Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Plan for a Search

Finding Mom Y for KC was eye opening.  I didn't realize how many adoptive families (not to mention the non adoptive friends and my extended family) would feel threatened by the search for a first mother.  I am amazed. I am also glad that my child decided to do this now because I  was the one who got the wonky questions, not him.  I do understand that all the people who asked the questions and made comments like "but he needs to understand she decided not to raise him" love him.  I get that they feel threatened by this search.  I wish they could understand that love is not parcelled out from a small finite dish.  Giving love to Mom Y does not mean less love to give to them, if you can follow my babbling here.

I picture a child at an older age, doing a search on their own, and hearing those comments.  And feeling even more lost and confused.  Not good.  So for the record, I think all adoptive famiilies should go into this family structure with a plan for finding first family members. A real plan.  And I didn't have one.  All I had was my pack rat and scrapbooking tendencies that had made me keep every scrap of paper for everything related to my kids homecoming.  Be honest with yourself and your own family.  Accept the fact that your child may want to search.  Embrace the fact that this will be a likely outcome and resolve to help him.  I think saying "if they should decide to search as an adult, I will not mind" is a huge cop out.  And I feel that I can make that judgement because those very words came out of my own mouth at at least one of our home study meetings.

The sad thing is that those words satisfy most social workers.  That isn't enough, folks.  Not nearly. Because if we distance ourselves from the process-- If we say we must "wait' till adulthood or some other arbitrary age, we make our children feel that this very natural desire is wrong and counter to what they should really feel. I look at it that those actions are requiring them to emotionally choose who to bond with and love, and that is wrong.

Adoption agencies need to re-think their stance too.  There must be a way that they can be more supportive of adoptive children in the search.  I guess it is unreasonable to accept actual help from them but in an ideal world there would be an arm of the agency that did just that. At the very least, they could have an informational brochure on how to start a search and agencies such as the one I wound up using, that can facilitate a search for a fee.

I have to say that our home study agency (which is not the agency we adopted through as it was an out of state adoption for KC and Lissa both) was very supportive.  They gave me a few ideas early on when I wrote to them asking for help (and I'll be  honest, for validation that I was doing the right thing).  They also volunteered to facilitate the contact somehow if I was not comfortable doing this myself. I am not quite sure what that would have looked like, but didn't need it.  I did appreciate the offer, though.  I wrote to both agencies right after we heard from Mom Y.  I immediately heard back from the wonderful home study agency. They were supportive, and they reminded me that I should ask her for a picture as well.  In the flurry of excitement, I had forgotten that and I am glad for the reminder!  Somewhat tellingly, I have heard nothing from the adoption agency itself.


bkwildandwonderful said...

I totally agree with you. I think KC is very lucky to have someone who supports him in this. It is so much better than kids fantasizing about their birth parents. And you are right... the ability to help them process this all as it unfolds is really amazing. I wish my children had had open adoptions. For me, it is totally non threatening.. I just see it as a bigger circle encompassing my children.

Anonymous said...

I am glad that your search turned out well. I imagine it turns out well when the bioparent voluntarily relinquished the child. However, in the case of an involuntary termination of parental rights searching is most likely not a good thing.

I am the stepparent of a woman whose parental rights were terminated once and who is in the process of having them terminated again. The first time the child was adopted by the foster parents who had had him since he was 4 weeks old. They felt badly for my stepdaughter and told her that they would provide contact. They did try to provide contact but unfortunately my stepdaughter and her husband acted in such a way that they had no choice but to stop contact.

Stepdaughter and her husband do not accept any responsibility for their actions and if given any contact would try to undermine the adoptive parents. They constantly state that when the child turns 18 and comes to find them he will move out of the home he has lived in since he was a month old and move in with them and never see the adoptive parents again.

Stepdaughter and husband had another child ten years later. They did the exact same things that got their rights terminated the first time and still say that they are in the right and the court is wrong. We are currently waiting for the final ruling which most likely (99.99%) will terminate their rights.

Are my husband and I sad about this? Yes. Do we think stepdaughter and husband should regain custody? Absolutely not.
Do I wish there would be contact after the adoption? Yes, but contact with the bioparents is, in this case, not in the child's best interests.

I love the idea of the big circle encompassing the child, but sometimes no contact is the best for the child who has been adopted due to parental termination of rights.

Lee said...

I understand what you are saying but the fact that the adoptive family tried to have some contact even though it didn't work out is really important. Your stepdaughter and her husband are part of that child's history and family and they will need to know those painful truths at some point. It is in my opinion better to be up front about what the issue is and to have tried than to not have the knowledge of their family. I also have a situation with one of my kids that would be similar to that which you describe. However we have been able to keep contact with extended first family members. It was tough to build those relationships at first but it did work out and I think everyone feels a lot more comfortable with things now. You are right though, all my planning is said and done with the safety of children being first.