Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Edgemikated Idiot

We tend to give our full attention to the opinions of experts.  They know the most about a given subject so also must be the best qualified as to form a conclusive decision about what's best.  This is an example of one such expert and my best effort at refraining from making him look like a jack-hole in front of a crowd.  Instead, I'll tell you here.

I once attended an all-day seminar presented by a Psychologist on the topic of Reactive Adjustment Disorders, especially as it pertained to children who were in foster or adoptive homes. The majority of the audience were foster parents, social workers, and associated agencies and service providers for children in foster care or foster-adopt homes. He had some valid points during most of the day, although it was mostly regurgitation of known psychological theories. I do have to mention that he had this ridiculous idea that it had very little to do with the fathers, that many men have abandoned their children and the kids turned out fine, as long as the mom was nurturing. So he kept referring to it as a "mommy thing" and repeatedly said it is critical for these newly placed children to be tied to your "apron straps" for an extended period of time in order to ensure a successful attachment. First of all dipthong, it's apron STRINGS. If he would just think tampons (strings - it’s a mommy thing) instead of boots (straps - which the father should have pulled himself up by) it might be easier to remember. I gave him a freebie thinking he was nervous and misspoke. Nope. He referenced it in three different PowerPoint slides.  Apron straps. Hey Jackwagon, if you're going to love a catchphrase that much, get it right.  That's not even what made me decide he was an idiot.

When we got to the question and answer part of the seminar, I asked what his thoughts were about giving some of these kids access to one another in an effort to alleviate the anxiety of being the "only one" of their peers who were either in foster care or who were in the process of or had been adopted, to further facilitate attachment to their "new" or even "temporary" families. I posed my question first recognizing that our society had gone from being one that didn't talk about anything to one that would litigate over a violation of one's privacy, and added that I was not including those children who were already in a group home atmosphere and who obviously knew everyone else there was in the same boat.

His answer? "Absolutely not". It would interfere with their treatment. All these foster or adopted kids are already too much of a mess to be introducing them to each other. It would be like letting people in Alcoholics Anonymous get together for a kegger. A support group just for the parents would be a much better option in his opinion. That way they could get the tools necessary to go back and handle things within the family unit.

I am still, to this day, regretting not kicking him in the balls at that point. I don't care if he is a doctor. He doesn't know shineola. And he has adopted and fostered kids of his own. He said that they had open adoptions and still let the kids have contact with their biological parents and yada yada, but that he would not consider letting them reach out to other kids in their situation because it would be too damaging.

Too damaging.

I probably wouldn’t even have an opinion about this if I was “normal”. But I was adopted. I was around 3 years old, and I have always known and had contact with my biological family. My adoptive parents and extended family always treated me like I was their own. I was afforded many opportunities I would not have had if I had stayed with the family I was born into. However, I was in HIGH SCHOOL before I ever met one other person that admitted they were adopted. And honestly, I don't think that one counts because it was a boyfriend, and I don't think his friends knew.  He only told me because he knew I was first. To this day, I am flabbergasted by the statistical evidence that there are approximately, well just a buttload of people in this country that are adopted, but I'll be damned if I can figure out where they all went. As an adult, I know OF other adults and children who are adopted, but only one of those adults told me herself. Don't get me wrong, I don't expect people to wear t-shirts proclaiming their status. I know I don't start off conversations with strangers with "Hi, I'm adopted". I guess I've just been forced into it more than others because people aren't shy about pointing out the obvious age difference between me and my parents. I just know I cannot be the only person who's gone through life in that fishbowl, feeling like a freak.  Sadly, I know just how that doctor's adopted kids are going to feel all through school, thinking they're not normal because he didn't want to "damage" them by exposing them to other kids like them (who also would not be normal).

Now, I know this will come off as offensive to someone, but it's the closest example I can think of. I do not and would never consider being adopted a disease. But I think of all the children who are stuck in hospitals battling whatever specific unfair sickness has attacked them. At first they feel all alone. But slowly, as their parents research their illness, they find other families and other children who are affected by the same thing and they connect. They support one another. They cry together and laugh together. They learn from one another what to expect, and their stress is eased as they hear of others surviving the process. They share victories and defeats together. Sometimes, they share death and they grieve together. Here's the kicker; the child is actually included in the whole thing.

Can you imagine a doctor diagnosing a 5 year old with leukemia, then deciding that child should not be given access to other children with leukemia because they're already (emotionally) too much of a mess and it might interfere with their treatment? Let them believe they're the only ones around, alienate them further from their peers, and let them rely on the solidarity and support within the family unit. What a miserable thought.  I'm going to go hug my kids and hope that when Dr. Todall Moran's kids grow up and he's had a chance to hear from them how they feel different from their friends that he'll change his mind about his theory.  Hopefully by then he'll change his presentation slides too.  Apron straps.  Yay for college.

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