Monday, July 22, 2013

A personal view into a failing adoption....

I have a friend who is 95. She is a former school teacher and very sharp and active. She is no stranger to adoption, as her sister, who I also know, is a former social worker who prides herself on being on the forefront of helping to get inter-racial adoptions accepted and adopted two boys of another race.

These are bright, well educated, liberal, savvy and well informed women.

My friend tells me today that a "VERY DEAR" friend of her and her husband's (who is now gone) - called her to share the latest update on their adopted 20 year old son. He was adopted in Texas and is from Mexico. (Maybe Gladney, maybe private, I didn't ask, and I also don't know how old these "very close" friends of hers are.) They also have a biological child.

The boy has had 'difficulties' in school, etc and has been in treatment for emotional problems and drugs and has attempted suicide. He has just finished his latest rehab and they "don't know what to do for him or with him anymore."

These people are of the same caliber as my friend and even more so, perhaps. The wife/mother is medical director of some prestigious hospital and the father is a prominent psychologist or psychiatrist. One of them flaunts an Ivy league degree.

All my friend knew was how much they loved him from day one and that they had "tried everything" and were at their wits end and didn't know what else to do -- to the point they actually asked a 95-year-old woman if she would take him!  She told them she could barely take care of herself!

They cried to her that they had no other family and she was the closest thing they had to family and they didn't know where else to turn!!

I finally said to her, well if they tried EVERYTHING, I wonder of that included helping him search for his original family who might be able to share some pertinent medical history and also may be able to offer some emotional support and answer some questions for the boy, even if she has shown no interest in the subject. She at first totally pooh-poohed the idea. "They're in Mexico!" "He knows he's loved."

I told her that adoptees had a far higher than average rate of all kinds of emotional probelms including substance abuse and suicide, and that this was primarily because they feel a deep sense of loss, rejection and abandonment and they are never allowed to speak about it and everyone simply ignores their loss and grief because everyone is just focused on how happy THEY are having him in their family and assume he feels the same.

Being interracially or internationally adopted, I told her, adds an additional layer because they act as if it makes no difference but he looks in the mirror every day and knows that's not true and all his friends at school see the difference and make him know he is different. And he keeps all this in, too. And that having a biological sibling is an extra challenge. All of this was amazing news to her - even having had two inter-racially adopted nephews, now both adults....sons of her sister with whom she has always been close friends and lived near.

In today's New York Times Parenting blog, Nicole Soojung Callahan writes;
"My parents always seemed hesitant to discuss my adoption. My mother would tell me, “You’re ours, and that’s all that matters.” My father might say, “We didn’t care if you were Asian, or black, or purple with polka dots.” We joked about the fact that we looked different, that others had curious, sometimes invasive questions about it. We were all united in wanting our family to be seen as normal. But while my parents did not seem to think much about my adoption, my unknown birth parents, or the fact that I was a Korean child being raised by a white family in a predominantly white town, I was always aware of these things, and thought about them constantly."
This is classic! We hear it every day from internationally adopted persons. It's easy to be "color blind" through white privileged eyes. (For more, read the books of Jane Joeng Trenka)

I told her that no therapist is going to help him unless that therapist is an expert in issues of adoption loss (though more likely his aps would find the kind of "expert" who labeled the kid with an alphabet soup of 'disorders' that blamed him for not bonding.)

She had never even thought about the fact that curiosity of your genealogy, your ancestry is normal and adoptees are supposed to simply ignore their curiosity!

She said, if they find no other help, she MIGHT tell them and have me talk to them. Likely they'll simply resolve THEIR problem by finding a place to dump him, since that seemed to be the reason they called her. That and to get some sympathetic "You tried your best."


Valerie Drabyk said...

It is so sad that adoptive parents don't realize that the broken bond of the child from his or her biological family is so painful and difficult to deal with for all the reasons mentioned above. We need to keep putting this information out there, so the general public understands.

Mirah Riben said...

Yes, sad that adopters are just handed over kids as long as they can pay the fees without any counseling or much background check either!

Hopefully the linked NYT piece will get wide coverage and be of some help. Korean adoptees in particular are being quite eloquently vocal about these issues.

If you haven't read Trenka i cannot recommend them highly enough. They are so well written to be of appreciated by someone with no ties to adoption! She is poetic and an excellent writer! I can loan you one or two. i think one of her books I had became lost or loaned and not returned, but whatever I have I can loan you.

Lorraine Dusky said...

95! Are those people nuts?

Chassidy said...

This is great!

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