Favorite "Meditation of My Heart"

Call unto me,

and I will answer thee,

and shew thee great and mighty things,

which thou knowest not. --Jeremiah 33:3 KJV

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Adoption Disruption: Real Help is Overdue

Ever since a "mom" let her child be returned to Russia by himself on a plane allegedly without notice, the adoption community is especially judgemental of adoption disruption.  We seem to now assume the worst of the family or the child or both.  As an adoptive mom, I certainly never want to see an adoption be disrupted, but I think we are too tough on families and children who are experiencing a disruption.  It seems that we rarely give the families the credit that they deserve.   

The adoptive community seems at a consensus that adoption disruption only happens to parents who are not committed to their kids or who don't work hard enough to make it work. However, what if these families are even more committed and are working harder than our own?  What is its not about commitment, but about their family's survival?  What if its not about the child or the parents?  What if we are judging simply out of our own fears about failure?  What if a disruption is not a failure, but a last opportunity for a family and a child to get the peace and healing that they need.

Ironically, the same adoption advocates, who will extend all respect and love to a biological parent who chooses to utilize the benefits of adoption, will condemn an adoption disruption without knowing the situation.  Is it really fair to an adoptive parent?  Is it really fair to an adopted child?  It is time for the adoption community to develop a less myopic view of disruption.  Parents including myself need to move beyond judgement to helping find resources for families facing tough decisions and for kids needing new families.

If we consider that  2% of the US child population is adopted  (1.8 million children)and that disruptions occur in between 1% to 10% of adoptions, then we would realize that this issue is too big and too damaging to ignore with judgement.  Plus the rates vary by the age of the child and type of adoption.  Needless to say, even at 1% that is 18,000 kids and families who are hurting and need compassionate help in healing.  There is an excellent government report that reviews the factors and frequency of disruption in the US.   One positive indicator from the study is that disruption rates have dropped since the 1980's and 90's.  However, one thing is for sure, condemning families and child(ren) who experience the tragedy and loss of disruption will not solve the problem or promote any one's healing. 

As an adoptive community, we need to be advocating for research, resources, support and better options for all families in crisis...biological and adoptive.  What if families facing these issues were given 24 hour support staff instead of removing the child or what if children were more truthfully presented by adoption agencies or what if adoptive families had paid adoption leave to promote bonding?  Would any of these ideas or numerous others help families?  I don't know, but I think a lot of families and children deserve some real answers...not judgement.


  1. Thank you Leatta!!! This is something that needs to be discussed and more education is necessary. There are SO many reasons that sometimes a disruption is necessary and it is a heartbreaking decision to make. We bring these children into our lives with such love and dreams and sometimes, for reasons not the family or the child's fault, the dream turns into a nightmare. Agencies don't fully prepare families for some of the hard realities of adoption, and may not be there when the child comes home and there are problems. A child may have been exposed to things that make them unsafe with other children, or the match (just like a marriage- if you had never met your partner before the marriage) just isn't a compatible one. Sometimes all the love and therapy in the world is not enough. (I HATE that reality) We spent over a year of intense therapy, love, everything we could think of and finally had to disrupt a placement (after we discovered one child was trying to sexually molest the others, and discovered the same child standing over our newborn son's crib with a knife. It was the hardest most heartbreaking decision we have ever made, and there will always be a hole in my heart where that dream, that child, should be. We were told if something happened they could take away ALL of our children.

    Add to the heartache, people who don't live your reality 24/7 judging and condemning you and it destroys you.

    I have a friend, has adopted several teens with issues, very experienced, contacted by a family in which a teen adoption wasn't working out. Everyone was miserable. They adopted this girl and the placement has been a wonderful blessing to the family and their new daughter. It seems simplistic, but plants thrive in different conditions. If you had a plant that was dying in a certain soil, or place, wouldn't you move it to a place where it had a better chance to thrive?

    Disruption is a shattering experience, but sometimes there are very valid reasons. Thank you for writing about this.

    Kathy Costley-Sakona

  2. Excellent post! I'm mom to 16 (15 through older child adoption) and know how terribly isolating and frightening it is to struggle with our unique parenting issues. The judgement of others is unbearable and drives us into depression. We never disrupted but I have to admit I sometimes wonder if we would have if it had been more of an open and supported topic back in the 1990s.

    I love your blog. Your common sense and humor are refreshing in the world of adoption blogs.

  3. Leatta, I found your post today and believe me, it contains the most beautiful words I have read or heard in the last seven months. Thank you for your views, and also thanks to Anonymous and Kathy for their comments. You've helped me more than you think.