Sharon Roszia M.S.
When I reflect on the past fifty years in my profession focused on foster care and adoption and my fifty years of parenting, a few thoughts come to mind. There is no particular order of importance in the list; they are all due consideration and thought. This list is never finished!! I will post just a few at a time.
- It is always easier for children if they can grow up in their families of origin rather than to lose everyone, provided they can be kept safe. As long as anyone is making money on the placement of children, birth families are not being giving every opportunity to raise their child. There is a built in bias towards infertile people “needing a child” and providing “a better life.” If the birth parents are not ready or able to parent, a relative should be the next choice, provided the child can be kept safe. The third option should be adoption and it should be done as an open adoption so a child doesn’t have to lose a whole family in order to have permanency. Even if the birth parent is hampered by addiction or mental illness, someone in the birth family can maintain the ties. Keeping connections all along is preferable to having to find people later.
- The focus on adoption is not about finding a child for a family, but finding the best family for a particular child! Everything we decide for the child, we need to be able to explain to an adolescent and adult; we know what is ethical and moral but sometimes need or money drives the practice instead.
- Money drives foster care and adoption way too often. Depending on the “flavor of the month”, money comes and goes. Effective programs disappear because County, State and Federal monies shift. What was serving children and families well is closed down and then rebuilt at great cost a few years later.
- Lots of therapists say they know about adoption but few really have studied the issues. Ask how many people touched by adoption they have treated; how many adoption conferences they attend; what specialized training they have completed; and what books they have read? Ask about their biases toward birth families, open adoption, gay and lesbian adoption, single parent adoption, trans-racial adoptions. See if they are touched by adoption personally?
- All adoptions start with significant losses that are a part of our histories forever. Being placed for adoption; being infertile; losing a child to adoption by choice or not; being in foster care because of abuse or neglect; being internationally adopted or transracially adopted changes us all forever. Those losses are often pre-verbal for children and stored in implicit memory. These losses can affect our self-esteem; cause us worry about rejection or drive us to reject others out of fear of more hurt; cycles grief off and on in our life often triggered by more losses, big or small; can make our identity formation more difficult starting in adolescence; and make us less able to connect to others. They also give us a huge opportunity to stretch and grow if we are willing to do the work. That is a gift.
Sharon is available for consultations by SKYPE and in person. She teaches classes, consults with agencies, runs support groups and a professional mentoring group. She resides in Southern California. For more information, please visit her website www.sharonroszia.com