Define adoption for me

The debate rages on in my adoption community among those who believe adoption must be considered as a factor in the death of little Kim Hyunsu’s death by the hand of his adoptive father, and those who believe it played no role at all. It surprises me a little, as I thought the adoptive parent community had grown beyond the point of view that adoptive parenting is the same as parenting children by birth, which is what you are saying if you believe adoption had no role.

I have been attributing the polarization to the polarization of discourse generally, particularly in the political arena. But I'm coming to think that the real problem is that the adoption community (never mind the mainstream) still doesn't have a widely accepted definition for what adoption exactly is. (We actually don't have a clear definition for what "the adoption community" is, either, but that's a whole other post.) It may exist in academia, but it sure doesn't exist here in laysville.

This is a real gap, because if we don't agree on what adoption is, how can we come together to fix what's broken?

I view adoption this way: Adoption is the process by which an individual is legally moved from his or her family of birth into an unrelated family, including the related life experiences of the adopted person, the family of origin and the adoptive family.

My definition is broad, on purpose. I use the passive voice to indicate that the adopted person typically has no voice in their adoption. I do not include a judgment of adoption's efficacy or any rationale for its use to remind me that adoption isn't the only way to serve children and that its outcomes are not universal. I do include a reference to the fact that adoption is a life experience, rather than a single event; I don't, however, describe that experience in any way. I especially avoid using terms like positive or negative, because they are not objective. And right now, we need as much objective discussion as possible around the role adoption might or might not have played in this tragedy.

It strikes me as downright negligent not to discuss this. And so I'll say again: the death of Kim Hyunsu is an adoption issue. Let's accept it and work to find what allowed this tragedy to happen, to make sure it never happens again.


Anonymous said…
Margie, I wonder if what seems to be an increase in the murder of adoptees by their APs isn't caused at least partly by the increasing number of IA of special needs and older children. I don't think many prospective adoptive parents realize that all adoptees need therapeutic parenting for the trauma they have been through and that older adoptees and adoptees with actual mental and physical handicaps need therapeutic parenting even more. And I have noticed that oftentimes when an adoptee is murdered, there are bio children in the same house who have not (apparently) been mistreated. I know people want to find homes for special needs and older children, but I think somehow the requirements need to be MUCH more stringent for people adopting these children and the post-placement visits need to be increased.

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