The Real Cost of Adoption – Speed Bumps vs Stumbling Blocks

Good insight into the current bureaucracy surrounding adoption in South Africa.

The Real Cost Of Adoption – Speed Bumps Vs Stumbling Blocks

speed-bump-appendicitisIt seems adoption and the challenges contained in the processes have been in the spot light lately. Several articles, opinion pieces and radio shows have highlighted the challenges currently faced. The latest such article entitled Babies “not for sale” who will love these innocents? inspired me to throw my proverbial weight into the mix.

The article, for me ,hits the nail squarely on the head. It brings home the message that we need to protect children, we need to establish processes and practices that have at their core a desire to place a child into a forever family as quickly as possible, while not forsaking the need to make sure that the child’s past, current and long-term needs are taken into account. Picking a family for a child cannot receive the same scrutiny as what colour paint should be used to brighten up the north facing lounge wall, but it also cannot receive scrutiny that is artificially prolonged or justified because of a governments inefficiencies and lack of focus. To throw a dart into a board covered with adoptees as a process of picking a new family can be just as dangerous as an official expressing some god complex in his uninformed-opinionated-thought process when deciding if an adoption should be finalised or not. The whole process has actually very little to do with us, our ego’s, flippant comments or second-hand-I-know-someone-who-told-me-something-theories. IT IS ABOUT A CHILD WHO NEEDS A MOMMY AND A DADDY!

The numbers speak for themselves, fewer children are receiving forever families! We can play the name game, we can justify our stance with a desire to curb child trafficking, rape etc, we can profess that there aren’t enough families willing to adopt, we can even get the spin doctors in the mix and have them weave a tale of deceit and corruption blaming the situation on inaccurate reporting and misconstrued facts.

Here’s a couple of facts for the powers that be to chew on while a child somewhere out there spends another afternoon in the care of yet another volunteer as she goes from child to child, trying her best to nurture and be attentive to the 30 or so children in a home realising she has 2 hands, one body and limited time and resources.

  1. Our first adoption order was granted in a month, by an amazing Magistrate. Professional, thorough and so supportive of the idea of giving a child a home. I know of several other situations where just the court date has taken months, some have yet to be graced with the opportunity to have their documents scrutinised.
  2. Our second adoption is currently under way, the police clearance has taken around 10 days and our form 30 took under a month. Why is it others are waiting 6 months to a year?
  3. I have a beautiful black son, and soon a daughter. Some Magistrates openly declare that they want the black child to go to a black family. These gifts to humanity eventually run out of stalling tactics and the child gets a home, but the damage has been done as the process had nothing to with the best interests of a child. Instead we see a public servant parading opinion as fact, all the while, relying on nothing other than simple-minded prejudice; and
  4. I applied for my son’s new birth certificate last year July, as of today, there has been progress in finalising the matter but I am still waiting for someone in Pretoria to push this mystical button that is obviously mind numbingly difficult to push, which will allow my local home affairs department to print out the certificate. Yes that’s right, everything is finalised, all we need is someone to check a box which enables another person to click print. But it’s ok, because I am comforted by the fact that it’s a difficult challenge to navigate for them, otherwise it might get frustrating.

While departments, magistrates and officials play the mine-is-bigger-than-yours game, a little child sits, at best, in the corner of a home, surrounded by other similar children and their caregivers. They sit and play looking around for mommy or daddy, looking for permanence, looking to belong. Don’t worry sweetheart, it will happen soon, or at least it would if you were seen as a priority!

South Africa, we are failing our children! With every hungry tummy, lonely heart and abandoned child, we are nailing the lid on the coffin of our future. Our systems are too slow, too inefficient and too cumbersome. There are some amazing social workers, magistrates and government officials who are going to war against the disease of orphanhood, tirelessly waging a daily war against the notion that some children won’t have a family. These silent warriors are having their light and energies snuffed out by a system that promises what is best for the child, all the while, employing and retaining people who not only fail to uphold this ideal but flagrantly drag knuckles heels and whatever else they can in an attempt to do as little as possible for as long as possible, under the auspices of process, best practice and following protocol. You know where you can stick your protocol don’t you!

We can never stop working towards and engaging with the need to do what is best for each of these children. We cannot succumb to an approach where would be families are not scrutinised, but evaluated. We should never think of giving children away to anyone who feels the need to raise their hand without first checking whether they will be able, as best they can, to uphold the need to do what’s best for the child. I say, check, equip, screen, support and even charge for the service. But once a family has equipped themselves as best they can, shown a desire to become a forever family and welcomed a new son/daughter into their hearts, surely it would be best to expedite every other process so finality can be found and this new family can begin to do life together.

So in conclusion, speed bumps are great, they slow things down, help us navigate the terrain safely and with a better awareness of what lies ahead, while still allowing definite forward progress. Stumbling blocks on the other hand, prevent, frustrate and eventually cause movement to stop, and with that, lives, hopes and dreams.

What are your thoughts?

* This was posted originally here.

30 Questions All Adoptees Want Answered

This is a very practical list of questions that most adoptees would want to have answered at some or other time during their life, as they try and piece together who they are and how their story unfolded.

30 Questions All Adoptees Want Answered

Through my work as a court appointed agent with adoptees in search, I have learned that many older adoptees have persistent questions about adoption. As they grew up, they wondered about very basic information but were afraid to ask their parents.

To help other adoptees avoid the same adoption-related identity issues, I made a list of the things that the adoptees I worked with most wanted to know about themselves, their birth parents, and their adoption circumstances. I recommend that adoptive parents try to gather as many answers to these questions about adoption as they can when their children are young and the information is easier to find.

I encourage parents to share this information with their child before adolescence to promote a stronger sense of identity and avoid issues later on. Information that would be matter-of-fact to children at a younger age becomes a crisis if they’re older and don’t know.

I have been busy gathering information to share with my own nine children. It has offered them another piece of who they are.

1. What are my birth parents’ first and middle names?

2. Where was I born (hospital and city)?

3. What time was I born?

4. Were there any complications at the time of my birth?

5. Did my birth mother see me or hold me?

6. Who else was present at my birth?

7. What were the circumstances surrounding my placement?

8. Did my birth mother pick my adoptive family?

9. Did my birth mother know anything about my adoptive family? Did she meet my adoptive parents?

10. What did my birth mother name me?

11. Does anyone else in my birth family know about me? Who knows what?

12. How old were my birth parents when I was born?

13. Were my birth parents married when I was born?

14. Where did my birth parents go to high school? College?

15. What kind of students were they?

16. What religious backgrounds do my birth parents have?

17. What is my ethnic/racial background?

18. Did my birth parents marry each other or anyone else after I was born? Do I have any biological siblings? Do they know about me?

19. Did I go to a foster home after leaving the hospital?

20. What was my foster family’s name? How long was I there?

21. What do my birth mother and birth father look like? May I have a picture of them?

22. Are my birth parents still alive?

23. Do my birth parents love me?

24. Do my birth parents think about me? Did they ever regret their decision?

25. Do my birth parents have any special talents, hobbies, or interests?

26. What traits did I inherit from my birth parents? Personality? Looks? Talents?

27. Did my birth parents write to me over the years (journal/letters in a file)?

28. Are there any medical concerns I should know about?

29. If I called my birth parents or wanted to meet them someday, what would they do?

30. What should I call my birth parents?

*This post was originally published here.

When orphan care goes bad: Russell Moore on why adoption is not for everyone – The Washington Post

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/03/17/when-orphan-care-goes-bad-russell-moore-on-why-adoption-is-not-for-everyone/

“Say This, Not That”

It is common to find people asking questions about adoption, the children and the whole process. Probably due to ignorance more than rudeness, these questions sometimes come across insensitive in the way they are formulated.

This post is a good guidance to rethink the question you want to ask and to formulate it a little bit different. A good read!

“Say This, Not That”

I have had all 6 questions asked to me before, in a few different ways and certainly the one being said/asked the most is – “He is so lucky that you are his parents!”. I do understand the reasoning behind it, but we still firmly believe the WE (their parents) are the lucky and blessed ones to have these special children in our family.

 

20 Things I Wished I Had Known Before Adopting

This in an interesting post. Obviously this does not change the way we feel about our adoptions, but it is good to know this and reflect on this. We are still early into our adoption journey with our kids still pre-school but we know that the road ahead will still be challenging at times.

http://www.scarymommy.com/things-i-wish-i-had-known-before-adopting/

Infertility After Adoption

Continuing on the topic of infertility and adoption I read this article recently. Although I really feel that my issues with infertility subsided a lot after adopting our first child, it is true that infertility remains a life-long burden to carry. I found this post very insightful and encouraging.

Infertility After Adoption – When Infertility Fights Back

Adoption will always be one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It made me a mother. It made my husband a father. It brought us our son.

However, no matter how amazing, how magical, and how healed I feel because of adoption, the fact that I will forever be sterile and forever face the feelings of infertility, remains. My feelings from infertility have calmed as I have grown, experienced adoption, and become a mother, but there are some days where it is too much for my little heart to handle. It’s just plain hard.

I think that a lot of adoptive moms think they can’t feel this way anymore–that because they have become a mother and have a child, that some how those feelings are supposed to disappear. I knew that not all of my feelings and struggles with infertility would be washed away, but I didn’t expect to have such bitter days after I became a mother. These emotions came back in earnest when my husband and I decided to adopt a second child. As we are in the finding process, the longer we wait, the more hope I lose.

I see friends and family growing their families. I see their only children become brothers and sisters, something my 5-year-old son asks about daily. When we are out, he sees other families and counts the number of children. He then questions me, saying, “Mama, why do they have three kids and we only have me?” I do my best not to burst into inappropriate sobs, as all the people in that same Target isle as me would probably think I was crazy, and quietly explain to Harley that mama was sick and her body isn’t able to make babies anymore. Most of the time, luckily, this answer suffices his curiosity. There are days, though, when he demands more of an explanation, and asks, “When do I get a baby, Mama?” I can’t answer him. I can’t answer him, and it breaks my soul into pieces.

Infertility is a lifelong thing. The emotions ebb and flow through the different experiences we face. I wish I could tell every single person who struggles with infertility that eventually they won’t have any issues with it, but I can’t. Infertility and sterility bleeds into every single aspect of life. There is no corner that goes untouched. What I CAN tell you, though, is that you aren’t alone. That there are amazing people on your side to stick with you through this. I CAN tell you that it gets better, and the feelings that infertility evokes will become more tolerable. I CAN tell you that this wont break you.

It will not break you.

This post was first published on Adoption.com

The Random Moments When Love Happens

This post is real and beautiful. I love her honesty in sharing her emotions.

The random moments when love happens – by Martina Dahlmanns

Martina Dalmas kidsI often remember the moment, when I first held you in my arms: my heart beating a thousand beats a minute, my mind spinning with the many new emotions of this one moment, which would change my life forever; in that first second, when I tried to take you in all at once, searching your tiny, sleeping face for something familiar, that would spark off the firework of love that I had anticipated so many times in the days and weeks waiting for your arrival, in that split second I realised, everything was different from what I had thought it would be.

And as I was forced to drop all my expectations, judgements and assumptions, I started to understand that my love for you – like any force of nature – would make its appearance on its own terms. I could not build or model it on any previous experience and literally had to start from scratch together with you.

The wiser part of me knew without a doubt that it was there and as much a part of me as my breath and my heartbeat – but sitting on that sofa with a whole new life in my arms, not feeling what I had expected to feel, I simply panicked.

The panic did not leave me over the next few days. It got company instead: A strange sadness took hold of me, something primal with no words and no pictures to describe or explain it, just waves and waves of feeling washing over me. Feelings of fear and separation coming from a place and a time, when I had no speech and no understanding.

I don’t know who cried more during these first days we had together, you or I! In the few moments between holding you, feeding you, bathing you and trying to put you to sleep, I walked around in previously familiar rooms like a survivor of my own personal tsunami, feeling disoriented, sifting through the debris trying to identify familiar pieces of myself.

Leah and KalaThen, slowly and almost unnoticeable at first, like a sunrise on a misty winter day, everything changed again, and the first beams of love reached me, totally new and unexpected! I knew then that I could do this, I could begin my journey as your mother, stepping into the unknown and simply trust what you in your wisdom had known all along: that we were both exactly where we were meant to be.

Of course, being my own life long prophet of doom, I managed to slip back a couple of times, and there were – and sometimes still are – moments of deep insecurity when I feel, I am not the mother you deserve.

But mostly I stopped expecting of myself to be and feel a certain way and – for the first time since I can remember – I allowed my feelings to reveal themselves to me, instead of trying to anticipate or control them.

Since then, there is a moment in every day, when I think of you or look at you and my whole being simply dissolves into love. It is the most basic and joyful experience of my life – and I don’t have to do anything in order to earn or deserve it.

What you taught me is that simple: Love can’t be planned or controlled or willed into existence or even anticipated. It just is. And it is in all those random moments that make our life together. It is there, in the perfect curve of your mouth smiling, in the shadow your eyelashes trace on your cheeks, when you are asleep. It spills over in your giggles from the back of my car, when you sing silly songs with your sister and it lives in the corner of your room, where you set up a picnic for your dolls this morning. It is new every day and it teaches me to be curious again.

So from the deepest, wisest part of me, where all that love patiently waited for me to catch up, I thank you for being my child today and teaching me every day how to simply be.

Your Mother

* The post was originally posted on the Cape Town Adoption Support website. You can read it here.

ReMoved – a short film.

ReMoved is a short film meant to bring awareness, encourage, and be useful in foster parent training, and raising up foster parents. It is very gripping, and for the first time I realised that there is so many complicated emotions involved in children coming from an abusive home. I encourage you to watch it.

 

How can I train and correct Biblically?

Having a 3+ year old that challenges all boundaries and authority is exhausting! There are many days that go by that we wonder what we are doing wrong and how we can instruct and correct our child better. I found The Better Mom website a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been so encouraged by its content and the very good topical posts relating to marriage and child rearing. All the contributors are mature God-loving women and I am grateful for today’s technology that makes information like this readily available.

One specific post that I found very helpful this week was by Kara Chupp – Using God’s Word to Correct in Your Family. I found this very inspiring but also convicting – I am definitely not using God’s Word to instruct and train my young ones as I should. She shared a link to the Child Training Bible – what a brilliant concept! I am definitely going to get this for our home.  This is a quick-reference tool that can be put into any Bible. It covers 20 key areas of behaviour  with tabs to the relevant verses in the Bible dealing with these specific issues. When instructing and disciplining the idea is to go with your child to the relevant verses and study it together – in God’s Word.

Child Training Bible 2

Child Training Bible1

 

I do believe that going back to the Bible and using God’s Word as the primary “instruction manual” to child-rearing is important. This way we can ground our discipline in what God teaches and point our children to the transforming power of the Gospel, which ultimately is the only power that can change hearts!

“You shall teach them diligently to your children, 
and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, 
and when you walk by the way, 
and when you lie down, 
and when you rise.”
Deuteronomy 6:7
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