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THE ADOPTION DILEMMA
"I think you should call the book Unfair. Yes, adoption is unfair! Kids tease you ... mean kids. They say you don't have any real parents. They are the same kids who call you 'four eyes'. They just like to make you mad and then, when you get mad and beat them, they don't tease you anymore. But just the same, adoption is unfair. Yeah, well, you know, I just think about my real parents, who they are and I wonder where they live. I would like to know what they look like, what they do for a living. Mainly, who they are. It seems unfair not to know. Yes, they are unfair. Because they just left me there. I don't know why. I haven't the slightest idea. I don't know them and I might never know them, so how can I give them reasons? I can't imagine any reason. It seems very strange to me that anyone would give up a child. Maybe they couldn't afford one... but if you and Dad ran out of money, you would get a loan... I don't know. It's very puzzling."
As a social worker with a good number of years experience in the field of adoption, I would be likely to advise parents who heard such comments from their children to listen carefully to what is really being said, to give the assurance the children need ... to really listen, not argue, give them ample opportunity to discuss their feelings.
But these were not the words of a client's child; they are the words of my very own son. And what I want to say is, "What do you mean your 'Real Parents'? I am your mother... your 'Real Mother'." But we both know what he means. Adoption does present a dilemma. And the successful resolution of that dilemma is what determines the success of every adoptive placement.
"Each time somebody new finds out, they sound like they think there is something wrong about being adopted. It makes me feel a little funny. Sometimes I think they are going to say something bad about it. When I told Diana, she said, 'You are? I thought I was the only person in the world being adopted.' She sounded like she felt bad about it. The only bad thing is you should at least be able to see your other Mom. If I could see her I would say, 'Well, are you my other Mom, really?' I would tell her that I have been wanting to meet her. It feels a little unfair that I haven't met her. I would ask her what it was like to have a baby and then not keep it. I think it would be sad, because I'd like to keep the baby ... because I like little kids. I love babies. . . . When David was little we used to exercise him and have a lot of fun."
CHAPTER TWO: BEFORE YOU ADOPT
"My 'real father' is my stepfather. My 'Dad' or my 'biological father' is a guy I like to visit every few months and have a couple of beers with." The man speaking was a member of one of our pre-placement groups. We had been discussing such words as 'real', 'own', 'biological', 'natural'. . . words that are fraught with emotion for everyone involved in adoption. As he talked further, he commented, "You should see him, I'm the spit and image of him."
Silence followed as each of us in our own way...
Foster (fos`t r, fos'-), v.t. 1. to promote the growth or development of; further; encourage. 2. To bring up or rear, as a foster child. 3. To care for or cherish. 4. Obs. To feed or nourish. -n. 5. A cherisher. 6. nourishment. -Syn. 3. See cherish.
When the agency made the decision to place children with you for foster care, it was with the conviction that you have enough common sense to be responsible for providing that care. It was with the assumption that you will care for these children as you have probably taken care of your own. Why then are we talking about PROFESSIONAL PARENTHOOD?
We are talking about Professional Parenthood because the children who come into our care have some very special needs. By developing your professional understanding of those needs and learning some specific skills for dealing with them, you can make a profound difference. It will also make your job as foster parents easier and more satisfying.
Many other works are available on child care in general. Our focus here will be more limited. We are going to consider those areas of knowledge which are crucial to working with children in foster care.
TEENAGE PREGNANCY: CHAPTER 7 - KEEPING THE BABY
Deciding to keep a baby forces you to make up your mind right away about some things. How will you keep on with school? How much schooling is enough? Should you get married? Should you try to work? What kind of job can you get or do you want? Where and how will you live? With your parents? With the parents of the baby's father? Do they want you?
Whatever age you are, becoming a parent changes every part of your life. When you are under eighteen, the changes have a bigger effect on the rest of your life.
While you are trying to decide whether to keep the baby, other people may try to make up your mind for you. But the decision has to be yours alone. If you remain a single parent, most of the work and responsibility for the child will be yours.
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