Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘social services’

Adoption Testify

Adopting Isn’t Always Easy

Went with some friends today, who had to go to court to have the children that have lived with them for over 2 years permanently placed in their home. They’d asked me to come testify to help their case. I was one of the many they had for support.

As it turns out, they were such good witnesses that nobody else who came needed to testify in favor of them being the adoptive home for the children who have now called them Mama and Papa for a number of years. Everyone can see what a difference these parents have made for the children and it seemed like an easy decision, but the road to get to this point hasn’t always been a walk in the park.

Through no fault of their own, these parents have had to jump through what seems like a hundred hoops and “prove” themselves worthy ten times more than any biological parent ever dreams of having to do. They’ve weathered the storm and stood their ground, all for the benefit of the children. Some people would have given up by now, but they are attached and in love with the young people they’ve taken in.

Our experience was very different, when we adopted and fostered some of our children many years ago, there seemed to be much less hassle and more support. I hope it can get back to that type of system soon, so that more parents will want to take in children that need the loving, safe kind of home that our friends provide.

This Is Us

From The New York Journal of Books

This Is Us: The New All-American Family
by David Marin
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

“It was no mystery why California had 98,000 children stuck in foster care. There were not 98,003 because I was stubborn.” Thus proclaims the proud single father David Marin, who adopted three young siblings and lived to tell about it. Not only do he and his children survive, but they also thrive.

If This Is Us: The New All-American Family were simply another ill-fated personal memoir about someone who believes his or her life story is worth sharing but has no storytelling chops to make the read worthwhile, it would have gone quickly to the bottom of the “to read” pile or been dumped in the recycling bin.

Lucky for us all that Mr. Marin has not only withstood the tribulations of parenthood, racism, and ignorance, but also is a fantastic writer who knows how to tell a tale that is equal parts heartbreaking, confusing, honest, and inspiring. This guy can write.

Here are some examples of his adept use of metaphor. “There were small mammals with more parenting experience than me.” And, “I wanted to help them before their pain metastasized, like mine, from memory to rebellion, permanently roosted in their psyches like the beaked shadow of a dark-winged bird.”

This is the story of a single professional man who gets fired for going to adoption classes (and later wins a lawsuit against the company that did so), learns about the frustrating and mind-boggling social service system in California, and proceeds to fall in love with three young children who have been through the ringer.

In spite of his own perceived inadequacies as a new parent who continually steps in one mess after another, he learns the ropes. Surprisingly, or perhaps not, it is the inadequate and inept social services system that presents the greatest obstacles—not the biological mother nor the trauma the children have experienced that reflects in their behavior making them impossible to place in a foster home for any length of time.

Frustrations with county classes moved, postponed, or canceled altogether; court dates changed again and again; a distant relative coming out of the closet at the last minute; or prejudice from some county social worker with a chip on her shoulder about a single father adopting children of an apparent different race—all are grist for the mill in Mr. Marin’s winding road to final adoption.

At one point, while thinking of his own father, he says, “He was the Hispanic father of pale kids. I was the pale father of Hispanic kids. We were a human anagram.”

There is a telling moment in this story when the author is finally made privy to his children’s records and he sees what has (or hasn’t) been done to protect them and/or support their adoption. He says, “My Kafka transition from an observer on the wall to a fighter on the floor took just a few moments—I would protect my kids, not with Social Services, but from them.”

Read the rest of the review at The New York Journal of Books.

Mixed Emotions

It’s the middle of the week and there have already been so many things happening inside and out. Mixed emotions are coming and going like a change in weather every minute.

Some friends of ours have been trying to adopt a brother and sister, who have been with them for 2 years now, and social services has made it a nightmare experience. The children are feeling safe, loved and thriving and our friends are wonderful parents. Instead of supporting them in the adoption process, a couple of people in social services have fought them all along the way. It’s no wonder there are so many children in foster homes. Social Services, instead of being supportive, is confrontational and always changing.

Then, there is the slaughter in Syria, the revolution in Libya and starvation in Somalia and Eastern Africa, which is all pulling me one way and then the other.

In the midst of all these turmoils was a wonderful time with our daughter, grandson and son-in-love camping and canoeing in the San Juan Islands off Puget Sound. Beautiful places, great company and time to relax.

When I pay attention to my mind, heart and body, there are always a zillion things going on, though I am only aware of one or two at a time. So, I guess the external circumstances, situations and events are similar, only on a national and international scale.

Now, how I choose to respond (or not) to all of these emotions and events is up to me, right? Or, at least the part of me that is aware of itself. Here I go

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