I grew up in a home that was calm, soothing, voices didn’t get raised. The closest version to the ideal 1950’s family with 2.5 kids and a white picket fence you could imagine. Along the way growing up in the ideal family home, something changed.
It would randomly be filled with violence, physical and emotional violence. Not from mom or dad, but by a sibling. It destroyed the fairy-tale version of our life. Instead, you could be having a normal day and in the blink of an eye, the raging would come out of nowhere. It was bad. Mom and dad did everything they could think of to make things better. They even took the drastic measure of having my sibling stay with friends of the family, for a while it seemed to help, until, it didn’t, so back to our home. They tried a hospital, that didn’t help either, back home again. We survived, we dealt with each reoccurrence. We lived through it. Eventually, the rages became less and less. Life returned to a new somewhat normal life, the emotional violence still existed, not like before, but livable. Now days, the physical violence is a thing of the past, been that way for decades and is never spoken of, but my sibling still has serious challenges. Challenges that can’t be overcome. Ever.
The above is the most descriptive version I’m willing to divulge. And, I’m divulging it having first hand lived experience of being the youngest in a home where it existed.
The amount of rehoming, dissolving of adoptions destroys me. Somewhere in the adoption process, the drive to make adoptions happen, seems to have short-circuited the need to make sure the people who adopt, are up to any challenge adopting a child comes with. There are some people who should never have been approved by the adoption professionals to adopt, yet they were. For those who are capable, they need the resources and support to seek the help that wasn’t there back in my era. True help that doesn’t include dissolving the adoption, rather a first resource to reach out to, when mitigation by mental health professionals may reduce the impact on the family, and, help the child. Help that takes the early concerns seriously, rather than ignoring the warning signs, or blows them off completely.
When my sibling went away both times, I was relieved. Thankful even. I also knew we were all still family, that hadn’t changed. That what had happened, the choices made, were interventions, not something permanent. I can’t tell you that if mom and dad had returned my sibling that I’d have been damaged by it. My sibling wasn’t returned. I can tell you that even with the ideal family, I have always had trust issues, issues that I’ve had as long as I can remember so it must be traced back to not being kept. With that in mind, if my sibling had been returned, the trust I had in my family being my family always would have been severely tested, possibly destroyed. Of course, that is also conjecture on my part, but, it is based on knowing myself well. Growing up with the physical and emotional violence was hard. It destroyed our peaceful loving family life. It left scars that still exist today. It didn’t destroy us, it did change us. It changed me, or so I’m told, it changed me into the ‘make everyone happy even if it hurt me’ personality. It also proved to me that mom and dad would never turn their back on any of us. I trusted them, even if I never fully trust another not to leave me, I knew they never would, and even in death they are still with me.
I’m challenging the adoption industry to do better.
To demand all adoption professionals adhere to the highest standards of scrutiny when people want to adopt. To deny any they don’t believe will be there through good and bad, especially through the bad. If an adoption professional doesn’t have that standard, to out them to the proper authorities so they can’t cause harm.
To make sure that proper resources be available to the adoptive families who they helped make into families. To require that adoptive families who reach out; are heard, responded to, helped, and never ignored. To figure out how those resources can be affordable to the family, use your clout, your lobbying to fix what’s lacking for current adoptive families instead of trying to increase numbers of adoptions from other countries. Mandate that if you can’t offer post adoption resources, real resources for your clients, that you close your doors, and find other jobs, because failing children and families doesn’t meet the standard of best interest of the child.
And all prospective adoptive families to really consider if you have it in you.
I’m challenging prospective adoptive parents to not adopt, if you think you can’t deal with all the different outcomes that can happen. Including mental health challenges that will try to tear your family to bits, cause lasting scars, change what you thought your life would be like.
P.s. my sibling came home at birth…