My family both disrupted a child and adopted a child who disrupted.
Before we understood anything about attachment issues, we adopted a third time… out of birth order, a teen girl who became the oldest child in our family. Of course, we were struggling mightily with Amy and Tommy at the time, but hey—aren’t good intentions enough to make it work? We didn’t know what we didn’t know… We attended a July 4th party hosted by an agency owner (same one mentioned at the end of Part 2, is that a coincidence?) and she placed the international waiting kids book in my lap… Can you say SUCKER?
I remember someone telling us, “Don’t adopt a teenager until you have had a normal teenager in your home!” Did we listen? Of course not. Folks told us not to adopt out of birth order, too. Did we listen? Of course not… And not because we were so sure we had all the answers. (Although we did think the usual… “Well in our home, it will be different!”) It was mostly because we simply couldn’t grasp the magnitude of what they were trying to tell us.
When the teen girl joined us, she honeymooned for about a month. Shortly after she arrived, she told our church hand bell choir director that she came to the USA to “get an education.” She had been sold by her birthmom twice. She had been in eight previous placements. She had a half sister the age of Stephanie (about 8 at the time), so she had a love/hate relationship with Stephanie. (Birthmom was fond of telling the older girl that she loved the younger girl because she loved that child’s father, but she didn’t love the older child…) This teen girl simply couldn’t grasp that I would love her, nurture her and embrace her as my own. Of course, I couldn’t grasp why she couldn’t grasp it…
Because we were already so over our heads, and because we had nothing but grief and trauma from the school district over all three kids, and because folks who were supposed to be helping us, like the placing agency lady, told me it was not possible for me to have three kids who were so full of issues (therefore it was clearly me!)…I finally said, “FINE. If I am so clearly the wrong mom for this child, I quit!” She left six months after she arrived.
Both the local and national placing agencies treated us like dirt. We were not allowed to know anything about her—where she went, whatever. We did hear through the grapevine that they had a hard time getting her into another family… she didn’t want any commitments. Only an education.
The national agency that we used for this placement (not the goofy local lady) was unbelievably proud of themselves about 5-6 years ago when they announced the formation of their post-adoption services department. Huh? They had been placing kids for decades… and they were just now figuring out families needed post-adoption services? If it were me, I would have slipped that news through the back door….
This disrupted placement in my family occurred in the mid 90’s.
To be continued…
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