Adoption: A Scar That Never Heals?

29 04 2018

 By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

A child is a sacred being, and God’s precious gift to the world.[2]  Each is unique and blessed, with God’s imprimatur in his or her original fingerprints and DNA.  The flip side of an abortion is adoption—hopefully by one or more loving adoptive parents.  Rather than take a life, adoption provides a means by which that life continues and is nourished and often cherished by those persons who adopt.[3]

This has been true of a relative of mine and his wife, who desperately wanted to adopt because cancer treatments had prevented one from ever conceiving again.[4]  Another relative was forced by her father to give up her baby, which had been born out of wedlock.  A third relative—whom I love deeply—fell in love with someone who had been adopted at birth; and he seems never to have reconciled his quest for knowledge of his birth parents with the love provided by his adoptive parents . . . or by my relative.

The adoptee’s mother has sheltered the teenager from the hurt and chaos that his birth parents might bring to their family, which is understandable.  In the process, however, the young man seems less than “whole,” and this has influenced his relationship with my wonderful and very loving relative.  Al-Anon teaches loved ones and families of alcoholics and drug addicts that they cannot “fix” or change such behavior, and that they must take care of themselves first and foremost.  This is sound and timeless advice, yet there must be a way to heal the “hole” in the young man’s heart and help him, so that he is healthy and truly happy in the years to come and for the rest of his life.

One woman who was adopted at birth has written:

I’ve spent my life having dreams about meeting [my biological parents] only to wake up and feel farther away from that dream. They live in a cloud, somewhere in my imagination, somewhere over the rainbow, they carry a sense of home that I have never known.

At times, I am convinced that I am looking at my biological mother in the face of a stranger on a subway, or in a restaurant, and when a pleasant person who resembles me smiles at me for no reason, the fantasies begin to do their dance. It is common, and it comes from a child’s imagination. The child in me who wants answers, and the adult who has questions.

. . .

Not knowing who your parents are is a strange life, though you adapt of course. You have other parents, other people you consider family. Love is stronger than blood for sure, but still, still, you can’t help wondering.[5]

Obviously, undergirding these issues, are often unfathomable mental health dimensions.  As one mental health professional has written:

Children may feel grief over the loss of a relationship with their birthparents and the loss of the cultural and family connections that would have existed with those parents.

This feeling of loss may be especially intense in closed or semi-open adoptions where little or no information or contact is available with birthparents. Such grief feelings may be triggered at many different times throughout the child’s life including when they first learn of their adoption, during the turbulent teen years, upon the death of other family members, or even as when becoming a spouse or parent.

There can also be significant concerns about feeling abandoned and “abandonable,” and “not good enough,” coupled with specific hurt feelings over the birthmother’s choice to “reject[] the child” to “give me away” or “not wanting me enough.” Such hurtful and vulnerable feelings may be compounded should the child learn that the birthmother later had other children that she chose to raise herself.[6]

Perhaps the issues are summarized best by one adoptee who has written later in life that “we don’t belong anywhere in particular.”[7]  Another stated: “I realized . . . that I had never really felt connected to anyone.  Maybe because my heritage was missing.  I didn’t know where I came from.  No real sense of belonging to anyone.”[8]  Yet, this woman added:

Thanks to the internet, I found ALL of my birth family. I now have a wonderful relationship with them. I have five half-siblings; uncles, aunts, and many cousins; and lots of family reunions. My sons have a new set of grandparents who have taken over loving them where Mom and Dad had to leave off. And I know where I got my nose, blonde hair, and love of dancing.

It’s amazing what hugging your birth family can do—it gives you a sense of connection.[9]

Such happy endings do not happen to everyone who searches though.[10]

adoption

 

© 2018, Timothy D. Naegele


[1]  Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the United States Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass). He and his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates, specialize in Banking and Financial Institutions Law, Internet Law, Litigation and other matters (see www.naegele.com and http://www.naegele.com/documents/TimothyD.NaegeleResume.pdf). He has an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal (see, e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commendation_Medal#Joint_Service). Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years (see, e.g., www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles), and can be contacted directly at tdnaegele.associates@gmail.com

[2]  See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/05/12/what-and-where-is-god/#comment-13158 (“The Judiciary And Doctors In The UK Killed Little Charlie Gard And Now Alfie Evans”)

[3]  See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/abortions-and-autos-kill-more-in-america-than-guns/ (“Abortions And Autos Kill More In America Than Guns”)

[4]  See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/04/15/problems-with-foreign-adoptions/ (“Problems With Foreign Adoptions”)

[5]  See https://www.quora.com/How-do-you-cope-with-not-knowing-who-your-biological-parents-are

Another woman who was adopted at birth, and is also an adoptive mother, has written:

People tend to be curious about their family of origin story, whether or not they are adopted.  Look at the tremendous interest in Ancestry.com.  That’s not all fueled by adoptees, I promise you.  It’s natural to wonder how much of who we are is from our biology (nature) and how much is from our upbringing (nurture). That wondering applies to all of us; adoptees just know there is an additional layer to consider.

I’ve always been annoyed by the Hallmark TV version of adoption: the idea that we cannot be our real selves until we connect with our biological families.  If that connection completes you, great.  But don’t count on it.  That said, there is no shame in wanting to know your origin story and wanting to access your birth family’s (and therefore your own) medical history.  Do so with care though, because you are digging into the emotional past too.

Adoptions today are more likely to be open, at least to the extent that information and names are shared, if not to the extent that a relationship is maintained.  That openness can help answer many questions that an adoptee might wonder about, heading off the [] need to attend to answering the unknowns.

Being different in any way can set us up for loneliness and self doubt.  We’re all a little different, right?  We can choose whether that difference gives us a launch pad or a stumbling block.

See https://www.quora.com/Are-adopted-kids-really-obsessed-with-their-birth-parents-even-well-into-adulthood

[6]  See Kathryn Patricelli, MA, “Long-Term Issues For The Adopted Child,” https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/long-term-issues-for-the-adopted-child/

[7]  See Stephen J Betchen D.S.W., “Why Adoptees Need To Find Their Biological Parents,” https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/magnetic-partners/201104/why-adoptees-need-find-their-biological-parents

The author added:

Some of us who were adopted in “closed states” (or states that don’t allow for the free exchange of even the most vital information such as a health history) have a lingering fear that we might drop dead at any moment. I just love filling out the medical history questionnaire at a new doctor’s office; the one that asks what diseases your parents suffered from. How about the question: What age was your father when he died? How should I know? The great state of so and so…won’t tell me. Not knowing one’s medical history is especially annoying to those of us adoptees who have biological children. What am I passing on? Will I be around for the weddings?

. . .

Bio mom and I continued our telephone relationship for the next several years, but sadly enough, it just plain wore out. I got tired of playing in a fixed pursuer-distancer dance and so I did what a lot of adopted kids might do in a situation like this—I disappeared.  I took my medical history and a few more tidbits and I faded with a new appreciation for my adopted parents.  They weren’t perfect, but neither was I.  As for bio mom, I hope she lives forever.  She wasn’t a bad sort, and my kids could sure use the good genes.

[8]  See https://www.theatlantic.com/notes/2016/08/the-sense-of-belonging-to-someone/497834/ (“The Sense of Belonging to Someone”) (“Whenever I thought about having birth parents, it was like putting my mind in a deep, dark, vast space—nothing existed.  My constant thought was, ‘I wonder if someone out there looks like me, and is similar to me’”—”Mom knew she couldn’t handle me finding my birth parents while she was alive.  She wanted me to, but after she was gone.  She did it in such a sweet way. I love her for this”)

[9]  See id. 

[10]  See, e.g., Lisa Lutz, “I Found My Biological Parents, and Wish I Hadn’t,” https://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/06/magazine/i-found-my-biological-parents-and-wish-i-hadnt.html (“If I’d been given the choice of meeting my biological parents or getting a nice dossier on them, I would have chosen the latter”—”When I finally had time to take it all in, I felt like the result of a mishandled science experiment.  I wondered what might have happened to me if I had been raised by my genetic parents.  It seems unlikely that I would have ended up with the degree of ambition that I did, one that surpasses my modest genetic gifts.  I was never that smart or talented, but I was scrappy and dogged, and I believed I was owed something.  That seems ridiculous now.  Family is the luck of the draw, and so is how you turn out”)





China Is America’s Enemy: Make No Mistake About That

13 01 2011

By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

While it would certainly be nice to think of China as a benign, friendly, democratic nation, if not an ally of the United States—which makes the computers and cellphones that Americans use, and provides most of the products sold in Walmart stores—the fact is that China is our enemy, now and in the future.  A failure to recognize this fact has serious national security implications for our great nation.  Those who cavalierly dismiss this and similar assessments, as nothing more than the rantings of “Cold Warriors,” may be condemned to repeat and relive the world wars of the past.

Does this mean that we will be in a shooting war with China any time soon, or that we should gird for war in the future?  No, but it means that we must maintain and strengthen our military might, and do nothing to diminish it.  We face deadly challenges elsewhere in the world too: for example, from North Korea, Iran, Russia and terrorists.  However, we must never underestimate the threat from China, America’s rising Asian rival globally.  Among other things, there is a “disconnect” between China’s civilian and military leaderships, which may grow dramatically—and it does not bode well for the future.

As the Wall Street Journal reported:

China conducted the first test flight of its stealth fighter just hours before U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates sat down with President Hu Jintao here to mend frayed relations, undermining the meeting and prompting questions over whether China’s civilian leadership is fully in control of the increasingly powerful armed forces.[2]

In early 2001, at the beginning of George W. Bush’s presidency, China’s military tested his metal by forcing down one of our spy planes near the island of Hainan. There were serious questions raised then—as they are being raised now—about whether China’s civilian leadership was fully in control of the country’s military.

Also, the New York Times had a fine article recently, which stated in part:

Older Chinese officers remember a time, before the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 set relations back, when American and Chinese forces made common cause against the Soviet Union.

The younger officers have known only an anti-American ideology, which casts the United States as bent on thwarting China’s rise.

. . .

Chinese military men, from the soldiers and platoon captains all the way up to the army commanders, were always taught that America would be their enemy.[3]

Viewed in its starkest terms, China has threatened a nation-ending EMP Attack against the United States already—which went largely unnoticed by most Americans, even though such an attack might kill all except 30 million of us.[4] In addition to its submarine forces that have been expanded greatly in the past decade, China’s military is deploying new ballistic missiles that can sink U.S. aircraft carriers, and are potentially game-changing, unprecedented threats to our supercarriers and their carrier battle groups.[5]

Also, China is preparing to build an aircraft carrier, which symbolizes the ambition to move far beyond its own shores[6].  Its growing anti-satellite capabilities and quite soon its fifth-generation fighter, not to mention its ongoing Cyberwarfare and economic warfare, are alarming to say the least.

Barack Obama manipulated the 2010 lame-duck session of Congress to ratify the “90 percent useless and 10 percent problematic” New START Treaty with Putin’s Russia—from which the next Republican administration should withdraw[7], just as George W. Bush withdrew from the ABM Treaty, which had expressly prevented major American advances in missile defense.  However, the United States’ focus must be on China, not on an essentially-Third World, backwater country like Russia.[8]

As one China military-affairs specialist put it:

Clearly, China’s communist leadership is not impressed by the [Obama] administration’s ending of F-22 production, its retirement of the Navy’s nuclear cruise missile, START Treaty reductions in U.S. missile warheads, and its refusal to consider U.S. space warfare capabilities. Such weakness is the surest way to invite military adventurism from China.[9]

On the positive side, China represents an enormous consumer market.  Yet, even on that front, caution is advised and prudence is required.  As the Wall Street Journal noted:

It’s tempting for U.S. companies to believe they can rely on access to hundreds of millions of new consumers in China and other emerging-market countries for the lion’s share of future profits. But they had better be prepared for a wide variety of unforeseen barriers.[10]

The United States has other issues and problems with China, including but not limited to Chinese adoption policies that foist “sick” children on unsuspecting, needy American adoptive parents, leading to tragic human suffering and other consequences[11]; China’s human rights abuses, including political prisoners who often serve their terms in an archipelago of labor camps scattered across the country called Laogai[12]; North and South Korea—and their respective international protectors, China and the U.S.—which might be heading for a showdown in the future[13]; and China’s expanding influence in the world, such as its willingness to bail out debt-ridden countries in the euro zone[14].

China has a violent history, which is of recent vintage.  Indeed, the Soviet Union’s Joseph Stalin and China’s Mao Tse-tung were the most ruthless killers of their own people in the 20th Century, and perhaps in the entire history of mankind.  Mao was directly responsible for an estimated 30-40 million deaths between 1958 and 1960, as a result of what his regime hailed as the “Great Leap Forward.”[15] Even though human rights activist Liu Xiaobo won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize—after having been sentenced to prison for putting his name to the “Charter 08″ human-rights manifesto, which says that the Chinese people “see clearly that freedom, equality, and human rights are universal values”—he was denied the right to have a representative collect the prize for him.[16]

Perhaps the best hope for a democratic China at peace with the world rests with the expansion of human rights in the country, as well as consumerism and capitalism; and greater civilian control over the country’s potentially-renegade military.  Whether this hope comes to fruition, or ends up as a pipe dream, remains to be seen.  Will China’s bluster and swagger lead to war, or dissipate over time; and are the United States and China on a collision course in the Western Pacific and elsewhere?[17] Only time will tell.  However, one can never forget that China’s violent past was only a short time ago, and its human rights abuses continue to this day.

© 2011, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the United States Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass).  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates, which specializes in Banking and Financial Institutions Law, Internet Law, Litigation and other matters (see www.naegele.com and http://www.naegele.com/naegele_resume.html).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years (see, e.g.www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles), and can be contacted directly at tdnaegele.associates@gmail.com

[2] See http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704428004576075042571461586.html?mod=WSJ_hp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsTop

[3] See http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/12/world/asia/12beijing.html?_r=3&hp=&pagewanted=all

[4] See, e.g.https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/19/emp-attack-only-30-million-americans-survive/

[5] See, e.g.http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/dec/27/china-deploying-carrier-sinking-ballistic-missile/

[6] See, e.g.http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fa7f5e6a-09cc-11e0-8b29-00144feabdc0.html#axzz18PUuKHZh

[7] See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/#comment-1014: see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/#comment-1167 and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/#comment-1245

[8] See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/

[9] See http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/dec/27/china-deploying-carrier-sinking-ballistic-missile/

[10] See, e.g.http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704852004575258541875590852.html?mod=WSJ_hp_editorsPicks

[11] See, e.g.https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/04/15/problems-with-foreign-adoptions/; see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/#comment-348 and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/#comment-434 (“[B]oth Russia and China have used the U.S. as dumping grounds for their ‘sick’ children”)

[12] See, e.g.http://www.naegele.com/documents/BretStephens-FromAthenstoBeijing.pdf (“How strong can China be if it is terrified of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo?”); see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/#comment-824

[13] See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/the-next-major-war-korea-again/ and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/#comment-1012

[14] See, e.g.https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/#comment-1177

[15] As I have written:

Like Stalin, Mao’s crimes involved Chinese peasants, many of whom died of hunger from man-made famines under collectivist orders that stripped them of all private possessions.  The Communist Party forbade them even to cook food at home; private fires were outlawed; and their harvests were taken by the state.  Those who dared to question Mao’s agricultural policies—which sought to maximize food output by dispossessing the nation’s most productive farmers—were tortured, sent to labor camps, or executed.

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/06/the-silent-voices-of-stalin%E2%80%99s-soviet-holocaust-and-mao%E2%80%99s-chinese-holocaust/

[16] See infra note 12; see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liu_Xiaobo#Nobel_Peace_Prize

[17] See, e.g.https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/#comment-1188





Problems With Foreign Adoptions

15 04 2010

By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

International media organizations have reported recently about an American woman from Tennessee who adopted a young boy from Russia, and then sent him back after trying to deal with his mental health issues.[2] This episode is sad and tragic—for the child, for the mother, and for lots of innocent people—everyone knows that.  However, the deeper issues surrounding this adoption involve the inability of so many Americans to adopt children who are born in this country, and the willingness of Russia, China and other countries to foist “sick” children on U.S. adoptive parents.

Adoptions are critical to so many people.  They save lives that might otherwise be aborted; and they offer precious loving options to those people who cannot conceive children of their own.  For the adoptees, ideally they provide new parents and bright futures where there were none, and a chance to escape from the poverty and hopelessness of their countries.

A relative of mine and his wife are perfect examples of Americans who wanted to adopt, because cancer treatments had prevented one from ever conceiving again.  They desperately wanted to adopt more than one child, and they tried to adopt in the U.S. but found it was near to impossible[3], so they turned their attention abroad.  First, they adopted a baby from an orphanage in China, and all went well.  Then, they sought to adopt a second baby from another Chinese orphanage, and it was an unmitigated disaster.

The child had serious physical problems, which were not disclosed to the couple.  For a child to have “psychological problems” or to be “mentally unstable,” “violent and angry” or have “severe psychopathic issues”—in the case of the Russian boy—is tragic but not surprising.  China wants to get rid of such children, and presumably Russia and other countries do too; and it is arguable that the United States has become a “dumping ground” for these children.

It is easy to be holier-than-thou, and to tar or condemn the adoptive mother or parents as unfit and criminals, yet first those who do so should walk a mile in the person’s (or persons’) mocassins.  How would we feel, and how would we react?  I have searched my own soul with respect to that question, trying to put myself in the shoes of my relative and his wife, who are wonderful and loving people.

For the U.S. ambassador to Russia, John Beyrle, to say that he was “deeply shocked by the news” and “very angry that any family would act so callously toward a child that they had legally adopted,” constitutes pure theatrics, grandstanding and callousness by a political hack.  With the advent of ObamaCare’s healthcare “rationing,” the cost and human toll of dealing with sick children from other countries might overwhelm adoptive families and our medical system.

There should be an international agreement on the conditions for adoptions, the obligations of host families, and the obligations of those countries that seek to have Americans adopt their children.  It is a two-way street, and there is plenty of blame to share.  I do not have much patience with the Russians; and I have enormous contempt for the thoroughly evil Putin regime.[4] Hence, it is not surprising that they would seek to exploit sensitive adoption issues, at a time when they are allowing sick children to be adopted by American families.

Perhaps, the easiest way to deal with any Russian concerns is to cut off all adoptions from that country immediately.  This will stem the tide of sick children being foisted on Americans; and the same thing might be done with China and other countries, which are enormously brazen and uncaring.

A Chicago Tribune article states:

Rather than condemn the Tennessee woman, [other parents of adopted children who exhibit severely challenging behavior] are blasting adoption agencies that are not always reliable reporters about a child’s troubled past, leaving families adrift to manage extreme problems without training or options.

It includes the comment of a mother:

“I want to ask these people passing judgment: What would you do if your child threatened to kill you every day?”

. . .

Since 1991, more than 50,000 Russian children have been adopted by U.S. citizens, according to the State Department.  Add the former Soviet bloc countries, and the region is second only to China as a source of international adoptions for Americans, who are often drawn overseas by the difficulty of adopting domestically.

But prospective parents can be unprepared for the behavioral and emotional challenges that await them, explained Judy Stigger, an adoption therapist at The Cradle in Evanston, Ill.

. . .

Because children can be superficially charming and their disabilities are invisible, their problems often get blamed on “bad parenting.”  Also, adding to the uphill battle: The right kind of interventions—often not covered by insurance—can be scarce and prohibitively expensive.[5]

When Russia, China and other countries foist sick children on U.S. adoptive parents, they are engaging in brutal and callous human trafficking, which must be stopped.[6] On the bright side, my relative and his wife ended up adopting one child from China and another from Vietnam.  Both children are enormous blessings, and there is love abounding.

© 2010, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass), the first black senator since Reconstruction after the U.S. Civil War.  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates (www.naegele.com).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years.  See, e.g., www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles

[2] See, e.g.http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304222504575173741062876452.html?KEYWORDS=Russian+adoptions#articleTabs%3Darticle

[3] In at least one instance, a birth mother “interviewed” them, and then she backed out.  I remember their frustrations with the American adoption process, so they went abroad.

[4] See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/

[5] See http://dailyme.com/story/2010041500002200/overseas-adoptions-blessing.html

[6] See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/28/human-trafficking/








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