Over at the New York Times, Motherlode writer Lisa Belkin is in full defense mode of blogger Anita Tedaldi. But the numbers don’t add up.
From Lisa Belkin: Anita adopted D. when he was a little less than a year old. He was with her for about 18 months and was about two and a half when he left with Samantha.
According to other blog posts by Tedaldi, the kid was four months old when he was adopted. His adoption was probably around April 2006. The disruption was some time after June 2008. During the period between April 2006 and June 2008, Tedaldi gave birth twice. So while this child was in her home, she was either pregnant or with a newborn. Or both.
Belkin also removed links to a post Tedaldi wrote about the Jade Poeteray case:
When Anita wrote these she didnt know she would relinquish this child and she certainly wasn’t writing for a NY Times sized audience. But it is Times policy to protect the privacy of children, which I imagine you support. Anita has asked the original website to remove his name and country of birth, too.
The Times audience is largely sympathetic. They praise Anita for her “bravery.” They reassure her that she was “meant to be” because otherwise her son would not have found the right family. They tell her that she was his “guardian angel.”
Pardon me, but I can’t believe that a black mother with four children who got pregnant twice again in two years would be so roundly praised for giving up a child because she couldn’t handle him. Where’s all the talk about personal responsibility in this case?
It’s really clear to me that only white middle- and upper-class women are allowed to have many children, allowed to have accidental children and maybe even are allowed to relinquish children.
It’s also really clear that middle-class status is able to remove doubt in the minds of social workers: Panic attacks. Partner gone for long stretches of time. Problems with other kids. Being about to give birth when receiving an adopted child. Six moves in five years.
What kind of “thorough screening process” was this? And what kind of “research” did Tedaldi do on attachment? Because attachment isn’t about six months or eighteen months or two years. It’s a lifetime process. A process that is aided by a stable homelife and with caregivers who aren’t stretched to their limits.
I actually don’t blame Tedaldi as much as I blame the agency. And I can’t say that this is an isolated incident. A recent statistic for GB showed that more than 10 percent of international adoptions disrupt. We’re talking about babies here, not older children. Estimates in the U.S. have ranged as high as 15 25 percent. (Edited to correct typo.) But nobody keeps numbers.
Of adoptive parents I have met, there have been many whom I felt should have been rejected. Parents who were too old (sorry, old people). A couple in their fifties who adopted (and then disrupted) a five-year-old girl. They never learned to speak a word of her language but were enraged that she “didn’t listen.” A father who flew to China to pick up an adopted daughter while the wife stayed at home with their other kids because she was due to give birth any day. And most tragically, a family in which the mother was dying. The father flew to pick up the adopted child, brought the child home, and the mother died a few months later. They knew the mom was terminal. And multiple parents who go through the process concurrently in different countries and adopt kids a few months apart. (And don’t get me started on prospective parents who have no conception of whiteness and privilege and race!)
We like to think that our sympathy lies with those poor orphaned children. “Just think about the children!” “Would you rather the child be in an orphanage!” “Did you want the kid to rot in a rat-infested hellhole?”
But the reality is that it’s about the parents. I want a child. Being 57 is of no consequence. I want a child. People are allowed to have biological children without undergoing homestudies. (I actually have heard several adoptive parents express extreme outrage about having to undergo background checks. Hell, we should just give out orphans to anybody who wants one.) I want a child. Actually, I want two children. Let’s get them both at once. I want a huge family. I love the chaos and liveliness of big families. I want a child before I die.
I believe that many people like the idea of children more than they like actual children. And this is when children become objects that are sought out for acquisition.
In the midst of all these wants, the child is ignored. Because nobody actually thought about the children.
His name was Matteo, and the agency failed him. And then his parents failed him. And although he wasn’t at fault, he is the one who will suffer the most.
Edited to add: The original blog post I quoted has also disappeared, as has a similar post on military.com. Here’s the post for posterity:
Couple returns 7 year old adopted girl after 8 years!
January 2, 2008 – 5:23 pm
I read this shocking story and couldn’t believe it was accurate. You can read at http://aolsvc.timeforkids.kol.aol.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1695735,00.html
The gist is that, apparently this dutch couple returned their adopted daughter after 7 years. They mentioned that the girl didn’t adapt to dutch culture and the parents decided to give her back in one of the few places that allows it – Hong Kong. I was shocked – really – that someone could do that.
As an adoptive parent I empathize with the difficulties that can accompany adoption. Our son Matteo has physical and developmental problems and at times it’s tough to connect with him. There are differences and things to understand about adoption that aren’t part of a fairy tale. It’s not all easy and “live happily ever after”. But it’s also rewarding and more importantly we are talking about a human being here not a broken toy!
A child is a child whether biological or adopted – there is no option to return them! There can be difficult situations but this couple adopted an infant and raised her for seven years before deciding that she wasn’t a good match! Biological or adopted children should be treated the same!
I feel bad for this couple and the little girl, it’s terrible for everyone involved but especially for this innocent orphan. Sometimes I think it goes back to the issue of taking responsibility for our actions and decision even if it’s tough.
Whenever I complain about something, one of my uncles in Italy tells me “You wanted a bicycle, now you have to pedal”
Sometimes as a military spouse I feel I have been pedaling for quite a while – but I do wish that this couple would have kept their “daughter” instead of giving up