February 7th, 2008
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I would guess that anyone reading this blog would know what the word orphan meant. Most of us would state it means a child without parents, although Answers.com clarifies it to mean a child whose parents are dead. Answers.com lists a second definition as a child who has been deprived of parental care and has not been adopted.

Another definition is one that lacks support, supervision, or care.

All of the above definitions are nouns. Answers.com offers this use of the word orphan as an adjective: Not developed or marketed, especially on account of being commercially unprofitable.

Where is this plethora of definitions leading? Most of you reading this blog are dealing with orphans … orphans in the strictest sense of the word. Kids who lacked parents or parental supervision before coming into your care. But weren’t we all shocked to realize that our parenting of these kids was an orphan cause? That we would struggle to get “support, supervision, or care”? We can’t get that from some of the support groups that are supposed to be there for us, much less the rank and file community member. How often has the RAD blog or the Special Needs Kids blog been featured in the adoption.com newsletter? Who wants to know about the less attractive side of adoption? Ask me sometime about how much ATN has struggled to get NACAC to publically support us, even as we significantly support the families they exist to serve. I’m not trying to stir the pot here … just calling it like I see it.


I get it that we are not politically correct. Me especially, no doubt. But as you folks know, I’m not making this stuff up, now am I?

Are you curious as to what brought this tirade to the surface? Last night, while listening to Super Tuesday coverage in the background, I absentmindedly cruised a few places on the Internet I hadn’t visited recently. One was a discussion board … and someone had posted an article about an 18-year-old adoptee (arrived from Romania when “very young”) who had recently clubbed his parents to death. There were not many responses to the post, but a couple of folks far preferred to believe this young man was on drugs than that he had attachment issues or no conscience. Perhaps they are correct … perhaps not. Nothing was said about drugs in any article I read. Little to nothing has been said about his relationship (or lack thereof) with his parents, other than a very vague mention of police responding to “domestic calls” in the past, when he was a minor.

Most chilling is this statement from this article:

Spearman, who still lived with his parents, had a MySpace site that was last accessed Friday, the day the bodies were discovered. The last update was the day before with a mood indicator that read simply “cold.”

I just addressed the reality of living with dangerous kids when I reported on my interview with Andrew Bridge. If you read the articles written about this recent tragedy, you will learn that the father was a school administrator whose responsibility in his building was discipline … a task he did well and with compassion, according to his peers. And yet, I have little doubt that these parents were struggling. I don’t believe for a moment that something like this happens without any red flags showing up first. I have the same view when I read of a family dog who “suddenly turns” on its family and attacks them. I don’t buy it … Perhaps that dog’s owners didn’t recognize or chose to ignore the numerous warning signs that signaled the dog’s intent, but that doesn’t mean those signs were not present. In the case of “our” families, many of us DO recognize the danger we are in … it is getting appropriate help and resources that is the problem. This case is so sad on so many levels.

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2 Responses to “Orphans and orphan causes”



    You are preaching to the choir.

    I have come to believe that if people don’t understand what you are talking about in five minutes, then five hours, five weeks, FIVE DECADES will not help. Sadly, this has proven true with our family.

    Maybe not so much with people who live it, but people who don’t..there are very few who “get it” after any attempt to educate, especially when it goes against their picket fence view of the “loving” family.

    And I can’t tell you the people who try to educate me!!! None of them have RAD kids. The ones with RAD kids come to me for consolation and “what do you do when….”

  2. revrebecca says:

    Deborah Hage, in one of her books, has a great definition of being an orphan. She talks about it being a state of rootlessness, a sense of being abandoned, alone. I think that is a great definition of ‘orphan’ and very close to what it is about. When one then talks about ‘orphan’ diseases, like reactive attachment disorder or severe challenges in being attached, who in the world wants to hear about or address the diseases of that state of being because the state of being is scary enough! Plus, when a child is adopted, that state of ‘orphan’ being is supposed to go away! Hah! We all know that being adopted parents is not at all for the ‘faint of heart’! I have yet to figure out what exactly my family is about but to parent in a family that is built on the pillars of loss is, at times, a bizarre experience.

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