Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Adoption and the Religious Community

this link is a post one of our readers (Kathleen) made on the Attachment Disorder Support Group board re:'s "Hope for Orphans" ministry.

I actually had come across this last night and her point is a good one. She is responding to this statement "Adopted children probably have many emotional issues I won't know how to handle." In reading that, we as adoptive parents would conclude that there is nothing to argue about in that statment. Except that it is one of their "Myths of Adoption." Kathleen goes on to point out that an adoption ministry should not only recruit people to adopt, but should also support parents after they have adopted.

I have heard way too many horror stories about the way that adoptive families are treated by the religious community. Obviously, as a pastor's wife and someone who has probably in 43 years missed less than 20 Sundays in church, our family has had a lot of exposure to the religious community. And we have received a great deal of support. But we have heard of many people who have stopped going to church because there is so much criticism and lack of understanding and they simply no longer fit in.

For some reason, it seems to be the goal of many individuals to discredit parents when their children misbehave or do not fit into the mold. It gets very tiring to have people constantly watching your every move to determine why your kids are doing what they do. Or there is the 'I don't know WHY you say this delightful child has special needs", suggesting that we are too critical of them because they save their rages for home.

Continuous educating gets tiresome for us as parents, but it's something we must do. Thanks to Kathleen for doing so and sharing her efforts with us.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Levels of Care: An Unsolvable Conundrum?

In nearly every state, foster care payments are determined by how difficult the child is to parent. Incident Reports are filed and there are reviews periodically to make sure that the behaviors still exist that were initially reported. Keeping a child at a "therapuetic level" is a good thing for the foster parents (they make more money) and the therapuetic agencies (if the child is no longer therapuetic, their services are unnecessary).

Even the most integritous of indviduals is going to have a hard time proving that the child is improving to the point that they need to be paid less money. And then there is the other extreme. I placed a 17 year old who told me that his foster parents sat down every night and filled out incident reports about him and the other foster children in their home. "They had me at a Level Four for a while and there's no way I was ever more than a Level Two," he reported.

I suppose that the other extreme could also occur, though I would guess that it happens less often. If a basic care foster parent falls in love with a child and does not want that child moved into another home (to receive therapuetic foster care services) couldn't that foster parent downplay the child's issues and paint an inaccurate picture?

The conundrum comes into play when the child is legally free for adoption and the foster parents, for whatever reason, cannot adopt the child. At this point it is time for the social worker to recruit a family for a child. The level of care is one of the first things that the parents hear about the child and eventually the prospective adoptive parents in many states will be reading through the many incident reports. Can prospective parents be convinced to adopt a child who has over 1,000 pages of incident reports in their file and a therapuetic level of care?

I post this because this is one of the issues around which my brain cannot wrap. I don't think we can honestly say that all foster parents and therapuetic agencies are going to accurately report improvements that will reduce their salary. I am sure that there are many out there who do, but unfortunately, they may be the exception rather than the rule.

Am I missing something obvious here? Is there a solution that I'm simply not seeing?

Please comment either here or at the Adoption Think Tank site.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Adopted at 23

A couple adopts their former foster child when she is 23. This is the kind of commitment that we need to start training all foster parents to have when they agree to take teenagers.

Right now, foster care for teenagers is seen as a temporary thing. Caseworkers often tell foster parents, "Just try it and see if it works. If it doesn't, we'll move him/her." Kids get moved in foster care all the time for the dumbest things -- often because of their attitudes. Last time I checked, every teenager, no matter how "normal" or perfect, had a bad attitude.

Kids are aging out of foster care with nobody committed to them every day. What we need to do is recruit foster families who are willing to make a lifetime commitment to the kids, whether or not they are legally free and whether or not the kids want to be adopted.

Many kids don't see a need for adoption until they are in their mid to late twenties. Many of them, as the story I sited shows, go back and get adopted much later than their committed parents would have preferred. But the bottom line is that the commitment on the part of the parents began the day the foster child moved in.

When I was a college administrator, there were modular trailer units put on campus as temporary housing that ended up housing students for way more years that they were intended. They were no fun to live in and eventually they were finally replaced by permanent housing.

These "mods" as we called them remind me of foster care. Foster homes were never intended to be a long term solution, but that is what they have become. And they won't be a good long term solution until we can change the thinking of foster parents until they can make a permanent lifetime commitment to teenagers where they will love them, regardless of what happens.

And maybe stories will have a happy ending like this one.

Legal Ramifications for Women Giving Birth to children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

A new bill being introduced in New Mexico would make it a misdemeanor to give birth to a child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. While the bill only deals with those children who have FAS, not others on the spectrum (such as those with Fetal Alcohol Effect and don't have the facial characteristics), it at least makes a statement that it is wrong to damage the brain of your own unborn child.

Anyone who is not sure whether alcohol really does damage the brains of children should be required to spend even a week following around a teenager who has this diagnosis. Their choices, thought patterns, ability to reason, decision making, etc. is mind boggling. We have a son who is almost 18 who has it and if you've followed his story on our personal blog, you will be amazed at his ability to manipulate people into following the plans that he makes for himself that don't make any sense whatsoever.

Maybe it is a woman's right to drink while she is pregnant, but someone needs to protect the child inside her from having brain damage.

Unfortunately, many of the women who are pregnant and drinking also have fetal alcohol syndrome and will never understand that they need to not drink in order to avoid a misdemeanor. Placing a consequence ahead of them will make no difference whatsoever if they have the Syndrome themselves.

Whether or not drinking while pregnant and causing irreprobable damage to a fetus is a crime, I think is a no brainer. It certainly is a crime. But I'm dubious that making it a misdemeanor to do so will curb alcohol use for most women during their pregnancy.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


Dominyk, our youngest son, suffers from severe ADHD and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. About two months ago, the psychiatrist prescribed Abilify, a drug used to treat Bi-Polar Disorder. An article in the The BIpolar Child Newsletter talks extensively about the medication.

One of the quotes in the article says
Studies conducted with Abilify show that patients gain little if any weight;

We have had a completely different experience. Dominyk has gained 21 pounds in 60 days. His appetitie us uncontrollable and he is insatiable from about 3:00 until he goes to bed. So on Friday the psychiatrist decided to cut the Abilify in half and determine how this would effect his behavior as well as the weight gain.

The past two days Dominyk hasn't seemed to be quite as hungry, but he has had a major meltdown at around 3 in the afternoon two days in a row. It hasn't been an angry meltdown, but an inconsollable craying meltdown about something very small. He gets very obsessed about something and can't seem to stop crying.

Dominyk's behavior has been better than ever on the abilify and he has been sleeping better than he ever has. He is more redirectable at home and seems happier. But the severe weight gain needs to stop.

Kari's daughter Anna gained a lot of weight on abilify as well. I'm wondering if anyone else who has experience with this drug could comment.

The Purpose of This Blog

Though I do have a personal blog, “Never a Dull Moment,” it has become apparent to me that a blog focusing on the issues related to adoption might be more appropriate for some readers. Individuals who are seeking information about adoption, special needs, and parenting adopted children might appreciate being able to read about the issues without having to read about the drama associated with the daily living of my family. If there are topics that you might wish to see addressed, please email me..