Friday, October 2, 2009

Burning Question of the Day: Giving A Child Back After Adoption

In the past couple of days, a mother has made news with her article on New York Times' Motherlode blog about her decision to give up a child that she had adopted. You read that right. This mother adopted a child from South Africa who had been abandoned by the side of the road, and 18 months later, the mother decided that they weren't bonding, and so she went to an agency, and found him another home.

You can read an article about the situation here, and the mom's blog about the situation here.

Today, I'm curious what you guys think about this situation. Did Anita do the right thing by recognizing that she couldn't parent her adopted son, and consequently giving him up for adoption? Do you think she should be commended, or criticized?

I wish that I could say I was unfamiliar with this circumstance. Unfortunately, most of the teen cases that pass my desk are situations in which the teen was actually adopted, but when they reach those difficult teen years, the adoptive parents drop the kids off at child welfare, and say that they can't do it anymore.

Now, these are unquestionably difficult kids--they're often experimenting with drugs, stealing, having sex, and are pretty defiant. But my heart aches so often for these kids who more than anything, need someone to love them unconditionally, as a parent should.

The child that Anita adopted was unquestionably a difficult child who needed an extremely skilled set of parents, and probably needed to be the only child in the home. Frankly, I wonder why the agency approved the adoption in the first place. It's good that Anita recognized that she didn't love her adoptive son as her own, and consequently wanted to get him into the arms of someone who could, but on the other hand, 18 months is NOT much time when you're dealing with a child who has attachment problems--it can take YEARS of family interaction therapy.

Personally, I think a commenter on the Motherlode blog said it best when she said, "The question lingering in my mind is: If you had instead given birth to a difficult son after five daughters - a son who wouldn’t attach due to autism, for example - would you have put him up for adoption?"


  1. In the end, I have to say that I lean more toward agreement that she did the right thing. It's hard to put into words everything I'm feeling after reading that story but I've seen the ups and downs of adoption many times. A family that is close to my family is currently being torn apart from an adoption gone wrong. They knew that there would be issues and were even experienced with adoption as they had adopted twice before (three biological children & 2 adopted children with issues) the last adoption has been a struggle as there are A LOT of issues and its having causing strain between all the kids as well as the parents. I think it's hard to compare some adoptions to biological children because it is not always the same. The love and the bond can grow to be the same but in her case, she recognized her weaknesses and that she couldn't give the child everything he needed. I think that shows tremendous amounts of courage. What about women and girls who give up their babies for adoption in the US because they find themselves pregnant and unable to adequately provide for the child? We often hail these woman as hero's for having the strength and courage to make that sacrifice but put this woman in a similar position and it's not the same? In a sense it really demonstrates a sacrificial love. There are a lot of hurting children and teens out there that need love, I've seen this first hand growing up, but sometimes they can be so self-destructive that they put themselves out of reach. You can't know going into it whether you will suceed or fail, she tried her best and her best wasn't good enough. I agree given the facts in the story, it seems as though the professionals made a poor decision but my question is, once she had the child should she continue to push and try, even if it is to the detriment of the rest of the family and potentially the child itself?

  2. Did this woman have any other kids? Birth or adoptive? I would say if this adoptive child was a danger to other kids in the family, then you need to look out of your other children. Maybe a better option could have been a group home or something? I can understand both sides of the argument.

  3. This is a toughy... but there is a big part of me that says she probably did the right thing.

    6 Months ago I may have told you different though. I have three adopted sister, all come with their own baggage and share of problems (just like us all). There are a million time my parents wanted to throw their hand up and say they are finished especially dealing with two of them who had fetal alcohol syndrome. But they stuck with it and are great parents. But about a year ago one of my sister was put in to a facility because of anger issues. We hoped that the program would help, but we feel that it would not be good for my parents if she came home. So my parents made the tough choice to put here into child services and get her a foster home. My mom has ached over this choice to let my sister go, but it IS the best this for her and our family. My parents can't care for her the way these people may care for her. We still will see her and she still is my sister, but this is what needs to be done for her to get help.

    I also know a couple who was in the process of adoption with a young child with disabilities and they also made the hard choice to give him up so that others could Better care for him.

    I do however, think that our child services and foster care system are totally messed up! I do not think they educate people enough on adoption and there is so many thing that go unseen in foster homes. I mean, I could talk for hours about this!

    All-in-all, she did what she THOUGHT was best for her family and for the needs of the child. What more can I say?

  4. I'm not a mother so I'm not sure about the bonding but I disagree. It's not like a trial issue of a magazine, this is a child, another person's life. I don't feel that I can say too much since I'm not a mother and have no idea what she's going through.

  5. Personally I think this a gray area and in this instance I think the right decision was made. As a mother I'd rather see this happen than see the first mother's family ripped apart, especially with a second family eager to take on the challenge. international adoption is a long and expensive process so I don't buy that she was ignorant of the challenges and genuinely wanted this child. And when it was working she found a family with a psychology background and a previous adopted child with attachment problems. What more could you ask of her?

    But your experience as a foster child advocate and knowledge that the therapy she mentioned takes years, not months, to improve the relationship makes me think she made up her mind it wasn't going to work and that's exactly what happened. Again, it's a gray area, not black and white.

    I hope to adopt someday and know that for a small minority of people this happens, even after they assumed their new children would add, not subtract or complicate, family. I just hope it doesn't happen to me should my dreams of adopting come true, and I acknowledge it could and this may be a solution I conclude with as well. Everyone does the best they can and if this boy is happy and the first Mom's family is doing better without him there then that's all that matters.

    She went public and put herself out there for judgment of her actions so I think anyone with a problem with it can say so. For me, I don't. Despite some traumatic first few months in the U.S., this kid had been abandoned by the side of a road in South America. Living in South America for a year, being married to someone from down there and having people at work call Ecuador "my adopted homeland" because I'm so familiar with the place and culture and society and talk about it as easily as Minnesota, I can tell you that child wouldn't have had a chance in Hell of having the opportunities he'll have with his second adopted family in the U.S. I am extremely confident his first year of life was far more traumatic and will be more difficult to get over than anything he experienced with his first adopted mother.

  6. Yeah, fuck that noise. You ought not adopt a kid unless you're committed to keeping him or her, hell or high water. So, with my usual eloquence, I say, fuck that chick.

  7. Clearly this is really a hard discussion and clearly the adoption agency made a mistake at emotionally/psychologically clearing this woman for allowing adoption. Did she really think she would provide that bad of care to the child that she had to give him up? I think in the end , in the long run, this boy is lucky b/c he would not have gotten the right kind of love and warmth from this family. Thank gd hes in a good place now.


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