So, there’s this family in Arkansas that tried to adopt a couple of girls from the foster care system. If you don’t know anything about it, Google “Arkanas Adoption” and you’ll read a lot about it.
And there are a lot of facts and a lot of fiction going on. I don’t know what the truth is.
But I do know that the “guy” who “took” the girls when this family couldn’t handle them is now in jail for doing really bad things – to the girls.
And there are people that are saying, “We need to pass a law.”
And there are other people saying, “We tried to prevent this but they wouldn’t listen.”
And there are other people who supposedly said, “If you abandon these girls back to the state of Arkansas, you run the risk of losing your other children too.” And those people supposedly were part of the department in the government that has the authority to do that.
And there are other people who saying, “If they had asked for help……”
Here’s what I do know about this whole sad “problem:”
- Just like with biological children, there are no guarantees on how an adopted child will grow and “turn out.”
- There is a higher likelihood, given the losses and trauma that an adopted child has been through, that they will have struggles and will struggle more than most biological children.
- Parents are human. We can only do so much.
- Adoptive parents are not super heroes. REPEAT AFTER ME, “ADOPTIVE PARENTS ARE NOT SUPERHEROES.”
- When an adopted child “acts out,” it is not because they are bad, it is because they are wounded. They suffered, in most cases, more losses, abandonment and abuse than anyone other than war survivors will ever have to endure.
- “Coming home” is not the “end” of the adoption story, it’s the beginning. That’s when the real work – the work about becoming a family, learning trust, learning what it means to love and be loved – that’s when that starts.
- This was a tragedy that could have been avoided.
It really bothers me when people write blog posts, articles etc. and all they do is complain or talk about what the problem is – without talking about solutions. I had a boss many many years ago who refused to listen to a problem UNLESS we also had a resolution to the problem that we were proposing. “Here’s the problem _________ and here’s what I think we should do about it __________________________”
With that being said, here’s my suggestions on what “we” should do to prevent these type of tragedies from happening again:
- The government should make it illegal for a state to remove a child from a home if the only evidence of a problem in the house is problems with another child in the home. In other words, if Joe Smith has 3 kids and two are doing relatively fine but the third one is a hazard to the lives of all in the home, the state can only assist in providing residential care for the troubled child. Coming to the state for assistance in times of desperation can not cause a parent to risk losing their other children.
- Practical trauma education needs to happen in schools, in adoption agencies, in government foster care licensing programs. We have to do better at teaching parents, prospective parents, teachers and social workers on the practical every day impacts that early childhood trauma can have to a child as they grow up and move into middle school, high school and beyond. This can not be merely education about brain development, it has to also include practical, “Here’s what it could look like” and “here’s some ideas in how to help kids through it and how to help them grow so they can manage it.”
- Everyone involved in adoptions and orphan care need to acknowledge and promote the concept that we can no longer live with the “Happily Ever After” Stigma. It has to be okay to admit that there are struggles and we have to stand united with those who are suffering – and encourage them to be open about their needs and their pain.
- Adoption agencies and foster care licensing programs need to be a lot more blunt and a lot more open about the struggles in adoption and foster parenting – and be prepared that there will be a substantial number of parents who will say, “I can’t do that” and will walk away from the program. That’s actually a good thing – because if a parent doesn’t know their limits, then the likelihood of problems increases. If this particular couple in Arkansas had listened to others who told them that they had concerns about whether these two were too troubled for them, would it have changed the outcome? I believe it would.
- The church needs to change its message. No more of the “adoption is the answer and everyone should adopt.” Instead the message should be – “Everyone should care about orphans and disadvantaged children – but not everyone should do everything.” The church should then present ways “beyond adoption” to help – orphan prevention, supporting adoptive families, respite care, the list is endless.
Was this mess in Arkansas a tragedy? Yes it was. The system failed these kids, adults failed these kids and the stack of “bad things” they need to work through grew higher and higher.
Does this have to happen again?
But it will.
But you and I can do something about it. Want to help? Got ideas on how we can change things? See that “contact me” button the right side? Fill that in and let’s talk.