I spent a fair amount of time on the phone yesterday, talking to a mom who was soon embarking on a road trip across several states to meet a potential new family member. This mom and her husband had one bio daughter who was a couple of years older than the child they were traveling to meet. The child in question arrived in the USA six months ago and was disrupting from the first placement. I’m sure you know where I’m going with this … this mom’s family is potentially the next placement for this child.
At the end of the 45 minute conversation, this mom said, “I didn’t like you at first and I didn’t like what you were saying, but now I am glad I talked to you. I know I needed to hear what you had to say.” Admittedly, I am tired and had family here today and I started out the conversation by saying I was probably going to be even more “to the point” than normal. Considering I am often the bearer of information folks don’t want to hear even when it is softened, it goes without saying that blunter is not better!
This family has the impression that the placing mom is a large part of the problem. Gee, we have all heard that before, haven’t we? I told her that even if the mom was a large part of the problem, there was no way this child has escaped trauma or would arrive in a new family without some very real baggage. I talked about what that might look like. I talked about the impact that might have on their daughter and their marriage and their “normal” family dynamics.
I told her how Dora still slept on a mattress next to my bed, and how that arrangement was likely to continue for quite some time. I shared with her how Dora missed few opportunities to anger or aggravate Beth, often due to jealousy over Beth’s relationship with us and her successful life. I asked her how she would respond when, a mere month into the placement, this new child asked if the mom loved the new child as much as mom loved the bio daughter?
I assured this mom that I was very pro-adoption and would love for this child to find a wonderful home where they were loved and given the opportunity to heal from past traumas. However, I am equally (or perhaps more so) pro-family, because I have learned the hard way that imploding an entire family benefits no one. A previously healthy family that disintegrates is of no value to an already-wounded child. I deplore being the rain-maker on such an exciting event in the life of a family … but I’d rather see the family be adequately prepared and able to succeed. They need to know where to find big umbrellas …
At one point this family was in the works for an international adoption on their own. It didn’t happen, and this mom felt this opportunity was meant to be. However, she did realize at the end of our conversation that had she asked me these questions about a potential direct placement, I would have given her the same answers. The fact that the child is disrupting merely adds one more layer, one more dimension to the scenario.