Monday, January 25, 2010

Mizz'N My Kidz!

We were picked by Anna’s Mom to raise her for a variety of reasons, which are for the most part none of your business. We have an open adoption and we see Anna’s Mom Hillary and her family (including Anna’s sister) on a regular basis. We use Facebook and share pictures through Flickr so our relationship is both cyber and real. Anna is okay with that even asking if we are going to “Skype” with the Grandparents or getting in front of the computer to record a message to send her Mom or sister. So our open adoption is pretty transparent on all accounts. We do not know who Anna’s biological father is and we will probably never know. With Eli however, the situation is much different. Eli was taken away from his birth-parents because they weren’t taking care of him and he became very ill under their (non)care. Thankfully, a young family member realized something was horribly wrong with him and took him to the hospital, which is where the state stepped in and removed him from his parent’s care.

I had a chance to read Eli’s file, a thick book full of both the good and the bad. The first few months of his life were the bad part, but once the little guy got well, things began to improve thanks to the remarkable care he received in foster care. I took a paper and pen to the meeting with the social worker at the beginning stages of the adoption, as I wanted to find out as much as I could about him. APGAR scores and other key birth factors were a mystery to us (but not my Mom, a retired OB/GYN nurse, who encouraged me to get what I could), but as I pored through his records, I also stumbled on his birth-parent’s names. I was going to quickly write them down, but the social worker saw what page I was on and chimed in, “oh, that’s so and so’s deposition, and here you’ll find so and so’s court record.” What I thought was to be secret was suddenly out in the open. The social worker saw me scribbling notes and asked if I wanted a copy of all this. “Sure,” I responded, not knowing if I was even allowed to view these rather disturbing documents. Within a few moments, I was able to know more about Eli and his family than I ever really wanted to know. The social worker remarked that I needed to know all this, so I could understand where my future son had come from.

So now Eli’s adoption is final, and questions are coming up. The social worker asked us for a recent picture, as Eli’s father has requested one. We didn’t have to comply, but we did. She also asked us about what kind of relationship, if any, we wanted to have with his birth-parents. We knew when we first started the process that an open adoption was what we wanted, but we had no idea that this kind of situation would ever exist. His parents didn’t have a choice; he was taken away from them to ensure his health and safety. This was a criminal case, cut and dried. We have had many discussions about this, together and with the former foster Mom. She reports that neither parent is a threat, but she reminded us that when they abused and neglected their son, they lost all rights to him.

I did what many of our adoptive family friends have done, and call it unethical or just plain nosey, but I looked up Eli’s birthparents on Facebook. Since his bio-Dad is rather transient, he doesn’t have an account, however, his bio-Mom is settled and has an account. I didn’t friend her, don’t worry, but I did find out that we have some friends in common from my years teaching at Columbia Central. I scanned through what I could find on her account and found wall postings like this:

• Juzt Got Out Of Jail..Mizz'N My Kidz!

• Mizz'N Hym! Wish'N I Could Tell Hym How I Really Feel!

• Shit Is Not Goin Rite...I Still Love Hym And Alwayz Will..Need To Write Hym...Need To Find Out How He Is Doing! I Mizz The Way He Could Brighten My Day...It's Almost Been 1 Year!

• Thank God Christmas Is Over! I hated It! Mizz'n My Babiez! Wish'N I Could Tell Him How I Really Feel...{So Confused}

Comments such as “Juzt got out of jail” send a pretty big red flag, but the comments that she made regarding wanting to write him tell me that there is some remorse and that she would like to try and make good. She lost her rights to Eli, but that doesn’t mean she can’t keep in touch from a distance. Right now, that seems like a good idea.