Que demanderiez-vous prospective (prospective adoptive parents or guardians)?

I was out with my son last night eating french food, drinking sangria, and listening to a jazz trio on an outdoor patio on a beautiful summer evening. I can't believe summer is almost gone...sigh.

My son's friend that had joined us was telling me how he thinks he might parent any future children he may have. His plan for discipline was to make it something physical, like holding a book with a straight arm for ten minutes. After choking a little on my Coquille St.Jacques I declared that sounds completely military, which in hindsight shouldn't be all that surprising as this particular young man has experienced some military training. We had a great discussion about it all but it stuck with me as I'd already been thinking about the types of questions that parents who've decided on adoption would ask potential adoptive parents, and just what exactly I'd ask someone to determine their philosophy on parenting. I guess you could even go further and apply this to people naming guardians for their children in the event of death.

It's clear that discipline is an important issue to me, I've written about my thoughts on corporal punishment a few times here. Childcare is also important to me. Just who exactly would actually be with my child. Would it be the parents or would they have to rely on some kind of constant daycare? Sometimes if you add up the hours of time spent with working parents, it's far less than with whomever is providing them with babysitting/daycare. And the quality of the time spent with the working parents? Not very high. People are busy and tired at the end of the day, not the best setting for talks and goofing off together.

Are sips of mom or dad's alcoholic beverage ok? What are the food philosophies of the prospective parents? You must eat everything on your plate? Are sleepovers allowed? Homeschooling, public or private? Should babies be left to cry, can they be spoiled by too much attention? Are beauty pageants on the agenda? What happens if the parents are married and split up or one parents dies? What are the prospective parent's feelings on introducing boyfriends or girlfriends into the child's life? What's the attitude toward extra curricular activities? Can a boy take ballet? Can a girl play hockey or rugby? Will you go to the games and would you volunteer to coach? Would I cringe and move away from you at your son or daughter's baseball game? How old should kids be before they walk to school alone? Is Halloween allowed? Would you buy or make costumes? Can your son have long hair if he wants? What age will you talk to your kids about sex? Would you help to provide birth control to your teen? How would you react if your child is gay? If your toddler bit someone, would you bite them back to show them how it feels? How do you think you'd teach your child not to lie? Is post secondary education a must in your mind?

I could sit here all day and think up things that matter to me in parenting. How does one best assess potential parents for, or guardians to, their children?

What would you ask?


This won't hurt a bit

This post is actually a question.

I pose it to all but would especially love to hear from those who believe in the primal wound theory or from the people who have been touched by adoption that believe they suffer from PTSD. Yes, I feel it's perfectly acceptable to use the term "touched" as I've seen John Raible use it.

Since this question quite often pops up in my head when I read about all the ways adoption inevitably inflicts lifelong trauma and the resulting emotional issues on all those who experience it, whether they are aware of it or not, I thought I'd just go ahead and ask it here.

Are you for or against circumcision in infant boys? I imagine nobody is for infant female circumcision.

As always, feel free to comment anonymously if you have something important to say and are wary of any undeserved backlash from other commenters.


Sunny sky for our fair weather daughter

So, in the spirit of being honest, I'd like to share a recent search event. For the record, being honest is something I take seriously whereas fun and interesting I'm aware is a matter of personal taste. Call me boring, but don't accuse me of being dishonest.

So in another rare moment of being alone in my home Monday I decided to try calling my biological mother's phone number again. It wasn't quite as frightening this time, mainly I think because I didn't expect her to answer. She did. It went quite smoothly actually. She let me know she was on the other line to which I replied I wouldn't keep her long, that I was just wondering if she'd received any of my messages. Turns out she had received my very first Christmas card and note and had replied via email, back in January. For whatever reason, who ever really knows what happens in cyberspace sometimes, I didn't receive the email.

To my surprise, she told me that she was planning a trip in the fall and had been considering stopping in my city, if it could work out that way. Huh...what?!?!? To say this surprised me would be an understatement. I replied that although that might be interesting, wow, she didn't HAVE to do that, meeting her wasn't what I was after, that I really just wanted to have some communication and some questions answered, to let her know I had no intention of outing her to her family or of showing up some day on her doorstep, that I'd done quite a bit of digging around on the internet and had found pictures, obituaries and other various online morsels of information about her and her family. Having not really expected her to even answer the phone you can imagine how the mention of meeting up out of the blue would be freaky...yes, *blush*, I think I used that word on the phone...sigh.

Ironically, I thinks it's irony, when I said I'd let her get back to her call, she told me it had been her daughter on the other line and that she'd hung up now. I gave her my email address again and she said she'd try it and I could mail her back if I got her email, which I quickly did saying I'd send another longer one shortly.

I wrote a mail outlining my attitude toward our whole situation, relayed some of the things I'd be interested in knowing, thanked her for making contact and described what a relief it was to me to no longer worry that she was worrying about me disrupting her life. I was happy to have been given the opportunity to explain my motive in initiating contact. I explained in a bit more detail what I'd found out about her on my own and told her that although I was surprised at the possibility of meeting her so soon, I think it's something I'd be ok doing.

So, there are the facts. I'd like to add a couple of things to this post, the first being she made it clear again in her short mail that nobody ever knew about me except for her deceased husband and she would like to keep it that way for now, although if her husband were still alive, things might be different. I reassured her that I have no problem with this and told her I have genuine compassion for her situation.

The second thing I'd like to mention is that when I sent her the second, longer email, I didn't hear back immediately. This left me wondering if she'd gotten either reply email. I waited two days to see if I'd hear back and when I didn't I sent a very short mail asking her to please let me know if she'd received them when she had a minute. I heard back almost immediately that she had and that's all her email said.

I see much written about mis-communication between reuniting biological parents and their grown children. I think it's important to give each other the benefit of the doubt. It's important to realize methods of communication (email, voice mail, snail mail) can fail and that we don't know each other in the slightest. We don't know each others habits or thought processes, each others moods or life experiences.

My plan is to remain patient, respectful, compassionate, realistic and honest. Is that interesting or fun? Not so much, I know, but hopefully it will serve me well in my journey as an adopted person who's possibly been given the opportunity to have my curiosity satisfied and perhaps meet the person who gave birth to me.


I'll take my comment elsewhere....and add to it

The issue of "responsibility for the emotional welfare" IS a huge burden placed on children by parents, period. I agree that an adoptive parent could be more inclined to engage in this harmful behavior but no more so than a single parent, divorced parent, widowed parent, a parent who's experienced the death or loss of a child, or for that matter a natural/first/birth/bio parent or their damaged adopted adult children.

Since offspring have a natural tendency to "care" about their caregivers or parents (even if they're undeserving for whatever reason) it's very difficult to convince them their parent's issues are not their problem. If they're able to do this though, especially without severing the relationship with the guilty parent, it can be very liberating!

In my experience people (most of whom are biological parents raising or have raised their own or their partner's kids) who are prone to neediness and selfish ego driven behavior, when it comes to their children, don't want to realize what they are doing and why. You can tell them til you're blue in the face and most of the time they'll refuse to own and/or change their behavior. It always comes back to but.. but.. but, poor them.

When I speak of my experience I'm talking about real live people I know in real life situations. The reason I'm so aware of these circumstances is I become involved in them emotionally and/or physically. Sometimes it's from afar with there never being a possibility of me becoming involved or saying something but other times my "ear" is solicited with words of encouragement or advice to follow. Although I'd like to say that my "help" is, well, helpful it usually does no more than supply a sounding board to get it all out as it's easier said than done, this separation from parent's problems without separating from the parent. I know it's easier said than done because I struggle to do it myself with my own mother.

When it's the most sad is when I can see it happening with a non adult child. When I'm forced to watch the selfish behavior of a parent and the effects of their behavior on their child. There are nine children I can think of off the top of my head that "survive" this crap every day. I subtly (and not so subtly at times) do what I can but there is no changing people like this, it would appear. Their personal problems and needs will always be more important than their children.

A recent rather stern conversation with a parent of some children I'm close to left me frustrated and feeling helpless. Everything we talked about ended up coming back to him and his problems with his own father demonstrating a complete inability to see himself through his own kids eyes and how his actions negatively affect his daughters. Watching his wife, these kid's mom, allow her children to be subjected to this emotional abuse is even more infuriating.

The other kids are children of divorced parents who allow "step" parents to mistreat them, children of a widowed mother who carry the burden of their mother's emotional welfare every minute of their young lives, and one child of a single mom who could not get her act together for her now grown son and is so far unable to do so for her 8 year old daughter.

So, we have kids of a widowed parent, a married couple, a divorced set of parents who've introduced new caregivers, and a single parent all of whom have children that are biological to them and are carrying the weight of their parent or caregiver's emotional welfare.

My point is that although I do agree that adoptive parents could be more inclined to make their children, grown or not, responsible for their parent's emotional well being it is in no way exclusive to adoptive parents.

I believe it's a personality flaw or an unwillingness or inability to truly look at themselves and their behavior, not biological connection, though outside influences such as adoption can certainly exacerbate what's already there.


Save the shock and surprise

I want to discuss something I've not experienced in the way some adopted people have. In fact, it completely boggles my mind that it even happens in the way it's described. To me it seems it should be a classic "put yourself in their shoes" type of situation. If the people doing the judging or questioning would honestly try and picture themselves as adopted, seems to me it's a no brainer.

Adopted people could very well be interested in searching for their biological people.

Doesn't seem that shocking to me. Is that because I'm adopted? I don't think so. My mom, who has said things from time to time regarding searching that I've shaken my head at, has said herself if she were adopted she knows for a fact she'd search. She even said this to me when I hadn't yet (and felt no desire to) searched. Now, this isn't to say she didn't have or attempt to hide feelings of insecurity regarding my sister's and my biological families. To this day she says things like, "well, it's the way she went about searching" or "you exchanged a letter with your biological mother and didn't tell me?!". When it comes down to it, my amateur assessment of this conflicting behavior is based in her personality and her lack of confidence in her role as mom not in an inability to understand and relate to the desire to search.

This brings me to the characters that don't get searching at all. Who are these people? Now, I'm not saying I don't understand adopted people who don't search. I do get that because I was that for a time in my life. I'm talking about people, adopted or not, that supposedly exist and say things like, "why would you want to do that to your real parents?" or "how could you want to look for people that abandoned you?". Just writing it has me rubbing my eyes thinking REALLY? To the best of my memory this has never happened to me so it's just so bizarre and foreign that every time I see another adopted person write it I'm floored.

What is so hard to understand? A person is born. They are raised by a family that isn't biologically related. Good, bad, or indifferent that adopted family isn't biologically related. The desire to know why a person was adopted may be one adoptee thing that's universal. For some, I imagine, having reliable/credible documents that relay the story would be more than enough. For some, maybe a picture or two included may be more than enough. But for many others, obviously, it's not enough. They want to meet their biological family. They need to see and talk to people who may look or walk or talk like them and I refuse to believe there's a single person who, down deep, can't understand that. They themselves may feel they'd never want to or want to bother to, but they're being dishonest to say that can't see why someone else would.

If you know someone who's adopted who's searching or talking about searching, whether as family or just as a friend or an acquaintance, save the shock and surprise. If you're a parent, expect it. If your expectation is realized, support it. Prepare yourself and check your ego. Parent from the beginning in a manner that you can be confident in, in a manner that's honest and open. Establish a relationship with your child that makes them feel safe to talk to you. Let them know that you'll support whatever approach they take in searching. If it doesn't include you, get over it! Let your kids know that you'll be there for them no matter what they find, that your love for them isn't conditional. That it's not their responsibility to protect your role as parent, to worry about your fragile ego.

We all know that an adoptive parent will never be the biological parent but it's the same in reverse. What we are to another human being whether it be a parent, sibling, aunt or uncle, friend, teacher, or lover cannot be threatened if what we are is real and good.