First, a PSA announcement (and writing-related): Watch Maid on Netflix, and then read Maid the Memoir by Stephanie Land. A powerful story that sadly I was able to relate to on some levels. Verbal abuse is abuse and living with a parent with mental illness is HARD. Stephanie used writing to escape her past and help others, and I love that in real life she got that happy ending she deserved.
One of my hobbies other than writing is listening to true crime podcasts. One of my favorites is Up and Vanished. This season Payne and his team are investing the disappearance of an indigenous woman from Montana. In one of the ads, Payne recommended season 2 of This Land. Here is a summary of this season’s topic: ALM – as referred to in court documents – is a Navajo and Cherokee toddler. When he was a baby, a white couple from the suburbs of Dallas wanted to adopt him, but a federal law said they couldn’t. The Brackeens’ case would have been a normal adoption dispute, but then one of the most powerful corporate law firms in the United States took it on and helped the couple launch a federal lawsuit. Today, the lawsuit doesn’t just impact the future of one child, or even the future of one law. It threatens the entire legal structure defending Native American rights. The second season of This Land is a timely exposé about how the far right is using Native children to quietly dismantle American Indian tribes and advance a conservative agenda.
This podcast hit home on a few levels for me. One as an adoptive mom and also as a Guardian ad Litem. I knew that the White Savior Complex was real, but that was NOT the reason I wanted to adopt. And it was hard to hear the Native adoptees talk about missing their culture. For my son, we have that cultural connection. For my daughter, we do not. So I ask, how long is a child supposed to wait for a forever family before a white mom is acceptable? Unlike the podcast, I am not in favor of white families using their privilege to bypass the systems in place to preserve that cultural connection. But again, how long does a child wait?
This is an honest question. And maybe to help, I should share what the rules are for adopting internationally. The Hague Process changed how international adoptions happened. Under these new guidelines, birth parents have to sign paperwork saying that they officially relinquish custody. Great concept, in theory. Here is what that would have looked like for my children. My son’s birth mother left no identifying information at the orphanage. Under these rules, he would have most likely spent his childhood in the orphanage. My daughter’s birth mother signed all the paperwork (I have it all) relinquishing custody.
I keep coming back to that question of how long does a child wait? But I am also learning that people who are a part of the decision-making process are not always honest about the situation, and that is hard for me as someone who has been a part of the process. At the end of the day, I know our reasons for adopting were genuine. We followed all the rules. But now I question if that was enough.
And now I put on my GAL hat. I have to follow the foster care guidelines. My role is to advocate for the child. But what do I do when those in the system do not follow the rules? I am not a part of the approval process. But I would 100% agree to a family placement if a child needs to be removed from the home. It all just feels so much more complicated and unfair after listening to my new podcast.
Whew, this post feels like a vomiting of my feelings on some issues. But I do go back to that last episode of Maid when each woman shared their writing, and all the snaps. I can only hope that my friends are sending me all the SNAPS after reading.