly obvious. There’s simply not enough research to make a case for advising physicians to take specific actions during well-child visits, for example, to help determine which children are at risk. In 2010, nearly 700,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect; 1,537 of them died.
[From: Child Abuse: Why It’s So Hard to Determine Who’s at Risk, January 23, 2013 ]
The report continued:
The researchers at OHSU analyzed 11 studies that evaluated the effectiveness of child abuse and neglect prevention programs or interventions that took place in clinics — such as meetings with a social worker, for example. They gave parents questionnaires that assessed such risk factors as substance abuse, depression, stress and attitudes toward physical punishment — as well as noting whether parents were concerned that their child may have been physically or sexually abused. Doctors discussed the risk factors with parents and referred them to social workers if needed. After three years, researchers found that parents who took part in risk assessments and received social work referrals, if necessary, had decreased incidences of abuse, fewer reports to Child Protective Services (CPS) and better adherence to immunization schedules.
And still, no official correlation was made as to which parenting preparation programs work better: those made available through adoption agencies, or those made available by non-profit programs like Nurse Partnership Programs for at-risk first-time mothers.
Contrary to the report findings, I believe there is an easy way to determine who is at highest risk of experiencing hidden domestic violence and child abuse. Based on a 2006 study conducted in Australia , a staggering statistic was revealed: children under five living with a non-biological or step-parent are up to 77 times more likely to die from a violence-related injury than those living with their biological families. I think for the sake of abuse study and domestic violence prevention, and for the sake of a child's best-interest, it really behooves those concerned about the rise of child abuse rates in the USA to keep a closer eye on today's foster/adoptive home, and those seeking the adoption--option for themselves.
Interestingly, while I have found many abuse studies correlate child abuse/neglect with drug and alcohol abuse and family structure breakdown, few mention the effect poor parent preparation has on child safety and wellness in the home. And so the cycle of unrecognized abuse continues, especially when where one or both parents caring for a child are rather unprepared and clueless when it comes to demonstrating good positive parenting skills -- the type of skills that help raise a child from being a dependent needy creature to becoming an adult who is loving, confident, and very capable of independent living.
Recently I myself have been posting many pieces related to the un-fitness of a foster/adoptive parent, and how this itself is creating an alarming end-result in the form of abused adoptees. [See: Stigmas and reputations that need to be clarified and Discrimination in Adoptionland is NOT a bad thing ]
In private, I have been receiving more and more complaints coming from adoptive mothers claiming they don't know what to do with the adopted problem-child in their lives, or those who don't know how to support out of control Amothers because those mothers seem so clueless when it comes to meeting the most basic needs of an adopted child.. In turn, the women who contact me seek parenting advice and my personal opinion, because I have become so vocal via the PPL pages.
Not surprisingly, I find many of these overwhelmed women are not liking my honest response to their replies, even if all claim they respect the blunt angry adoptee's POV. My response to them reflects all that I myself post here on PPL; I remind them, as mothers, they own a major on-going responsibility to the relationship that makes a promise to a child.... that promise being, "I will not leave you, like others did". My general response to most also includes the following observations and comments:
- Adoption is a choice, and a major sacrifice. As such, much independent thought, investigation and study should go into what it means to become an adoptive parent BEFORE one foolishly falls in love with a photo.
- Adoption requires a significant amount of teaching and instruction, not to mention follow-up monitoring and guidance because today's adoptable children are far more troubled and traumatized than most want to think or believe.
- Adapting to adoption, for the child, is not an easy process. It can take years, (if not a life-time), to "get over" what caused the adoption relationship in the first place. This difficulty in adaption can easily manifest itself in "unwanted behaviors". It's the APs job to accept and assist in the process, not punish the adoptee for negative opinions.
- Parenting, no matter how good or bad the child, IS NOT EASY. Only a fool thinks being a parent is going to be a breeze. As a mother myself, I can't count how many times I wanted to take a pick-ax to my head. Why should Amothers not feel the same? Good Parenting, for all, requires an ability to teach with love, forgiveness, and acceptance. Anything less is not as good.
- Adoption requires ongoing support in the form of talk-behavioral therapy, both for the AP AND the adoptee, as exampled in the article, Romanian foster care: equipping carers to help challenging children
After spending seven years at PPL, posting as I do, what type of Amothers contact me? I'd like to introduce PPL readers to the three general types of AMothers who, in spite of really good intentions, became a clueless unprepared AP, which roughly translates into this: an adoptive parent who is a real dangerous hazard to the adopted child cursed with many complex "special needs". I will refer to these types of Amothers as:
- AmL and
In order to get a better understanding of fail-fueled adoptive parenting, one must know a little background information about each.
Each woman represents very different backgrounds and lifestyles, showing us just how diverse the adoptive mother population really is these days. Each represents the new "normal" we see in marital/sexual relationships found in the USA. One is in a traditional marriage (heterosexual); one is in an "untraditional" marriage (same-sex); and one represents the modern-day spinster -- the older single-woman who decided creating a family for herself does not require marriage, first.
In terms of their own childhood experiences, one Am came from a very abusive/dysfunctional family. The parenting role-modeling was so bad, she was repulsed by her own genetic material and the idea of reproducing. It's fascinating to note how she thought putting an end to biologic-transfer would put an end to pathological parenting, as if learned behaviors could not be passed onto a child, biologically related, or not, Another Am came from an unremarkable family, and the third Am came from "the greatest parents in the world" and according to her, she had the best childhood any person could ask for, somehow making her most fit to parent a child who turned-out to be nothing like any child found in her family..
In spite of these major differences, these three very different women share some very significant commonalities.
Each entered adoption with the belief that she had all that's needed be a really great (adoptive) mom. Each adopted a child with the conviction that all a needy child ("orphan") needs is love, and love is enough to make the parent-child relationship thrive and reward itself. Each adopted at least one "orphan" with very complex "special needs". Each chose her adoption agency with the same belief and confidence: "this agency will provide all the information, tools, and support I need to help me make the perfect family, through adoption". Each used a private adoption agency, one that specialized in ICA.
Sadly, and not all that surprising to me, each found herself in the all-too familiar scenario found in adoption-relationships that often end in disruption. Each adoptive mother freely admitted she was unable to bond to one or more adopted child, claiming "The child is too much; he/she scares me; the child is too difficult". For these women, and so many adopters just like them, the "forever family" complete with "unconditional love" (promised through an adoption agreement) has become contingent upon one thing: the adopted child's behavior has to be "good", and not at all scary or too demanding or difficult.
What baffles me is, with so much information now available through the Internet and various adoption websites/support groups, how is today's PAP so unprepared and clueless? How is it possible for any PAP to lack a decent understanding of core adoption issues (like how stress affects the traumatized child) and what it takes to properly parent today's "orphan" sent from abroad?
While I could revert to my old ways, and simply hate all adopters, I feel it's important to share what it is I have learned through PPL and the stories shared with me by some really good (patient!!) Amoms. The shortcomings found in the overwhelmed Amothers I chose to write about were made worse by and through the private adoption agencies they used, and the American Adoption Industry, as a whole. The list of failures begins with the absence of the simplest of all parent-teaching lessons all PAPs need to know and recognize as seriously significant: To my knowledge, no agency addresses abuse statistics, as they relate to the female-child relationship.
Not one Amother who contacts me has any knowledge just how easy it is for a woman to abuse a child with seemingly willful "bad behavior", and this blows my mind because it shows how little women know about the reasons and causes of violence against children. It then comes as no surprise to me that not one AMother who contacts me is familiar with Lloyd deMause (an adoptive father) and his work, The History of Child Abuse and The Evolution of Childhood , two VERY compelling reads since the first piece begins with the following:
In several hundred studies published by myself and my associates in The Journal of Psychohistory, we have provided extensive evidence that the history of childhood has been a nightmare from which we have only recently begun to awaken. The further back in history one goes--and the further away from the West one gets--the more massive the neglect and cruelty one finds and the more likely children are to have been killed, rejected, beaten, terrorized and sexually abused by their caretakers.
Indeed, my conclusion from a lifetime of psychohistorical study of childhood and society is that the history of humanity is founded upon the abuse of children. Just as family therapists today find that child abuse often functions to hold families together as a way of solving their emotional problems, so, too, the routine assault of children has been society's most effective way of maintaining its collective emotional homeostasis. Most historical families once practiced infanticide, erotic beating and incest. Most states sacrificed and mutilated their children to relieve the guilt of adults. Even today, we continue to arrange the daily killing, maiming, molestation and starvation of children through our social, military and economic activities. I would like to summarize here some of the evidence I have found as to why child abuse has been humanity's most powerful and most successful ritual, why it has been the cause of war and social violence, and why the eradication of child abuse and neglect is the most important social task we face today
How does this all fit with other failures found in and through the adoption process? In my mind, any adoption agency that does not help educate PAP about the effects poor parenting has on a child, and any agency that does not help prepare an AP for the stress and strain child behavior can bring (and easily trigger an unprepared parent), that agency is not ensuring a child's best interests and greatest needs (safety and guidance) are not going to be met through adoption.
In AmK's case, the very reputable adoption agency (with a very long history of great success with foreign adoptions) failed both Amother and Achildren put in her care, in many ways. First, this agency encouraged her to become a mega-adopter. (At no point did they tell this married woman, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 children with extensive "special needs" was too many for two average adults to handle). Second, this agency did not tell her that the third child she was going to receive had been sexually abused, repeatedly. She was approved over and over again to "save orphans" but she was given NO TOOLS, NO GUIDANCE, NO PREPARATION in terms of what is needed to help heal and re-mold such a wounded child. Instead, she was encouraged to adopt MORE children with "special needs". The end-result was tragic, yet not at all surprising: The most difficult child, the one with the most complex emotional needs, Not only became sexual with the family pet, he became sexual with the youngest child with the most physical deformities. That third adopted child among seven was eventually sent to live in a RTC. If/when he will get out has yet to be determined. All children in that home had to endure what should have been prevented, through the very "reputable" adoption agency.
In AmL's case, the private adoption agency she used promoted itself as an agency that was going to help save abandoned orphans, and promote single-parent/GLBT adoptions. The two children put in her care both have very different personalities and needs. The oldest child is male, and an obvious favorite to the women in-charge. His temper tantrums are many; their excuses for his behaviors are shameful. The younger child, a girl, has been almost forgotten. Her neglect and feelings of displacement manifest themselves when she is at other people's homes. [She has become a real social terror.] Home-life is rather trraditional: one partner works full-time, assuming the more traditional "male" role, while the other stays home, favoring the son. No agency rep visits this family to see how many times they have moved, switched schools, and changed various parts of their lives, all to please the young spoiled unhappy prince they have at home. I strongly believe It will only be a matter of time before the neglected little girl will act-out more, no doubt "shocking" both clueless women approved to adopt when they should otherwise have been told "No!". But try warning them about that...
AmM, in my mind, represents the worst and most typical of unprepared clueless APs out there. She asserts herself as the victim of a difficult adoption, and is in constant need of sympathy. She claims she has read all the best adoption books, has spoken to all the social workers, and has consulted every AP she knew and knows as to how to parent an angry adoptee. The adopted child was abandoned by his birthmother; before living in-care, he lived on the streets. He was moved to America, thanks to this single-woman's dream to have a child who will love her unconditionally. Since his stay, he has been bullied at school; he has been made fun by others because he has an accent and is not as quick as fellow students, making work at school very difficult. As a single-parent, with no family support system, she has been left alone to be all roles and fulfill all the many needs a young boy in that situation really needs. She is expected to be mothering nurturer, mentoring male-figure and round-the-clock care-taker, all while she goes to work/earn an income for herself and her son. She gets no breaks, and is unable to recognize how firm boundaries and set limits are an act of love to a child living in single-parent chaos. While I really empathize with her many difficult struggles, my empathy is limited since she, more than the other two , sees herself as the victimized martyr who never asked to be hated by the child who never asked to be "saved" by a single-female American adopter.
It's hard to pity the woman who failed to see how difficult single-parenting a child (now a growing teenage boy ) would be for her and the child who was handed a rough life. As a result, many of his own unresolved abandonment/adoption issues have morphed into something much bigger and complicated. It's hard to support the Amother who does not want to follow advice that involves more work and therapy, but instead complains how all she wanted was love, not the "scary bully" she got through an adoption plan. To date, she's torn: does she use the ever-popular underground adoptive parent networks that help re-home unwanted adoptees, or does she stay with her "forever" son, even if doing so would require a lot more work from her. These are difficult choices for a woman who had a dream childhood but now finds her own dream-family (made possible through private adoption) got too rough and out of control, and not at all as described by the pro-adoption brochures promoted by the community she molded herself into.
Truth be told, it would not surprise me one bit if the AmL and AmM types are blogging all their woes on the Internet, earning sympathy and really bad parenting advice from other APs, which will only make matters worse, not better, for their older adopted children.
And yet where are the private adoption agencies?
They are doing well. Whether the adoption facilitators are still with the original agencies, or have moved to another popular child trade-group (working hard to maintain/increase adoption sales and profits), you can damn well bet more child-trade agreements will fall into one of the above described arrangements, thanks to the government's inability to recognize where the high-risk groups of child abuse and parental neglect exist.
Is this more than a little frustrating for the adult adoptee to know and witness? You bet.