Saturday, June 27, 2009

Disturbing Treatment of Adopted Teens

We have long known that adoptees are overrepresented in special ed classes and institutional care of all kinds from group homes to mental health facilities to prisons.

It is seldom we get conformation of this phenomenon.

Heartlight is a residential "counseling opportunity" (albeit by no choice of their own) for struggling adolescents; a Christian boarding school and therapeutic program for "troubled teens" in East Texas.

Mark Gregston the founder of Heartlight writes that “more than one-third of all the kids who have ever come live at to our Heartlight residential counseling program have come from adoptive families” who have “rescued them years before,”

These children are basically being punished and incarcerated for being behavioral problems because of their difficulty understanding their adoptions and feelings of abandonment. Yet, not mention is made of any efforts to restore to them the missing pieces of their shattered lives to create integration of all of the aspects that any person who they are: genetics and environmental influences – nature and nurture. No efforts is indicted to help their adopters understand that these children were born into families that should be embraced as one does one’s in-laws, especially for the sake of children who are the grandchildren of both families. And, as is recommended by all family therapists and family court judges in divorce to avoid children in the middle, having to take sides and chose.

Instead the parents of these troubled teens are told that it was God’s will that they were torn from their natural families.


maryanne said...

That is horribly nasty. No kid adopted or not should get sent to one of these "Christian" concentration camps. More like the Inquisition than therapy.

I hate the idea that God arranges adoptions. No He/She doesn't! The whole idea of God micromanaging human lives seems creepy in light of the awful, sad and painful lives some children lead, due to disease, poverty, abuse etc. Many bad things are caused not by God or fate but by human faults. Other things are just "shit happens".

Where an adopted child lands up is the luck of the draw, not fate or God's will, and we well know that adoptive parents are just as flawed as biological parents and just as prone to be crazy, abusive, addicted etc.

Adopted kids having problems need understanding, respect, and therapy that deals with their real needs and individual problems, not a lot of punitive Fundamentalist Christian bullshit. Some of their problems are probably adoption-related, some not, but at least rule out first what Joyce Pavao calls "normative" issues for adoptees which do have to with identity and search. Find the birthfamilies, get the history, then sort out what is genetic and what is environmental or inborn in the child's problems.

AdoptAuthor said...

Absolutely! And the worst case of victim blaming for adopted kids is so-called attachment disorder. Take an institutionalized kid to a totally new culture and language and then think there anything less than normal that he is having trouble immediately filling the shoes of the child who might have been to you. Who needs the therapeutic adjustment?? Obviously the parents loving under the myths that "love can cure all" and it's "just as if born to you". Lack of proper preparedness on the part of adopters! Society hands anyone who can PAY a child! No required dealing with their loss of fertility (or the death of a child) and no dealing with false expectations and REALITY!! (But of course, all of adoption is non-reality based fiction and lies with a false BC to prove it.)

Instead, add to the burden of the child having to be a replacement and fill others' expectations instead of just being loved and cared for for who they are and the trauma they've been through!!

Not to toot my own horn, but I spoke of all of this in my first book in 1988! The really sad part if that things have gotten worse and not better n this regard as private adoption is the major form nowadays, and even "non-profit" agencies have bottoms lines that are in jeopardy - and the vast majority is international.

Because they don't want the kids from foster care - who are too damaged! All part of the mythical illusions of adoption placed on already vulnerable children!

sad, sad, sad...

There is a major section of Stork market that deals with kids who just DUMPED! Many in these residential treatment centers - never to be reclaimed by their aps! And the int adoptedees have almost no chance of being reunified - as Julie was able to her do to get her son back so many decades ago, from one these res treatment centers!

O Solo Mama said...

I feel very sorry for these kids. Adopted kids also have a high rate of school failure/learning problems. It has been documented for so long and cannot be denied.

However, as long as adoptive parents cloak themselves in the mantle of God's "rescuers," these kids are going to feel even worse. It's difficult enough for a natural child to go through not fitting in with the family, acting out and the whole group-home scenario. An adopted child has many more issues to deal with. Each failure, I imagine, makes things worse. These kids need unconditional love, not fundamentalist crap, as Maryanne put it so well. Fundamentalisms of any ilk never help.

O Solo Mama said...

However, Mirah, you do tend to go overboard at times. I'm on a campaign to stop people from over-generalizing. Overgeneralizing does not add to you case. It only detracts from it. Why all the pointy fingers with each post?

Lorraine Dusky said...

Just a side note: One of our friends had a son who simply decided to stop going to school at the end of the tenth grade...eventually he went to a boot camp, and then to a special school (Roaring Brook); a look at the website a couple of years ago stressed that it had special counseling for adopted kids. It's more hidden today at the website, but it's still there. Yet although some are willing (thank you osolomama) to recognize that these stats exist, many many people who are otherwise intelligent deny it. Prof. Elizabeth Bartholet and the passel of attorneys who debated me on the McNeal-Lerher Report the day of the Baby Jessica/Anna turnover insisted, angrily and loudly, that all such research was GARBAGE.

It's very hard not to be angry and point fingers when the other side has been tarring us for years with smears and lies.

Anonymous said...

What about the Christians who take tax deductable donations so they can adopt? They arrange for friends and relatives to donate money tax free through organizations that skirt tax laws. Then they thank their god for the free money. Sickening.

I could never believe in a god who would "bless" adoptive parents with grants and tax free donations to adopt while simultaneously withholding support from the child's original family.

Agree regarding attachment disorder. Does it not occur to some people that some behaviours are normal for some circumstances, like when you're terrified because you can't communicate, don't know where you are, who you are with, or why you are there?

an adoptive mom

Dave Bolthouse said...

Heartlight is hardly a Christian concentration camp. It's a place that offers hope to families who find themselves in situation that if they don't get help, all is just going to get worse, and everything will deteriorate. I can't think of a family that hasn't been thankful for a place for their child to go when everything at home isn't working....and I can't think of any one of the 600 adopted kids that haven't been thankful that there was a place to go.

Call any of the staff to the kids, do some research....and be thankful that there are people in the world who care for those that are hurting and willing to sacrifice to help people through that hurt.

Go to and get his newsletter, read his books, listen to his radio programs Parenting Today's Teens, attend his seminars, and see what board of directors he serves on....America World Adoption....and find out what his heart is, how he approaches these kids, and his relationship with those that live at Heartlight....

Parents don't dump there kids there. They don't leave them, or expect that someone else is supposed to take care of a problem. They place their kids there because they want to engage at a deeper relationship, learn to help their child through issues their child is facing, and embrace a sense of hope amidst a situation that has become very difficult.

O Solo Mama said...

Mr. Bolthouse, I think what Mirah was getting at was the absence of talk around original family. In all the comments, including the one that talked about how God meant *these kids to be with these adoptive parents,* (something I would dispute, but that's OK) there was no mention of this, not really. . .it was really more framed as the poor a-parents feeling all boo-hooey because they've got a sullen kid on their hands. So what does your program do for these kids?

Also, I went to the site you mentioned. "Embracing the Sinful Child"? Ya have to be kidding me. All you have to do is watch the show Intervention for a few weeks to see that what is at the root of addiction (focused on in that article) is inflexible, oblivious parents who don't get it and let the kid down over and over again. Like yesterday, when the addict's father wouldn't even call the cops for child rape. (Guess what: he was a cop)

Brad Yomen said...

I agree with the sentiments of most of the other commenters. I just hope that stories like these don't lead people to believe that every Christian boarding school maintains a 'concentration camp' environment. There are some great places that can really help troubled teens.

AdoptAuthor said...


For many of us in the adoption community what is disturbing is not this particular facility or how it is run. It is the disproportionately large number of adoptees in residence in all kinds facilities for so-called 'troubled teens' mental health facilities, prison, etc.

RussiaToday Apr 29, 2010 on Russian Adoption Freeze

Russi Today: America television Interview 4/16/10 Regarding the Return of Artyem, 7, to Russia alone

RT: Russia-America TV Interview 3/10

Korean Birthmothers Protest to End Adoption

Motherhood, Adoption, Surrender, & Loss

Who Am I?

Bitter Winds

Adoption and Truth Video

Adoption Truth

Birthparents Never Forget