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Giving Up Your Adopted Child

LisaS's picture

By LisaS - Posted on 02 September 2009

For some people the words “terminating an adoption” send a shiver down their spine. How could you ever give up your child? Would you do this if said child was your biological child?

A recent blog by Anita Tedaldi addresses the issue of adoption termination from a personal perspective: she and her husband terminated their adoption of their adopted child “D.” The reason? She says:

D’s attachment problems were only half the story. I also knew that I had issues bonding with him. I was attentive, and I provided D. with a good home, but I wasn’t connecting with him on the visceral level I experienced with my biological daughters.”

Anita did not enter into adoption on a whim; she read extensively about adoption, passed the homestudies and felt well informed and prepared. She’d always wanted to adopt and have a large family and her son’s adoption was fulfilling her dreams, or so she thought. She had five biological daughters at home and a husband who was deployed part of the time. Perhaps this was far from an ideal situation. But it appears to me that Anita was more enamored with the “idea” of a large family and an adopted child than the reality.

Here's the reality. Adopted children, like biological children, are not perfect and perhaps, as in “D's” case, have some physical and developmental issues. "D" apparently  lacked strength in his legs and had a flat head from lying in a crib for hours a day.  He also suffered from coprophagia, or eating one’s own feces. When he didn’t attach within a few months to his adoptive family more concerns set in. But the reality is that as Anita concluded,

 I didn’t feel for D. the same way I felt for my own flesh and blood.”

I've heard of adoption terminations in situations where older children have severe RAD (radical attachment disorder) and/or other severe and sometimes dangerous emotional problems. "D's" situation was different and brings up several troubling questions.

Should parents who have biological children be allowed to adopt because of the comparisons in feelings that might arise? Should parents be allowed to terminate adoptions or should they have to work through the issues at hand? Should people with as many as five children be allowed to adopt? There are countries that do restrict the number of children already at home if you want to adopt .

Anita is not alone with her problem; there are other adoptive parents who have had problems bonding/attaching with their children who did not choose termination. As an adoptive parent with three biological and one adopted child, this termination bothers me. Adoption is not the “purchase of a child returnable if not 100% satisfied with the product.”

Accoding to Anita,  "D" ended up with a family that was willing to work with him and is apparently doing much better. Does this justify the termination?

I have little doubt that homestudies are going to have to be a lot more stringent in order to weed out people who are not good candidates for adoption. Perhaps one of the questions should be, “if you have problems with your adopted child would you consider terminating the adoption?”

Image Credit: flickr

Bonding With Your Adopted Child

Adoption Disruption and Dissolution

Post Adoption Depression

John's picture

You have to actually experience an adoption disaster to understand just how bad it is. The typical situation would be a child who is severely RAD, or has some other realtively unfixable disorder like FAS. The parent is putting everything they have into trying to help the child, and they have been for a long time. Finally, they realize, nothing is reaching the child, nothing is changing, it feels totally hopeless. The events are so exrteme that the family is falling apart. The decision may be to try for a disolution, or to get outside help, like an RTC. At wits end is a perfect description of the feeling, nothing matters, nothing helps. You really can't answer that question until you are there. The warm and fuzzy feelings are long gone, you made a promise, this is your child, and you desparately don't want to quit.

The situation you describe, well it screams 'flake'. So you don't like him as much, isn't that too bad. There have been periods where each of my kids reached least favorite status and stayed there for a while. I went to the skeet range and gave each of the clay pigeons then name of the jerkwater son. It helped a lot to get rid of my frustration, it also made my aim a lot better. Who said life would be perfect, or that we would like all of our kids equally? The home study should hav caught this one.

LisaS's picture

Thanks for your insightful comment John.

LisaK's picture

This is extremely disturbing, and I hope it is not very common. I agree with John that the homestudy definitely should have caught this one. There were red flags all over the place here. I don't really understand why she thought she had a choice in the matter. It just demonstrates that she was not a good candidate for adoption. She stated she wanted a large family, but she already had 5 kids. I wonder how common it is for adoptive parents to feel differently about biological or adopted children when they have both.

chromesthesia's picture

Good points... I hope when I adopt children whether it's before or after having biological children I'll be ready.
And anyway sometimes attachment doesn't happen like swelling mushy music. Sometimes it can take a while... I definitely feel bad for children in situations like that.

Linny's picture

Before I write more, let me say our family is one that has 'disrupted' two adoptions. If you really wanted to get technical, we've actually disrupted three......and while it sometimes makes me sick to think about it, as John has written, it was because our family had done everything humanly possible and nothing worked. Our disruptions were due to dangerous behaviors....not the least was RAD (Reactive attachment disorder)...and again, as John has stated, unless you've been there, you can't have a clue. Further, these children were all adopted as older a LOT of information the state had deliberately withheld from us (had we only known); and the other became a sexual predator.

I can agree that perhaps the writer was 'in love' with the aspect of having a large family; but before I'd pass any judgement on her character, I also have to wonder if she deliberately withheld some descriptions of the child out of respect to him? I know, that might sound ridiculous to some; but does every reader need to know *all*details?

RAD behaviors can vary greatly. I've known of RAD's who had extreme behaviors (like eating their own feces); others who've become sexual predators---along with stabbing their mothers, pushing their younger siblings into bonfires and killing the family dog. These are behaviors society doesn't like to hear about, nor deal with. They like to walk out of the courtroom or psych hospital shaking their heads and pointing their fingers, but also secretly thinking, 'Thank God, *I* don't have to deal with that each day!!!!"

Perhaps the writer wrote about *her* own bonding issues in an effort to give more credit to this child....something society refuses to believe could EVER be THAT BAD. After all, many RAD parents could give examples of behaviors many could never believe.

So no.....I can't agree this writer is wrong. I would more readily believe her family didn't get all of the info they were supposed to get previous to placement (happens more often than you'd believe), or, that the behvaviors the child exhibited were far worse than she felt comfortable sharing with the public.

Sooooo, before anyone dares to think this writer or anyone else who disrupts does it easily and without heart,or that a homestudy should have 'caught this', let me assure you, there's much more to all of this than you'd realize.



chromesthesia's picture

Yeah, that is true, RAD is quite scary and it's not totally understood by mainstream society...
So there is that possibility.
And folks who don't know about it are more likely to blame the parent for it because they've never heard of RAD.