I usually watch the TODAY show while I am fixing breakfast, and I like it when they just chat amongst themselves, the hosts. However, this morning I was offended.
This story, Alimony for Your Eggs, details a woman who is demanding her husband pay her $20,000 in their divorce settlement, so she can freeze her eggs and try for more pregnancies. To quote the article:
That’s the hope of a 38-year-old woman who is a client of Ronald G. Lieberman, a family law attorney in Haddonfield, N.J. Mr. Lieberman is asking his client’s soon-to-be-former husband of eight years to pay $20,000 to cover her egg-freezing procedure, medication costs and several years of egg storage. “When they got married, the expectation was they would start a family,” he told me. “Now she might not have the chance much longer.”
WHAT?! Let me point out that ANY woman can start a family at nearly any age above 21. ADOPTION is a perfectly legitimate way to have a family.
I find the idea that only biological children are "real" very offensive.
I have two adopted children. They are real. I am a real mom. We have a real family. It's not a pitiful, second-best family. It's a loving, wonderful family.
I have a dear friend who adopted her baby daughter when she was 50. There is NO age limit now. There is only the ridiculous prejudice against families formed through adoption.
The TODAY show folks were echoing exactly what the article said, that once a woman can't biologically produce a baby, she has lost her chance at motherhood.
HELL TO THE NO!!
What do they think adoptive parents do all day? View themselves as babysitters?!?
Let me point something out. When you bring home a baby, it doesn't matter if the baby is biologically connected to you, you still have to ensure the baby is fed, bathed, changed, rocked - you care for an adopted baby exactly the same way that you care for a biological child.
Even if you adopt older children, like I did, you are STILL EVERY BIT A PARENT to those children.
Here's the very frustrating thing to us adoptive parents: the bias against our families is maddening.
Doctors talk about adoption like it's the last thing an infertile couple should do, like it's basically giving up, a very poor choice.
I know many families where there are both adopted and bio children and they are loved exactly the same. To imply that the adopted children are not as wanted, offends me.
So I went on the TODAY show website and it gets worse. I see Adopted girl says mother forced her to dig her own grave. The story implies that all overseas adoptions are bad, and the parents just quietly give away children who aren't "good." The case they focus on is horrifying and tragic, but it is NOT the case with most children adopted from overseas.
I got into the adoption world in 2003 when I started researching adoption prior to bringing my daughter home from Russia. I now belong to several Yahoo groups for adoptive parents. I still read websites, like Adoption Under One Roof. I have become friends with other adoptive families. I formed my own parents' group locally, MAPREC.
In all the years I've been in the adoption community, I've only seen one older adopted child re-homed. It wasn't the child's fault that the adoptive parents were simply unprepared. I was horrified when they put the little girl on a plane to Texas, having never met the new parents. I have heard, through a mutual friend, that the child did well in the new home, as there are other adopted kids there.Thanks be to God.
The sad fact is that adoption agencies usually don't prepare parents for the challenges of raising a child who has been in an orphanage. It's a herculean task. It's not for people who are simply adopting out of altruistic motives, or people who think the adopted child should be grateful. Those are the folks who usually end up giving up on their adopted children. They don't understand one very basic fact:
A child who has lived in an orphanage CANNOT function the same way as a child who has been in a family. An orphanage child is in a warehouse, and they are not loved and taught things. How terribly unfair is it for parents to assume the children will just "get with the program" and turn into typical American kids?! It's heartbreaking.
My daughter spent 6 years in a very neglectful birth family with an alcoholic birthmom who allowed her to be abused. Then she spent 6 years in a Russian gulag orphanage where she was starved, beaten, and molested some more. I didn't know all of that when I adopted her.
I quickly learned I had a child who:
- was mentally and emotionally about 9 or 10, not 13
- was accustomed to bathing once a week, brushing teeth only occasionally, and wearing clean clothes once a week, at best
- had never used a napkin, eaten in a restaurant, or eaten until she was full
- had no concept of the importance of obeying a parent
- had never even been encouraged to do her homework
- had severe PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder] and a learning disability [Central Auditory Processing]
Behavior issues were the toughest to handle. She hoarded things. She hated showering. She really didn't see why I should tell her what to do.
I expected some of it. Some of it was shocking.I didn't give up, though.
I got her therapy. I read books. I talked to other parents. It never occurred to me to "re-home" her. She was [and IS] my child.
This is the correct way to parent a newly adopted child - whether from an orphanage or from foster care:
READ everything you can find, by other adoptive parents.IGNORE advice from non-adoptive but well-meaning parents. If they have not adopted an older [older than a baby] child they simply cannot give you good advice.
Find the child a good therapist. Find yourself one.
Expect bumps in the road. Expect behavior issues, eating issues, school issues. It will not be easy. Expect it to be difficult. Prepare prepare prepare.
Then accept that victories will be measured in teaspoons.
Love the child anyway. Love them, and be gentle.
No matter what they do, understand that circumstances have made them guarded and afraid to trust. They lash out at you because they don't understand the stresses that have formed them.
A child who is neglected and/or abused during the first few years of life has a brain that is not "wired" properly. They can't help that. They need a LOT of extra help and training.
If you are an adoptive parent, and you are having issues, reach out to other parents. Try everything possible. Don't give up.
Despite the fact that my daughter and I are at odds right now, she is still mine, even at 22. We are still in touch. I wouldn't trade being her mom for anything in the world. I love her and I pray for her.
Adopting her was the best thing I ever did.
I just wish more people in the media would quit:
1. Talking about adoption like it's such a terrible option.
2. Quit running exploitive stories about failed adoptions.