Okay, so I’ve been gone a while. A loooong while. Reasons for being gone aren’t important or interesting enough to share. Lol. What is important is to let you know where we’re at; we haven’t started the adoption process yet, but we are still working toward it. And so, I’m going to work toward blogging again.
So today’s post is a brilliant and insightful post from another blog that I came across today while searching Pinterest for Foster Care Adoption during lunch. It’s from a blog called When Foster Care Goes Right, and the post is called A Letter.
Something I think about a lot is what challenges we’ll face with our kids when they move in with us. I’ve heard stories that range from adopted children showing mild opposition and defiance to attempts to start World War III. I wonder to myself where we’ll fall. I’ve always been the type to expect the worst and hope for the best. That way if you get the best, or at least on the better end, it’s a nice surprise. If you don’t, you’re not shocked and disappointed. Some would call that pessimistic. To me, pessimistic would be not even bothering to hope for the best because I’m convinced the worst will happen regardless, so don’t even bother. I prefer to think of it as bracing myself for what’s (potentially), to come. I also wonder sometimes if bracing myself will be enough, and if I’ll be up to the challenge as much as I think I am.
I would say I’m prepared for the worst. Well, let me rephrase that to, I’m fully accepting of the worst case scenario being a possibility. I wouldn’t say I’m prepared yet. Heck, once we’re trained and home study approved, I don’t know if you can ever say you’re prepared for the worst. Reading and hearing about it is entirely different than living it first hand.
I’ve read over and over that kids will try to defy you and push you away because they’ve lost so much in their short lives. Partially because they want to test to see just how willing you are to stick it out, and also, part of them figures it’s easier for them to push you away and have you give up, than for them to get somewhat comfortable or attached, and have their world fall apart yet again when this plan falls through like all the others. Better to hurt and not love, than to love and lose. Again. Those are some pretty serious lessons to learn as a kid. Especially when the first lessons originate with your birth family.
When I read this blog post today, I was reminded about how out of control these children must feel. Being moved from case worker to case worker, school to school, and home to home. How it must feel to have all these people making decisions about you and for you because they’re doing it in your best interest, when it seems like your best interest is the last thing they have in mind. It’s no wonder they sometimes lash out. In a life of volatility and upheaval, their only constant becomes perpetuating a cycle of instability. There’s comfort (albeit minimal), in chaos.
For those who think kids coming from foster care are bad kids, or maybe brought their fate upon themselves, I think this letter gives a different perspective and insight into the reason behind their behavior. For those not familiar with the foster care system and what these children go through, again, it offers insight, but also might be an eye opener. For me, I think it will also be a good reminder to reflect on when the wide-eyed newbie version of me, green to the world of parenting, has been worn down by daily battles of seeing who can last the longest. A reminder to remember that my battle is trivial in comparison, and despite their size, I’m fighting a grizzled veteran who’s battled through much worse than I ever have. A veteran that still needs to be loved, especially when they’re doing everything they can not to be.
Okay, so I read this article recently and my instant reaction was heartbreak. Apparently, there is a booming business for prosthetic silicone baby bumps in China. The company in the article does international business as well, but stated that most of the international purchases are costume/entertainment industry based.
In China however, women are buying these bellies (which can be bought in different monthly increments so your belly mimics a real pregnancy), to hide the fact they are adopting or using a surrogate to grow their family. Infertility in China is sadly on an upward and rapid climb as of late. So I’m going to assume for the sake of this argument, that the women purchasing these bellies fall within this category, and that’s the reason they’re chosing to adopt or go with a surrogate. Also, the fact they’re trying to cover up using these two methods, also tells me that they likely have infertility issues. Those that can have their own children, but choose adoption, or surrogacy, usually have no shame in admitting they’ve chosen that route.
When I read this, my heart broke for a number of reasons. First off, the fact that these women don’t want anyone to know they’re adopting or using a surrogate, implies that they don’t want people to know they have fertility issues. This is where my heart began it’s initial downward drop. These women obviously haven’t come to terms with their infertility. Which I know first hand, is not an easy thing to do. It took me the better part of ten years to accept it. Not get over it, but just accept it. I’ll admit, there were times I would push my tummy out and imagine a baby bump growing beneath my clothes. I longed for that bump, and everything that came with it; the good, the bad, the ugly. Hell, if I had access to one of these silicone bellies, I know I would have tried it on! I longed for that day that never came. So I get the pain and want for something you’ve been denied that it seems everyone in the universe has. There was a period where the grieving of the bio child/children I would never have felt some days like it was bringing me to my knees. Again, I get it. That said, I can’t imagine getting to the point that you’d choose to wear a prosthesis. That is a whole ‘nother level of grief that I thankfully never reached. In reality, just trying it on would probably have been more torture on top of everything else I was already going through. So wearing one for nine months??? There are no words for the empathy I feel for these women compelled to do this.
Now something that I have considered, is that I don’t know the cultural values the Chinese place on fertility. So perhaps this rise of prosthetic bump demand is culturally based. Is it shameful for you to not be able to bear children in their culture? Is adoption frowned upon? I don’t know, and I did do a very superficial search on it before blogging this, but couldn’t really find anything substantial. The only thing I did find was that domestic adoptions were on the rise in China. I’d like to think that it’s because they value their children, and realize there are far too many without forever homes, to keep adding to the population. That may be the case, however, it doesn’t take research to figure out if the infertility rate is climbing and adoption rates are climbing….. Add to that baby bump demand is also on the rise, it seemingly indicates that there is shame in not being able to bear children. If that is the case, and these women are feeling shamed into hiding their infertility with the added insult of having to don a prothesis, well, that’s just tragic. Infertility can already be catalyst toward emotional instability. One certainly does not need yet another accelerant to usher them further down the path of depression.
My next thought, was how important it is to have accepted your infertility before pursuing adoption. Adoption agencies will want to ensure this during your homestudy if you express infertility being the reason you are pursuing adoption. It is so incredibly important for you, and for the children you adopt. I’ve discussed previously how I will never “be over” my infertility, and it grates on every fibre of my being when I hear someone say that. For some women, it’s easier than others. I’ve heard from some women that they never went through a dramatic grieving process. Everyone is different. But for those who have a harder time dealing with this diagnosis, I can tell you, you likely will never be “fine” with it. Infertility and I have come to an understanding, and I can honestly say that I have completely accepted it. Actually, my acceptance of it, is what allowed me to finally consider adoption. If you haven’t already, you can read about my journey to acceptance here. Had I not reached the point of acceptance (even if I was at the post pinacle side of my grief), there is no way I could have gone through with adopting, nor should I. Adoption is an arduous and emotional process. It makes you do a lot of introspective thinking, and some of that thinking that can get very personal, when you have to share in your homestudy with a social worker. So adoption is not for the feint of heart. You have to be ready and open to deal with your emotions, and not just about being infertile. So naturally, if you’re not actually at the point of acceptance, adoption can create a very serious emotional upheaval and possible instability. You owe it to yourself to be happy and healthy, as much as you owe it to your adoptive children. Anything else is just asking for disaster for all involved.
Lastly, but certainly not least, I think my heart just about dropped to the floor when I thought about these poor adopted and surrogate children. They will be brought into a life coccooned by this secret. Will they be aware of it? Perhaps not. One would assume that being the parents are faking a pregnancy, they will likely keep their child inthe dark about their origins as well. If so, they will have similar genetic features to their parents, which would make it easier to disguise them as biological children. They will have more genetic similarity to their parents than say, a Chinese child adopted by two Caucasian parents in an international adoption.
So I guess in this instance, one could say, what you don’t know won’t hurt you. But don’t you find that secrets always seem to have a way of surfacing? Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but somewhere down the line. And the longer they lay dormant, the greater the devastation they seem to unleash when they see the light of day. I can’t even imagine what it would that be for a child, or an adult to discover they were brought into the world shrouded in some shameful family secret? Just as there should be no shame in infertility, there should be no shame in growing your family through adoption or surrogacy. Ultimately it shouldn’t matter how you came to be your child; when the end result of being loved and wanted is the same as it is for biological children. That’s how it should be looked at. Sometimes though, cultural influences and beliefs trump logic.
A friend said to me recently, that people who want to be happy, should not search for happiness because they will never find it. To find happiness, you must find your truth. This resonated with me because I am a firm believer in knowing your truth. In the case of adoption, if someone is the holder of your truth, I believe they should turn it over to you. Letting someone live their life under the pretense of a lie, even if you think you’re saving them from pain, even if they’re never the wiser, is just plain wrong. You’re messing with their essence. Something far bigger than you, or the heart you hold it in. Something that doesn’t belong to you. It’s not yours to keep.
When I first started hanging out with my friend E (who has herself adopted from foster care and is studying to become a child case worker), I asked her if there were any books she could recommend for me to read that would be helpful in understanding adoption. She immediately recommended this one. It took me a while before I got around to reading it, but once I started, I couldn’t put it down.
Three Little Words is a memoir written by a young girl who was taken into care at the age of three, and stayed there for nine years, while travelling through fourteen foster care placements. (I’d like to tell you that her story is a rare exception, but sadly, that’s not the case.) She was separated from siblings in one placement, then reunited with them in another, only to be separated from them once again. For those not familiar with foster care, some of her story could be quite shocking. Even though this was not the first tragic story I had heard, the one entry that still took me aback was found at the end of the book.
When I reviewed the spreadsheet that listed everyone in South Carolina and Florida who had been responsible for my case, I was amazed by how many there were. I counted:
73 child welfare administrators
44 child welfare caseworkers
19 foster parents
17 psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists
5 Guardian ad Litem staff
4 court personnel
3 abuse registry workers
2 primary caseworkers
1 Guardian ad Litem
To see it all written and tallied like that, really puts it into perspective. It reinforces their feelings of instability due to the constant rotation of people these children experience in their lives.
That said, this book was not a wholly depressing recollection. Sad, infuriating, and heartbreaking at times, yes. Absolutely. But there were also bright spots in her journey where people advocated for her and attempted to make a difference in her young life. Eventually, the ending sees the bright spot become a constant glow, instead of succumbing to darkness time and time again.
Ashley Rhodes-Courter’s ability to convey her feelings and thoughts in a child like manner, give you an insightful look into why children in care sometimes act out. It helps one to understand why they sometimes look to sabotage their chances at a forever family that they so desperately need and want. Her account of her experience in care will penetrate further, and with more meaning than a clinical textbook explanation will. I know this story will resonnate with me forever, and will always be accelerant to my desire to speak out about helping children in foster care.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m recommending you go grab yourself a copy sooner than later. 😉
*Disclaimer* I was not supplied a copy of this book, or given any other form of reimbursement in exchange for this review, from the author, or anyone affiliated with this publication.
I watched this video recently, and as heartbreaking as it is, it offers a very accurate depiction of the issue of children languishing in foster care. This video is from the UK, but is reflective of the same issue children in foster care face here in Canada, as well as the US. There are a myriad of components contributing to why children stay so long in care, but in this video, we see two of the main reasons; waiting for children to be emancipated from their birth parents and become legally available for adoption, and the challenge of social workers to find homes for older children and siblings.
The hardest part of watching this, is probably the realization, that these beautiful little souls are three cases of thousands in just their country alone. If you’re considering adoption, perhaps you could also consider being the happy ending to a story like these.