Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mother's Day

If you live in the United States, you are probably well aware of what's been dubbed the "Hallmark Holiday" known as Mother's Day.  This is a day where, at least in modern times, we send our mom flowers, take her out to brunch, send her a card, and generally let her know how great she's been all these years.

Believe it or not, the holiday has some pretty dark roots.  According to National Geographic:

It was founded for mourning women to remember fallen soldiers and work for peace. And when the holiday went commercial, its greatest champion, Anna Jarvis, gave everything to fight it, dying penniless and broken in a sanitarium.

It all started in the 1850s, when West Virginia women's organizer Ann Reeves Jarvis—Anna's mother—held Mother's Day work clubs to improve sanitary conditions and try to lower infant mortality by fighting disease and curbing milk contamination, according to historian Katharine Antolini of West Virginia Wesleyan College. The groups also tended wounded soldiers from both sides during the U.S. Civil War from 1861 to 1865.

Interesting, no?

As for my holiday, things were pretty quiet.  My sweetie and I went up to visit my mom. She fixed us a nice meal, I showed her how to do a few things on her tablet, and fixed (just by touching) her non-functioning TV remote control. We sent her and my future MIL some flowers.  It was a nice day.

Later that evening, I sent a few text messages to FosterEema.  Even though we aren't together anymore and don't see each other very often, we are still somewhat friendly. I wished her a "Happy Mother's Day" and asked if she had heard from Danielle.

She had not.

FosterEema reported that she rarely hears from Danielle.  When she does, it's only because she has called to ask for money or favors.

Am I surprised?  No.  Am I disappointed?  Only vaguely.

While I'd hoped for more from Danielle, she is who she is.  She's a victim of the decade of betrayal and broken relationships she experienced before she was placed in our home.  Her seven years with us weren't enough to magically cure her childhood of abuse and neglect.

Recently, I bumped into a prospective adoptive mother whose heart was full of dreams and the idea that she'll be able to adopt a perfect child from somewhere.  I tried to give her a dose of reality, and explained that any adoption, even a private one from a supposedly-healthy birth mother, is based on loss.

Adoption isn't the beautiful miracle that people want to believe.  Adoptions happen because a mother doesn't want, or isn't willing to do the things to keep, her child.  I find it hard to understand how a kid can thrive when they learn of that basic rejection of their humanity.

Yes, there is a need for loving foster and adoptive homes.  But even the best can't make up for a child being unwanted by their birth family.  Nothing can.


  1. FosterAbba, my daughter was never unwanted. *I* wanted her, as did her struggling birth parents. It is a stigmatizing term to use in reference to children.
    Ina, not anon.

  2. As I see it, every child that ends up in foster care or put up for adoption is, in some way, unwanted.

    It doesn't matter if there is a foster or adoptive family out there that wants the kid. The initial injury comes from the fact that the child's biological parents don't want him or her. Whether it's a case of unplanned pregnancy or a situation where Child Welfare Services is involved and the parents can't or won't work their case plan, the end result is the same: the biological parents didn't want to be parents.

    It's a loss to the kid. They know their parents didn't want them. While an adoptive family might pick up the slack, it's not the same thing as knowing you were wanted by your own flesh and blood.

    I don't think it's "stigmatizing" to say that an adopted child is or was unwanted. It's true. For every adopted child that exists, there's a sad story of a biological parent who didn't want to take on the responsibilities of parenting badly enough to do it.

    That's not to say that there is something inherently wrong with the children themselves. Now it's true that many adopted kids, especially older kids who come from the foster care system, can have a lot of problems. Does that make them inherently bad or unadoptable? No, but I think that prospective families need to understand what they are getting into. Far too many decide to adopt without having their eyes wide open. There are way too many social workers that flat-out lie to foster/adoptive families just to get a kid into a home.

  3. I think it is very good idea that you draw the attention of potential foster/adoptive parents on the reality on the field. I think also that your blog and other blogs serve this purpose well.

    People who want to adopt first should know how to deal with children. Unfortunately, there are many parents and adoptive parents out there who equate children too much to machines that have to function when they push a button. They tend to underestimate the non-machinal side of children and the fact that causes and consequences are not always easy to see in education, especially when dealing with children you do not know from birth, especially when dealing with traumatised children.

    I suppose that there are a few ground rules that could help parents of RAD or traumatised children to understand better what is happening in their children's minds and how to avoid escalation (like: do not take away things that belong to them). on the other hand, this will never be enough to deal with real life. But perhaps basic mistakes could be avoided.


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