Friday, February 10, 2012

No Contact, for Now

After meeting with Danielle's therapist and discussing our concerns about additional birth family contact, we've decided that we are not going to allow it, at least for now.

It possible that Danielle may resent us if she later learns that we denied her access to her birth family.  It is also true that if we allow it now, she will act out, and possibly even explode.

So we are faced with a difficult choice. We must decide whether we want to deal with ugliness and resentment now, or whether we want to deal with ugliness and resentment later.

After carefully weighing our options with the therapist, we have decided to choose ugliness and resentment later.

Granted, we are already seeing immense levels of verbal abuse, arguing, refusals and threats of physical violence these days.  The verbal abuse and arguing is constant.  Even when we walk out of the room, or simply ignore her, Danielle will carry on endlessly.  She will shout insults through the house, even after we've walked away and focused on something else.  She refuses to participate in family activities, whether they be meals, chores, or whatever, on an almost-daily basis.  She threatens violence several times a week.

Even our therapist could barely hide her frustration when Danielle insisted on arguing over trivia during our most recent session.

So the truth is, even though things are already terrible, we have no incentive to want to make things worse than they already are.

A reader pointed out in a private note to me that if members of my family were substance abusers or involved with criminal activity, I would be expected to block those people from my child's life.  If I didn't, authorities would look at me askance and accuse me of failing to protect my child.  Yet, somehow in the adoption world, visits from similarly-affected biological family members should be automatically permitted. 

If I wouldn't let one of my family members, a friend, or a stranger be with my kid if I knew they were substance abusers or involved in criminal activity, then why on G-d's green earth should I allow contact from this group of biological family members?

Sure, we can debate for days and days about a child's need for contact with her family of origin, but at the end of the day, we have to consider the immediate effect of those letters, visits, and phone calls.

In the short-term, I don't see anything good coming from it.

So for now, no contact.

Even if Danielle's missing family members didn't have the problems of substance abuse and criminal activity, I'm not sure that she's really in an emotional space to deal with something this large right now.  At the moment, her temper flares at the slightest provocation.  Over the past ten days, much of what has upset her has seemed pretty minor, trivial, and senseless.

Here are just a few examples:
  • She had a temper tantrum over the timing of her doctor's appointment, even though we didn't have much in the way of control over the schedule.  
  • She became furious that I didn't agree with her fashion sense.  
  • On a recent trip to the grocery store, she got angry because she believed some girls on the street were staring at her.  Strangely, the teen girls were standing on the corner waiting for the traffic light to change, while Danielle and FosterEema were driving by in the car. "Why are those bitches staring at me?" she demanded.
If Danielle can't handle people passing by on the street, minor disagreements over trivia, or just the regular inconveniences of life, I don't think she's ready to handle something as important as having contact with people she hasn't heard from in more than a year. If she isn't capable of making it though a single day without some sort of angry outburst, she is not in a position of emotional stability or maturity to handling something like this right now.

One of my commenters suggested that we might want to ask Danielle whether or not she's ready for such a reunion.

At least for now, I think this is a bad idea for two reasons.  First, as I've already said above, I don't think Danielle  has the emotional regulation to deal with this right now.  Second, I am not sure that she is capable of making decisions that serve in her own best interest.  It seems right now that she's focused on doing things that are completely contrary to her own interests, in the hopes of waging some sort of war against us.  She's behaved unsafely in the car, and she's acted out, which she knew in advance would cost her things like her MP3 player or visits with friends.  She's gone out of her way to irritate us and everyone around her, only to be surprised when her victims don't want to give her the things that she wants.

The therapist put it rather succinctly in our most recent session.  "You aren't doing much to argue your cause," she told Danielle.

Sure, Danielle is arguing everything.  She's just not doing it a way that makes anyone willing to concede to her demands.

Given all of this, it seems only prudent that we say no to additional birth family contact, at least for right now.

1 comment:

  1. Very well put - I agree.

    I loved the point about keeping them away from OUR families with issues and yet being expected to ignore those same issues only because of the bio-connection. I have a few people in my family who have questionable behavior and I have made a point to limit or eliminate contact with them for the sake of my kids. I can talk to them on the phone or help them in other ways, but not around my home or kids. It boils down to common sense.


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