Disrupted, “Failed” Adoptions and “Re-homing”

This is a very disturbing story that I happened to hear about this morning on the Today Show (yes I admit to watching it.) I’ve heard of “failed” and “disruptive” adoptions. Some people have referred to my experience with my Casey as a “failed” adoption, something I correct immediately. If it was a “failed” adoption my wife and I would’ve had regrets about having casey in our lives, but nothing could be further from the truth, notwithstanding the tragic ending.

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I’d never heard of “re-homing” until this morning. I’d heard of failed adoptions, such as a few from Russia where the children were given a plane ticket – and nothing else – back to the motherland. It’s difficult as an adoptive parent to read these stories as I think that we are all under indictment for the mishaps of a few. This Reuters story chronicles the experience of a teenage Liberian girl adopted by an American couple who couldn’t handle her. So they went online to find new parents. There must be more to the story, because assuming they adopted through legitimate adoption channels, why wouldn’t they go back to those channels?

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I have a friend who had a similar experience. A single mother with a successful career and 2 mainly grown biological children, she adopted 2 girls from a Third World country. We never discussed why she did this, but clearly she was not some crazed child-abuser looking to prey on vulnerable kids. Her intentions were completely honorable. But she became quickly overwhelmed by these 2 girls to the point where she realized they couldn’t stay. It wasn’t good for anybody. Fortunately in her case she found a family that was appropriate for her girls and, hopefully, they are adapting well to their new life.

As I watched the Today Show reporting from Rockefeller Center, one statement stuck with me: “the real problem is the lack of support for adoptive parents.”

Even today, more than 20 years after we adopted Casey from Poland and raised her in the dark, the darkness persists. More is known about attachment and other issues in adoptees, adoptive parents have more support systems available to them, but too many couples are simply not equipped to deal with these difficulties. That means that they either need far more attachment parenting instruction than they may have gotten, or they are not fit parents at all.

This is why I’m hesitant to vilify adoptive parents who appear to be monsters until I have the complete story.