A few years ago, I knew a woman anxiously awaiting the arrival of two little girls from North Africa they were adopting. I didn’t know this woman well, but I chatted with her often because of our adoption link.
I could barely contain my excitement about this adoption, and when the girls finally arrived, I couldn’t keep my hands off these darling children – I hugged them whenever I could, and they’d wrap their little arms around my neck and squeeze.
But I sensed their mother didn’t have those same tendencies. I watched curiously as she interacted with them – hesitantly, with little affection. I know from experience that the maternal bond for adoptive mothers isn’t necessarily instant – but the maternal love should be. When I held the Diva for the first time, I waited for lightning to strike; but it was more like a building storm. My heart still overflowed, and I kissed her face a hundred times and glued her tiny body to my hip over and over until there was no doubt that I was her mom.
A couple of weeks after the girls arrived from Africa, I began to really worry about this family’s lack of adjustment. How would these girls flourish without a mother who loved them? Another week passed with no improvement, and I surreptitiously inquired of friends and teachers about the girls’ well-being. All expressed some misgivings about the family’s new normal.
“I’d take those girls in a heartbeat,” I said to Hot Firefighter Husband.
“I know, I know,” he replied. Because he’s awesome like that. He was privately thinking, “Good grief, I cannot care for another living breathing thing in this house.” But, you know, he would if he had to.
Weeks went by and I lost track of the family. One day, I ran into a mutual acquaintance and asked about the girls.
“Oh, they switched families,” she said. And I was all, WHAT! because, well, WHAT! IT’S NOT MUSICAL CHAIRS, PEOPLE! Plus, I totally wanted those girls. Husband was all, THANK THE GOD I DON’T BELIEVE IN.
Apparently, a friend of the mother’s could see that the adoption was not a good fit. She adored the girls, and offered to take them, and the mother agreed.
I was flabbergasted, relieved, and worried. I have no idea how the children are doing now. I hope their new mother loves them.
If you’re one of the 14 Americans who still watch the evening news, you know that this scenario illustrates an underground process called “rehoming,” and is utilized by adoptive parents who no longer want to raise their children. The story, first reported by Reuters News Service and then reworked for NBC news, recounts the horrific experience of a young girl from Ethiopia adopted in her teens. Her adoptive parents spent a year trying to help her fit in, then decided it wasn’t working. They found a couple through a Yahoo! support group who agreed to take the girl. But this miracle couple had mental problems. They lived in a trash-strewn mobile home. The woman made the girl sleep naked with her. They didn’t send her to school.
Eventually, the girl returned to her adoptive parents. She’s now a young adult, and still trying to reconcile what her legal parents did to her.
This case is particularly awful. But apparently there has been a whole network of people trying to find their adopted kids new homes because the whole multicultural-blended family thing didn’t work out as planned. It’s easy and legal – just sign a notarized document or two.
First of all, you can’t just give away your children. What the fuck? This makes adoption even more misunderstood, if that’s possible. Look, my kids are mine. MINE. They are mine when they’re so damn adorable I could cry, and they’re mine when they write their names on the wall in Sharpie. In many of the above mentioned disrupted adoptions, the issues were serious – violence, tantrums, mental illness. Really? Do you want to see the hole my son punched in the wall? Do you remember that I went to Wisconsin to buy my kid an autism assistance dog even though he doesn’t have autism? Do you even read this blog? Just a few days ago, I fantasized about putting my son’s smooth little face in my hands, looking into his eyes, and saying, “I CANNOT STAND YOU.” But I didn’t, because he’s my son, and mothers don’t do that to their sons. Mostly.
Secondly, people have got to stop hopping on the adoption train because they’re feeling magnanimous. Adoption is a unique, groovy way to expand your family. You are not saving a life. You are changing one. Make sure you’re ready to change it for the better. You cannot take an adolescent girl from Ethiopia, rip her away from all that is familiar, bring her to America and make her eat Cheetos, and expect her to turn into Selena Gomez. Seriously, she’s going to have some issues. I mean, I have lots of issues, and I’ve never even been to Ethiopia.
Okay, having verbally regurgitated my indignation, let me also say that I have some sympathy for these parents. Raising a special needs child can lead to trauma, drama, and a moderate-to-heavy drinking habit. I’d much prefer to spend money on new boxing equipment or some sex toys instead of sending my autism assistance dog to service dog boot camp.
Wait. Did I just say that sex toy think out loud? Well, that’s another problem with adopting children. If you get greedy and bring home three of them, you spend a lot more time in beds that are not your own, and not for fun, if you know what I mean. And your few spare moments are dedicated to picking up dog poop and folding clothes.
But every once in a while, one of those kids will hand you an enormous boogie that she has dug out of her nose, and say, with pride, “Look at this one, Mom!” and you will realize that this gorgeous child has placed her soft, malleable heart in your hands, and you will feel a sense of humility and purpose so powerful that you gratefully accept the boogie, kiss her on the forehead, and tell her to wash up for dinner. The end.