Sunday, April 18, 2010

One big happy community

IMG_4624 copy As an adoptive community we are large, and no, we don’t all know each other (I’m sure some of you reading know exactly what I am talking about—how many times have you been asked if you knew this person’s aunt’s step-daughter’s step-child that also adopted from China), but the actions of one parent impact us all, some directly and some in-directly. Adoptive parents always receive more scrutiny, more curiosity and we become used to having people ask us personal questions about our fertility, how our families were created and about our children’s birth families. IMG_4659 copy

I have been following the story of Torry Hansen and her returned Russian son with the same morbid curiosity as the rest of the country. None of us want to hear something like this. As adoptive parents we fight to have a legitimate role as parents when too many view as “not real parents” because we are raising children not biologically related to us. The media and government remind us every day that there is a difference between us and all other families. From census forms to taxes to filling out medical forms we are reminded that we are different. When an AP does something so out of the norm, so villainous, we all feel it. We are all expected to respond.IMG_4714 copy

For most, we will agree that it was a dastardly deed. The thought of sending your child alone to another country, well, it defies logic. Most of the non-adoptive community won’t understand this, can’t understand this. To them this is just further proof that adoptive children are not as good as bio children.

I am not defending Torry’s actions, but I do feel sorry for her. I feel sorry for the child that was her son. I feel sorry for the children in Russia and for their American parents that they will never meet. I feel sorry for all of them.IMG_4825 copy2

But I view this as a cautionary tale to all adoptive parents and to be perfectly honest it may not be such a bad thing to finally put it all out there and talk about it. I don’t know Torry. I don’t know her past. I don’t know if she watches TV at night or volunteers in a homeless shelter. I do know she found herself overwhelmed. I know she didn’t make a wise decision, but whether was out of anger, stupidity or out of feeling helplessness and exhaustion, I just don’t know. I don’t know the child and if what she said is true just as I don’t know if what he said about her is true, but having some familiarity with children that have come out of the Russian orphanage system and out of the US foster care system, I would not be surprised if that child had some degree of attachment disorder. If so, parenting and loving a child dealing with attachment disorder is a challenging thing. I personally know a mother that adopted out of the US foster care system and didn’t realize the child had RAD. This child lived with her for a year before she finally understood that something was wrong and the child was finally diagnosed. For her, she never considered disruption. She takes her daughter (and usually the rest of the family) to a RAD specialist 1-2 times a week. She drive 2 hours each direct for these appointments. She quit her job and became a stay at home mom because her daughter could not safely be around other children and could not be in the public school system. She sleeps with every door in the house locked and there are no sharp items any where in the house. There are also no matches, no lighters, no candles and no lit fireplaces. They use plastic utensils. IMG_4902 copy

We look at the decision that Torry made and can’t fathom any parent returning a child. But they do. International adoptions are disrupted with alarming frequency. I remember feeling shocked the first time I heard of it, but now I hear about it several times a month. This isn’t limited to adoptive parents. Bio families disrupt also. Some of you may remember the safe haven law in Nebraska that had to be changed in late 2008 because so many parents were bringing their children, most between the ages of 10 and 17, to hospitals and claiming safe haven. In some cases the parent(s) was just too poor, but in others, they truly could not deal with their child. I used to work in a hospital with a psychiatric center. We saw adults and pediatrics and nearly every time I was floated to that unit a parent was coming in trying to unload their child onto their system. We look at the faces of our beautiful, sweet children and can’t picture a violent child, but they are everywhere. A nearby town recently made national news when the police Tasered a 10 year-old boy. His caregiver called the police twice that day to ask for help. IMG_4656 copy

As a society we believe love conquers all, but it doesn’t. If you’ve ever had your heart broken, you know that love does not conquer all.

Those of us watching this drama unfold in the comfort of our living rooms may feel slightly smug. It seems so obvious to us. You get counseling, you involve your social worker and as a last resort you disrupt the adoption in the US (you do NOT send your child back to the country of origin!). But when you are in deep and you are exhausted and you see no other options you fall into survival mode. As a teen-ager we had a number of different girls living in our house and they all shared a room with me. We had a couple of foster kids and after the last one I said NO MORE. She a year older than me, a year behind me in school, 7 inches taller and 50 lbs heavier than I. I don’t know her back-ground and I have no idea why she was placed in foster care, but I quickly learned to make sure she always fell asleep first at night. I learned to never turn my back on her and I think that is when I began to always make sure my back was to a wall and I could find my way out of a room, a life skill, unfortunately, that I still practice today. I was in survival mode. I was scared. I never told my parents about it, I just told them never again. IMG_4895 copy

I don’t know Torry. I never met her son. I have no idea if what she is saying is true or if what he says is true. I just don’t know. But I do know that there are many sides to a story and I know how hard it is when you find yourself in deep and overwhelmed. I know that some adoptive parents are amazingly unprepared and falsely believing that faith and prayer will relieve them of any future hardship.

To be perfectly honest, I was scared to become a parent. It felt right and it felt like something I was supposed to do, but I was scared. I have experience with attachment disorder. I know how scary and hard it is and there was a part of my brain that wondered if my personal experience was somehow preparing me for parenting a child with attachment disorder. The scariest moments of my life were on December 18, 2008 around 1:30 pm. I was preparing to meet Duc and I was freaked out. I was excited, but I was freaked out. The entire way to the orphanage I began to question myself—just what was I thinking? My life was good, I was happy, I didn’t need to do this, did I? What if this was a huge mistake? I went into the adoption with my eyes wide open, preparing and expecting the worst.

When people ask me if parenthood was everything I thought it would be, I tell them it is better. it is easier. It seems strange, I know, but I was really prepared for something very different. Of course, Duc is young and signs of attachment disorder may not arise until years from now, but at least I know I am as prepared as I can be. I know who to call and I have a plan. IMG_4829 copy

****Reminder: I am not defending her actions. I hope this will be a place for positive discourse***

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I’ll be back soon…promise

I’ll be back soon, I swear. I made myself promise not to blog or hang out on the internet until I completed my taxes and I finally did…two days ago. I have never waited until the week taxes were due and honestly, I don’t have a good excuse. I’m still able to claim his adoption expenses so I am getting a nice return and I could really use the money. My fridge is leaking water all over the floor and I pray I don’t have damage to my flooring.

I just couldn’t make myself do my taxes. I am tired of paperwork. I am tired of 171s and updating home studies. I’m tired of re-adoption paperwork and tired of shuffling paper at work. There is a part of my brain that wants to escape. Grab the Duc and just go somewhere without even packing a bag. I want an adventure. I want to live off the grid. I want to spend every waking moment with my growing little man. I want to stand on a beach at sunset, just the two of us, and feel the sun on my face and watch the wind muss my son’s hair.

I want a break.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

My Son

IMG_4515 b&w And people thought I was the funny one in the family…


About This Blog

This started as my story, but has evolved to OUR story. This is the story of life as a single parent to a wonderful little boy while we wait for baby sister. China LID 2.12.07.

But these things I plan won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, be patient! For it will surely take place. It will not be late by a single day.
Habakkuk 2:3

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