Letter Writer: My 10-year old son Sam was adopted through foster care due to abuse which caused bodily harm. He is struggling with rejection and I’m struggling to help him.
He spent 7 years in foster care, 4 ½ of those years in my home. We finalized things almost a year ago. There had been visitations all along with his bio dad. At termination we decided for open adoption, meaning dad can see him at our house anytime as long as he calls ahead.
That lasted for 3 months, when dad stopped calling. We (his therapist and I) tried to not let Sam contact dad but he got so desperate that he tried running to dad’s house. That wasn’t a safe situation so now he is able to call dad when he feels the need.
But dad is not returning phone calls or heartfelt voice messages. Sam is struggling so bad to understand the rejection. He’s angry, he’s depressed, he’s sad, he’s confused and his heart is broken. His dad has had 4 additional children with his new wife (who I think is much of the problem) since Sam was removed from his home. Sam worries about his siblings who he has gotten to know through visitation.
Lynn Sollitto tells of the difficulties that arose for her when a desire to remain open to her daughters’ first mother collided with the imperative to protect her children from unsafe and unpredictable situations — either which could lead to physical and/or emotional trauma.
Foster Adoption / Infant Adoption
In 2008, my husband and I adopted Paige through foster care after I assisted her birth mother, Ruth, in labor. A year later, Paige’s older sister Payton joined our family.
We had a connection to the girls’ birth family and were open to have an open adoption. This would consist of online pictures and updates through Facebook. Direct contact would be addressed later, when the girls were older and understood more, and Ruth could claim a history of sobriety.
We made the requirements for contact clear: Ruth needed to stay clean, out of jail, and gainfully employed. Essentially, she needed to live the life that would have enabled her to keep her children.
Question: Lori, I am trying to wrap my head around this. How do we live out Both/And from a foster care adoption perspective? Our kids were taken from their birth parents for good reason. We have all the info, the original birth certificates, case files, all of that. But no contact with birth parents. And we have been advised not to for safety reasons (the caseworker made a point of me seeing one of the parents via a one way mirror so I would know if I ever ran into him to run the other way).
I want to give our kids this wholeness. The best we have been able to do is some contact with a paternal grandmother for one child. And we know the adoptive parents of the other child’s older siblings, but we have no control over contact. So far the other adoptive parents shy away from it because it is so upsetting for their kids. No matter what we do these folks will not be a part of their lives in the every day.
How can we have openness in our situation and not split our babies? —Jenny