When a Potential Adoption Doesn't Seem to Be Working Out

While there are many, many happy endings for parents who choose to adopt, there is, unfortunately, the other side of adoption which is not so happy, and which is rarely spoken about. The truth is, especially when adopting older children who may have been through abuse and neglect when living with their biological parents, adopted children may end up being more than what you bargained for-or ever imagined. This is not to say that there are not biological parents across the globe struggling with challenges which arise from parenting their children.

Parenting is Difficult-Under Any Circumstances

After all, there are no guarantees--even if you are a textbook-perfect parent--that your kids will turn out okay. Somewhat miraculously most children do turn out fine, despite less-than perfect parents. Some children, however, are simply difficult to parent, for whatever reason, and quite often it has absolutely nothing to do with your parenting skills. If you carried your child for nine months, gave birth, and have been with them pretty much every day of their lives, even when they are at their worst, you probably would never think of "giving them back." Adopting an older child, one you did not raise from day one, and one who came to you fully stocked up with problems and issues, could be a somewhat different story.

The Gigantic Unknown

When you sign up to be a parent, whether biological, adoptive or foster, the truth is you have absolutely no idea what you are "getting," and how you will deal with it. Children truly are the great unknown, and it is a pretty sure bet that you will endure challenges of one sort or another while raising your children. The truth is, our society does not want to hear about adoption stories that are less than successful, and can judge adoptive parents pretty harshly when an adoption simply doesn't work, both for the child and for the parents.

How Adoption Works

Generally speaking, adoption has a few steps or hoops that adoptive parents must jump through in order to qualify. A home study will be completed to ensure the parents are suitable, forms are filled out, you take your place in line, then the waiting begins. After months, or years, of living on pins and needles, the day will usually come when you get the long-awaited phone call. You meet your new baby or child, bring them home, after several months the adoption is finalized, and you all live happily ever after. Or not. Sometimes the happy ever after story never materializes and parents are left frustrated, guilty and sad.

Failed Placement, or "Disruption"

In truth, many adoptive parents have had at least one instance of a failed placement, prior to final adoption, although failed adoptions are rare, probably less than one percent of the total. The most common reason for a failed placement revolves around older children who bring an entire set of history and problems, some which are just too difficult for the new parents to deal with. It's usually neither the child's fault nor the prospective parent's fault. Most adoptive parents are ill-equipped to deal with severe behavioral or physical problems, especially when the child is violent. Most of us believe that if we pour love on a child it will be returned in spades, but some children are not able to return that love due to their prior home life. Attachment disorder is common in older adopted children, and sometimes it is so severe that it simply cannot be overcome.

If you find yourself in this untenable situation, unable to care for a child you have long dreamed for, yet unwilling to give up and send the child back, it's very important that you talk to someone you trust, someone who can help you make this difficult decision. There are times when potential adoptions simply don't work out, and you should not punish yourself with guilt and blame if you find yourself in this position after trying every other solution available.

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