If you haven’t heard about the explosive Reuters report The Child Exchange, which investigated adoptive parents’ efforts to find new homes for their kids online, here’s the gist:
- Careless parents seek ways to dump their internationally adopted children onto someone else when the going gets tough.
- Careless parents go on the internet for help – *GASP*.
- Careless parents find crazy, child-abusing criminals in a trailer park willing to take their adopted kid- “Yay!” they drop them off, no questions asked.
- Adopted child subsequently gets abused [Insert no-doubt-true, but no-less-sensationalized, horror story examples].
- This happens ALL the time.
- Thank God Yahoo shut down that evil group “Adoption-From-Disruption”!
But here’s how I see it,
- Nice, decent Americans work really hard to adopt lovely, older kids from various countries.
- Adoptive parents get in over their heads when lovely, older kids display lots of difficult, and often times unsafe, behaviors. They fear losing their minds, their tempers, their jobs, or their other children.
- Adoptive parents seek help and support anywhere and everywhere they can.
- As a last resort, adoptive parents try finding a safer living environment for their adopted child and put out an SOS on a private, Yahoo group that has vetted membership.
- Parents have avoided turning the adopted child over to a group home, putting the child on a plane back to their country of origin, or abusing them to death.
When I first heard about parents trying to find someone to re-adopt their children I was horrified and disgusted. How irresponsible? How incredibly traumatizing for the children? But then a friend and fellow psychologist told me how successful many of these second adoptions are, and I was intrigued. Could the first adoptive parents really be doing the child a favor by finding a better family?
Eventually, I joined the now infamous Adoption-From-Disruption Yahoo group and according to my inbox, I’ve read 600+ posts over the past few years. My heart broke for the parents seeking help. Most were seeking a formal second adoption through the courts -not a cavalier transfer of guardianship. The under-and-over current was always shame and guilt. Parents listed dozens and dozens of professional counseling routes and treatments they had exhausted while simultaneously begging not to be judged for their decision.
Now, that one safe place parents could go and talk about the decision to re-home is gone. The problem, however, is not. Adoptive parents in crisis are pushed even further into secrecy and back-alley swaps. Instead, post-adoption services need to be more intensive and widely available. Finding new adoptive parents for children should not be a routine practice but it should be an option supported by the agencies who facilitated the first.
Post adoption resources are available at www.childwelfare.gov.