Unclaimed is Better: The Pain of Disputed Adoptions

I feel ill for the Monahans – the couple whose adopted Guatamalan daughter is now being reclaimed by the Guatamalan government on behalf of her birth mom who says the child was kidnapped by human traffickers and essentially sold into the foreign adoption system. I also feel ill for the child’s birth mom and admire her resolve in tackling the incredible challenge of fishing her daughter out of the American legal system.  And I feel ill for the child who has to know something is up but has no idea of the wrangling that lay ahead and how it will divert her parents from the happy job of raising her.

You can read more about the case here http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/24/adoption-wars_n_1028665.html?1319482146&icid=maing-grid10%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl22%7Csec1_lnk3%7C106906&ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false

Our three adopted kids were abandoned by their birth parents.  Each one was left with government officials – either at a hospital or an orphanage.  And they were in the government’s care for a long time.  One son’s picture was printed in La Prensa, the Nicaraguan newspaper, along with a plea for his parents to come forward to claim him. Another was abandoned at the hospital where he was born, spending the next 17 months of his life with a dozen other babies in a hut at Rolando Carazo Home for Children. The third, an older child, was dropped off at the same orphanage by a relative – maybe the cruelist story of all – where her hopeful wait to be reclaimed endured for over a year.  All of them could have been found by their birth relatives — had those relatives returned.  These children were pretty much where their parents left them – not spirited away, not rushed to a new adoptive family.  They were sitting.

For better or worse.  On the one hand, the fact that my kids were orphanage kids for a long time assuaged any worries we had that their parents would show up later asking questions and wanting them back.  On the other, each child had over a year to become an institutionalized child.  No matter how good a children’s home is – and Rolando Carazo falls in the category of ‘doing the best they could with what they had which wasn’t much but bless them for trying’ – children aren’t meant to grow up looking through the crib slats at the next orphaned  baby, placidly waiting their turn for five minutes of sitting on an attendant’s lap to get fed the day’s porridge.

In order to thrive, a child needs to be adored by someone.

The Monahans’ child or the child of the Guatamalan mom – however you want to slice it – is adored both in the day to day and in the abstract.  Obviously, the Monahans have put their heart and soul into raising her.  The birth mom, given the obvious and easy option of just forgetting about it, has not let what she sees as a wrongful adoption go unchallenged.

Fundamentally, the case is resolved by answering the question: What is in the best interest of the child?  She will not always be a little girl.  Someday she will be an adult wondering where the missing piece of her heart is.

I am glad that I could say to my kids — Your parents couldn’t raise you. We were asked to do it.  We did and we are grateful for the chance. 

I am also glad I don’t have to say — We went to court and had a better case.  So we got to keep you.

There is a really big price to pay either way.

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