Sunday, August 27, 2006

Contact

This forum conversation is really really bothering me.

Now, I don't know what circumstances my child/ren will come to us with. If there is even the possibility of safe contact with family members, or if they have unrelated people in their lives that are important to them (and I hope hope hope they do, whether family or not), like current foster parents, teachers, friends and friends' parents, well, we've got free long distance, a webcam, and we loves us some roadtrips.

But back to their families: what if it can't be done? In the news around here lately is a couple whose 7 week old baby went into the hospital with broken ribs, broken legs, and a partially healed clavicle fracture, as well as multiple bruises. Seven weeks old. Meanwhile, a teenage girl recently escaped from her home, where she was shackled to a bed for an indeterminate length of time. Though she is 14, she has the weight and height of an 8 year old. Confinement, starvation. If we become adoptive parents to children who have gone through something like that, I would not advocate for openness after the adoption. I would want to run as far as I can from those families.

I don't know how I'm going to be able to find a balance. I don't know how we will decide whether (and how) to exclude or include our childrens' families. Yes, if our kids' families had been able to properly care for them, they wouldn't now be wards of the state. But if that were me, wouldn't I feel the loss just the same? Wouldn't I have guilt, self-hatred, disappointment, and regret? It would be easier to believe that people who do horrible things to their children are lacking in humanity. I wish I could consider them monsters and write them off as such, then never bring it up again, wave a magic wand and make the children forget. But I woudn't want my children to think that way of their parents, as they are a part of their parents. I want to be able to stress that it was the decisions that were bad, not their parents. I firmly believe that shit-talking their parents will be the exact same thing as shit-talking my child, and that's somewhere I'll not be going. But how will I respect someone who has done so much harm to their children that they have lost the right to parent them?

I suppose time will tell. The more we know about a specific child, the more we will get a sense of what the possibilites for contact with his/her family are. Whether it is nothing, letters sent through the state, or visits, we'll figure it out when we get there.

I guess this is why domestic infant adoptions that close are so frustrating to me. Kids coming from state care often don't have their families clamoring for more time with them. I read blogs of women whose children were adopted, or blogs where adoptive moms have wide open relationships with their child's mother, and I am insanely jealous of the open relationship, and my chest starts to hurt when adoptions have been closed. For one reason or another, we'll not likely be getting big girl panties from our kids' mom during pottytraining, won't be sending art projects through the mail, won't be sending invitations to middle school graduation to mom and dad. Hopefully, we'll be able to maintain relationships with someone in their family, or at least someone from his/her past, but most likely, the connection with the original parents is already lost.

I guess all I'm saying here is, "Woe is me." I'm just confused, and sometimes writing things out helps.

5 comments:

Margaret said...

This is something that I wonder about to. If my child has healthy relationships with any family members than I will be more than supportive. And I've read a lot of profiles where that seems to be the case. But what if that family tie is a stressor or prevents the child from healing? I couldn't support that... of course I wouldn't just cut off ties I would handle things appropriately, but still. Some states write legal contracts where visitation time is court mandated. That would worry me.

Maerlowe said...

Where we are, the kids' profiles will say if they need to keep in contact with anyone (siblings, grandparents, parents, etc), and not many profiles say it. This gives me the impression that our state is not so big on open relationships, and I have heard that it is usually the sole responsibility of the adoptive parents to establish/maintain relationships, as they are rarely written into the contracts. I guess Texas is hardass.

baggage said...

I also think that not a lot of profiles say it because there are not safe people for them to be in contact with. Bug's profile said she needed to maintain SOME contact with her brother. Which we do. But even that relationship has boundaries. I wish like hell that things were different. It is just one of the sad truths about foster care. I encourage Bug to write to her mom, set aside picture etc. Maybe one day her mom will get her act together and we can send those things to her. I hope.

wavybrains said...

I saw your great comment on "Open Window." As we move foward with foster-adopt training, this is an issue we struggle with too. It is very difficult knowing that "openness" is good for kids and then actually putting that in practice is another story. I'm hoping that we learn a lot more about these issues through our training and reading.

Shari said...

I'm of the same mind when considering openness for our future children. We're in Canada, and our province actually asks on the application to adopt, how much openness we would be comfortable with. The focter care system also would not allow openness with family members that were deemed to be unstable or harmful to the child. But no matter what happens, I'm with you. No trash talking the birth family. And I love what Baggage is doing with Bug. Write letters and save pictures - there might come a day when the birthmom is finally ready for a real relationship, and it might be enormously healing to have been preparing for that all along.