“Forever families” returning adopted children

I follow a well-known re-adoption site on Facebook. For a few years now, I’ve been following this site, after the Reuter’s re-homing story came out, and I was looking to see if there were similar sites on Facebook. This site, which I am not naming (but others in the linked blog posts below have) is not a re-homing site in the strict sense because these re-adoptions are supervised under an agency. However, the result is largely the same – children who were placed in their “forever family” are now living with the reality that that “forever family” isn’t at all “forever” but just another temporary pit-stop in their already bumpy road to long-lasting, securely attached relationships. Most of these children, from reading the descriptions, have behaviors that the current/recent adoptive family finds too problematic. Sometimes, these are because of disabilities, but it is hard to know that for sure.

For the past few years I’ve been tracking the postings on this site, collecting data that I hope to analyze at some point. A couple of weeks ago one of the postings caught my eye because of the time span involved. A child was adopted from China, and the adoptive parents were seeking a new home for this child after less than two months. From other commentary I read online it seems likely that the adoptive parents knew they were not going to keep this child and had planned to try to “re-adopt” her once she arrived in the U.S.

pid_23481I happen to also be reading a book I just learned about, by Leslie K. Wang, an Assistant Professor of Sociology at University of Massachusetts Boston. Wang’s book, Outsourced Children: Orphanage Care and Adoption in Globalizing China, discusses the movement of Chinese children – particularly girls – to U.S. and other Western countries for adoption and about the boys and disabled children left behind, cared for largely by “donations” resulting from the adoption fees. For the past several years, the availability of “healthy infant” girls from China has been very, very low. It’s pretty well known now that most of the children available for intercountry adoption from China are “special needs” so I would have hoped that this family had worked with an adoption agency that had helped them understand that any child they adopt would be highly likely to have one or more disabilities. Then again, from my own research and that of Liz Raleigh and others, we know agencies are not always helping prospective adoptive parents understand this reality.

The post on this Facebook group was particularly difficult to read; the adoptive parents who decided they didn’t want to care for this girl nonetheless had a lot of demands for who they thought should adopt – including, “her current family will consider a new family who is Evangelical Christian and committed to teaching Sophia about the love of Christ and how to have a personal relationship with Jesus.” Interesting, that the family who is giving her up, has so much power to decide what type of family to whom they will release the child. I’d say the parent’s religion is less important than finding parent(s) who won’t re-home her would be ideal, yes?

The re-adoption post for this little girl from China was making the rounds at the same time as a UK adoptive parent’s first-person account of returning two children back to the child welfare system after four months.

Four months.

Two months.

Much of my current research looks at and analyzes adoption displacements – temporary or permanent placements of adoptees from their adoptive families. In both of these cases, the adoptive parents argue that the agencies did not disclose medical histories and that the adoptive parents were not prepared for/did not have resources to manage their adopted child’s needs. I believe it – sometimes full knowledge is not disclosed; intentionally, because it’s not known, or because the agencies were unable to get the full information themselves. Sometimes out-of-home placement for treatment is needed. But to abandon that child you so faithfully and legally swore to parent “as if they were your own” in a court of law?

Many adoptive parents are strongly upset at the notion that they are not considered the “real” parent. If we are to consider all children, no matter how they came into the family, as just “our children” then I have a question for those who re-home or re-adopt their “child.” Would you re-home or place for adoption a child born to you after you discovered they had disabilities?

For more reading:

Red Thread Broken: Disrupted Adoption of Five-Year Old

Sunny J. Reed: Dear White Woman Who Returned Her Adopted Children and In Response to Those Who Support Returning Adopted Kids

[Cover image from Pinterest]

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