Thursday, February 08, 2007


R called me this morning to inform me that she'd just found out some kids at her school were about to be up for adoption. She's known these kids for a while, as they have somehow managed to follow her path as she's taught at three different schools. Each school she moves to, they're there. Anyway, it's a sibling group - three kids (two boys, one girl). They're African-American, have a very loooooooooong history of being abused/neglected/etc., and the youngest is five years old. R says they're great kids and very sweet, but I don't know them outside of the few wretched stories I've heard about their family.

It looks as if the sibling group will be split up. Child care services is trying to adopt the boys out as a pair and the girl out alone, unless by some miracle, some family is willing and able to take all three (which isn't us, by the way). R, at least this morning, was flipping out at the chance to adopt the little girl, Z.

The thing is this: We still have a chance at pregnancy. The doctor has a new plan for us and says things with R look promising. I hate to forfeit this and if we adopted Z, that's what we'd have to do, for now anyways. And, if I'm being honest, I'm not sure I want a five year old. I could change my mind after giving it some more thought, but right now, in this very instant, I'm having a hard time saying "yes". Plus, the fact that she's been abused and neglected - it makes me sad, but call me selfish - I'm not sure I want to take on a kid who has all that baggage.

The other thing is, and I don't want to offend anyone - I'm not sure adopting an African-American child is the best thing for us. We're already a minority family, living in the South (not the most accepting place), and I don't want to make things any harder for a child than they might already be. And I think for a child of five years old to come into our home, after being raised and fostered in black homes, it would be really hard for her. Also, I'm not African-American myself and I don't have that culture that I would want to be instilled in my child. Is this wrong to feel this way? Seriously, share your thoughts with me!

Additionally, I worry that my family wouldn't accept an African-American child the way they would if I adopted a white baby. This isn't right and in no way am I making an excuse for my family, but the reality is that my mom will be 70 years old next year. There are some generational things there that would make it very hard for her to come to grips. Quite frankly, I don't care about that as far as my mom is concerned, but it would worry me for the child. I don't want my child to feel funny or unwelcomed because he/she is black and living in a white family where they are not completely loved by everyone. It's all so confusing.

Plus, I just have issues about foster care anyway. After R's call this morning, I looked up the child care services online foster/adoption listings, hoping to read about these kids. I didn't find them there, but I was able to look at a listing of 151 children. Out of those 151 children available, the youngest not in a sibling group was eight years old. And nearly all of the children have serious behavioral and/or mental and/or learning and/or physical problems. That's a lot for anyone to take on.

The part that really gets to me, though, is that the goal of child care services is to keep these children in their biological parents' homes. It doesn't matter if little Mikey has been beaten and burned and starved for six years straight - "momma" can say "this time is different" and off Mikey goes, back home to a disaster. I can't bear the thought of getting past all of my issues, taking a child, loving them, and then having them ripped from my home. Sure, some folks will say, "But it's not about you." To that, I say screw it, because when that child leaves and goes back home, it's damaging for them, too. What good is providing a loving home, if the child is just going to be taken away in the end? Isn't that, in some way, more damaging to the child? I think so, but that's just me.

There are so many things to think about and so many questions. I want to see these kids find loving homes and certainly, we'd be loving parents, but I'm just not sure this is the right thing for us. I'm not saying no, but I'm not saying yes, either. I just need time to think, think, and then think some more. Comments, please!


Merr said...

I think it is okay to have all those feelings. I think a lot of us do, just no one is honest about talking about them. You guys haven't exausted all your options for conceiving yet. It is fine to weigh all your options on getting a kid, and it is fine to be honest with yourself. If you don't think it would be the ideal situation for you or the kid, then that is okay. Sometimes people take on more than they can handle. At least you are realizing what you can handle before the fact.

The Town Criers said...

I'm a big fan of "if it feels right, it's probably right." And this doesn't feel right. I think it's more dangerous to go in the opposite direction--talking yourself out of things you see as potential problems and diving in headfirst. Everyone has their own parameters and I think those parameters are internally in place to be your own barometer for what will bring you peace and what will be too much of a struggle. Everyone should listen to their own barometer.

I think you know what feels right and you've articulated it well. Is it R's excitement that is making you have doubts?

I think in the end, the most important thing about being on a path to parenthood is that both people feel equally committed to the path.

I don't know if I'm articulating this well. Perhaps my brain is too fried by that Grey's Anatomy episode tonight... But what I mean is that it sounds like your heart knows the right decision even if your brain is shouting out other arguments. And I always believe people should listen to their hearts and what they truly want/need over their brains.

Sophia said...

I am Latina, a social worker living in a Blue state and I don't want to adopt for some of the same reasons you stated: dealing with the trauma, the desire to be pregnant, the reluctance to deal with a broken child welfare system, the desire for an infant

Melody said...

I've looked at the foster care option in only a cursory way, but I have the same problems with it that you've listed. Vanessa and I have been discussing adoption, and the conclusion that we've come to is that we're not going any further in that direction until we're pretty decided that it's what we want to do. The TTC zaps so much energy that you can't possibly focus on both at the same time. If you're going to stop TTC, it takes grieving to put that path to rest.

Ironically, I'm the one with the strong urge to have a biological child, and I'm the one who keeps looking longingly toward the foster care system as a way out of TTC hell. I don't think that's healthy for me b/c the foster care system is its own kind of hell-- one you have to prepare yourself for. When I think about stopping TTC, I can't deal yet.

I think your concerns are valid, and you shouldn't jump at the chance to adopt this child just b/c the opportunity has presented itself. I think the decision to adopt or foster with the hopes of adoption should be very deliberate and carefully thought out. It's not something you should feel rushed about-- even if it means passing up this child.

FWIW, I have a friend who is fostering with the hope of adoption, and she says that it is possible to get an infant or at least a younger child if you're up front with the social workers and tell them you want to adopt and what type of child you're looking for. There are still social workers out there who have the best interests of the children at heart-- whose goal is not always reunification if they see that a bio parent is pretty much a lost cause. They have a good feel for what situations are going to work and what aren't.

vee said...

I think it's great that you've been honest enough to air these concerns, and you are by no means alone in them, I'm sure.

Undoubtedly, this would be a huge decision for you, and being in the heat of the situation must be heart-wrenching, but as Melody says, it's not a decision you can rush.

I agree too that if you do make the decision to stop TTC your own child, that decision will need to be grieved over - it certainly would for me, at least. Don't give this decision any less consideration than you would otherwise have done, had this situation not presented itself.

Amanda said...

i actually think it's irresponsible NOT to take some time to consider every thought that crosses your mind when it comes to an issue as huge as this one.
Perhaps you would know if it was the 100% right decision, and Z would really need to feel as though there were no doubts in her new family's know?
i think it's great that you are keeping your options open, but i also understand the desire to have a child that is biologically yours.
i think you'll know when you have exhausted all of the options you're comfortable with, and that might be the right time to move forward with adoption. In the meantime, it wouldn't hurt to spend some time with her to see how it made you feel. You never know, it could be a perfect fit for everyone, but going into it with no expectations would be best.