Saturday, March 5, 2011

Self Soothing

Melese had a bald spot on the back of his head when we met him. It was from moving his head back and forth quickly in his crib. For months after we came home, he continued to do this self soothing behavior. He couldn't fall asleep unless he did it. It is how he comforted himself when no one was there to comfort him. It was how he relaxed when no one was there to tell him everything was going to be okay. I knew we had finally turned a corner when this behavior stopped. He began to feel more secure.

Yesterday there were some pretty big changes announced in the Ethiopian Adoption process. While I am happy about a couple of things, (first that they didn't close the program altogether, and second that they will be able to have more time to make sure every adoption is ethical), I can't help but think about all of the children violently moving their heads back in forth in a crib. Alone.

I don't want to start a conversation about ethics. I just wanted to know if anyone else felt sick to their stomach?

I recently met a woman who had an unethical adoption. She was lied to. Her child was lied to. It is awful. It was wrong.

We had an ethical adoption. We, against all odds, now have an open adoption. We had to. Our children need it, and we have it. Please don't ask me to elaborate.

I don't really know what the answers are.

I just feel sick, and sad, and I am also worried for my friends who are smack dab in the middle of their adoptions.

Why anyone would think a 5-8 year old girl who has lost everything is better off in an orphanage for months or years, instead of enjoying a nature rich Oregon in the spring, or a culturally rich Los Angeles in the spring, is incomprehensible to me.

Excuse me if I don't publish your comment about unethical behavior. I am devoting this post to my ethical adoption, and others that may be ethical too.

Self soothing myself I guess.

39 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Yes, I am heartbroken for the children. And I am so sad for the families who did their research, selected an agency carefully, and so badly want to parent children who desperately need a family.

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  3. Just so damn complicated :(

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  4. I feel my adoption was ethical as well (more likely I guess, with HIV+ in Ethiopia--one way that stigma is helpful--less manipulation likely).

    But while I was in the guest house in ET, I met a family that I KNOW was the victim of an unethical adoption. And it broke my heart to watch it unfold. Nobody wins. Nobody wins.

    I am thinking about those kids from my daughter's orphanage--all positive--and about how the long, long delays will impact their health, let alone their emotional well-being.

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  5. Iv'e also got friends in the middle of this, and.... there's just nothing to say, is there?

    (by the way - open adoption, WOW. I cannot tell you how much I wish I could say that we had one too).

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  6. Yes I too felt sick when I read the news. All those kids in the orphanges. All those families for whom this is the right choice. We also have an open and ethical adoption from Ethiopia. (very open, we have been back 3 times over the course of 4 years, just got back again last week and have had independent from the agency translators...so we are as sure as we can be that this is exactly what was right for the kids and for the family.)

    Just so sad when I think about my kids and their relatives if they had not had this option. So sad for other children and families.

    But I am hopeful that the bad stuff (which I am also sure is happeneing) will be stopped.

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  7. Julie -- It felt to me like a punch in the stomach. We too, had an ethical adoption, and are so thankful for that. But all I can think of are the kids -- so many I couldn't count them all -- who swarmed us on the day we picked up our son from his orphanage. Those kids, starving in so many ways, wondering if maybe the doors were finally being opened for them that day. Was it their turn?

    So now I wonder, for how many hundreds of thousands of children who wait and starve in orphanages, how many years will they now wait for it to be "their turn" to be scooped up into someone's arms to be loved forever?

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  8. I just simply want to say, thank you, thank you.

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  9. Well said. It is just hard on all sides. So much at stake for the kids and the trauma becomes more complex. Ethical v time. Ugh. We struggle with all the moving pieces as we go through the process again and strive to add to our family with a little one that truly needs a family.

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  10. Having just met our son and his father, knowing not only is it ethical but that we were our sons last hope this hits us very close to home. Our son was at a very bad orphanage. He went from being three years old and 19 pounds to being three years old and 18 pounds. We met him two days after he had diarrhea and had stopped eating. I regret the couple of weeks we spent waiting to accept his referral as we looked into what exactly 'severe malnourishment' meant. I deeply regret that. The idea that children will be left in limbo...some children will die while they wait. This is a truth we need to keep in mind.

    Punched in my gut is how I feel. We are blessed. Our adoption is open and we hope to go back as often as we can. Our goal is once every two years. We'll see what the future holds but we have family now in Ethiopia so we have a reason to hold ourselves to that.

    I also have friends who were lied to during the process. All of my friends who had that happen (I know of three personally) were lied to by the birth family and I wouldn't call a single one unethical. Illegal yes. Unethical? I'm not sure. Maybe. That's the best that I can do. I say this because in each case the birth family was doing what they felt was right and they did it the best way they knew how and it felt like life or death for them. I don't feel I can judge their behavior as I will never be in such a horrible situation.

    On the other hand there is straight forward child trafficking going on. How is that not seen? And does it really take practically stopping all adoptions to ferret out such people?

    Conflicted doesn't begin to describe it. Meanwhile I pray for those little ones in the cribs and who are too small to fight for their food. Our son eats with one hand raised in the air because at his last orphanage he used to have to fight while he was eating to keep the food on his plate. He had just about given up that fight. I am so thankful that we met him 3 weeks before this decision was made.

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  11. My heart has been aching today for families stuck in the place of waiting....perhaps forever. And yet, this will make some people angry, but as my husband and I talked about this new policy and all the ramifications, we really feel that if it saves even ONE child from an unethical adoption, then it is all worth it. We used AGCI and carefully researched their standing in Ethiopia. Our daughter was 4 years old and was declared "special needs" and yet sometimes we have wondered.....What if her birthmother was coerced in any way?? It makes me sick to even contemplate. Just yesterday we were supporting some friends who have a referral for a sibling group, but no court date. What will happen to them??

    So, thanks for posting this. Wow, open adoption? How beautiful!!

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  12. Thank you for this post. We too have an open and ethical adoption, and I can't stop thinking about what would have happened to our boys if adoption hadn't been an option. In so many cases, adoption isn't about a chance at a better life, it's truly about survival. I am heartbroken for the children, for the families in process, for our own chances of bringing another child home. Heartbroken.

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  13. I feel the same way. sick. sad.

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  14. I literally just sighed. Big and loud. Sick. Yup. Definitely a feeling I profoundly have felt.

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  15. thanks for this.

    heartbroken for kids who will be stuck in institutions for possibly years... so sad...

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  16. I've regretted not doing things faster when when we were in process...not that we were slow, by any means, but now that I know the situation our daughter was in (she was a waiting child), I am crushed by the thought that I put things off, even just for days.

    I want nothing other than ethical adoptions, but orphanages are just no place for kiddos to live.

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  17. I've had a pit in my stomach since hearing the news. We, too, feel fortunate in knowing our daughter's adoption was ethical. And now we are in process to adopt her sister, who is 4 years old and has already spent 6 months in the orphanage. The thought of things slowing down to the level they are predicting is unbearable to us. We just want her home.

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  18. Sick and sad. For everybody Julie but mostly the children - always the children.

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  19. you said it. i feel sucker-punched today. nobody wins.

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  20. It feels ironic to go from a conversation about attachment to a conversation about a HUGE slowdown in a matter of hours. Kids lingering in institutional settings, even good institutional settings, means future conversations about attachment will be that much more common, and that much more intense. I am so hoping that somehow the Ethiopian system gets this right. Makes their adjustments quickly and finds a way to reduce the violations dramatically. In the meantime children suffer.

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  21. Couldn't sleep much at all last night. Thanks for writing this, Julie.

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  22. I am optimistic. I seriously doubt Ehtiopian children will be left languishing for months and years. I think MOWA is positioning for more resources and a compromise will be made soon. Maybe weeks at the most I predict. While I feel anguish for those already in the pipeline, I feel encouraged overall that the steps being made are for the good of the children and the birth families. We also have an open adoption. The other half of our family is in Ethiopia. It is beautiful.

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  23. Having just traveled back from Ethiopia meeting our soon to be daughter...her mother was present in court and with social worker and translator reliquished her...sad sad sad...adoption is so complicated. I have been thiking a lot of her mother. We will be traveling back to Ethiopia to pick up our daughter within the next few months. My husband and I are planning on bringing out 2 other children ages 12 and 14. We will be traveling to our adopted daughter's region and mting her living relatives/mother...we want our other children there so they can tell her story one day as well...there will be many questions and we feel it is out job to have as many answers as possible. We plan to try and stay in touch with her family...mting them was/is a must for us, something we outlines with our agency at the start of this process.
    All this to say, yes I'm sad and exhausted from the internal (within me) debate on ethics of international adoption...my friend put it best last night...she said something like we seem like we are trying to solve/figure out a problem that humanity hasn't been able to define much less resolve...made sense at the time??
    On another note, your blog Julie has been an instramental part of my process on this long long journey (2 years)...I have cried and cracked up reading your blog, thank you for your insight...thanks for keeping the debate complicated...there are NO simple answers. I didn't even know what a blog was when I started out 2 yrs ago.

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  24. You are making the point that NEEDS to be made. It's about the children, yes? The thought of Lia staying at the orphanage she was in for an extended period of time...it is heartbreaking. And, what about when the orphanages are full with children waiting for court dates? Where will the children go then? I understand the need for reform, but there has to be some compassion in that reform.

    Heart is broken.

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  25. I agree with Jenny that it could be very positive for children and could help many kids stay out of orphanages altogether. And, there are many people in Ethiopia who move mountains against all odds to help. It happens every day. I'm trying to have faith that these wonderful people will continue to give all

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  26. I just keep seeing the eyes of the kids we met at the different orphanages we visited.....their eyes said "are you going to be our parents"

    It is heartbreaking indeed.

    Our adoption was ethical and for that we are grateful.

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  27. Thanks Julie,
    It has been such a hard one, I am amazed and comforted to be able to connect and read the words across the internet.
    I am in Canada single and been waiting since 2008 and knowing I am not alone has helped so much with this weekend.
    Thanks for the self soothing.
    Still believing and holding on to hope
    Shannon

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  28. Feeling so sad today. I can't stop looking at the referral pictures of our M and m on our fridge, on our laptops, in our office. How long will they be in that orphanage (the image of K's son fighting for food is killing me right now)? We chose our agency (WHFC) for their ethics. We knew our wait would be long. Having an ethical adoption was our priority.

    I have no idea what the answer is. I truly hope that in the coming weeks an agreement will be reached where the children will not be unnecessarily delayed in care centers and certain agencies will be called to question.

    In the meantime we all wait. This is just so hard.

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  29. I feel the same way. I'm all for making sure everything is ethical and children are protected. But I am heartbroken for all the children who are true orphans that will not know the brilliant love of a family. Delaying the process means that many children who would have been adopted are growing into the age bracket where their chances of being adopted dramatically decrease. It kept me awake Friday night and my heart is heavy. The knot in my stomach may not ever go away...

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  30. My daughter used to get on her hands and knees and rock herself violently back and forth while humming a monotone sound. It was heartbreaking. She did it for a long time after she arrived home. She spent nearly a year of her life in an orphanage - all through her infancy. I can't imagine what further damage would have been done if she'd stayed longer.

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  31. After six and a half years on this path (in Australia where inter-country adoptions are done through the government), it's been a journey where I expect the unexpected. If this slowdown proves true, then I hope that it at least achieves what it sets out to do, and that adoptive parents can be much more confident of the process in Ethiopia. The sheer numbers of children and agencies make this whole process very complicated, especially for a country so challenged by governance issues. I can only say that I am reassured that there is much higher awareness of the problems that can occur. In the meantime, it's tough for all involved.
    Helen

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  32. I worry about the children in ET all the time. it never leaves my consciousness.

    I hope all of this work does indeed lead to a better, safer program but I also hope it does that in as short a time as possible.

    Then what I hope beyond all reason is that the AIDS crisis and poverty cycle in ET can be helped and ultimately this fine beautiful country and its people can stand on their own two feet.

    Until then, this IA program is dearly needed. I hope the ET govt can see that.

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  33. Thank you for this. I have been feeling sick to my stomach/punched in the gut/whatever you want to call it. I am sick for the children who need homes and the families (like my own) waiting to love them. Ethics are of course the primary concern; but there are so many other things to be considered as well. I'm holding calm for now, waiting to see how this all works out.

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  34. i haven't been able to talk about it at all because of the sick to stomach feeling.

    hoping these measures help instead of hurt, hoping adoption doesn't end there.

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  35. Beautifully said... thank you for writing this.
    maggie

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  36. My K had a bald spot, too, from the same behavior. I can hear the rhythmic sound it made now if I think about it. Thankfully, it is also gone. I don't even know how to get into this conversation. All I know is that I have the evidence I need to know our adoption was ethical and to shudder at thinking about my deaf and wheezy baby's life or my once malnourished big boy had adoption not been an option for them.

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  37. Love you Julie.

    Yes, J did the same violent head shake. Sometimes I would just cry because it would go on for so long and I just couldn't comfort him out of it. He slowly reduced the frequency, but only stopped maybe 6 months ago.
    My grandmother spent much of her young childhood in institutionalized care. I think generations later, we are still recovering.

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  38. Dear Julie, Writing to you in hope that you will consider sharing your family's story with the Joint Council. They started an online petition a couple of days ago see: Emergency Campaign for Ethiopian Children www.gopetition.com

    As part of this campaign they’re compiling a book of adoptive family outcomes to send to the Ministry in an effort to show that No institution, regardless of how well organized and funded it may be, can replace the nurturing, safety and guidance of a family.

    Of all of the blogs I’ve followed these past 18mos yours has meant the most to me as I continue to wait for my referral. Not only do you write beautifully, you so adeptly relay the joys, as well as the struggles, of international adoption - And in doing so, beautifully illustrate how it all comes together to situate these deserving Habesha children in the optimal environment to reach their full potential as human beings – a loving family.

    SO if you are inclined… please - sign, post, write!

    Thank you! Jude

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