When adoption doesn't 'work out'

Filed under: Adoption, Development/Milestones: Babies, In The News, That's Entertainment

I have always wondered what would happen if an adopted child ended up being more than the parents bargained for. As a teacher I've seen all kinds of situations with kiddos--from all walks of life (adopted, in foster care, living with grandparents, etc.)

Every child brings both unique challenges and gifts, and I have seen parents struggle with the many challenges that can arise with parenting young kids--adopted and biological both. There is no guarantee as a parent---no certificate at the end saying, "Congratulations, you successfully parented your kid"--no promise that if you do all the 'right' things, your kid will turn out okay, though they often miraculously do. And sometimes kids are extremely difficult to parent--for a myriad of reasons, and each day is an exhausting up-hill struggle with only a handful of sparkling moments thrown in as reward.

Yet I've always felt like this is what you sign up for when you decide to be a parent: the gigantic unknown of who your kid will be, and what challenges he or she will bring. Whether you adopt or provide foster care, or have your own biological kids, this great wide unknown is still out there beyond you.

But in December's issue of Eve magazine, Julie Jarman writes "The Adoption Story You Never Hear" about her experience 'returning' the child she planned to adopt. Jarman made a room for her would-be daughter, and spent a year caring for her with the intent of adopting her... but somewhere along the way, the challenge that this little girl brought--in the shape of unquenchable longing for her birth mother--made the task of parenting insurmountable for Jarman, and she made the decision to return her to foster care, and eventually to a group home where the child currently is living.

This is an uncommon story for sure, but I'm wondering if it is uncommon because it's a story society doesn't want to hear. Does this happen often? What are the challenges that people face adopting children--especially older children--that might lead to a 'return.' Do you think Jarman made the right decision, or do you think she should have given the little girl more time?

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