By Tina Tyra
Parenthood by adoption should be just as forever as parenthood by birth. There has been an alarming trend lately, and even more disturbing is the term used for it – “rehoming”. I have heard that term used often with pets, but only recently with children. For the record, I think it’s an atrocious term used to signify the termination of a relationship. Of course, the children have no say. It has occurred more frequently in international adoption than domestic, but not exclusively. When families decide to adopt internationally, they don’t always know what they are getting into. There are physicians here in the U.S. who make it their practice to evaluate the records of children coming from foreign countries, in order to identify hidden anomalies (http://www.www.orphandoctor.com/) . You see, some foreign governments purposely hide mental or physical issues pertaining to a child to be adopted in order to get them adopted, or just don't keep records well enough to disclose. That doesn’t always bode well for the families going there with good intentions and happy, but naïve, hearts.
A recent report from Reuters revealed a couple had gone on-line to “rehome” their adopted daughter. The problem is, aside from not doing their homework in adopting the child, they didn’t do their homework in finding a suitable placement for her when they opted out of the adoption. They posted an ad on line to find parents for her. They likely were in over their heads and had good intentions, but this could have been catastrophic for the child. As you will note, no professionals were involved. This was done on line like a garage sale, with no counseling and no attempt to get the adoption on the right track. That just seems tragic.
Termination or reversal of an adoption should be an absolute last choice. Prior to that, there should be counseling and assistance by competent adoption professionals. A psychologist once told me that for every year a child has been out of the home, it will take equally long for that child to adapt and integrate into the family. Thus, if a child is 7, it will be 7 years before that child feels totally a member of the family. This means patience is going to be essential to parenting an adopted child, particularly one who came from a different country and a different culture. Can you imagine being uprooted from your home country, taken to a foreign place where you don’t even know the language and expected to assimilate in a matter of days or weeks? That’s not possible, nor is it reasonable to expect. You can’t ask a child to be able to do something that even adults couldn’t do.
Adoption, even of an older child, isn’t easy, but is more than worth it if you do it fully informed. Simply loving children or wanting a child is not enough. If you are not prepared, adoption can turn into a nightmare that you can’t seem to wake up from. It’s not the child’s fault! It’s your fault if you don’t know what you don’t know! For a child, a second or third adoption is devastating and will feel like a rejection. Children of adoption already have issues with abandonment. What if they are not “wanted” a second or third time? What could that do to their self-esteem and their ability to bond? Do your homework! Make sure you know what you are getting into. Use all the resources available to you to determine if the adoption you are considering is right for your family. The alternative is disrupting the adoption, which isn’t a viable alternative at all and is doing the child a disservice. If you have decided to build your family through adoption (particularly with an older child), get thoroughly educated about what you are getting into, don’t have unrealistic expectations, and be ready to be patient and view it as a lifetime decision. Changing your mind shouldn’t be a consideration. This is a child, not a pet, and no child should have to be “rehomed”.
Have you adopted a child who was traumatized? Adoption Learning Partners is offering their "Tough Starts" educational series for free through the end of November as a resource to help prevent this rehoming trend. Take advantage while it's still free!