Saturday, November 29, 2008

20/20 story

Although we haven't officially had Z's birthday party yet....I have made the cake and it is my best one so far. We are planning on devouring it tomorrow. I had to work later today than I had anticipated. I tried to watch the 20/20 story on international adoption of older children last night...but strangely our cbs channel doesn't carry 20/ I just watched it online.
As you can imagine, I was very interested in we are adopting an older child. Also, they looked at the Ranch for Kids in Montana and I read about that Ranch years ago and was very interested in all of the details. It seems like such a great resource.

So what did I think about the show?

The biggest thing that sticks out in my mind I noticed in just the preview. The oldest daughter is wandering around the house having a total anxiety attack and all the parents do is film it and pull her out from under the bed. I have not ever been in that situation...however, if we come home with Aaron and he has an anxiety attack like that the first thing I am doing is finding someone who speaks Russian and letting him stay under the bed and I will sit with him. I can only imagine how overwhelming it must be to all of a sudden have this ginormous house with so much talk about sensory overload...I would probably go hide under the bed too.
I am not passing judgement on the family in the story - they said it themselves...they were ill equipped to deal with what happened when they got home.

I guess you can never totally be equipped or know 100% what to expect - but I think all agencies do their best to make you aware that your new child may have undiagnosed issues...mentally, physically, emotionally. The family in the program has filed a lawsuit against their placing agency...I am guessing they are arguing that the agency was fully aware of their children's diagnoses and hid these from them at the time of referral. There is really no other justification for a law suit.
That reason is the number one reason you have to do really, really good research when you are looking for an agency. I 100% trust my in country facilitator.....I mean it 100%. When Keith and I were deciding on our adoption the biggest factor in deciding to go back to Kyrgyzstan for an older child was the fact that we trust our facilitator so much and know she is a truly good person who cares about the kids and who cares about the success of the families she places these kids in.
I received an email from someone who is a first timer with adoption alliance several months ago basically asking me about the character of our in country facilitator and I really can't rave enough about how honest, caring and dedicated she is.
I am digressing...I know....but when you adopt internationally...especially an older need to 100% trust your agency and your facilitator. Even then, there will be times when your child has undiagnosed issues...and that is parenting.
I must say that I was as impressed with what little I saw of the Ranch for Kids as I thought I would be. I totally agree with a lot of what the owner (I forgot her name already!) said. She wants a place where it is easy for the kids to do the right thing and hard to do the wrong thing. She is also very straight forward and doesn't candy coat things when she is talking to the kids...I liked that. She also warned about spoiling kids. I honestly believe that will be the hardest thing for us when we finally get to bring home Aaron. We have a lot of stuff...we have way too much stuff and when Aaron comes home I am worried he will be completely overwhelmed. Keith and I have talked about this already and whether or not we should put up a lot of the kids' stuff before we bring him home. It is hard to say what preparations we need to make because every kid really is different. That is really the beauty of having so many kids...everyone is sooo different and has such a different set of joys and difficulties.

Overall, I didn't think the program was too terrible. I think the quoted amount of disruptions on the show of 15-25% may be a little high...but I have no concrete data to look at. I did hear from an agency I talked to when I was researching Liberia that adoptions from Africa have a ridiculously high disruption rate that is closer to the 25%. I am not really active in that international adoption community so I can't say if it is believable...but then again 20/20 also said they don't have any concrete data was just a guess that someone gave let's not dwell on this unsubstantiated number.

I'm not scared 20/20...I still can't wait to bring Aaron home...


Anonymous said...

Hi Michelle, the statistics on the disrupt are + or - 15% either way. I suspect that disrupts are under reported as many families prefer to assume the role that everything is perfect. The Mulligans did this for many years and are now happy the story is out so other parents don't feel alone.
As you may know the number is unreported because the only numbers we have are what the US foster care provides. Numbers show a very small amount get dumped onto the US foster care system. (about 80 a year)
Statistical significance "as a Physician" you deal in real numbers and statistics are only as good as the source. Many of the children are sent out of the USA, to boarding schools, detention centers and are re adopted.
There are even Yahoo groups dedicated to disruptive adoptions where private independent parties adopt with the aid of an adoption attorney. These numbers are unaccounted for.
I think we can both agree that there are many disrupts that are not reported. Some of the agencies are actually taking back the children and re adopting them to current clients.
The main focus of the story wasn't so much to bash international adoption but to speak about RAD, an area where only about 4 years ago was mentioned to adoptive parents. Adoption agencies have a responsibility to not set expectations too high for adoptive parents.
Lastly, the older kid adoptions have more issues with RAD, FAS, etc., than an infant does.
You being a physician would know all of this.

Michelle said...

As far as an informative discussion of RAD...I am not so sure this really touched the tip of the iceberg. I have not parented a child with RAD, but I don't really feel like the news story really provided a thorough discussion of the issues surrounding RAD. However, I think that it did a great job of bringing the subject up and increasing awareness...that is never a bad thing. I don't feel like the story was trying to condemn anything or anyone and it was pretty even-handed.
I truly don't know about how many disruptions there are from international adoptions...I have long suspected it was higher than I see evidence of.

The Stevens said...

I cant stop crying. Maybe it was the 17 year old adoptive child that i did an admission assessment on today that resemble what 20/20 aired. The child so heartbroken and wondering "WHY DID MY MOM DIDN'T WANT ME". What do you say? I really think its complete ignorance to think that these children would not have some form of psychological adjustment issues. I mean think about all the disappointments in your own life and the support system you had in place and how hard it was to cope, imagine them now with no support system....This is the whole reason behind OCH. I hope to create true educational resources and programs for families to encourage and foster adoption that DO NOT FAIL. Adoptive parents need to be counseled and have resources to help them work with these children. 2-3 classes in a 12-18 year period DOES NOT PREPARE the adoptive family for day to day interaction...Gosh my heart is just breaking. The ranch she opened was an idea as well i wanted to do with OCH. We have to help these kids and families.

Rachel said...

Hi Michelle,

I usually lurk, and I am trying very hard not to lurk, so here I am.

I just watched the 20/20 episode. I agree with you - I think it did a good job raising awareness of the issue, and perhaps it helped some families who are feeling very isolated that they are absolutely not alone. I follow a few blogs of RAD parents and one of the most consistent themes I've heard is the feeling of isolation there.

But I also wanted to say - it sounds like if you have thought about these things, as you wrote on your blog, that you are several steps ahead of the game. I think that is about as good as you can be - to be aware of the challenges and needs, and we simply don't know almost ANYthing about resilience and innate strengths and what makes kids able to cope with all the change.

Also, I think there is a huge problem of parents NOT being aware of the potential for problems. I see this on some of the adoption lists I'm on and blogs I read, where listmembers seem to be completely out of touch with the reality that while adoption is wonderful, it is also a loss.

OK - this is a bit of a soapbox. I really just wanted to say that I appreciated your post. Thanks for writing it.

Michelle said...

Thanks Rachel, you can be as prepared as possible and it is almost always not enough in some way or another. I also think that some PAP's go into this without preparation and even after the training/education most agencies try to provide...these parents still expect a perfect child. I have a great story about someone like that but will refrain from posting it here. Needless to say, some adoptive parents have selective hearing when it comes to the risks and rewards of international adoption....undiagnosed issues, lost referrals, procedural delays and even program closures. All of these things happen and since we know that all of these things could happen at anytime it shouldn't destroy our lives if they do.

Karyn Purvis Insights and Gifts - sharing power