Note made on 12/11/14:
Since I'm getting a lot of traffic and some anticipated backlash from my mention in this Yahoo article: "Giving Away 'Anatoly Z'" I'd like to take a moment to defend myself.
With it being such a long article with so much information about the specific families involved in this one child's life, the author clearly didn't have space to share more that she and I spoke about on the phone. I realize in the article I do come across as a little harsh and insensitive and I would like to assure you my anger comes from a place of hurt. I know plenty of foster and adoptive families that struggle with difficult placements, some even making the heart wrenching decision to place their children in Residential Treatment Centers but never considering un-adopting them. The one family that I knew that did decide to disrupt their adoption had, as far as I and our mutual friends could tell, no problems that weren't to be expected and did not reach out at all to us, their local adoptive family community, for assistance. I struggle all the time with my feelings about what happened and my compassion and understanding ebbs and flows but I keep coming back around to feeling that my adopted children are hurt by this. Is it illogical? It might be, it might not be. But I know that I continue to grieve and struggle with this constantly.
Lastly, my "normal" people quote was taken out of context. If you read my original essay below, you will see I meant "normal" as regular people as opposed to diplomats or celebrities.
The first time I had heard about it, it was about a rich diplomat in a foreign country. It was a sensationalized news story that happened far away. It was an anomaly, for sure: normal people don’t just “un-adopt” their children.
Then came similar stories featuring regular people in my own country. Next came the exposé on a major new source reporting on the growing trend of “rehoming*” adopted children, particularly internationally adopted ones. Perhaps the most troubling part was the lack of oversight in the securing of the new homes: some parents had taken to looking online to find a new family for their adopted children. Stories emerged of children already twice traumatized being sent to pedophiles and abusers.
Each time my heart ached for these children and then I’d be filled with outrage at their parents. How dare they? How could they give up these children they said they were dedicated to for life? A few of my friends tried to help me find sympathy for the families, to save my disgust for those adoption agencies that saw dollar signs before warning signs. They encouraged me to direct my anger at those organizations that did not provide adequate screening of families before placing children with them or proper follow-up and support afterwards. I tried.
Then last fall it happened in my local adoption community.
This time my outrage came coupled with anger and pain. Again and again I tried to find sympathy for the family that made this decision; again and again I failed. I had countless conversations with friends about it: improper screening. Poor decision-making. Lack of familial support. Repeatedly I dipped into my wells of compassion and came up dry. I asked myself how could I, a woman who could find a way to forgive the stranger that held a knife to my throat and raped me, not find compassion for this family?
And when I was asked the question: “What are you going to tell your kids about it?” I realized why--because ultimately this isn’t about hurting me. This affects what I hold most sacred: this hurts my children. This harms my family.
As an adoptive parent, I fight against the notion that I’m not my adopted children’s “real” mother or they’re not my “real” children. I see more and more stories online about families deciding to keep their biological children and “rehome” the adopted ones. There is outrage, yes, but there are also growing numbers of commenters pledging understanding and support for the family’s “brave” decision. As this acceptance becomes more commonplace, it chips away at the public’s perceived validity of my family. It promotes an idea that when it gets too hard, we can give them away—but just the adopted ones, of course. Never would there be such widespread acceptance of the giving away of the “real” children.
Each time we went to court to finalize our adoptions, I found it odd how many times the Judge asked us, “Do you understand that from now on, it will be just as if you had given birth to this child?” Of course we understood! When we adopted them, yes, we meant they would be our children for life, just like when we gave birth to the others.
It’s true our adopted children each came to us as infants and none of them have had any atypical behaviors for us to deal with so far. They’ve never acted out in any ways that have physically or emotionally hurt anyone else in our family. They’ve never needed any specialized therapy nor have we due to parenting them. But they are young yet; those challenges may be coming in the future.
Guess what else is true? The same exact statements could be made about our biological children. Who’s to say which of these five children will ever cause us heartache and strife? If there comes a point when raising any of them becomes insanely difficult, we will find the resources needed to stay together. This is our family.
Adoption Having children is forever, no matter how they
So what are we going to tell the children? We’ve decided that, for as long as possible, we’re not going to tell them anything about it. Just like we protect them from stories of murder or kidnapping, we will shield them from this until they are older. We don’t want to worry their young minds with this. For as long as we can, we won’t let them know that “un-adopting” is a possibility.
Because in our family, it isn’t.
*"Rehoming" and "Disrupted Adoptions" have become the euphemisms for voluntarily relinquishing one’s adopted child.