Thursday, June 2, 2011

Adoption Miscarriage

Remember the “Might Be” post? 

Well, let's just say I considered naming this one "NOT" and leaving it at that.

However, I've found that blogging can be a very cheap and therapeutic way to process things. In addition, I've actually received a lot of support and understanding from others who have been in situations similar to the ones I've written about.  So although we've had a couple of weeks to mull over the disappointing news, I think I'm finally ready to share a few more details in an attempt to move closer to closure and sort things out.

First, a little background:

I've witnessed a phenomenon in American family structure that is becoming more and more common these days and it is this: Grandparents raising their grandchildren. What accounts for this? It could be a combination of things, including teen pregnancies, divorce, financial hardship, and increasing rates of incarceration due to addictions.

Grandparents raising grandchildren was the precise background of our recent prospective adoptive situation. We were contacted by the grandparents of a child (after they saw our adoption profile online) who have become the full-time permanent caregivers and legal guardians to their two-year old granddaughter because their daughter, the child's birthmother, is no longer capable of parenting. These grandparents adore their granddaughter and have been raising her for over a year, but they are advancing in age and they also have some significant health problems. Needless to say, chasing after a toddler and potty training was not part of their retirement plans.
Assumption #1- Don't these grandparents love their granddaughter? 

This is an important assumption to explore because, sadly, many people still mistakenly believe that placing a child for adoption is synonymous with not loving a child, when in reality, just the OPPOSITE is true.

These grandparents absolutely love their granddaughter! But they want to be her grandparents- not her parents. They are faced with a difficult and painful decision but one of the things that drew them to us is the fact that we are happy to let them remain a part of their granddaughter's life through open adoption.

Assumption #2- "They must not know what a delicate and complex issue adoption is if they would consider placing their own granddaughter for adoption."

This assumption couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, these grandparents happen to know the legal ropes as well as the delicate psychological issues involved in adoption because half of their children, including the birthparent of their granddaughter, were adopted from the foster care system. In fact, we've had some very good discussions together about child welfare in general, social workers, family law, bonding and attachment, how to best transition children into a new adoptive home, and even the psychological aspects of changing a child's name at adoption. I've also learned a little more about Reactive Attachment Disorder- not just in children but the lasting effects of RAD on adults, which, among other things, is a big factor in why their own daughter is incapable of parenting at this time.

Most people would be puzzled or shocked, and even judgmental towards a woman who never even inquires about her own children. But when you have the additional knowledge about the woman's background- specifically, that she had a very rough childhood and spent time in the foster care system and was later adopted as an older child, then things make more sense. And as much as I hate to be stereotypical about all children who are "products" of the foster care system, because each person's case is different and unique, in this birthmother's particular case, the end result is very spot on with the statistics I shared from the book Orphans of the Living, which I wrote about in this post.  [Incidentally, speaking of older child adoption, attachment disorders, and the role of nurture versus nature, adoptive mother Felicia recently shared her insights in this post.]

The bottom line is this: Whether incarcerated, homeless, mentally ill, addicted to drugs, or having a previous history of children permanently being removed from their care, birthparents still have rights.  This birthmother cannot parent her daughter, but she will not consent to anybody adopting her daughter except for her own parents.  The grandparents want us to adopt their granddaughter and we would love to adopt her, too.

But that’s not going to happen.

The Good News & Bad News:

-The good news is that we were only two and a half months along in this prospective placement.

-The bad news is that although 2 months isn't 7 or 8 months it's still plenty of time to become attached to a child and a family, especially when the child in question has been in our home two or three times a week over the past couple of months from 2-4 hours at a time and we've had the hopes of her becoming a permanent member of our family through adoption.

We've just gone through a very emotionally exhausting bumpy roller coaster ride in our adoption journey and in the meantime we will be waiting for our next foster placement or for some birthparents to find us who give us their full blessing in adopting their child.