I am a middle aged, single, first time adoptive mom. My beautiful, precocious, amazing little girl is 5 years old, and she is the joy of my life.
I am always amazed to watch the nature vs nurture reality as it plays out in my life on a daily basis. She is athletic, which I am not. She is unusually focused for her age. And she has an innate mechanical/spatial sense that I have never had. At 2 ½ she was putting together 48 piece puzzles, that were a challenge to me. All that is her genes, not my influence.
But like me, she loves books and art and the night sky. She can spend hours in museums, and she is such a good traveler, who goes with the flow when flights get canceled and plans need to be revamped. She’s an urban kid who loves the bustle of city life, but who feels a deep connection to animals and plants and nature. She struggles over ethical issues. Last week, during a playdate, a friend gave her a blue candy that the little friend had stolen from her mom’s secret stash. The friend made my daughter promise not to tell. My sweet girl knows that a promise is important, and you don’t break a promise. When I asked her why her tongue was blue, she had a real breakdown. A tantrum. For almost two hours. It was a dilemma. Lie to mom, or break a promise to a friend. Finally, she came clean, and we talked about the issue a lot. She overthinks stuff. She has a strong emotional reaction to ethical dilemmas. Just like me.
We are a multiracial family, and in our neighborhood, her skin color is more common than mine. That is really important to me. She understands the circumstances of her birth, in an age appropriate way. I will always be honest with her, and answer any questions that she has truthfully. She knows that she lived with a wonderful foster family for the first 13 months of her life, and she knows that I always wanted a little girl, and that is why I adopted her, and that I believe I am very very lucky to be her mommy.
Like many adopted children, especially kids who were not adopted as infants, she has issues. She does not have serious abandonment concerns, which are common among adopted kids. But I have always been vigilant on that issue. Because she was in an excellent foster care situation (luck of the draw) she does not suffer from any of the issues that children who did not receive enough stimulation as infants often suffer from, such as sensory integration disorder. Some kids were exposed to alcohol or drugs or poor nutrition in vitro, or abuse or neglect after birth, and have physical or psychological problems that need to be proactively addressed by parents and medical professionals. Among the most serious issues is RAD, reactive attachment disorder, which requires serious interventions. As a prospective adoptive parent, I educated my self, and was prepared to face a host of issues. No parent should be considering adoption without considering potential issues which their family may face. My daughter’s problems surface at night. She has always had nightmares and night terrors and confused awakenings and on rare occasions, sleep walking. She was almost 4 when she started sleeping through the night more often than not. Now, at 5, she probably sleeps through 5 or 6 nights a week, and I am thrilled with her progress.
I am very active in various adoptive parent networks, and she knows lots of other kids who were adopted. Here in NYC, they are mostly progressive families, with quite a few wonderful two-dad families.
But my adoption journey led me into a world that I did not know existed. A LOT of adoptive families are fundamentalist Christians. Lots of full-quiver families. Lots of homeschoolers. They are especially interested in international adoption, and the opportunity to save little souls pre-rapture. Many of them do not prepare themselves for adoption, and are not aware of some of the special needs that adopted kids may face. Some believe that hugs and prayer will cure all, while others are adherents to the “spare the rod, spoil the child” mentality. I often think of the families who I have met along this journey, and I honestly fear for many of these kids. There have been some highly publicized stories about adopted kids dying in the care of the people who were supposed to protect and care for them. But there are certainly a lot of kids out there who are not getting the loving, informed, proactive families that they deserve.
These good Christians beat one child to death.
These good Christians just didn’t like their kids very much, and didn’t feed them and left them outside in the cold like dogs.
Adoption can be a wonderful thing. It is certainly a life-altering event for everyone involved. But there is a subset of the adoptive parent community who really scare me, and I fear for the kids who need and deserve love and support, but get something else.