I want to talk about the reaction in the adoption community when the news broke about the Hart family and the reaction by some vocal adoptive parents in the community. I don’t want to talk about what happened because it serves no purpose. I want to speak carefully, but I have my own lived experience that applies a filter and bias to my words.
I want to talk about the assumption made by strangers on the internet that the children had troubles. That all children adopted via the state, have severe troubles. Troubles that even the most saintly adoptive parent would snap from. The sheer number in the community that spouted justifications because the children probably had multiple alphabet diagnoses, disappoints me. How easy it was for some to go right into the blame the children mode, which always both surprises and disgusts me, while at the same time, they were urging caution on the rush to judgement on the adoptive parents until the facts are in.
All of you who did that should be ashamed of yourself. Being an adoptive parent doesn’t confer automatic sainthood and protection from any harm they’ve done, there is no magic mantle bestowed on you. Admitting that some adoptive parents should never have been allowed to adopt, or adopt again, will not taint how your friends and family view you as an adoptive parent. They won’t suddenly view you with suspicion because of actions by adoptive parents you had no association with, aren’t like. Instead of circling the wagons, doubling down on throwing the children under the bus, start conversations in your community on ways to do better supporting others, without it becoming a cheering squad to adopt more children to get more praise:
- post adoption professional support and the need for it, where you’ve found it, how you accessed it. The need to pay for professional services even when you’re living on a shoe-string budget, you need to find a way, a solution if your family is struggling and need someone to turn too, ways to afford it.
- the danger in non-professional arm-chair adoptive parents diagnosing children over the internet with any number of alphabet diagnoses. A problem within the community that is growing and needs to just stop, and stopping it, starts with you pushing back when you see it.
- how the saviorism mentality in some in the adoption community is dangerous. You adopt to become parents, not saviors, if you think otherwise, don’t adopt. And for goodness sake, don’t add to the illusion that an adoptive parent is a savior by cheering that mentality on.
- the cheering on of people talking about adopting more children than anyone can parent effectively, while at the same time, talking about how hard it is to parent children from hard places. Doing this only deludes people into thinking they’re saviors, when they aren’t. Cheering on people you don’t know from a hill of beans, other than what their social media presence shows you, is ill-advised.
- how offering support is different from being the cheer squad, understand the difference, talk about how one helps by providing honest opinions and suggestions or just a shoulder to cry on, the other, gives someone a free-pass because they’re saviors so go for it rah-rah-rah.
Now, I’m sure there will be adoptive parents by now reading this, wanting to ask who the hell I think I am chastising adoptive parents.
I’ve alluded before to the challenges mom and dad faced with a sibling. Here’s what my parents did when mom reached her limit (and she had the patience of a saint and so much empathy for others). Mom told dad she’d reached her limit and needed to get away. Dad believed her and agreed, but instead of her leaving, he packed us kids up with the camping gear, food, clothes, and took us away on our yearly camping trip to National Parks. A time when there wasn’t fast food, he cooked us nutritionally sound vegetarian meals on a camp stove (I probably helped him but don’t remember). He drove thousands of miles with three squabbling children for company, no air-conditioning, no ipads to watch movies on, or games to play other than I Spy With My Little Eye. I don’t remember how many National Parks we did that trip, I know we headed to Utah first, we camped, we hiked, swam, we headed down to Arizona from there where we rode down the Grand Canyon on mules, we did stay there at least one night in a rented cabin instead of the tent. Then dad drove us to California to stay with relatives for a few days (my aunt said we looked like ragamuffins straggling in, we just wanted to dive into their pool). Dad took us to Disneyland for the day, I think Knox Berry Farm too. Then we started the trip back up the coast to home stopping along the way. I don’t know how long we were gone, but dad parented us solo for at least three weeks non-stop, and that was his vacation from being on-call 24/7 to his patients, never-mind growing most of our food or caring for two grandmas.
That break for mom turned a corner, things got better between her and my sibling ever so slowly over the next couple of years. Dad did the trip solo because mom needed a break from my sibling, not because it was his idea of fun. He did it because they communicated honestly, they left their ego’s at the door, they looked for solutions. Both mom and dad stood up and did what it took, despite the cost to them throughout all their years, they never blamed my sibling because it wasn’t her fault she was the way she was, they supported each other and put their trust in the Lord. They were both far better people than I’ll ever be, because I’ve questioned her intent and troubles many times. They both had the adoptive parent material you need to have when one of your children has troubles.
I don’t have adoptive parent material in me, most people probably don’t either, but some will think they do because there’s a group of other adoptive parents cheering them on when they shouldn’t. Support is always needed for a struggling adoptive parent, understand the difference between what support is versus being a cheering squad for some random adoptive parent on the internet.