Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Can we ever be prepared?

I thought today's post would be on year two of our wait, but once again reading people's discussions have sent me off on another tangent.  Maybe I'll write about the wait later while the kids are at Awanas and Oak is at his Hebrews Bible study--all of that starts tonight.

Anyway, China is talking about more follow up visits or reports to China after a child is placed in a home in a foreign country in order to prevent gross neglect and child abuse.  It really doesn't matter to me what they decide to require.  I'm a Republican in the original idea of the party--less government, rules, etc.  more responsibility on the individual.  However, I'll happily jump through any hoops to assure China that one of their daughters is doing well in America.  

Ideally I think it would be wonderful to be able AS A FAMILY to send a report to China about how our daughter is doing.  Do you know why?  Because it will benefit my daughter.  Perhaps someday the file can be reunited with my daughter's birth family or a nanny that loved her.  My child can only gain by having more people love her and care for her well-being.  Whatever these potential reports say about politics or saving face or bad, bad abusers to the world, what it says to my future daughter is that her birth country cared for her.  It is her right to be cared about by her birth country, her right to believe that she matters to China.

However, can more follow-up reports no matter who is in charge of writing them actually prevent abuse?  Well, I don't really believe they can.

I think there are two types of abusers (very broad categories)--those that will abuse a child no matter what situation and circumstance, and those that occur do to situation, lack of preparation, etc. etc.  I believe the first type are mostly weeded out during the homestudy process.  If they made it through the homestudy a follow-up visit by a social worker will probably not weed them out after the fact.  These types of intentional abusers are very good at putting on an act.

The other type, which I like to think most situations fall into, can be prevented by proper preparation and SUPPORT which a good agency can and does provide.  However, how much is enough preparation?  Can we really expect pre-adoptive parents to get it all before their child comes home?  Training is good and necessary, but can we really apply it before we have a child?

I spent the first 27 years of my life looking forward to that day when I would have a child.  While I was pregnant I read all the parenting books, etc., but nothing actually prepared me for being a mother.  If I had truly known how hard it would be, and how it would impact my life, I might not have chosen to have/adopt children.  Studies show that the higher the education of a couple the less likely they are to have children.  You could argue it is because they are on a career track or like a lifestyle with money more, but perhaps it is because they know more and know parenting is hard.  

Don't get me wrong.  I love my children.  I am thrilled to be a mother, but no amount of book reading prepared me for the trenches.  Changing diapers is one thing, but counting your child's bowel movements at age 6 to assure he isn't constipated?  No one thinks they are a selfish person until they have children and have to put their childrens' needs before their own day after day, time after time.  I would like to be selfish again and not realize it or feel guilty.

Then you could have a whole new post on depression.  When my first son was born I became terrified of driving.  I'd never been fond of it, but this was a whole new level.  Until I came out of the fear, around the time my son turned one, I never realized how abnormal it was, how over the top.  Yes, I had read books about postpartum, etc., but I did not apply it to my life.  I did not have friends that came alongside of me and said, you should really do something about this.  (This is not a slam on my friends, we had just moved so my good friends were far away, and I had not made new ones yet).

So, did I go into motherhood prepared?  I certainly thought so, but I was wrong.  However, if I had been surrounded by other mommys, I wouldn't have suffered in silence--my subsequent two babies went a lot smoother.  We need to be able to talk to others and hear,  "this is normal."  We need to have a support system where we can call up our husband or friend and say, "I am approaching a line with my children I NEVER thought I would approach.  Please come over, please pray for me, please tell me what to do, please cry with me."
(Here is another plug for MOPS; this support is why I feel passionately about it as a ministry).

Now I am learning about the unique challenges that face a mother of an adopted child--grief, loss, attachment, unrealized expectations, race issues, cultural identity, etc.  I am following my agency's guidelines and taking training, reading books, and watching videos.  In the last month I have probably learned enough to run my own Hague training.  However, I am not in the trenches.  Applying this will be a whole new thing when it is MY daughter being stared at or offended by rude comments, when it is MY daughter crying because she doesn't know her birth mother's name, MY daughter being treated differently because of her race.

When I am in the trenches (beginning to hate this phrase, but cannot come up with a better one with my limited vocabulary), I will need SUPPORT.  I feel very fortunate, because my agency will provide this support--I was actually astounded to hear that so many agencies don't.  I will be able to call my social worker, whom I actually believes has a lot of knowledge and experience and wisdom, and she will walk along side of me.  However, if I was afraid it would all go into a report and put me in danger of losing my child, I would not seek the help that I will possibly need.  I am making friends with other adoptive parents online and at the forum We are Grafted In.  Already by looking at their posts and blogs I can see how what I am reading applies to real life.  Hopefully I will make friends with other adoptive parents in my area.

So what do I think China can do to prevent abuse of their children once home in a foreign country though I don't actually want more requirements?

Keep up the requirements for study and pre-adoptive training

Require Social Workers to be trained in International Adoption issues (or at least know where to go for help on these issues)  

Have new adoptive families partner with a family who has BTDT

Will this prevent bad things from happening?  Unfortunately No.  But it would lower the probability of bad things happening and help families actually blossom instead of wilt through challenges.


Nancy said...

Can't find another way to you.
Would you email me? We have so much in common. Just want to give you a couple insights on my sweetie. pie, Tess, where she's come from, and why she's like she is. It may make more sense.
Nancy-of the crazy 8

The Raudenbush Family said...

Cedar--neat post here and you certainly capture "life" well here. I hadn't heard the talk about increasing reports and all that. But, I'm with you, whatever it takes. And, it only can benefit our children in the long run. We have our 6 month post placement report tomorrow. I'm actually pretty excited to report on how Lydia is doing and know that something will be officially sent to China reporting on how far she's come.

Glad you are a part of the WAGI forum

Adrian Roberta said...

Just jumped over for the 1st time from WAGI! Great thoughtfull post. Never actually thought about it potiencially helping Ping stay connected should her birth family ever do a search for her......good point.

I don't like that it is yet another fee going to our SW as she'll have to draft the updates.