Rehoming

By now I’m sure you’ve at least heard about the State Representative who gave away or “rehomed” his adopted children. The media has skewered him and painted him as someone who would happily hand over adopted children to a rapist while benefitting monetarily and protecting his political career. While it’s easy to vilify him and what appears to be his reprehensible behavior, I’m not going to do that, because his impossible choice is the impossible choice of many adoptive parents. His just resulted in media exposure, which frankly I’m glad about, because now we can discuss how impossible choices are not acceptable, especially when they surround our children.

So how does one find him or herself in the impossible choice of keeping children in the home who are a danger to yourselves and the other children in the home or giving them to a rapist? I’m going to explain that in a few easy steps.

1. Have good intentions, but very little information. This describes Representative Harris, me, and I’m guessing the majority of foster/adoptive parents in the US. While I’m a huge advocate for people becoming foster/adoptive parents, it is a total crap shoot. Any of us could be Rep. Harris. I have friends who have been faced with this exact same situation, and I nearly was. Here’s how this works. When you complete paperwork to become a foster/adoptive parent, you literally complete a “checklist” of what you will or will not accept in a child. It is potentially the most surreal experience of my life. It felt like a match.com profile, except for children, which is just disturbing. Instead of “I will accept a divorced person, but not a smoker,” I was making split second decisions like “I will accept an AIDS baby, but not a suicidal, sexually abused,14-year-old.” Below is an actual checklist from the State of Ohio. I’m not picking on Ohio – theirs is the only form I could actually find online. In fact, kudos to Ohio for actually having this stuff available.

Foster Parent Checklist-page-0

Foster Parent Checklist-page-2

Foster Parent Checklist-page-3

Foster Parent Checklist-page-4

As most adults don’t have the background to understand what accepting or not accepting kids with any of these identifiers into their home means, they have no business completing this document, because it is basically meaningless.

The super frustrating part about this document is that the agency who is handling your foster/adoption only has to note the “known” circumstances of the child’s case, which in my experience is the tip of the iceberg. There are several reasons for this. First, like most other state agencies, state welfare agencies base their contracts on cost. So, the therapists who get paid to provide mental health services to foster kids don’t get paid all that well and usually don’t stay with their employers all that long, and I don’t blame them. They get some experience and then springboard to the next job where they hopefully receive a better wage. Consequently kiddos in care might have a different therapist every three months. That’s not long enough to build a relationship with already traumatized, mistrusting children, much less understand what the kiddo has gone through or make a diagnosis. Secondly, foster care employees are under tremendous pressure to place a lot of children, so they’re often not completely truthful, which I can also understand, though not defend. Our child welfare system is broken, for lots of reasons, and this is one of them. Telling a potential foster parent “well, they act out sexually on pets in the home, but thankfully not each other or adults,” is not good marketing. I realize that sounds harsh, but it’s reality. Lots of kids who need homes and not enough homes means people lie.

2.  Live in a country where the mental health system has failed. I honestly don’t know all the details of Representative Harris’ case, but I know enough to know it’s a lot like every other case I’ve heard about. Kids in the system, kids like my kids, have very complicated mental health needs, and we just don’t have the system to deal with them. I’m guessing Rep. Harris’ kids have some form of Reactive Attachment Disorder, the same diagnosis as my kids, and there are very few places one can find services for RAD kids. I’ve written a lot about RAD on this blog, so I’m not going to belabor the point, but simply put, in what I was always taught was the greatest nation in the world, no one should be told their children are a lost cause, and there’s no help. I started this blog, because as resourceful and tenacious as I am, I couldn’t find help for my kid. That’s not a situation anyone in the United State of America should find themselves. I fly a flag every day, and I want to be proud of my country. How we treat our mentally ill children in this country does not make me proud.

2. Not be a gajillionaire, nor care to be imprisoned. So, when multiple psychiatrists tell you you can’t welcome your kid back from the psychiatric facility into your home, because s/he is a danger to others, and your insurance will no longer pay for inpatient care, you basically have three options.  1. Pay for inpatient psychiatric care out of your own pocket, which for most of us would result in bankruptcy in about three months time or less. 2. You can “give back” the kid to the State, which means you will likely incur criminal charges for abandonment and at a minimum will pay child support to the State until the child is 18-years-old. 3. You can “rehome” the child, hopefully to a family you trust who is equipped to deal with the child. These families are few and far between, and this is very risky as the Representatives’s story obviously illustrates. Below is a friend’s story in her own words.

The state actually preferred that we re-home our child. We did try three different private placements that we set up on our own. In order to get support from our state’s human services agency, I filed a VPO against my child. Ultimately after three different hospitals recommended it, we left her at the hospital on release day. That was the only way we could get our state’s human services agency to help with placement.

So, while you’re being appalled at the story of how this man gave away his kid to a rapist, imagine all the other families who are potentially doing the same thing. The above options are not really options – let’s find one that works for the child and the adoptive family, or better yet work with biological families before they traumatize their kids to the point that their kids would like to stab us all in our sleep. I know that’s wild and crazy, but a girl can dream.

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Rehoming

37 thoughts on “Rehoming

  1. pam says:

    Very well said. The average person doesn’t realize how awful living with these kids can be. Not just awful for the adoptive parents but for the child as well. There are no options. I’d be happy to see a change in the “training” received to future foster parents. That seems like an easy start. Teach people how to actually deal with the issues they will face. I was a tfc home and didn’t even receive that training. Although my trainers, were well intended, they left me without the knowledge I needed for our home to be successful. I think with proper training you would not only teach future foster parents how to deal with difficult behaviors but give them an idea of what they can’t deal with. The system is changing, but most of those changes are being made by people that aren’t in the trenches and never have been.

    1. I agree, Pam. My training was minimal at best, and I was also a therapeutic home. I think in addition to training, ongoing, robust supports are necessary. I don’t know that any training in the world is sufficient to help with some of the experiences foster/adoptive parents and kids experience. Thanks for your comments!

  2. Jil Meacham says:

    Sad but necessary blog. I am all too familiar with this situation. The mental health services available for our children are slim to none. We have been in the cycle for 2 1/2 years. 4 inpatient facilities whom have said he needed more services, but insurance wouldn’t approve any longer stays, police officers stating it’s not safe for this child to be in your home with the other children, but if you “dissolve” the adoption to protect the other kids, criminal charges could be filed for abandonment & they could take your other adopted children, if the child stays in your home & he/she end up hurting one of your other children, then criminal charges can be filed against the parent for failure to protect them…. It’s a sad & scary cycle. I am just one of many I know dealing with the same scenario.

    1. Ooh, excellent points about the catch 22 of keeping/abandoning your kiddo. This is a choice no one should have to face. Thank you for your comments!

  3. Koda1205 says:

    When I read the Rep.’s story I felt the families’ pain. We did not go through with an adoption that the state did not give us full disclosure on. They told us only things that were documented by psychiatrists which, since every one of the many gave a new diagnosis, did not give an actual picture. We were also not told she was just released from her second stay at an inpatient facility because they could no longer help her and then was expelled from school for attacking her aid. We did not hear from the six years of foster families and were told by the cw “a stable home is all she needs.” We also feared for our children’s safety and had to make the decision to terminate the process. It was heartbreaking to say the least but we could never take the liability that this child brought with her and could no longer live in a prison in our own home.

    1. Thank you for your comments. They help others to know they’re not alone. Heartbreaking how many stories like this there are. I hope we can change things!

  4. Dana says:

    I had a foster son that was “rehomed”, but what the adoptive parents failed to reveal was THEIR abuse of this child his entire life. He was mistreated, neglected and abused his entire life (4 months til they abandoned him shortly after his 13th birthday) by his adoptive parents. By the time he became a teenager and big enough to fight back, they had already laid the groundwork for a “rehoming” excuse. (Any time he would act against the abuse, they would hospitalize him and claim he was out of control. If he was late coming home from playing as a CHILD, they would call the police and claim he was a runaway.) I fear this could become an excuse to abandoning children. I do believe it is an issue and a problem and needs to be addressed, but this was my experience with rehoming.

  5. joadeaton says:

    A great, on target article as always. The reality of adoption and fostering is that we don’t all end up holding hands and singing kum-ba-ya.
    Until we as a country view mental health to be a completely different issue than physical health, the mentally ill and their families will continue to suffer. We will lose human beings who could have been successfully treated to chronic homelessness, suicide, incarceration and death at the hands of law enforcement who are not trained to deal with mental illness.

  6. Jo says:

    Unlike the other commenters, I have not fostered or adopted a child. I am adopted person, and went to my family when I was two weeks old.
    But here’s my two cents: we must completely must re-imagine our approach to mental health treatment and stop thinking about it like we do physical ailments. Changing our approach to mental health and how we perceive those who suffer from these issues (I include the families in that group) is a path to addressing many social problems such as chronic homelessness, suicide, revolving door incarceration and death at the hands of untrained, uninformed law enforcement officers.
    Shelley, your kids are very lucky; they have a Mom who refuses to give up on them and they live in a city that actually has resources to treat RAD.
    For those of us who wish to help change a failure of a system, what is the first step?

    1. Jo, I certainly do not have all the answers, or even some of them, but I think a first step is talking about how ridiculously screwed up the options are for families who have adopted. We need more families to foster/adopt, but then where are the resources once that happens? Foster/adoption is a continuum. We can’t say “hey thanks for adopting. It’s been real. See you later!” and call it good. Thank you for your comments!

      1. zatarra83 says:

        While a youth is in foster care / trial discharge status (if that is an option in your state), inquire about Waiver services. Some states have them available specifically for youth in care, which they can keep after they leave care (adoptive or return to parent or another situation) as long as they meet eligibility (emotional/behavioral/medical needs indicate that they’re at risk for hospitalization or disruption of placement). I don’t know the scope of the program nation-wide, but where it is available, it is a great support.

  7. Sheila says:

    My son was rehomed to me after a failed adopted. I went the legal route and had a guardianship in place immediately.

    My son has severe and extreme mental illness. One significant difference is that the hospital released my son and refused to take him back even when he met criteria. I was told they cannot help him and to put him in a group home immediately.

    To make matters worse, the psychiatrist was the same one on call at 2 different hospitals in my city. TWO hospitals refused to accept him.

    My choice was institutionalize him or hope I could find medicine to help him before he killed me. Seriously. This was 2 months ago – TWO MONTHS!

    He’s on massive medications but is doing better. I am still alive. I am also understating the severity of the situation.

  8. Katie says:

    No. Just NO in the specific case of Justin Harris. What you’ve written may well apply to lots of other folks who adopted from foster care but NOT Justin Harris, simply because:

    http://m.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archives/2015/03/07/foster-family-disputes-key-staments-from-justin-harris

    1. The previous foster parents AND caseworkers responsible for the three sisters (Harris fostered but didn’t adopt the oldest) all told the Harris’ that they weren’t a good fit for these particular girls.

    2. Harris pulled rank (by appealing to the head of DHS, Cecile, with whom he was acquainted through his job as an elected official), which helped push the ill-advised adoption through. Harris insisted he had a degree and felt the support of potentially non-existent supernatural being would ensure the adoption would go well.

    3. At the adoption court hearing, the guardian ad litem literally said “two days ago, all you people — social worker, case workers, etc — were against this adoption. What changed since then?”.

    4. Harris never actually bothered to TRY to get help from DHS for his adopted daughters. It’s VERY true that DHS was likely to fail him — but he didn’t TRY. He just rehomed the kids!

    5. The pedophile rapist Harris handed his daughters to used to be his emplyee — the guy was a teacher @ preschool owned by Harris, whom Harris fired for poor performance… Yet left his daughters there! The guy wasn’t reliable enough to be an employee but was somehow capable of caring for two little girls with lots of trauma?!

    6. The previous Foster parents AND the family that adopted Harris’ now ex-daughters have insisted the girls were neither aggressive nor violent. Then again, only Harris isolated the girls from each other because he claimed they were possessed by demons and could communicate telepathically, locked the oldest in a room without toys or books, hired exorcists to exorcise the allged demons, etc.

    What Harris and his wife subjected those kids to was horrific. Horrific.

    7. The family pet allegedly “murdered” by one of the adopted girls was a guinea pig. The girls were 2-4 when they moved in as foster kids. I’m willing to BET a lack of adult supervision contributed to the critters death. Kids, even non-traumatized, non-adopted ones need to be closely supervised around animals and taught how to treat them (kindly, gently). The previous Foster family and the second adoptive family both insist these girls were/are kind and gentle with small dogs. It’s within the realm of possibility that an unsupervised 2-4 yo accidentally snuggled/hugged a 1/2 lb guinea pig to death.

    8. Even if we assume that 1) both girls really had RAD and 2) Harris had really exhausted all DHS options prior to REHOMING, what good would it have done? A new family doesn’t “fix” mental illness — the kid is simply severely mentally ill someplace else. Unconscionable.

    —-
    i’ve got no experience with adoption or RAD, but did grow up in a family with a long history of mental illness severe enough to warrant a psychiatrist, meds and the occasional in-patient stay starting in grade school. My baby sister SO much more so than me. K was often a danger to herself and others — she wasn’t bad! Just really, really sick.

    Our parents didn’t rehome her, they got her help! K spent a lot of time in-patient. Stability, true stability, took a decade — not uncommon for severe, early-onset kids. Had my parents given up after the 8th hospitalization, 12th medication or 5th therapist, there’s s pretty good chance K would not have made it. My sis is ALIVE, college-educated, married, amazing and gainfully employed at nearly 30 as a direct result of timely, appropriate mental health care.

    (My sister was treated at the same hospital and by many of the same doctors who treated our mom – for the same illness – as a girl. they were/are awesome and, um, on a first-name basis with three generations of my family. “k is scaring us again” is all it took to get her admitted).

    1. Katie, I am in no way defending Representative Harris. Frankly, the media scrutiny of his case opened the door for me to write about something I’ve wanted to write about for some time. I’m glad your sister received the help she needed. Unfortunately, our mental health system is not what it once was, and it’s much tougher to get treatment for our kids. I encourage you to read my first blog post, which was written in shear frustration, because I couldn’t get help for my daughter. Thank you for your comments.

      1. Katie says:

        I read your second post (the first one was about libary vs library) — and it sucks that system clearly failed your kids. Repeatedly.

        I guess the mental health system varies from state to state — or maybe my family’s been “lucky”, as if having lots of close relatives who require extraordinarily large amounts of psychiatric and pharmaceutical scaffolding to function can be considered “lucky”. (For my family, specifically, it’s maybe partly due to long relationships — 20+ yrs when my sis was hospitalized the first time… but, um, the docs had long relationships with almost all their “frequent flyers”, ie my sister’s floormates).

        But half my closest friends (literally) have at some point landed themselves in-patient & received excellent psychiatric care — all different illnesses, all different states, all different insurance plans. So it seems unlikely that mental health care is awful *everywhere*.

        And, ultimately, rehoming a kid does NOT help them — they’re just mentally ill someplace else + further traumatized by the abandonment.

      2. Thanks for reading, Katie. Unfortunately I sent you to the wrong post. The second one is about struggling to get my kiddo care. Please don’t feel like you have to go read that one! For the record, Oklahoma, where we live, funds mental health care abysmally, so that’s part of the problem. And, again, my point was that rehoming is not an acceptable option.

      3. anenomekym says:

        Actually, that is what you’re doing – defending Rep. Harris. He committed to a lifelong agreement to take on responsibility for a vulnerable human being, after being cautioned against this adoption for several reasons. He ignored their advice and reneged on his responsibility.

        He might not be responsible for directly raping that poor 6 yr old girl, but he IS responsible for not preparing himself or his family for a difficult adoption and for shunning his responsibilities. He wanted to be a parent, but he refused to behave as a parent should. THAT is HIS fault.

  9. holly howard says:

    We have seen several placing families struggle with these very real issues you posted here. Deaconess Pregnancy and Adoption Services provides ongoing emotional support to families who find that they can no longer parent their child. We have found that they often love their child very much but have exhausted resources to help them meet the child’s needs. Our first priority is to keep families together but when all options have been exhausted we locate safe, loving homes that are well-equipped to meet the needs of the precious child being rehomed. We also strive to provide ongoing emotional support to the child and adoptive family so that the child can have permenancy.www.deaconessadoption.org. 405-949-4200.

  10. Oti-Lisa says:

    I am an Adoptive Mother of a teen. I got her when she was 12. I adopted her at 14. When she turned 16 she decided to runaway to go live with her birth mother. I filed run away reports. Got a Chins order. I contact what family members I could of hers. She is hiding out with birth mother not attending school and not on her medicine. The police state they can not look for her but if they run into her they will call me. Well, she and her birth mother are street smart and they have fake names once when they were stopped. This per my daughter in one of her text rant. If I had not adopted her and she were still in state custody then DHS would look for her and press charges on her birth mother. This Adoptive Mother is amazed and disappointed by the no support and help. There are plenty of rally cries to adopt and foster. Get these kids out of the shelter but where is the support afterwards?

    1. Oti-Lisa I agree completely. We need more and more foster/adoptive parents, but where are the supports after the adoption happens? Have you gone up the chain at your local law enforcement agency? Are there any advocacy groups in your area who could help? Have you thought about contacting the media? I’m a fan of guerrilla tactics when necessary.

  11. Laura says:

    Re-homing is often the only viable option left to some families. Some of us do not have facilities which have dealt with three generations of a family’s mental health issues. Some of the families do not have the luxury and support to say, our child is scaring us and then the child receives treatment. In many cases now, the hospital staff therapists & psychiatrists are sending patients home who are a danger to themselves and others.

    In order to keep the child and the remaining family members safe, re-homing may be the only alternative some can seek. DHS encourages this option. The adoption subsidy is for the child, and the adoption worker makes it clear that the subsidy continues, and then you pay the amount to the other family. DHS is so familiar with re-homing that they even can work across state lines to continue the health insurance. They are not willing to help with placement. As a family who looks at re-homing, what might you look for? 1. A family who has adopted before. 2. A family who has completed Therapeutic foster training,. 3. A family who has training as a CASA or other valuable training. 4. A family who have helped other youth at their home or as house parents. 5. Perhaps a family who no longer has children living in their home.

    I am in no position to judge the senator’s situation. I think the media has been unfair. Headlines which state the senator placed the children with a rapist certainly are not trying to tell the truth of the story. The senator did re-home the girls. The family he initially chose was a family who have adopted before and passed background checks for working with children.

    The only two alternatives that I am aware of other than re-homing are 1. Leaving a child at the facility and facing allegations/charges of failure to protect and 2. Filing a VPO against the minor child to protect other family members. Both of these alternatives can force DHS to get involved in placement. For children and families already suffering, these two alternatives can be unbearable.

    DHS does make mistakes. When mistakes are made, then it seems easier to continue to make mistakes. The system must find ways to assist families and provide the support needed. The system needs to improve in so many ways. When a child is an abuser or perpetrator, the system is a complete fail. The rights of the abuser become over-arching, and often such a priority that they are like a large neon-flashing sign. The rights and needs of the victims are often not dealt with. So an organization which is supposed to protect children, often have their hands tied and can only focus on the needs of the abuser when the abuser is a minor child. The children who are victims are often re-victimized and traumatized through the process.

    The mental health system must evaluate and improve their ways of helping families.

    The state, DHS, CPS, must find ways to more effectively work with children who are abusers. I believe they can develop a plan that would better balance the minor’s rights with the fact that they are abusers. Sometimes in the rush to protect the minor child’s rights who is the abuser, they violate the safety of the other children who are victims.

    1. Thank you for your comments, Laura, especially for shining a light on a topic that most people don’t really know exists. A lot of our kids are abusers themselves, because they have been abused and are repeating those behaviors. Again, not a lot of supports for families in this situation. It’s a complicated and exhausting situation to keep all your kids safe, when one or more of them is a perpetrator.

  12. dustin says:

    This hits the nail on the head and is perhaps the best post I have ever read. Having been so close to having no other options for one of my boys and knowing friends who have made this decision it is the hardest thing in the world. The only things worse then the forms is the dang catalogs of kids you flip through like your Christmas shopping. We need trained professionals who can help families understand that the mental health problems our kids come into there new homes with are not black and white. It is years of trauma and lack of trust and unconditional love. And that your newly adoptive child may be your first. But you are often times the 10, 15, or 20th new set of parents. It can takes years to sit down and play a card game and feel safe for your child. Educate parents, help to find a child that fits into the home not a child who just has the look of a perfect child and fits the ideal Christmas card.

    1. Dustin, your comments are fabulous. I thankfully did not have to look through the catalogs of children, because I adopted foster kiddos that just landed at my house. I have to say the “adoption parties” that were suggested to me were truly disturbing. My first though is a cattle call. And, let’s remember all these kids know why they’re there, they’re already highly manipulative, so how are they going to act at one of those things? My grandfather grew up in the Baptist Home for Children in Oklahoma City, and his stories about when people would come to the home looking for a kid and literally check out their teeth and their muscles like they were livestock, are sickening. I think the adoption parties are barely an improvement over that.

  13. Wounded World says:

    Well written! You have touched on so many painful issues. Both adoption and disruption are so complicated that I feel it is wrong for anyone to say that disruption (in particular) is “always wrong” or “always right” (and I’m not suggesting here that you tried to say that, just offering up this thought). We had to disrupt the adoption of a teen, not as much because her anger and fear were a threat to younger, adopted children in our family, which they were, but more because staying in our family was *wrong* for *HER* best interests. I am amazed at how many people are convinced that staying in a “wrong fit” family is still the best for the child, especially an older child who was adopted at an older age, because we are so attached to the idea of “forever family” instead of the unique needs of the unique child. We adopted this child in an emergency health situation with basically three days to make the decision — she had serious health issues and was “aging out” of her country’s orphan care system in three weeks. She had personally never hoped to be adopted and was happy in her orphanage (because it was what she had always known, and as dysfunctional as it was, it was still her home, her family). She was angry, terrified, and depressed over what was happening to her in being adopted by foreigners from a different race and language. She also basically “had a bad first run” at experiencing family life for the first time in her life, and she was devastated and acted out with fear masked as anger. We recognized right away that she responded best to a particular personality type that no person in our family had, but even as people around us, including our professionally certified adoption counselor, began urging us to disrupt, we could not come to grips with the thought of letting her go. Surely, if we just tried harder, read the right book, attended the right conference, surely something would help. We could not bear the thought of disrupting. Finally our home study adoption agency director offered to do an in-home visit, and by the end of the two-hour visit she felt that disruption was “fully justified” in this particular situation — “fully justified” were her words, though she was against disruption in general. At that point, we began to consider disruption. When we found a second home that was far better suited for this child than ours had been (in about ten different areas of concern, including her need to be around teens her age who spoke her home language, as the language barrier was one of her biggest traumas in being adopted), both our home study agency and our placement agency stood by us all along the way. They helped us find legal counsel, offered suggestions for a smoother transition, were present on the day of the initial transition to respite care before traveling to the new home, followed up with us after the transition multiple times over the next two years, et cetera. Whereas we had adopted this child with just a single page of information about her strengths and weaknesses, personality type, and emotional needs (and there was no way to tell whether the birth country was “speaking truthfully” about any of her issues), we were able to provides the second family with dozens of pages of description about her strengths and weaknesses, personality, and needs. We gave them a three-ring binder full of medical information, school information and homework, and the contact information of pretty much every person in her “circle of experience” while in our family, including youth pastor, school teachers, English language learning instructor, medical providers, orphanage friends’ adoptive families here in the States, placement agency, home study agency, adoption counselor, etc.. The child began flourishing almost immediately in the second home, where they knew ahead of time what the potential stumbling blocks would be, and within just a few months she had made major steps forward that would probably never have happened in our home. I’ve read the Reuters’ reports and other horror stories and of course the Harris reports, and I fully realize that disruption is in some instances the absolute worst thing that could happen to a child, a “crack that widens,” as you have so eloquently put it, or even a “nail in the coffin” in some cases, but I have also seen with my own eyes that disruption, while far from ideal, can also be the step, even the sacrifice, that opens the way for a child to have a “second chance.” I often wish there were more dialogue about how sometimes a second family is what is best for the child himself or herself — that it’s not all about healing the first family, but can be about providing what’s best for the child herself. Sometimes I think we try to make the idea of “forever family” too sacred, too much of an idol — and yes, I do realize that many people will immediately suggest concern over the extreme alternative, that adoption could become a “trying on” or “shopping” experience, but don’t the majority of people who adopt genuinely WANT to bond with the child? I don’t think there is any danger of adoption becoming a casual “shacking up” except in unusual situations. There is a reason that most of us in the adoption world are idealists — we WANT the adoption to succeed — we wouldn’t have poured $40K or $50K into it if we’d thought we were just “trying on” the child to see if there was a good fit. We wouldn’t have announced to everyone we knew that we were adopting if we thought this was some light-hearted experiment. Our ideal and goal was “successful adoption.” Before we disrupted, I went to interview a family who had adopted four teens, now all adults, thinking that they would inspire me to “keep calm and carry on,” but what I learned instead was that for one of the teens, although she “had made progress,” she never fully accepted herself as a beloved daughter and continues to struggle as an adult with resentment of the adoptive family and with a sense of isolation and abandonment — in spite of not having experienced disruption. I didn’t want that for this child! I DESPERATELY wanted her to know that she is worth loving, and I knew in my gut that she would never feel that way in our home because of the depth of her rejection of our family–she had essentially sworn herself to hate us, all five of us, even the much younger child who was adopted on the same day she was, and her stubbornness (born from the need to survive in the orphanage) knows no boundaries. In her second family, where the mother has exactly that type of personality that we first noticed this child responding well to, and where she has adopted teen siblings who speak birth language, etc., she has come to acknowledge that she loves and is loved, and although she still has many rough edges and struggles in life, she is functioning in that home as a daughter and a family member. All of this to say that while disruption is far from ideal — sometimes, not always, maybe not even often, but sometimes the second chance, the second home, is what the child himself or herself needs most, and I wish there were more grace offered to families who reach this realization. I wish there was more acceptance of the possibility that what some children need most is a second chance. Sorry to write such a long comment, but this is a deeply tender subject for me. I grieve the loss of this child — I loved her — and I grieve what her adoption and disruption has done to her and to us. But even our adoption counselor (herself an adoptive mom of a troubled teen) and our adoption agency director could see that our family simply could not provide what she needed most, and there was no way anyone in the process could have foreseen that ahead of time, not until she was in country and in the home. I don’t advise disruption to every person who contacts me about their troubled adoption. I don’t think disruption is a “quick fix” to an unhappy home. We continue to struggle deeply, two years after the disruption, and our younger, adopted children will have big, difficult questions about the disruption as they grow up. Disruption is no “easy answer.” But I do believe strongly that for some children, disruption and a second chance/home really are in their best interest. Anyway, thank you for broaching the subject, and thank you for not condemning all who disrupt, as if adoption were full of unique stories and disruption were all the same story. Disruption is every bit as varied in nature and circumstance as is adoption, and to vilify all would be as wrong as to say that all foster families are harmful, just because the news mostly portrays the horrifying stories.

    1. Janette says:

      Wounded World – Your story is EVERYTHING that’s wrong with international adoption and adoption writ large. You:
      1. Adopted a kid you had no business adopting because she was on the brink of aging out and wanted to heroically “save” her.
      2. Almost instantly decided she wasn’t the kid for you.
      3. The adoption agency that approved you to adopt her AGREED with you (!). They agreed they approved you to adopt a kid you had NO BUSINESS CARING FOR IN THE FIRST PLACE.
      4. YOU say your ex-daughter is better off rehomed. YOU say she’s happier there. Not your ex-kid!
      5. I’ve met a ton of foster/adoptive parents that insist the kid they rehomed is better off with a new family… but rare is the discarded kid who agrees with the ex-parents! Kids are just rejected/heartbroken!

    2. I must say, I have to agree with Janette. I don’t know you, but from what you’ve described, I see SO many problems with your approach and what you were advised.

      1) Rehoming isn’t a second chance, that is what ADOPTION is advertised to be. Your involvement/adoption was supposed to HELP her awful situation improve. Rehoming doesn’t provide a SECOND family, that was supposed to be YOU. Rehoming puts them in the home of a THIRD family, and makes their history and life more fragmented.

      2) What f*ing idiots suggested that a teenager in the midst of an emergency health crisis would do best by going to a foreign country with foreigners where there’s NO one she can communicate with? Oh, yes, they just get paid to make these permanent arrangements. Was NO ONE aware that she spoke a different language from everyone else who’d be around her in her new surroundings and was of a different race? I know how much being “colorblind” is admired, but come on, PEEPLE!! Being BLIND while taking on responsibility of a child with emergent health needs isn’t what’s best for a child in crisis.

      3) It’s clear that you were not prepared to prepare yourself before with all the complications of adopting from another country. The blame lies with you for not finding the right people to prepare you adequately and with those who took your money and gave you horrible advice.

      4) I hope you don’t try to adopt again, but my advice to you would be to NOT seek the advice of adoptive parents on how to take care of your adopted children. I’m not surprised the your adoption counselors and adoption agency directors suggested you take the easy route and wash your hands of the choices you deliberately took on. They have NOT lived through the horrors of having their original families disrupted, adopted, having that family disrupted, then being rehomed, all with no control over their own lives. Heck, adoptive parents and agency directors are the ones with control over these children’s lives.

      5) Instead, surround yourself with adult adoptees who will be frank, honest, and forthright with you. Adult adoptees who don’t care how YOU feel, but will tell you the truth. Listen to what they have to say and to their insight. Adult adoptees are the ones who can relate to the REAL experiences of being thrown into a foreign place with foreigners with no language skills and no control over whether they’ll get beaten or raped or fed, clothed, hugged, and comforted. And put your adopted children in touch with their origins, their original family/relatives, other adoptees, and adult adoptees.

      6) Anyone who’s telling you only happy stories is setting you and those children up for a disaster, and you fell for it when you adopted. Agencies don’t care though, they got a quick $30-50k from you, not bad for them.

      1. anenomekym says:

        And to continue on Janette’s thoughts about intercountry adoption, neither of us even mentioned the corruption, trafficking, deception, and kidnapping that goes on with intercountry adoption.

        Wounded World, you said yourself, “And there was no way to tell whether the birth country was “speaking truthfully” about any of her issues” ??!!??!!

        Wounded World, why did you intentionally involve yourself in adoptions where there was no way to determine that anything you were told was truthful?? Did you even speak the same language as those who were involved with her care?

        Don’t go playing the well-intentioned, but victimized savior in this. You were intentionally and willfully ignorant and clueless. People should NOT be doing intercountry adoptions, BECAUSE you don’t know anything about the child’s country, history, culture, language, environment, routine, corruption, what’s truthful or deceptive, and the list goes on and on and on and on.

      2. You appear pretty darn emotional about this subject, judging from the comments you’ve fired off today. May I ask what your role in foster/adoption is? An adoptee? Or the child of someone who attempted to adopt?

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