This article has been circulating around my many list-serves and from friends. What do you think about this woman’s decision? I thought it was interesting that she voiced what I think so many adoptive and prospective adoptive parents are unwilling to say out loud for fear of being judged. The orientalism and negativity about birth parents and naivite about adopting babies from other countries as being less messed-up are topics I’m not going to address in this post. What I’m really interested is in this idea of adoptive parents deciding what they can handle.
I didn’t want a second opinion; I wanted my perfect daughter back. Back home, Neil went online and looked up head circumference and height and weight charts for rural southern Indian girls. She wasn’t on that chart either.
I wished we were different people, the kind who would welcome this child, welcome the risks, with no questions asked. I wanted to help her, to make her OK. But what if I couldn’t? Could I love her anyway? To a parent, this question must be unthinkable. You love your child no matter what, accepting all limits and gifts. But we had a choice, and the magical thread that had spun us around this child for the previous two days was beginning to unwind and tangle. Until we signed the referral papers, until an Indian judge granted us legal guardianship, she was not ours. We had a choice.
That passage really struck me in a familiar way.
Once I made some prospective adoptive parents cry. We were in a meeting and they were frustrated by how long the process was. As prospective parents, they had spent the last several months submitting their home study for several children and they had not been chosen by these youth’s social workers. They were feeling rejected. However, at this same meeting their home study worker had a 4" binder filled with photos of waiting children and I watched as one after the other they’d reject these youth based on "too high needs" or "too old" or "his parent’s history of mental health" or "just doesn’t seem like a good fit."
So when they expressed frustration about being rejected by all these youth’s social workers, I couldn’t help but remind them that they’d just done the same thing to a binder full of children. As this thought sank in, they realized the truth of that statement. I didn’t intend to make this couple cry, but I wanted them to realize that "matching" parents and children isn’t just as easy or romantic as picking someone from a photo. Workers for both children and parents have a tough job. These adoptive parents were focusing solely on their own needs and their feelings. They’d had six months of rejection, these children in the binder had years. Children aren’t perfect and prospective adoptive parents are looking for that gem in the haystack. But often social workers for the children are doing the same thing. We’re looking for that parent or parents who won’t reject our children and who we think will be the parents that can best meet their needs.