October 15, 2014

Child Welfare or Conflict of Interest?

It seems like every day my sweet son decides he wants to be something different when he grows up.  The other day he came home from school proclaiming he wants to be a bull rider...what every mother wants to hear! 
As I sat through an all-day seminar recently, entitled
"Trauma: How it Affects Growth and Development in Children", hosted by the OK Adoption Coalition,
I felt as if I was getting a taste of my son's desired profession.

Being adopted feels like quite a ride in itself. 
Much less hearing "professional" commentators give the play by play, without any riding experience of their own. 
Adoptees are left to dismount and clean up after the animal ourselves. 


I can't tell you how difficult it is to live in a society which disregards the fact that changing an a child's name, sealing their history from them indefinitely, and then asking them, as well, to emotionally navigate a role as a "new" member of a family they share no genetic history with, and whose caretakers need to be emotionally and legally seen as "Mom and Dad", only serves to disenfranchise the child's trauma and loss, and piles on an added layer of complex loyalty issues. 

Does adoption, the way it is done today, truly serve the child it claims to serve, or those in the business of "building" families?  

I am certainly not advocating for children who need homes not to have them. 
I am simply asking if adoption may need a second look in order to serve those it claims to serve.

Must a child be required to relinquish his identity, name, and right to his own history in order to receive care? 

"Attachment Theory" labels a child defective if they fail to "attach" to a new care-giver (who get's to define this concept?), because, as the speaker stated...
"It's not in their DNA...babies will 'indiscriminately' attach up to six months old.  That is why it is SO important to terminate parental rights as quickly as possible and provide 'permanence' for these "kiddos". 
I felt more like a goat than a human being after hearing this.
We are not ducks who will "imprint" on the first person we see after hatching from the egg. 

We are humans who experience profound life-long loss when separated from our mothers and families.  Our society gives more respect to the need for animals to bond with their mothers than we do human-beings. 

If DNA and genetic mirroring were not essential parts of our human experience in relational development...why is the internet full of searching adoptees and first families?
And what of this:

This is a visual of a theory which the adoption industry works hard to dismantle. 
Nancy Verrier, a psychologist and adoptive mother, says...

"There exists a great need for legislative action and concern for the rights of adoptees.
Few dare give voice to that which they know in their hearts: that the connection between biological family and child is primal, mystical, mysterious, and everlasting.
Far more than merely biological and historical, this primal connection is also cellular, psychological, emotional, and spiritual."

The defining moment during this seminar, was the moment the entire room erupted in applause when the speaker made the assertion that...

"'culture" is defined only through 'relationship'".   
"Best interest" of a child cannot be undermined in the "name of culture".    
It was obvious, everyone was thinking of the Baby Veronica case and the role ICWA played in that long-drawn out tragic battle over a child's very identity and livelihood.

Veronica Brown is living her life separated from the blood that created her, the relationships that could have, and did, nurture her very core.  All because of this theory, unethical adoption practices, and the power it has garnered by an adoption community that still sees children as "blank slates" and, unfortunately, possessions.  Talk about (unnecessary) trauma this child continues to endure. 

When will America wake up and ensure an end to the commodifying of children and conflict of interest in our adoption system? 

This entire seminar asserted continual "put downs" of "bios".
According to the people in that room, it seemed as if the only relationships that matter are in man-made "legal" families.
There was not one word or acknowledgement of the need (or right) of a child to be raised in his/her own family if at all possible.

The inherent right of a child to be raised by his/her fit and loving family is often thwarted by a system which gives agencies and foster/ hopeful adoptive parents the legal ability to draw out a contested adoption in court and then argue "best interest" of a child to stay with the "only family they have ever known".

We need to ensure ethical adoption laws which protect natural families who contest adoptions.  Every child deserves his/her own attorney.

We need to ensure that "permanency" isn't influenced by financial federal incentives and tax credits which bring money into states each time they encourage "adoption" placements over reunification efforts with a child's natural family if at all possible.

Are federal adoption incentives influencing child welfare philosophy and policy, because states are rewarded monetarily for each adoption completed, but not for services towards natural families, family preservation, and reunification efforts?  

Building "Swift Adoption Programs" and utilizing "Bridge" foster programs which serve foster parents whose ultimate goal is adopting,  is yet another conflict of interest, in a child welfare system whose first goal should be preservation of natural families and kinship. 
"Attachment" to a caregiver is necessary for survival, but for an adoptee it feels like holding on for dear life, while dangling over a cliff-edge. 
There are many ways of coping. 
Some are more vocal, others will keep their silent screams inside.  

The last thing we need is a lucrative adoption industry feeding society myths and flawed theories which disenfranchise and exploit the very ones they claim to be serving. 
Yet these same "experts" are the ones who seem to have the ear of our court systems, DHS, legislators and behavioral health services. 
The ones making life-long decisions.
It feels like adoptees are perpetual children in the middle of a never-ending game of keep away. 
We are marginalized by being labeled "bitter" if we speak of the injustice of having our names changed, identities sealed, or families separated through coercion or conflict of interest. 
Sealed records in adoption not only strips adoptee's of their identity, but it also fails to ensure ethical adoption practices.  A lot can be hidden behind a sealed record.

I once spoke to an adoption attorney who asserted that a new "amended" birth certificate and name must be assigned to an adoptee in order to prevent them from being seen as "second class". 
The more I thought about it, the more I realized, that it is the act of changing and sealing our identities that actually makes us "second class".

We get the message that we are not acceptable unless "amended".

Separation from their biological connections, along with the added trauma of disenfranchised grief a child is forced to endure as their identity is changed and sealed; their survival in a new family dependent on loyalty to a splitting off of their true selves, could be the real culprit in a child's inability to soothe and

Instead, we now have "professionals" contracted by those who earn their living by adoption, defining terms such as "best interest", "psychological parent", "permanency", and "attachment" based on the perceptions of adoptive parents, rather than protecting the inherent right of a child to their identity, family history and connections. 

We need to start honoring the child, not who the child can become to complete a new family.

The fact foster and adoptive parents don't have a biological understanding of their child, the child is more at risk of being abused or drugged just to conform to unrealistic expectations. 

 When a child doesn't have any mirroring of their own self through their family, they struggle with anxiety and hypervigilance. 
It often presents as ADD or even sensory issues. Yet it is termed as "attachment issues" or "RAD" and the child is given a label for a truly natural response, rather than the problem being placed on the system that put the child in the unnatural situation in the first place. 
My heart went out to one mother who stood up asking for help for her eighteen year old adopted son.  She said he had gone through all "the therapy" and was still struggling.  What could she do? 
Out of an entire room full of self-asserted "expertise", she got no help whatsoever.  Instead of being given resources that could truly help her family and son, she was given a "band aide". 

The speaker described an exercise they do with "traumatized" children which consists of handing the child a band aide and asking them to put it on their body somewhere.  This supposedly helps the child feel more comfortable to "unload their baggage" because if they can acknowledge they have an "owie" somewhere on their body, they can then acknowledge a heart issue more readily. 
How willingly will a child (or adult) adoptee acknowledge true heart issues of genealogical bewilderment while also trying to navigate complex loyalty issues in a new role and family they are assigned; and receiving "therapy" which asserts their only "trauma" was caused by the "bios"?

Adoptees are forced to live a life-script written by others.  The conflict of interest issues and the myths perpetuated by those who profit off "placements" skew these narratives.

With flawed theories of "attachment" like defined in the comment below, no wonder adoptee's live a life-time of disenfranchised grief. 

We deserve better.  We deserve an adoption system not driven as a business, run by the economic principles of supply and demand.  The sealing of our records steals not only our identities, but also any accountability over the businesses who profit from us.

If adoption and state agencies are contracting with behavioral health "experts" who perpetuate these myths (and many others) to adoptive parents, what kind of damage does that do? 
Foster and adoptive parents deserve better.  Children deserve better. 

I was blessed with an adoptive family who supported my search and reunion. 
I grieve the time we lost as a family, and found that I could only truly embrace myself when I was able to know and embrace my dual identity as an adoptee...by both birth and adoption.
When I found the courage to grieve the losses that had been disenfranchised my entire life, I was finally able to feel both the good and the bad in life, and embrace my families fully.  Adoptee's developmental tasks are stunted by archaic "sealed records" laws and the myths that hold us apart and at bay in understanding and acknowledgment. 

The only other adoptee I could tell was in the building the day of this seminar was a darling baby boy dressed in business casual being cooed over and passed around the table like fresh meat. 

I pray for him, and for the eighteen year old son of the concerned mother. 
And for all of us.   


Robin said...

This is a wonderful post and it expresses everything I feel about adoption.

Marley Greiner said...

Good God! I've heard Purvis speak 3 times in person. She's a serious whackjob. Shew be belongs on Comedy Central--only she's not that funny.