Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The End Result

I keep thinking about the adoptees I've met that have no contact with their adoptive parents. No calls, no visits. How does this happen?

Rewind:  let’s pretend we are a young couple who get devastating news we can’t have a baby.  Our friends suggest adoption.
We see on a TV commercial there are orphans to save so we are determined to adopt one of those poor abandoned babies. Our first contact is the social worker in our state and the adoption agency we choose from the phone book.  Next we enroll to become certified foster parents and do a home study. We watch JUNO and get excited a teenager might choose us.  We soon find out there aren’t babies available in American and a private adoption could cost up to $100K plus attorney fees. We see another TV commercial and consider open adoption but friends warn us we’d have contact with the baby’s mother and we can only imagine how awkward or risky that could be - what if the mother changes her mind and takes her baby back.
In our foster training classes for 12 weeks, we decide an older child is not going to work for us. Some of them come from broken homes and drug addicts. We want a newborn so they will bond with us.

So we decide on international adoption after watching another TV commercial. We know it’s expensive so we start a blog to raise money and friends at church hold a few pancake breakfasts. We think we’ll adopt from Russia or China so we meet with a new adoption agency, recommended by our other adoption agency. We blog our journey.
At this point, we have no clue what it’s like for the baby adoptee. We can only imagine how grateful they will be to come to America and have us for parents. We’ll give them everything they need and love them unconditionally.

OK, that’s it. This is the extent of their education, only what they are told by a few friends, the social worker and TV commercials. (It's like they live in a fairy cloud based on their hopes.)

The couple gets defensive when someone posts a comment on their fundraising blog that they should really investigate and learn more about adoptees, what they are really like, how they feel. Someone else suggests they need to know more about adoptee disorders like severe narcissistic injury or reactive attachment disorder. They are not interested in hearing the bad stuff. They are good people and won’t be discouraged by some angry adoptee or mother who claims she was coerced into giving up her baby. They aren’t fully aware there are baby brokers in some countries who steal babies to be sold into adoption.

Fast forward:  They are very surprised their child cannot bond as they were expecting and disappointed their child is not happy to be adopted or grateful. They find out eventually adoptees usually need some form of therapy. Their social worker is not required to check on the baby or the couple. Their lawyer gets paid and he’s gone on to the next couple. They never imagined adoptees would want to search for their families and could end contact with them once they are reunited.

End result: insufficient education or ignorance? (Encouraged by the billion dollar adoption industry.)
Trace A. DeMeyer is the author of One Small Sacrifice: A Memoir and blogs at American Indian Adoptees: She took foster care training in Oregon in the 1990s and did not adopt a baby.