What’s the Big Deal?

At support group meetings, out of town conferences, and blogs here and there I hear about people who claim to be, “Adoption Abolitionist.”  To which I shake my head with a combined eye roll.  There are even buttons promoting such.  If one is handed to me, or put into something that is given away, it promptly makes it to the round receptacle in the corner.   In one instance, I found several left for others where I was getting ready to do a workshop.  My space, my choice to be free of this ridiculous button;  zzzing, click, clack – clunk, and into the garbage it goes .

I would however, like to ask an Abolitionist, “Why would you want to deny an innocent child, who was abused (or at the very least neglected) by their parent(s) the ability of being adopted?  Do you want every single foster child to remain a ward of the state until they are 18 and have their formative years defined by being a foster child?”  Adult fosterees claim that to be a new level of hell.

What is wrong with a foster child being adopted by a loving capable person(s) who wants to love them, give them a family, help them to grow up to be the best individual they can be in this world?  Which by the way, whether adopted or not, they will grow to be part of societies future.  Not to imply that all adopted foster kids get the perfect family, just as all adoptees do not get the best adoptive family.

Many adult adoptees feel they are continually hurt by some part of their adoption or childhood, and cannot move away from the hurt.  Whether they are not able to deal with the broken bond and realize that is the core of everything, or continually struggle with birth and adoptive family issues, it’s a substantial ongoing battle.  Now add to that, being abused (and all the forms that one singular word can take) as a child, and then eventually the understanding that your parent allowed their rights to be severed from you.  Isn’t that hard enough, isn’t that enough to deal with?  No, the “Abolitionist” wants that child to remain a ward of the state (whether they are two or twelve) and some how grow up to be a descent person.   Clearly this was not thought through.

As someone who has been extensively involved in the foster care system, I can attest that most parents are given AMPLE chances and support in which they can keep their rights and have their child returned.  I often grimace when I hear the name of the agency, Child Protective Services.  Most often, especially at the beginning of a placement, the agency could easily be named, Birthmother Protective Services.  They are provided so many services, along with a parent aide which is in place to help the mother succeed in having her child(ren) returned home.

*Side note, I have to comment that the number one reason I have seen parents fail, and horribly so, is when they are addicted to drugs and their parenthood status is blown to bits like an exploding meth lab.  Not by the state, by their own addicted hands.  I have no clue what that is like, to be able to forget your children and be all consumed by the meth-life blood drug.

I could not do foster care today.  I am not the same person; Mommy Sue is long gone!  I’m a FOLAB, who also found out I was in foster care as a stopping point on the way to adoption.  (As many newborns experience when a private adoption is not planned.)  Mommy Sue never had an infant who was “stopping by,” but even if I did – I wouldn’t see the child in the same way.  My eyes have been opened to the passing of children from one place to another, whether it’s an infant who will be adopted or a child “protected” by CPS and placed in to the foster care system.   I see so many problems in adoption and foster care that it has caused me to misplace my rose colored glasses.  It was in this depressed state that I longed to find my boot straps; only to be guided towards them with the clue ~ “They are probably near your rose colored glasses,” Ashleigh texted the other day.   Ahh, such insight!

It turns me inside out when those I’ve called, “friend” or “family” turn a cold shoulder, blind eye, or callously comment, “Yup, the system still sucks,” followed by a foolish rhetorical question, “What’s the big deal?” It is soo not rhetorical to me.  We are talking about a child, societies children – WAKE UP!

If we (in the adoption realm) believe in “The Primal Wound,” and others who understand loss, and the damage of separation, do we figure that a child is mortally damaged and therefore it doesn’t matter if we continue to inflict pain?  Foster kids who are removed from abusive or neglectful homes should not continually be damaged by those charged to protect them.  Once they are removed from danger, is it okay to move them again and again? Or place them somewhere inappropriate?

CHECK.  Placed child in temporary home. neeext.

Mrs. Clark needs the kids moved asap, they are picked up and driven to the only home who answered the phone in that hour of crisis. CHECK.

When some are in a good, appropriate foster home – is it okay to torture them with excessive visits and time in a car? (Without any knowledge of why they are in care and the case plan?)

Today, my daughter who is brave enough to do foster care these days, called with an update on her foster children.  Last night she and Teri (her spouse)

Ashleigh & Teri McGill

waited for the kids to be returned home after a visit with their mother.   They were late, long past the designated time, which was excessive to begin with, and resulted in a very late bedtime routine.

The children are driven three days in the week to visits with each birth parent who gets four hours of visit time.  And, when you take into consideration visits take place 75 minutes away, (with driving time) a typical visit day means they also have a two and one half hour drive in conjunction with a two or four-hour visit. Which equals between four and a half hours up to seven SEVEN and half hours.  Oh, and there’s also the time it takes to pick up another sibling who is at a different home.  Make sense?  No, because it makes sense to no one!

Birth mom and dad want visits differently during the week, and apart.  (They are no longer together.)  So the children spend a horrible amount of time in a car with two different parent aides;  who do not have the kids’ best interest in mind, they are parent aides and advocate for the parent(s).  Not sure why the neglectors get special treatment and the children are delivered for a visit nearest them without their own advocate.  

It should be deeply disturbing to all who read this that these innocent children are treated this way; it is bad enough they were not loved and cared for by their parents!  Now they are a task or a check mark for caseworkers, aides, and supervisors; just part of their job. (One that they are doing poorly, if you ask me. Certainly no one can see the big picture, at least I would hope not.)

I am still in strong support for a name change to what it really is; Birthparent Protective Services.  Hey if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck… I’m saying it’s a duck.  The offices who employ those who do their job and do what is in the best interest of the child can keep their CPS designation, would be my rule if I were the boss.

The children were placed for a month where it was easiest.  This home did nothing; basically they suffered a bit less.  But it was best for the parents, so that’s what CPS chose, a relative.  The placement fell apart, thankfully, and for a couple of weeks now the kids are in a safe, nurturing, and loving home.  Yet, their hands are tied by poor communication and decisions made that are not in the child’s best interest.

Granted, they are not being abused or neglected by this long drive I have issues with, or by the visits themselves (at least one would hope.)  So there’s a little diaper rash, inconsistent care, and lack of stability – they are safe now.  Call it good, someone suggested to me. 

Oh, it’s anything but…

A little girl comes rushing in the door, greeted by a friendly face-kissing dog and her enthusiastic foster mom. 

Ashleigh, anxiously reading her face says, “Hi, ‘A’ I’m so happy to see you, what do you have there?” Pointing to a new toy from Mom, “Ooh you have a ‘item’ that is so cute.” 

Little ‘A’ smiles briefly, seems happy to see her foster moms and the “face-kisser,” giving him a pat and a hug.

The Sweet Baby Boy – “SBB” in the family is brought in, and welcomed and loved as well.  And it is way past bed time, but thankfully they did get dinner, so it’s on to the bed time routine, about two hours delayed.

One of “A’s” favorite things is helping; she loves to help with her “SBB” and pick out the little six month-old jammies, etc.  But, not tonight.  After the smile that greeted the dog and her foster moms, it went away, very far away.  Doing simple things, fun things she loves, and all eye contact…gone! At least for the night.  In addition to her not feeling well (they all have a cold) she has the lost-stare.

Ashleigh holds her and rocks her, as she’s not able to see her books (or even Ash) past the lost-stare.  Ash holds her like a baby, which “A” seems to crave, giving her all the love and compassion she can release through her arms and body.

“I know it has to be so hard ‘A’,” Ashleigh says, “I want you to know, your mom loves you very much and it has to be hard to leave her.  Teri and I love you, too and we are here for you.  It must be so confusing, sweetie.” 

Little ‘A’ keeping her head hidden to her chest starts to tremble.  Keeping very quiet, she sobs letting her broken heart show ever so slightly.  (Why she is broken, and how she is feeling… one can only guess.)

Through tear-filled eyes, “Oh ‘A’ – I love you, I’m here and you’re going to be okay,” Ashleigh reassured ‘A’ and herself.

While Teri is getting “SBB” into bed, his flat affect speaks volumes.  This baby doll also blinks his lost-eyes while love is poured onto him.

They all welcomed their routine this morning, which will last until the weekend when it starts all over again.  Hopefully the smiles continue to return after the visits and long drives.  Ashleigh and Teri will do all they can, they will support and love “A” and “SBB” as long as they can, as much as they can, and will keep attempting communication with CPS.  They are “Foster Care” – and whether the kiddo’s are returned home or adopted, they will be loved. 

That’s the big deal, there are those who do it right, and we should all support them in whatever way we can.

Ash with our first AZ bundle-o-joy, this may have started it all!

Oh okay, there’s the old boot straps… happy to have found them. And my glasses are firmly in place, returned for my rose-colored viewing pleasure. Thank God!