Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Support for adoption

Shortly after I began trying to conceive, I joined online communities. At first I would just read all these posts and answers. And then I began participating. Whenever you google "is X a pregnancy symptom" you get these forums. Why? In part because search terms we use as laypeople is not the medical terminology, so we don't get the medical literature (when I want medical I go to pubmed.org). For about a year I played the symptom spotting game with other members of the ttc community, but then they would get pregnant and go away and I'd be left feeling very old and cranky and sad. I started visiting the fertility treatments forums, but as I wasn't being treated for anything, and still not, I didn't feel like I belonged there either (although they helped me to know what to expect). But then I started perusing the adoption boards.

What are the adoption boards like? Well, strange. There are many things happening on the adoption boards. There are prospective adoptive parents looking for support or with questions about issues or concerns from their perspective. These can range from sadness about an adoption falling through, or behaviour challenges in an adoptive child with an attachment disorder or a disability. There are young women considering giving up their child and still on the fence or wanting to know where to go and what to do. This combination - the pregnant mom and the prospective adoptive mom brings about the creepiest of posts - the too-much-information-please-pick-me audition. I call it creepy because the moment a young women posts that she's thinking of putting her baby up for adoption, there is this vulture-like response of "I'll take your baby!"

I get it. I really do. My gut says the same thing, but it's still creepy. I'll be going through extensive screening. Social workers will "match" a child to our family. I can only imagine how frightening it is for a young woman to go online and ask questions only to be leaped on by random strangers who want her baby. It's all I can do to keep from doing it myself, but I know the helpful thing is not to volunteer myself but to share the relevant information. And the most relevant information I can share, is that you need to get information relevant to your jurisdiction, your community even. I can dream about some random pregnant teenager reading my posts and deciding I'm wonderful and wanting me to raise her baby. It's not going to happen like that. I'll complete my intake, home study, and PRIDE training. Then I'll wait for a call. It's going to take time, but I'm patient.

The third group that live on adoption boards are those with adoption-gone-wrong stories. They are hurt, either because they were birth moms who were coerced into giving up a baby, or a few were adopted by families that weren't as well screened as they should have been. The board I frequent has a core group of these ladies who are vicious as snakes, biting the would-be adoptive moms and frightening the pregnant ladies. Because of these ladies, I sometimes think there need to be three unique boards to provide support. On the other hand, we need to have this three-way dialogue. We need to hear the concerns of the birth moms. We need to hear the concerns of the adoptive moms. And we need to hear the horror stories so we make sure their experiences are never repeated. There was a recent discussion on assisted reproduction on the CBC Radio programme Line In The Sand. The discussants were bioethicists. One of the bioethicists kept coming back to adoption, and the ethical responsibilities we have towards children that are already here with us on this planet, and the imbalance that exists that makes artificial reproduction more accessible than adoption. In Ontario, 50% of children who are "crown wards" are available for adoption, yet only 9% get adopted.

I know exactly why everyone wants a baby, the earlier the child enters your family the more he or she is moulded to your family. If the placement is before 6 months you have no reason to be concerned about attachment issues. If the placement is before 3 years, the child likely will have no memory of prior experiences, but may have some behaviour patterns. The older the child, the more there are entrenched behaviour patterns. I grapple with this too. But then I grapple with the older child who needs a home and feel just as much a deep desire to make that happen. If you are open, you'll be matched quickly. We don't get to pick our biological children, we shouldn't turn adoption into a shopping experience either.

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