Monday, September 11, 2017

My Experience With Adopting an Older Child

I received an email this morning from an adoptive mother. As I read her story, I saw an experience we have personally seen, and written much about over the past decade (See articles here and here as examples). The adoption of older children from China is rife with potential issues, and often results in significant emotional turmoil and abuse. This family's experience should serve as an additional cautionary tale for all to tread very, very carefully.


Upon walking into the meeting room I found a 11 year old child slumped over crying.  Shortly after meeting her, the Chinese officials wanted her to sign the document in agreement for adoption.  She kept throwing the pen and they kept putting it in her hand until she finally gave in and signed.  I felt very sad and uncomfortable, yet I said nothing.  I really should have, but I thought perhaps she was just nervous. The next few days she displayed very bad behavior. Her behavior was hateful.  She expressed she wanted to go back to the SWI. My guide and agency acted as if all this was normal behavior.  

In the coming days it became clear she did not at all want to be adopted nor did she ever agree.  She wanted to stay in China.  Furthermore she told me she was not 11 going on 12 but actually 13.    She seemed so worldly for having lived in the SWI her entire life.   She was not impressed with the fancy hotel, McDonalds and other things I assumed she never would have been exposed to.  I asked her if the SWI had always been her home.  She responded yes but I wonder if she had lived somewhere else prior. 

Ultimately, after days of bad and hateful behavior, and requests to be brought back to SWI, I relented and decided to request the adoption be dissolved.   It was a very difficult decision for me, but I imagined my future with an angry resentful child forced to come to the U.S.A.  The guide seemed very angry with the child and said something to her.  After that the child changed behavior and was super well behaved, nervously cleaning our room, etc.  She even was on her knees with hands in prayer position begging to come.  It was so sad.   I asked the guide what she had said, and I told her I felt she said something to scare the child.   The child also exhibited bizarre and self-harming behavior.  It may sound strange but I was even afraid of her at times.   I believe perhaps this child was suffering from RAD.

When I brought the child back to the Civil Affairs office to meet her nanny and go back to the SWI, she was so happy.  The child gave me my first hug and biggest smile ever.   I felt that was almost a thank you hug.

Now, home six  months later, I am still so sad and upset at everything that has happened. Now I'm only left with the anxiety over having to leave a child behind.   Also wondering would she perhaps have been happy at being adopted once home, etc., etc. 


Karen M. said...

My heart hurts for you. Sometimes, listening to your gut (while painful), is, indeed, the right decision. My story didn't turn out quite so well.

GoldenHeartTx said...

Sorry to hear this but if she was that way there it would have been worse when you got home. At which point it would also have been too late for all of you. Feels like you went with your gut and it's right more often than not. Your heart and mind will second guess you. Hugs and prayers for you and your family

Unknown said...

Yes so sorry to hear your story but think you did the right thing. I can remember years ago seeing an older child resisting adoption and my gut also said this wasn't right and would be difficult to work

Brittpdx said...

My wonderful daughter was 7.5 when her little sister and I met her. She was completely traumatized by the transition, throwing herself against the interior door of the van trying to escape. It was awful. Fortunately I was able to correspond with an adoptive mom who had a different, but equally upsetting, transition. I made the officials wait one day. The orphanage director spoke with her at length during our breakfast the next morning. Her adjustment took time. Now she's a 19-year old engineering student, who still lives china and also loves her family and life. I recount our story because no one, NO one, can judge your decision. No one can say with authority that a completed adoption would be a disaster, nor can they say it would end up fine. You did the best thing you Could do, for you, at that time, and it is right for you. Much Peace.