You can study the past scientifically »« Oh, those secular ethics

‘private re-homing’

America, home of all those anti-abortion fanatics, has developed a bit of an international reputation.

The failure to keep track of what happens after children are brought to America troubles some foreign governments. So do instances of neglect or abuse that become known. Often cited is the case of the Tennessee woman who returned a 7-year-old boy she adopted from a Russian orphanage. The woman had cared for him only six months when she put the boy on a flight to Moscow in April 2010. He was accompanied by a typed letter that read in part, "I no longer wish to parent this child."

Late last year, Russia banned adoptions by Americans amid a broader diplomatic dispute. Other nations, including Guatemala and China, have also made the process more difficult. As a result, the number of foreign-born children adopted into the United States has declined from a peak of almost 23,000 in 2004 to fewer than 10,000 a year today.

Read the whole thing; it’s a long, multi-part exposé of shameful abuse of adopted children and terrifyingly bad government oversight. It seems that once you’ve brought a child over from a foreign country, or adopted one from American agencies, it’s fairly easy to renege on your responsibilities: using a short legal document, you can grant power of attorney for the child to just about anyone, and just hand them over, a process called “private re-homing” — it’s easier to swap a kid with a stranger than it is to adopt a pet from a shelter.

There are active bulletin boards on the net in which parents can, for instance, talk about their troublesome adopted child and ask if anyone would care to take them off their hands. Guess who loves those boards? Pedophiles and serial child abusers, of course. The deeper you read into that article, the more disgusted you will become.

Parenting is about commitment and responsibility. It’s a disgrace that the many adoptive parents who know that and do right by their children have to live with a system that also tolerates flibbertigibbets and attention-seeking frauds who want validation as a parent and contemptible sex offenders. This is a situation in which tightening up regulations and oversight can do no harm to the truly caring parents, but can also keep children out of the hands of creeps.

Comments

  1. stevem says

    So that’s where you get those nubile yung-ens’ [twirling mustache] [rubbing hands]. Sign me up! /snark

  2. francesc says

    So… if you run a tax-free foundation, you can bribe some Russian guy so that you can get fast and easy kids that you can sell to parents? Well, not sell, the parents would donate to the foundation and, totally unrelated, the foundation will “help” them to get a kid.

    Coming from some countries, it may be pretty difficult to know someone’s age. So that he/she could be 16 yo when you adopt him (immigration laws may be stronger than those protecting kids?), but 21 yo when the police find him in a brothel (so that it’s not a minor abuse crime)

  3. says

    Only very slightly OT:

    My sister-in-law’s kid from a previous marriage had very fair skin, blond hair and blue eyes. It became a commonplace event for people on the street to engage her in conversation starting with what a beautiful baby (later toddler) she had with her but the conversation ended with offers of money to allow the stranger(s) to adopt him (high bid was about $10,000). What the hell’s Wrong with people?!?! We talking about a child not a used car.

    This relates to this adoption mess as it speaks to the level of motivation of (I hope only) a portion of the parent wannabe population that has their heads badly bent. I can only guess the effect that during his time as a small child he experienced dozens of attempts by strangers to buy him from his mother had on him.

  4. Woody Setzer says

    I have not followed these stories very closely, and had assumed that opponents to foreign adoption were cherry-picking extreme cases. I know we went through a fairly time-consuming and painful (but ultimately enlightening) process before we were able to adopt our daughter 15 years ago. That process involved both an attempt at evaluating our readiness/suitability to be parents, and fairly extensive education in parenting, especially focused on some of the special problems that arise in foreign adoption. The whole application process took on the order of a year for us, before our application to adopt was finally submitted. At the time, we joked (somewhat grimly, I guess), about the hoops we had to jump through to do what almost any 17-year-old young woman could do in about 9 months.

    I wonder if the frequency of abuse that has turned up among foreign adopted children is really any greater than in the general population. Certainly, the frequency of crimes against children is generally much higher than we would like (i.e., > 0), but I would have thought that the preprocessing required for foreign adoption would have an ameliorating effect.

  5. freemage says

    Woody: The bigger problem seems to be the ‘re-homing’ market, which is essentially entirely domestic. Parents who get overwhelmed because they weren’t really prepared for the kid just dump them with some other family. Often, if it’s within the same state at the time, they don’t even need to tell anyone in the government about it–they just stop claiming the kid as a dependent on their taxes.

  6. Silva says

    Hey, can we stop comparing child adoption with pet rescue please? I know Americans love their pets. Some loveloveloooove their pets. But it is quite uncomfortable to be reading an article about adoption and then find yet another reference to rescuing pets. It’s like a compulsion or something. I think it’s the kind of thing where, if you are not one of the people being compared to pets, the more you see those comparisons to pets, the more likely you are to make the comparison yourself. But some of your readers wish we didn’t remind you of dogs.

  7. ysoldeangelique says

    “Re-homing” it sounds like what someone might do at a big box lumber and buildin supplies store. Not what you’d do with children . . .

  8. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    The lack of support systems for adoptive parents is an issue – and not just for children who have issues of some type or another. As a country, we should be ashamed to be so neglectful. I feel for some of the couples who sent away an adopted child – they were unable to handle them and felt terribly about that and wanted to do what was best

    But, dammit, “re-homing” an unwanted adoptive child with an effective stranger is not the answer.

  9. Blueaussi says

    Silva @ #8

    I don’t think people are comparing children to dogs, they’re comparing the relative complexity of the two adoption processes.

  10. francesc says

    @6 So the proccess was time-consuming, painful and -I guess- you invested a nice quantity traveling to his home country, when you couldn’t be sure you could adopt the kid.
    Re-homing was the answer! Some money for the fundation and you are guaranteed to get the kid! Fast and easy and with a lot less paperwork! Ask at the closer church!

  11. Silva says

    #11: Yes, but a high percentage of people do it, and it gets tiresome. And it’s not like PZ is the only one I’ve made this request of. I make it every time I see it. Eventually, if people are made aware this this comparison is a thoughtless rhetorical habit that doesn’t sit well with the people it involves, maybe in time it will fade away.

    Anyway, I’m can’t argue with the article or PZ’s assessment of it. The adoption industry is broken in that way and others. I’m glad it’s getting talked about. But always, pets pets pets. And also, pets.

    (Additionally, it’s not even true. If I walk into a pet shelter today, within 24 hours I can be the proud owner of 2 or 3 new cats. And a standing offer to come back anytime.)

  12. hillaryrettig says

    To be fair, apparently in at least some cases the adoption agencies in the other countries covered up cases of kids being very psychologically impaired and even violent. I think at least some of the parents who give up kids are in a truly desperate situation – and then they find that there’s little or no support. They may not make the optimal decision, but I find it hard to blame them.

    I know three families who adopted such kids: none gave their kid up, but the experience of raising the kid all but wrecked their lives.

    I also know a family who adopted a girl from Hungary, which apparently is a model for helping orphaned kids. Their daughter (who was probably given up because she was part Roma and also had strabismus “cross eyes”) came with a notebook filled with daily notes from her caretakers accumulated over years; it was an amazing document and gave real insight and showed a real devotion to nurturance.

  13. tariqata says

    @Silva: I think appreciate where you’re coming from, but I do think that there’s some value in pointing out how appalling it is that it is harder to take an animal from a shelter than it is to take over legal guardianship of a child, precisely because children are not like pets. The responsibility and obligations of caring for a child are so much greater that the process for assuming custody – particularly of a vulnerable child – should be much more rigorous.

  14. Silva says

    #16: Okay, fair enough. Just to clarify, I know why the comparison is made. I know why it seems natural and reasonable to throw the comparison in. I’m just hoping that if I point out the objection to it, some people will get discouraged from doing it themselves someday. I think the situation with difficult/disrupted adoptions is horrific enough on its own.

    And yes, I get what it’s like to be in an adoption crisis with no outside support. I don’t get what it’s like to get to the point of actually abandoning your child and not even looking at what you’re abandoning her to. I do get the parents wanting the disruption process to be easy, but why is actually IS easy, beats (and terrifies) the fucking hell outta me.

    But I guess it’s easier to gripe about dogs than discuss the article, because… because. Please don’t think I’m just about the dogs.

  15. carlie says

    For fuck’s sake. This is OT to the child problem, and is about the way it was presented/marketed, so feel free to skip.

    There are an awful lot of kids this happens to, and it occurs in all types of families and situations. And yet, they decided to use a woman who is fat, wearing sloppy clothes and lounging on a couch with a drink in hand, watching tv, as the top image for the piece. Let’s just shove all of the stereotypes about ugly Americans into one glaring photo and use it for the banner image? Seriously? Never mind that it then lets all the put-together and wealthy families who also abandon children off the hook, because they can look at that and think “no, that’s not me, I’m better than that”. Why not photograph the Puchallas, who adopted the child in that same anecdote in the first place and then advertised her on the damned internet to get rid of her like she was a used couch? Yes, the Easons are horrible people. But so are the Puchallas. So are all of the other parents they mentioned in the piece. It was an editorial decision to use a photo of the “broker” rather than the abandoning parents or even a picture of one of the children (although there was a small one later in the piece), and you can be sure it’s because of the “fat and poor = terrible” shorthand she presented.

  16. tariqata says

    I’m just hoping that if I point out the objection to it, some people will get discouraged from doing it themselves someday. I think the situation with difficult/disrupted adoptions is horrific enough on its own.

    Fair enough.

    And I also do not understand why it’s easy for an adoption to be disrupted – nor do I understand why there aren’t supports for adoptive parents in the first place.

  17. says

    I’ll probably never get to adopt, though I would like to (my relationship is one Aspie (me) and one bipolar person.) I had a shittastic childhood, and one of my favorite dreams is opening my house to another kid having a shittastic childhood, so that some part of their childhood can be spent somewhere where they can come to understand that they are valuable and wonderful.

    And I read these stories and I think about what it would have done to me, and the kids I knew growing up–a good handful of which are dead now for reasons like not knowing how to take care of themselves and not believing that there was any point in trying.

    Stories like these just wreck me because of those memories. I know what tends to happen to many of those kids when they grow up.

  18. Sven says

    My folks adopted a little girl from Russia last year. They’re excellent parents and she’ll have a very good upbringing. I was astonished at how much paperwork, background-checking, and other legal wrangling it took these two model people to adopt her. The bad people responsible for these horror stories make it significantly harder for everyone else, and it’s terrible.

  19. David Marjanović says

    It became a commonplace event for people on the street to engage her in conversation [...] offers of money to allow the stranger(s) to adopt him

    what

  20. Nathair says

    #21:

    The bad people responsible for these horror stories make it significantly harder for everyone else, and it’s terrible.

    No, I don’t think that’s terrible. What’s terrible is that it still isn’t hard enough and these horror stories continue.

  21. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    One of my wife’s cousins and his wife adopted a child from Russia. Raised her for 3 years.

    3 motherfucking years.

    Then sent her back.

    The anger that causes me is indescribable.

    We no longer speak to them.

  22. says

    thats great how they are like “sure, take the 8 year old back no objections here, but please take this pitbull, too!”, promised all the kids puppies, and
    then they left 5 dogs at that apartment they couldn’t pay on. I’d bet you anything they are back yard breeders. -_- I bet they are carefully selecting them for the best traits!

    I wonder what the fuck happened to ‘big momma’ to make her this way. I am kinda disappointed that the reported didn’t ask (or didn’t share) anything about her background. She didn’t just drop out of the sky that messed up.

    @18 carlie

    . Let’s just shove all of the stereotypes about ugly Americans into one glaring photo and use it for the banner image? Seriously? Never mind that it then lets all the put-together and wealthy families who also abandon children off the hook,

    the picture is of a woman at the center of the article. she keeps adopting the kids that other people don’t want and then subsequently abuses or neglects them. She was associating with a pedo during some of the adoptions and has had allegations leveled at her before. She killed her son by not supervising him in the bath when he was 18 months old. She defrauds parents trying to offload their kids.

  23. Moggie says

    Gregory in Seattle:

    I will try to find the link, but I’ve read recently that the worst offenders are — surprise! — Christian adoption agencies and devoutly religious parents who see adoption as a form of evangelism. Which is exactly where you get situations like this.

    Now now, why do you bring religion into the Hana Williams case?

    A woman has been found guilty in Washington state of starving and freezing to death her 13-year-old Ethiopian-born adopted daughter whom she was raising according to the dictates of a strict religious handbook for parents. … The parents kept the family isolated from non-relatives, home-schooled them and followed a harsh child-rearing regimen described in the Christian parenting book To Train Up a Child, investigators said, while adding that religion had been deemed not relevant to the criminal case.
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/10/mother-murder-adopted-daughter-freeze

    See that? It’s official: religion was not relevant to this case of Christian parents who followed a cruel Christian parenting book.

  24. carlie says

    skeptifem @25 – but it didn’t have to be of her. It could have been of anyone else in the story. And it didn’t have to be that picture, in that pose; they had other pictures of her, some that were shown elsewhere in the article, even. That “family” shot that was a small picture further down would have made a lot more sense to use as the top pic, if they were trying to emphasize what she had done. That photo of her sprawled out on the couch with a glass and a vacant stare was calculated to send a very specific message.

  25. Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk says

    She killed her son by not supervising him in the bath when he was 18 months old. She defrauds parents trying to offload their kids.

    Actually, that was a friend’s son. She was the last parent to check on the kids (he was still alive at that time she said) and the first to discover him.

    Gruesome, horrible stories. Those poor kids. All I’m thinking is *how*? *How* can people do that?

  26. jaybee says

    Rev. BigDumbChimp @ 24 —

    How much do you know the specifics of how they were parenting, what problems they faced, what therapies they tried, what support the sought out but were denied? How robust was their network of help? Would it be better or worse had they kept the child one year vs three vs five?

    Perhaps they were bad parents; perhaps things were a lot harder than you were aware.

    As for “sending her back,” you say that is if adopted children come with a SASE. I’m sure it isn’t nearly so easy and convenient as you make it sound.

  27. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    I too would have been interested in an examination of her background.

    I hate to speculate with nothing to go on it, but I’d bet that if the reporter learned of it, that a conscious decision was made to leave it out to avoid “confusing” the matter by indicating that the central villain is in some way or another deserving of sympathy.

    Out of all the adults in the story, I counted a handful who seemed to actually be non-reprehensible: the woman who drove through the night to pull the kids away from the “re-homing” and now expresses terrible guilt over her role in enabling abuse (I’m also struck by her recollection of how she got into the racket in the first place: she was disgusted by someone callously discarding an adopted child and thought that there had to be a better way). She – in addition to the assorted law enforcement officials (with the exception of the cop who sent away the child he’d adopted) and case workers – seemed to be the only adult I was not utterly repulsed by. Not to say that I didn’t shake my head over her naïveté – I sure as hell did – but she at least seemed to recognize how it was she’d messed up, how her decent intentions had led her astray, and wanted to fix things.

  28. embraceyourinnercrone says

    trigger warning – child abuse:

    Somewhat OT but somewhat related: If you are thinking of adopting (and are in the US) think about the Foster care system and older/sibling groups. My youngest brother came to live with us when he was 3, we were finally able to adopt him when he was 10 (his was a long term placement). My 2 youngest aunts were foster children (they were also siblings). There are a lot of kids, especially older kids who need families. There are also a lot of kids who “age” out of the system with no place to go who need families and mentors.

    It is not always easy for the kids, my youngest aunt lives with the affects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, my little brother was physically and emotional abused. He acted out to see if we would send him away too, for a long time. His health was also somewhat fragile due to long term malnutrition and I think that still has affects on him today. But we are family.

    I had also had 2 foster sisters(also siblings) for a while but they were lucky and their parents were able to get healthy again and worked to get their kids back. I was very upset to say goodbye but happy their family was able to be reunited.

    Ok I am done with my derail.

  29. Nick Gotts says

    Surely a type of abuse “Focus on the Family” must be involved in combating, given their altruistic concern for children.

    /snark

  30. pschoeckel says

    This is truly disheartening that children will be denied good homes because of people who treat children worse than animals. I cried when I read the article, it hits too close to home, so in that spirit I’d like to let you know that not all adoptions turn out bad. My niece was adopted from a Russian orphanage 16 years ago this Xmas. She has cerebral palsy and the most loving parents you can meet. She has just started her freshman year of college and is also part of the women’s USA sledge hockey team, an IHSA triple gold medalist in swimming, certified SCUBA diver and ADA archer.
    When I think of what could have been instead of what happened, well, I have to go now. More tears are on the way.

  31. bushrat says

    Words fail to describe the level of emotion this brings welling up from the pit of my stomach…knives, guns and bludgeoning instruments might be able to properly convey my emotions though.

  32. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    How much do you know the specifics of how they were parenting, what problems they faced, what therapies they tried, what support the sought out but were denied? How robust was their network of help? Would it be better or worse had they kept the child one year vs three vs five?

    Perhaps they were bad parents; perhaps things were a lot harder than you were aware.

    I know the answers to most all those questions.

    Yes she (the adopted child) has some slight behavior problems. Slight. Not to be unexpected from this type of adoption really. Our family is very close and the cousin’s parents, my Mother in-law’s brother, were very close, very close by and very supportive. Financially like anyone they had their ups and downs but they had 4 other children when they adopted her so they knew financially what their responsibilities could be.

    No it would not have been better at one, three or five.

    If you fucking make a commitment to a child, especially one this huge, you follow through with it.

    This isn’t like getting a puppy from the pound.

    Now some of the issue here is that those two (the adoptive parents) aren’t in my option, of the strongest of character. I can’t define that exactly but they are constantly making decisions that my wife and I find not just curious but borderline

    As for “sending her back,” you say that is if adopted children come with a SASE. I’m sure it isn’t nearly so easy and convenient as you make it sound.

    This is true, and frankly because of the shock of the entire incident no one knows from them exactly how it went down. They did it without telling anyone what exactly was going on. Next thing we knew, she was no longer there.

  33. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Bah shit. hit something while I was finishing end to the second section there.

    Now some of the issue here is that those two (the adoptive parents) aren’t in my option, of the strongest of character. I can’t define that exactly but they are constantly making decisions that my wife and I find not just curious but borderline self destructive.

    I won’t go into detail but I think there are some anger issues than manifest in his professional life and would guess family life.

    Which makes it even more infuriating they decided to adopt and then “give up” on the adoption, however that logistically went down.

  34. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    I’m heading out so i will probably not be able to respond should someone want.

    It’s something i just cannot fucking get my head around.

  35. says

    Rev. BDC:

    One of my wife’s cousins and his wife adopted a child from Russia. Raised her for 3 years.

    3 motherfucking years.

    Then sent her back.

    The anger that causes me is indescribable.

    We no longer speak to them.

    That’s infuriating and heartbreaking. Poor child.

  36. carlie says

    How much do you know the specifics of how they were parenting, what problems they faced, what therapies they tried, what support the sought out but were denied? How robust was their network of help? Would it be better or worse had they kept the child one year vs three vs five?

    Would you be offering these rationalizations if they had taken one of their biological children and given it up in the same manner? That’s what an adoption commitment is – they’re your children now. Yours. Not a loaner to see what you think of them. Sending a child away after adopting them is as unconscionable as giving up one you had biologically. And, one could argue, doing it to a child brought from another country is worse in a way, because they don’t even understand the environment they’re in now.

  37. says

    Carlie:

    Sending a child away after adopting them is as unconscionable as giving up one you had biologically.

    Especially after being with a family for X amount of years. I have the *tiniest* idea of what being ‘returned’ would do to a child. I spent most of my childhood being shunted from one house to another, getting to be the “oh, it’s your turn to deal with the obligatory duty” (which was me). That sort of shit can cave your head in, and that doesn’t even touch being adopted, brought into a supposedly forever family, only to have every shred of safety, trust, and security torn from you, then booted straight off and away. The mere thought of the damage such an action would wreak is beyond awful.

  38. says

    Rev. BDC:

    Yes she (the adopted child) has some slight behavior problems. Slight.

    Yeah, because we all know that biological sprogs don’t ever have behaviour problems, slight or otherwise.*

    *eyeroll*

    *Yeah, yeah, I’m aware adopted sproglets often come pre-packaged with issues. However, that this is always brought up by someone in discussions of adoption, it annoys me. A lot.

  39. says

    I just finished writing a blog post on how the US is really not a safe place to send kids to. It’s more general than this, because it focuses on both adoption and study abroad programs, but it’s part of a similar trend: complete lack of oversight, abusive families, and a dash of fundie fervor in adopting or hosting kids to turn them into real True Christians.

    http://wp.me/pTQEs-nC

  40. says

    This makes me so sad and so angry. “How would you give me up when you brought me to be yours?” asks Quita. How indeed? Adoption is a major commitment, just like having a biological child. It is shameful that there is not enough support for these parents, but I also feel that these parents should have considered their ability and social network before adopting a foreign child, understanding that these children may have issues that take extra time, money, and support to address. And as Caine points out, these considerations should be made by people having/planning a biological child as well. I’m not sure if I’m making sense, I’m really pissed off and sad.

  41. says

    And yet, they decided to use a woman who is fat, wearing sloppy clothes and lounging on a couch with a drink in hand, watching tv, as the top image for the piece.

    there were also references to how FAT people were sprinkled throughout the article. There was no point to those gratuitous references.

  42. wondering says

    18 – Carlie

    There are an awful lot of kids this happens to, and it occurs in all types of families and situations. And yet, they decided to use a woman who is fat, wearing sloppy clothes and lounging on a couch with a drink in hand, watching tv, as the top image for the piece. Let’s just shove all of the stereotypes about ugly Americans into one glaring photo and use it for the banner image? Seriously? Never mind that it then lets all the put-together and wealthy families who also abandon children off the hook, because they can look at that and think “no, that’s not me, I’m better than that”. Why not photograph the Puchallas, who adopted the child in that same anecdote in the first place and then advertised her on the damned internet to get rid of her like she was a used couch? Yes, the Easons are horrible people. But so are the Puchallas. So are all of the other parents they mentioned in the piece. It was an editorial decision to use a photo of the “broker” rather than the abandoning parents or even a picture of one of the children (although there was a small one later in the piece), and you can be sure it’s because of the “fat and poor = terrible” shorthand she presented.

    Carlie, I had the same reaction to the photo as you did, but you are in error of whom the photo is of. That isn’t the “broker” (Megan Exton), that’s Nicole Eason, the woman who was serially “taking in” all the children that the other parents abandoned, and is thus the person associated with every single “deal” discussed in the story. So I can understand why they chose a photo of her; I’m just unhappy they chose that particular photo of her.

    I too was thrown by the similar last name when first reading the article and had to go back and double check who it was.

  43. kayden says

    The federal government needs to step in and pass legislation to address this problem. No one should be allowed to move children around like unwanted furniture with absolutely no legal oversight.

    As for Ms. Eason, I don’t care how she is portrayed. After reading the entire article, I’m just shocked that she got away with so much child abuse. Absolutely amazing. Surely a first world country like the US can do better for its adopted children — particularly for those who are living in a foreign land with strangers. I’m curious whether rehoming is a problem in other countries such as Canada or England.

  44. says

    Dutchgirl:

    I’m not sure if I’m making sense, I’m really pissed off and sad.

    It can’t be easy for you to read this, being pregnant and all.

    I should clarify that in my comment @ 41, all the annoyance is aimed at Jaybee @ 29, not Rev. BDC.

  45. wondering says

    @Rev. BigDumbChimp

    I feel your rage. My youngest foster sister just moved in with me after being bounced around between my parents, her bio mom, and family friends for a couple of years. She had been with my family for 13 fucking years! And suddenly she’s not welcome any more.

    I have no words to describe how angry I am with my mom.

    And in case anyone was wondering, this is in Canada, not the States, so I’m sure we have a re-homing crisis of our own.

  46. ck says

    Let’s not forget what happened in Haiti not that long ago when 10 missionaries attempted to abduct 33 children to take back to the U.S. for adoption. The charges against these people may have been dropped, but you have to wonder how often people get away with this given what happened.

  47. says

    I think stricter laws would just drive this further underground. Some of these adoptive parents seem completely out of their depth and desperate. The story reveals that efforts to ask the state for help are met with a ‘sorry, we can’t help you’, which is probably the same answer they would get for a biological child with the same issues. I suspect that this wildly differs from state to state, and states that provide better support for parents and children have a lower incidence of ‘disruption’ of adoption. States often make it legally intimidating to even ask for help, and that is also totally fucked up.

  48. says

    Not to mention the fucked-uppedness of a system where well-intentioned people come to find a child this way because they are priced out of the regular adoption system. I got pregnant for free (and with a robust insurance policy won’t have to pay anything except the monthly premium) but no way we could afford adoption.

  49. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    I was chatting with a social worker friend awhile back, and she said that one of the “little” things that do wonders for a foster kid’s self-esteem is to give them a decent-looking and functional luggage set.

    She explained that it isn’t uncommon for foster kids’ belongings to be stored and transferred from placement to placement in heavy-duty extra-large garbage bags. Which, while practical, send a message to the child that their worldly possessions are garbage. Which can easily enough be internalized by a vulnerable child to a statement that they are garbage.

    There is a tendency amongst caregivers of children – biological, foster, adoptive – to treat children as possessions and interchangeable widgets.

    Incidentally, buried deep in one of the articles was a line about how one of the children that was rehomed, claimed by the system, and then placed with a new family was a comment about how he now has issues, but his foster family “does not believe in therapy for children.”

    What. The. Fuck.

  50. raven says

    I will try to find the link, but I’ve read recently that the worst offenders are — surprise! — Christian adoption agencies and devoutly religious parents who see adoption as a form of evangelism.

    Don’t forget the Mormons!!! They have an elaborate church controlled adoption system and given who they are, I can imagine all sorts of horrors. And there are rumors.

    Some of the worst abusers are fundie adoption parents. They’ve killed several adopted kids in their torture-murder ritual known as “raising a child”.

    The usual. Religion poisons everything.

    From what I’ve seen of US adoption, I can’t blame any teenage single mother or any mother, from not adopting out the result of their often unwanted, accidental pregnancy and forced birth. In the local papers, there are always child wanted ads for high income parents living in some idyllic place, promising everything. Those ads just scream FRAUD!!!

    It’s like roullette. You might hit a good set of parents or you might hit monsters.

  51. raven says

    LDS Family Services | Adoption Agency Ratings
    www. adoptionagencyratings .com/lds-family-services.htm‎

    Read up and on illegal LDS adoptions the horror stories involving this agency are criminal and scary!! And it’s going on in the USA most often in UTAH they …

    Horror Stories: Mitt Romney’s Shameful Record with Mormon Women
    www. huffingtonpost. com/…/mitt-romney-mormon-women_b_1956568….‎

    Exposing Mormonism: Adoption Center of Choice
    exposingmormonism. blogspot. com/2008/…/adoption-center-of-choice.ht…‎
    Jan 2, 2008 – But there is another adoption agency which time and time again … there seems to be numerous horror stories relating to this agency, and it just …

    LDS adoption horror story at Father Fighting to Stop the Adoption of …
    www. babyselling.com/?p=48‎

    Sep 27, 2007 – The lady from LDS Services told me that she thought I should give my baby up, as I was too …. 35 Responses to “LDS adoption horror story”.

    Courtesy of the Fountain of Almost All Knowledge.

    didn’t read any of the links. I’ve had my quota of horror for today.

  52. says

    Esteleth @53: what you said about luggage vs plastic garbage bags is going to stick with me. That is exactly the kind of things foster kids learn is normal for them and can make it difficult for them to relate to their peers. Its a lot of little things like that that even well prepared and loving foster parents can easily overlook. I’ve had some thoughts of fostering in the distant future, and if I ever do, I will do what your friend suggested.

  53. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    That was my own reaction as well, Dutchgirl.

    I mean, last time I moved, I did a few, “eh, shove it in a garbage bag, I’ll sort it out” stages.

    But I’m a grown adult with decent self-esteem. I’m not neglected.

    Another thing my friend said: make sure that the foster kid has privacy and things that are theirs. Figure out a way – as much as you can – to get them non-hand-me-downs from time to time. Let them pick said things.

  54. tbtabby says

    Well, what are we supposed to do, let the GUBMINT handle adoption? That would be SOCIALISM, and we CERTAINLY don’t want that! We should just let the free market sort it out, because unchecked capitalism always puts people first! Besides, children’s lives are only sacred while they’re still in the womb. The moment they’re born, they should be kicked to the curb so they can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps!

    Excuse me while I go barf.

  55. Deoridhe says

    http://suitcases4kids.org/ is an organization which supplies luggage for foster and adoptive kids.

    I spent the day reading these posts in between clients and I… I just…

    I bought someone a can opener today. He had canned food, but no way to open it. No refrigerator, so everything else I picked up had to be shelf-stable. WTF is wrong with this country? Why are we not protecting the most vulnerable among us?

  56. says

    Deoridhe:

    He had canned food, but no way to open it.

    That’s a fine example of the thoughtlessness which privilege engenders. So many people think that giving to food banks and such is so very nice of them, and they don’t think past that point. There are so very many little things, which most people never think about, they just take it for granted, and those little things can make such a huge difference.

  57. tbtabby says

    WTF is wrong with this country? Why are we not protecting the most vulnerable among us?

    If you don’t know the answer to that, you haven’t been playing much attention to the right wing and then constant “poor people are all lazy bums who choose to live entirely off government handouts because that’s such a pleasant way to live, and getting a job to work your way out of poverty without help is always possible” rhetoric.

  58. says

    I’m against “returning” an adopted child for frivolous “reasons”. Absolutely.

    But I think an exception needs to be made when the child is endangering others in the family. In that situation, it’s not so much “returning”, but somewhat of a “rehoming” in a residential program that can handle the child’s issues.

    We went through this with my youngest brother, as his behavioural issues were placing the rest of us in danger. He’d always acted out, but after puberty, his acting out became violent, sometimes sexual, and he would go into these uncontrollable rages where it would take four adults pinning him down to give him a tranquilizer while the rest of us hid at the other end of the house. It’s not that we wanted to “get rid of” him, it’s that it simply wasn’t safe for any of us, and we couldn’t provide the care he needed at that point in time. It wasn’t an easy thing to do.

  59. says

    tbtabby:

    If you don’t know the answer to that, you haven’t been playing much attention to the right wing and then constant “poor people are all lazy bums who choose to live entirely off government handouts because that’s such a pleasant way to live, and getting a job to work your way out of poverty without help is always possible” rhetoric.

    I think that’s simply brushing off, and demeaning Deoridhe unnecessarily. The problem goes a long way back, and the roots of it are deeper and more troublesome than you suggest. This is by no means new to the current right wing rhetoric, and has more to do with what are considered to be the founding philosophies of the U.S. Like most bad problems, the roots of it lie in more than one place, and solutions need to be multiple and varied.

    That said, the right wing rhetoric does not help at all, and neither does their continued support of religious agency. Right now, if just about every penny wasn’t being put into the military, we’d have more than enough to put social support nets back in place. Those nets have been cut since the ’70s, and things have gotten worse from there.

  60. says

    So many people think that giving to food banks and such is so very nice of them, and they don’t think past that point.

    QFT. Half the stories my boyfriend has about being poor enough to eat exclusively from food banks is about figuring out how to make the food you get into actual meals. Hence things like drink-a-cake (because what use is cake mix when you have no oven, and no eggs?), or rice-and-pizza-sauce, or mac-n-cheese with powdered milk(because no fridge, therefore no liquid milk), and so on.

    IIRC, pop-tarts are a thing that’s useful to give to food banks. Assholes will throw a fit because it’s not healthy food, but it’s food that needs no utensils, no prep, no can openers.

  61. David Marjanović says

    She had been with my family for 13 fucking years! And suddenly she’s not welcome any more.

    out of words

  62. embraceyourinnercrone says

    Esteleth @53
    That is a very good point about foster kids luggage/bags. And unfortunately it is true that foster family are a form of roulette/the luck of the draw. Some case workers do not do enough checking to make sure there a not underlying problem, I do realize that in many cases it is because they have too heavy a case load. The foster care system at the state level needs more oversight, more money and and more case workers. Foster parents don’t have to be perfect but not being mercenary or abusive would be a nice start. My parents weren’t perfect but I am glad they were willing to fight for us when it was necessary, also that they were willing to see that it WAS necessary. A few examples:

    – When my brother started school he wanted to write his name using our last name on his papers, it was the last name we referred to him by whenever possible, at his request. Initially the school refused saying that he HAD to put his legal name on all his assignments..(ummm what? he’s 5, as long as his registration and other “official” forms have his legal name who cares what a 5 year old writes on his ABC work sheet!) My mother went to numerous meeting and got letters from his pediatrician and his therapist stating that he needed to be able to write what he saw as “his” name on his work. The school relented.

    – When my parents decided to foster parent, one of my grandmothers objected…strongly. When my brother became a part of our family she would come over for her weekly visit with little toys or gifts for us(cracker jacks, a candy bar , etc) but nothing for him. My parents confronted her and told her that if she could not treat all their kids the same she could resign herself to not seeing her grand kids.

    – Part of my brothers placement and adoption was an agreement that his birth mother could have supervised visits with him several times a year and send him birthday and Christmas gifts. Although I am sure (from his reactions and conversations at the time) it probably made things a bit confusing and did visibly upset him, he later mentioned that it helped him make some peace with his early life and the fact that he was relinquished to the foster care system.

  63. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    64
    Jadehawk

    IIRC, pop-tarts are a thing that’s useful to give to food banks. Assholes will throw a fit because it’s not healthy food, but it’s food that needs no utensils, no prep, no can openers.

    Pudding cups, fruit snacks, and granola bars too. I rarely got those, but when I did it was awesome. I could actually take something to work while I was up and out all day.

    At the very least, if you donate cans you can get the pop top kinds. Those type of cans with the fruit cocktail (or similar fruit ) was easy open, eat it cold and worked for me. It sucks when people just take the peas and greenbeans they don’t even eat for “clean out your cupboards” donations. That gets real old, real quick when you cook them and are crushing when you can’t. It’s the worst feeling in the world knowing when you can’t make food but your child sees food but doesn’t understand you can’t make it. :(

    ————
    ————

    67
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    Jadehawk, are heat & serve foods acceptable?

    Depends on who’s getting the donation. Usually, there’s a microwave to use at shelters/home/convenient stores to use, but that varies greatly. It’s better than the usual crap though IMO. I wish I’d gotten ravioli or something from the food bank.

    Image the worst case scenario, image what desperate people would do. No forks/spoons and can’t heat it up? They’re eat it cold with their hands. Been there, done that. Ravioli and fruit cocktails was far better than canned green beans or corn. Not that you shouldn’t donate any things like that because those work for people who can make it. However, far more variety would be a godsend. Even if you can make food, having something like poptarts would be wonderful.

    I do wish food banks had different packages or asked what kind of situation you were in, to find out what food you can make. That’d help a lot of people from getting food they can’t use and giving it away/throwing it away/leaving it. I know the reasons why they just had out boxes, but that doesn’t always work for the people they are supposed to help.

    ——————–

    Related Story: One time, a food bank asked if we would like fruit, which we enthusiastically said yes. We thought it would be something like apples. They gave us cantaloupes. Fucking cantaloupes. We couldn’t even crack them open. God, I just wish people would think. The food bank person didn’t even get it. They thought our confused looks were because we didn’t know what they were. Stupid asshole. We took them in shame because it was just too embarrassing.

  64. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    Uh, forgot to say in my response,
    “Clearly, I’m not Jadehawk but I’d like to chip in as someone who’s gone to food banks a lot.”

    Without that it seems like I’m just jumping in and trying to dominate. Sorry.

  65. says

    JAL:

    It sucks when people just take the peas and greenbeans they don’t even eat for “clean out your cupboards” donations.

    Which is what most people do. I used to get a fair amount of flak when it came time for the postal carriers food drives, and I’d go to the grocery store and shop for what I’d donate. People on my street would always ask why I did that. It took a lot of patience to not go ballistic on their asses.

  66. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    70
    Caine, Fleur du mal

    13 September 2013 at 1:31 pm (UTC -5)

    JAL:

    It sucks when people just take the peas and greenbeans they don’t even eat for “clean out your cupboards” donations.

    Which is what most people do. I used to get a fair amount of flak when it came time for the postal carriers food drives, and I’d go to the grocery store and shop for what I’d donate. People on my street would always ask why I did that. It took a lot of patience to not go ballistic on their asses.

    Yep. Everything I hear someone talking about doing that, it just makes me want to cry. It carries the whole “you’re worthless, be thankful you get anything” message.

    Thank you for being awesome though.

    Seriously, considering what everyone else donates, you could just donate a bulk supply of pop tarts and feel good about your donation. I know plenty of people who would be soooo grateful.

  67. chigau (違う) says

    Since we don’t buy food that we don’t plan to eat, there is none in the cupboards.
    We always buy new stuff for the food bank.
    And from now on, thanks to recent comments here, everything we give will be ready to eat.

  68. says

    Chigau:

    And from now on, thanks to recent comments here, everything we give will be ready to eat.

    I’m thankful for some ideas, too. I did already get poptarts, but I hadn’t thought about fruit cups or boxes of granola bars. They’ll be high on the list now.

  69. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    72
    chigau (違う)

    Since we don’t buy food that we don’t plan to eat, there is none in the cupboards.
    We always buy new stuff for the food bank.
    And from now on, thanks to recent comments here, everything we give will be ready to eat.

    73
    Caine, Fleur du mal

    I’m thankful for some ideas, too. I did already get poptarts, but I hadn’t thought about fruit cups or boxes of granola bars. They’ll be high on the list now.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. Just hearing that makes me so happy I want to cry.

  70. Markita Lynda—threadrupt says

    There are some hearty soups & stews with pop-top lids that might be a nice change. I second the question about utensils. I guess crackers and cheese would be good, too.

  71. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    75
    Caine, Fleur du mal,

    JAL, would it be helpful to buy packs of picnic-ware, plastic utensils?

    Uh, picnic-ware would be like tupperware, right?

    If food banks will take them, then I’d say yes. I still use tupperware as dishes. I got them from some program. It’s been so long and so many places I can’t remember where. It’s the only thing that’s really lasted. When moving they stay around to use as storage. Very handy. Real dishes are nice, but heavy and useless besides eating. When moving, dishes are the sort of things gets left/tossed. Especially when having to walk, use public transit or just a car even. Same thing with utensils. Plastic ones are good replacement. They suck for cutting but those things (meat, potatoes) takes more to make anyways so not really an issue.

  72. says

    JAL

    Uh, picnic-ware would be like tupperware, right?

    No, but I could do storage containers, too.* I meant plastic forks, knives, spoons.

    *Big Lots has a fucktonne of food storage stuff, it’s where I get my own, so it wouldn’t be difficult to stock up on them to add to food bank boxes.

  73. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    There’s also stuff like this, which is great for people in houses that need help with food but suck for everyone else. Which is why I wish food banks asked if you’re homeless, shelter or own living arangement when handing out food. I’ve gotten that meal in a box before from a bank, but it was at the wrong time with no oven or anything. It sucks, because when I was living in an apartment and struggling that box would have been awesome.

    (Seriously, I was in transitional housing with my own small apartment being subsidized, still on food stamps and food boxes. Babies are expensive, no money for anything else. Diaper banks, etc, are also a great resource. )

  74. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    78
    Caine, Fleur du mal

    JAL

    No, but I could do storage containers, too.* I meant plastic forks, knives, spoons.

    Ah, so plastic utensils was the explanation of picinic-ware, not an additional item. Gotcha, sorry.

  75. yazikus says

    And from now on, thanks to recent comments here, everything we give will be ready to eat.

    Seconding Chigau.

    Thank you, JAL, Jadehawk, Caine and everyone else who is contributing. I just participated in a project where we had to look at food insecurity in the area where I live. If you happen to live in the one big town in the area, and you have photo id, and proof of having a residence, and if you can drive here, then yeah, getting food bank food is pretty nifty. Other than that, tough luck.