Dear God, this has to be a joke! Right? Right?
DEAR DR. BROTHERS: I am the parent of an adopted child from Eastern Europe. We have had her only about four months, but it is obvious that she is not fitting into our family. Our two older children think she is "retarded," and indeed she sits sullenly in the corner most of the time, or rages at everyone with tantrums when she doesn't get her way. I am wondering if I made a terrible mistake, and my husband feels the same way. We wanted to help an unfortunate child and enjoy another little one in our family, but this is too hard. What would the implications be for our two natural children if we arranged with the agency to place her with another family? -- S.D.
DEAR S.D.: It does sound as though your family might be better suited to a child from a nearby state or community -- perhaps an infant -- than to a foreign child with many language and cultural adjustment problems ahead of her. Most people who adopt from overseas are asked to attend classes explaining what kinds of problems typically come with that type of situation, and what you might expect in the first few days, weeks and even months of suddenly becoming a parent to a child from another country, another culture, one who may have suffered some deprivation or even abuse as a baby.
Perhaps your kids could help their newly adopted sister to learn the alphabet and form English words, and she could help them out with a little foreign-language lesson. In any case, you will all need a great deal of patience to give the child a fair chance.
If you absolutely find nothing good happening and want to "return" her, you will at least have tried your best to help her adjust to your family. And while you're at it, teach your kids some manners. I hope you return the child only as a last resort, because she shouldn't be made to feel like an animal at a Humane Society shelter, hoping for the permanent adoption that finally sticks.
ACK! What agency did these people use?! How did they pass a homestudy?! Don't they know anything about attachment?! Didn't they get any preparation for the possible effects of institutionalization on older children (and younger children)?! Did someone maybe wave "Attaching in Adoption", by Deborah Gray, or "Toddler Adoption: The Weaver's Craft", by Mary Hopkins Best, in the general direction of these people?
And what about Dr. Brothers' response?! Have the biokids help with the alphabet and have her give them foreign language lessons? Excuse me?! Please tell me something got edited out by the version of Dr. Brothers' column I read. Please. Where's the advice to get counseling? Psychological assessment? Early-intervention program in the county? An attachment therapist? It's obvious from the first paragraph that Dr. B. thinks these folks are a poor fit for that child (I think they've got some Big Problems, myself!)--why the hell didn't she provide a real helpful answer?
But, hell, if you're going to give advice, maybe the advice should be: Get that child away from those "parents", and to a different couple or single person who actually has a clue.
Holy cow. I wake up, slug down some DayQuil and zinc tablets (yuck), wade into my blogroll and my email groups, and I stumble across this. Sheesh. I am continually amazed at people...
(This is not to say that beforehand preparation and post-adoption counseling is the be-all, end-all for a situation like this. We all know that some children who are adopted at older ages have serious attachment issues that can be horrible to deal with in everyday life. But it's obvious from the question that these people are...well, I'll be gentle..."clueless".)