Sunday, October 30, 2011


We "finalized our adoptive placement" tonight, which means we signed a million pieces of paper, got T's history from the adoptive social worker, and have entered the final legal process, which will be expedited because of his age.

Looking through those files, my heart breaks. It's odd to parent a child for years without anything to go on other than what he's told you (his social worker gave us a one-page summary of his early history when he moved in with us and that was it), and then receive such a thorough history only now. The information contained in these reports would have been extremely helpful at several junctures last year when we were having a tough time. As it is, we figured out what we needed to know. There were few surprises in the papers, but a lot of confirmation of what we found out just by loving T and gaining his trust and listening to him and observing his behavior.

Of course I'm not going to share what we learned. But I will say this. There were an awful lot of people "evaluating" him over the course of his childhood, and not enough people loving him. It makes me very angry to read those reports. They are written in pseudo-medical language, while it's clear that T was howling in pain. Reading them, one wants to reach backwards across time and just make it stop.

It feels to me that there is so much that was missed in all the discussion and diagnoses - so many positive qualities that must have been apparent even then, that are bypassed in favor of shining a spotlight on his imperfections. To diagnose a child going through what he was going through feels to me like approaching a weary soldier in the midst of a losing battle to ask him how he's feeling. How objective a sense of who that person really is can one get at a time like that? What might he be like when he's calm, and safe, and understood? We know the answer to that question now - in fact, we've just come off a month of intense togetherness during which T, because we're now homeschooling him, is mostly calm and connected. The child we know doesn't appear in the reports, because that child was never allowed to emerge.

You can't order someone to love a child and stick with him. But looking back over his turbulent life in foster care, it's plain to see what's missing. On his second weekend visit with us, I recall asking him how he thought adoption might be different than living with a foster parent. "When you get adopted, they love you like their own and work with you on your problems and stick with you no matter what," he said. And he was right. That was exactly what was missing.


Sarah W said...

Congratulations! I'm glad you've been having a peaceful few weeks, you all deserve them.

Anonymous said...

I love this post and I'm so incredibly glad that finalization is close. I'm so glad he has you. My heart breaks for all the kids who have only those evaluations and not the love.

Julia said...

Huge congratulations! At long last!

Claudia said...

CONGRATULATIONS! Just can't say how hugely glad I am that T is finally and forever yours; that you are finally and forever his. About time. I'm thrilled for all three of you.

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