Wednesday What if?

What if you could change one thing about the ADOPTING process?  Just one.  What would it be?

I was ready to throw in the towel.  Really.  There are so many amazing blogs, which I have yet to still figure out how to put on my own page, out there by some fantastic writers who can speak to the myriad of issues in adoption far better.  So, what have I got to offer?  Just like in a session with a client, I am asking myself, how can I be of service?  Where do we go from here? And then, I woke up yesterday to three very personal emails from people who shared their own reasons for reading my words and what it meant for them.  I am rejuvinated.  We all need acknowlegement right?

Here goes…who are you folks out there?  I thought I would start by asking a question on random wednesdays to get the conversation started.  I am a community organizer above all else.  I know, the last presidential election cycle made it sound like a dirty word out there.  But adoption has always been about community, an expansion of the definition of family, the chosen group that we call home.

So, here is my answer.  If I could change just one thing about the adopting process, it would be a more in-depth interview of the prospective adoptive parents.  No brainer there.  But I would use the AAI – Adult Attachment Inventory – as my tool of choice.  I like that it gives some tangible ways of talking about the history of relationships in a person and how it might impact on future ones.

Here is one such example – just for fun –

2 thoughts on “Wednesday What if?

  1. I am curious to know why you might do more pre-adoption screening with an interest on attachment. Or perhaps you can elaborate on what you would do with the results of the screening. Would you not allow parents with ‘insecure’ or ‘avoidant’ attachment to adopt? Or just refer them for counselling?

    I am an adoptive mom. I took the ‘attachment style” survey and scored low on both parameters and was rated as ‘secure.’ However, 18 years ago when I applied to adopt from China I doubt if I would have scored in the ‘secure’ zone. This is cause for reflection. I applied to China because I specifically told my therapist at the time that I wanted an infant who would not have attachment problems because infertility was enough of a big issue and I was ill equipped to deal with any developmental problems at all. HA! I still get a kick out of that. But in hindsight, I have to say that it was adopting a child who ended up with serious attachment problems and global developmental delays that actually provided me with the opportunity to heal. Having to heal myself in order to heal my daughter was life-changing all for the better.

    Of course I was not at all prepared for the problems and issues that came with my daughter and at that time the adoption community wasn’t eagerly offering support for that. (I think the internet helped change that).

    I will end by saying that I do think it would be beneficial for adoptive parents to receive some pre-adoption workshops to help them understand the history of family relationships, the way they were raised and how it affects attachment and parenting an adopted child.

    • I think you are a great example of just what I was trying to say. Keep in mind, that a survey alone does not define a person. But this tool does just what I see did for you. It got you thinking, and perhaps if you had this 18 years ago, you would make sure you had the supports and resources lined up as you waited for your child to come home. I think you are bold to be so honest about what you were hoping for from your child – a child without attachment issues. My question back to you would be, name a kid – who has been institutionalized, separated at any time from her parents, have multiple placements and be transplanted from a very different culture – who does not have attachment issues? People who stay with their families of origin have attachment issues. I just don’t think it realistic to expect a child to attach to a parent. A baby doesn’t “attach” when they are born, they survive and rely on someone to care for her. But as her eyes open and sees and her senses awaken, she knows who her mother is by repeated experience not matter how much she cries, bites, thrashes and kicks. I would expect nothing less of our adopted children. I liken the attachment model like the preparation for a dance. One partner invites and leads and is the foundation for each move gently guiding and supporting. That is the role of the parent. Don’t you think?
      You bring up another great point which is the blinders adopting parents have about this stuff. Hindsight is always perfect, but wouldn’t it be great to have a system was built in to demand rather than invite. Would it make for fewer people who will go through the process, will it make more informed decisions? I don’t think that is a bad idea.
      Thank you for your thoughts.

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