February 17, 2012

More gently on adoptive parent entitlement

Thank you to everyone who commented on my post on Monday. I always learn from your comments, here and in other venues, and again took away new perspectives.  I'm glad that Von reminded everyone of the sensitivity of an adopted person's name - thank you!  Although as an adoptive parent I find it sad when adoptive parents restrict their children through adoption from family traditions of any sort, including names, I understand that for the adopted person retaining the original name may be even more important than being included in such family traditions.

There is one comment that I think deserves some additional attention - here it is verbatim:
We adopted internationally and went through the home study and you are so wrong when you say it is easy. 
The Home Sttudy was not easy at all. In fact I think every bio parent should go through what we did before they start their families.

We were told to promise to at least try to expose our daughter to her culture. We are doing so now at age 3. 
We were asked several times "do you realize this adoption will make your family bi racial." that was the stupidest question and there were many other stupid questions. The questions just fell short of asking how often my husband and I have sex. I would have replied none of your damn business and get out of my house.

This one was hard to read, for several reasons: its disappointing expression of entitlement for one, and on a personal level, the fact that I thought some of the same things back when my husband and I first encountered adoption.

I pick up the entitlement from the sureness of the statements and the comparison they draw between  adoptive parents and those who give birth to their children. Adoptive parents need to lose that sense of unfairness, and fast. Our path to parenthood has legal repercussions that make a homestudy necessary, our children have different needs and we have different parenting responsibilities.

Of course, it's easy for me to say this now. I once thought the homestudy was really hard, too. I can remember thinking how unfair it was for someone who would surely be a good parent to have to go through that kind of intrusion, particularly when the news was full of stories about neglectful, abusive and even murderous parents. Like many others, I came to adoption through infertility, and also remember the feeling that no one should have to go through everything we were going through to do the most natural thing in the world.  When I opened my mind to adoption, I expected the process to go my way, and became angry when it didn't.

So I get the feeling of entitlement this comment expresses, I do.  I also know that three years is more than enough time for any adoptive parent to realize that the homestudy, invasive though it may have felt, was no more than a temporary, but necessary, inconvenience.  Dead easy, really, when you compare it with the complexities and losses in adoption that adopted persons and their parents live with.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

"The Home Sttudy was not easy at all. In fact I think every bio parent should go through what we did before they start their families."

I think this statement is absolutely ludicrous and yes, it most certainly does smack of entitlement.

While I empathize with anyone who cannot become pregnant who wants to have a family, to 'punish' those who can become pregnant sounds vengeful and hateful. It is no ones fault that someone else cannot conceive and moreover, it is certainly no ones duty to provide an infertile woman with her infant, just because someone is young and is faced with an unplanned pregnancy.

I know someone personally who went on and on about how "angry" she was about not being able to conceive, when others could. This same woman treated the natural mother of the child she did eventually adopt despicably, when all was said and done. The child's natural mother did nothing to deserve that treatment, other than dare to exist and infringe upon their fantasy of the child being meant for "them", while they shut her out in the cold. It was self entitlement at it's worst and continues to be to this day...

Marge said...

Margie thank you so much for sharing this article! During my daughter's adoption process, my a parents kept telling me they could never love a child who wasn't of their own blood. It was so disheartening to hear, especially from the two people I thought would be most supportive. To try to help my parents understand where I was coming from, I used http://onlineceucredit.com/edu/social-work-ceus-cpa to make them realize how important this child and adoption process was to me. I found some great advice here and I hope you do too!

Amanda said...

Thank you for this post, Margie.

One unfortunate side-effect of a rigorous (and should be) process to adopt is that *some* people lose their ability to be compassionate and empathetic towards others in the midst of their own frustration.

It really bothers me when people pretend that child birth and adoption are the same and say that people giving birth should have to go through the same process to be parents that adoptive parents do. This insinuates that adopting is too difficult and that the process out to become easier so that children, like a commodity, are easier to obtain for whomever should want one or feel entitled to one.

Adoption is not like biological birth. No, it's not fair some are able to birth and others are not. But the adoption process should not be lax because of it. We can't lose oversight of the welfare of children. Children are not commodities who should be made available to whomever thinks they are entitled to one out of "fairness" for what infertility has robbed from someone. Adoption is about being fair to children and a home study isn't about punishing prospective parents, it is about safety for children.

I'll also say there is NOTHING wrong with a Social Worker making sure that parents adopting transracially are culturally competent. White people do not experience racism in United States culture (just because someone was mean to you because you were White one time sometime in your life does not mean you are subjected to racism or the whims of a largely racist society with systemic racism in every corner of our laws). White parents have the additional task of understanding the experience of their child within a racist society and teaching that child skills to deal with racism and the modern racism of "colorblindness." Why wouldn't a Social Worker make sure a parent was up to this task? It's a big job and a child's well being and self-esteem rest upon it.

Deb said...

I remember being very nervous about my homestudy, but frankly thought it could/should have been a lot more demanding. And I wouldn't say it was because our Social worker was a push over.

I do remember thinking that all would-be parents should have some version of a home study: I think it's a good thing to talk about child development, discipline techniques, how your own childhood experiences are going to impact your parenting in both positive and negative ways; how parenting will impact your marital relationship (if you are married, of course!) and how you will work as a team to parent. So. . . I guess I never resented going through a home study. I dont resent that people who have their children through biology don't "have" to do a home study, but I did think they were missing out! Just like with adoptive families, some of them find those things on their own, and others never do.

I can only say that adoptive families SHOULD be held to higher standards than biological families. If a child is going to be placed into my care through human design, I had darn well better be prepared to be a good parent, and motivated by a desire to parent a child, not to have that child to fufill my own needs.

Joy-Joy said...

Oh I dom't have the letter before o at the momemt so my letters before o are m atm.

But I have to post.

Oh to have such choices im your life!
How sad to mot evem see how lucky you are. Whem I was a teemage welfare mother, they did ask me who kmew we had sex, who he admitted it to, had we ever registered at a motel together.

He was my legal husbamd who mever comtested patermity. Oh to kmow the humiliatiom of the poor. How this writer cammomt kmow that.

Lol, must be ice to be able to afford letter before o. Stole that from Limda.

It makes me sad though that she cammomt see the blessimgs im her life. lol.

Margie said...

Thanks, all, I appreciate your thoughts. Joy, this is just wonderful and just absolutely on the money:

"Lol, must be ice to be able to afford letter before o."

This is exactly what I want my fellow adoptive parents to understand - that this experience is not about THEM, it's about their child who has lost so much in the process. All the good stuff in the world cannot make up for that. Even though that child may grow up, as mine have, to be strong, centered adults, the losses remain.

Anonymous said...

I don't think there is anything wrong with suggesting that ALL parents - biological or adoptive - should undergo at least minimal scrutiny to ensure that children are growing up in a healthy and safe environment.

After all, it's not just adoptive parents who might have psychological disorders, drug problems, or other issues that possibly need to be addressed with support and counseling so that they can be better parents.

Surely anything that helps to prepare people for parenting, or offers them support and guidance, should be viewed as a positive.

I also don't see why having the ability to birth children somehow exempts a person from needing to demonstrate that their dwelling place is a safe environment for a child.

When I see comments suggesting that thinking otherwise smacks of "entitlement" it just makes me wonder whether it is generally perceived as somehow being less horrible when biological children are unfortunate enough to be abused by their parents.

I don't think adoptive parents should be viewed as magical saviors and at the same time I don't think that biological parents should be seen as either saints or martyrs.

We are all flawed human beings, hopefully trying to do the best we can not to scar the next generation out of our own selfish desires.

Margie said...

Anonymous, I appreciate your comment and will do my best to offer why the comment I called out strikes me as an example of adoptive parent entitlement.

First, there is no question that every parent needs guidance and correction, when they start at and at other times throughout their parenting experience. Every human should see this as one of humanity's greatest responsibilities.

Those who do typically gain the knowledge and guidance they need organically, from their own good instincts, from family and friends and from the learning they do on their own initiative.

Those who do not may or may not ever be identified as less than optimal parents, depending on whether or not they're just disengaged or disinterested, or actually neglectful and abusive.

By and large, our society - I don't agree with this, but it is what it is - considers children to be the property of their parents. Parents are therefore given the autonomy to parent as they see fit until they reach a point at which the break applicable child neglect or abuse laws where they live.

Until that point, our legal system provides no reason to scrutinize a parent whose children were born to them. Our society presumes that parents will meet their children's needs, and will not step in until there's a legal reason to do so.

Adoption, however, provides a legal reason for parents to be scrutinized. It may feel unfair, it may make no sense given that there are plenty of abusive non-adoptive parents in the world, but it is what it is.

My point is that prospective adoptive parents need to understand that when you embark on an adoption, you choose a different path (and yes, you CHOOSE it - infertility does not force it on you, as some try to say) scrutiny comes with the decision.

So do different parenting requirements, like putting your children's needs for cultural and community connections before your own desires to live a life focused on your personal desires.

It is never right for any child to be abused, physically, sexually or psychologically. Physical and sexual abuse are very clear, and look the same regardless of if the individual was adopted into or born to a family.

Psychological abuse (and I restricted all of my posts to this), however, may look and feel different to an adopted person, and may result when adoptive parents who believe they have a right to parent their adopted children exactly as they would parent children born to them fail to meet needs that come with adoption.

Anonymous said...

We had no issues with our homestudy process except for one glaring omission:

The absence of the real stuff! We fielded questions about our dog's immunizations, our extended families, salaries, savings, religous views, how we met/courted, educational aims for potential children, thoughts on time-outs, how many miles we were from parks, schools, cultural opportunities,child care decisions if we both worked outside the home, etc.....

I could go on and on....the point being, at no time were we asked about the real work of parenting an adopted (or otherwise for that matter!) child. At no point did anyone think to truly engage us in meaningful dialogue about the day to day of being a biracial family, of integrating another (and completely new) culture into our own....of making certain with absolute clarity, we would in fact be the best fit for a child we were graced with....

Oh sure, we attended several day classes that claimed some of these issues as discussion points, but in a group of 30 strangers, all PAP's and one agency liason, how meaningful could it be?

So we prepared ourselves anyways, just because it was and IS the right thing to do and if ever there was entitlement, it should grace the adopted child who is ALWAYS entitled to well prepared, thoughtful, educated, compassionate and (so much more!) adoptive parents!.... and never for one moment thought we would ever finish with "the real work" of parenting....and if we ever do feel "done", I hope to God someone kicks us in the a** as a friendly wake up call! :)

So do I resent the Homestudy? Nope. Only the ones that don't do enough. Only the superficial ones.

Ack..sorry for the rant and for coming late to this!

Anonymous said...

Also coming to this late. I worked for an agency. Saw homestudies every day. The questions were such that some very important issues could be easily glossed over. Very few, as the above reader pointed out, had anything to do with actual parenting. And, where they did, the answers provided could be only as honest as the individuals answering.

One of the saddest things, to me, was the frequency with which the "parenting plan" included (or was limited to) the infant being placed into full-time daycare at 6 weeks old. Over and over, this was the plan.

Many of these homestudies were the product of two career households with $200,000 and up incomes. Nothing against financial stability. But the babies (and the homestudies called for "healthy infant only" 99% of the time) were already disrupted from their home countries.

To see that they were to be thrust into a new environment for six weeks, then out into another environment that offered little to no one-on-one nurturing was disconcerting to say the least.

These couples had the education and background to have (one or the other) stayed home with the child and, later, resumed a career with little difficulty.

Another troublesome fact: Two of the office's social workers literally used the same description (word for word over and over)in their assessment summaries, despite major differences in family conditions, reasons cited for adopting, backgrounds, etc.

It was an office joke among the director and some staff members. They thought it was funny.

Needless to say, there came a point when I couldn't, in good conscience, work in the field any longer.