Monday, December 08, 2008

Apparently I don't want to grade

So I have been self-examining my thoughts about adoption and Gary. First, I want it to be clear that if Gary needs to be adopted, Roland and I would do it without hesitation. The question at hand is not what we are willing to do, but what Gary needs. I also don't want it to sound like my willingness is just a willingness, like I would regard it as a chore that I was obligated to do. I can't let myself go to that emotional place. For me, imagining that feels like imagining whether I would be happy to marry someone who is currently married to someone else.

Anyway, what does Gary need?

A lot of the way I feel about Gary's situation is informed by my history with my father. My father did not speak to me, except to ask for my sister when he called the house, for nearly a year. He was, frankly, a mostly bad father. I went through sections of my life in which I denied that he was really my father at all. I acknowledged a genetic relationship, but he was never a DAD. Healing from this relationship was a long process. I had to get to a place where I realized all the good things that I got from him, and deal with the baggage from the abuse. It was complicated.

My parents divorced when I was seven, and I lived there after with my mom. I had security.

If my mother had got married, I don't know that I would have wanted to be adopted by my step-father. I might. I might have even thought about it as divorcing my father, which is something I very much wanted to do for a while.

But I know that being adopted by someone else would not changed things with respect to my dad. There would have still been all that emotional work to do. There also would have been the emotional work involved in accepting someone else as a father. It would have been very hard to trust. VERY hard. So though it may or may not have ultimately been a good thing, it seems to me now that it would have just meant having to emotionally cope with two fathers. It wouldn't have really replaced the first one.

I favor guardianship for Gary because I hope that it will give him the security I had with my mom, that sure knowledge that he is not going to be sent away and that his needs will be taken care of. He wants it because to him it represents a sort of freedom, "not being in the custody of the state." It doesn't bring along a lot of extra baggage though. Our relationships develop however they develop.

The downside of guardianship is that it just takes him out of foster care without bring along the benefits that he would get if he left via adoption, but that is a separate issue.

Anyway, in the end it is up to others, including Gary. I suspect that his parents' rights will not be terminated, but that is just a guess. I don't want to be part of that decision. Officially, all I have to say is that I do not see a compelling case for termination, and whatever sort of parents Gary needs us to be, we will be.


  1. Anonymous3:40 PM

    I'm curious about Gary's mother. I don't remember hearing about her and any kind of continuing relationship. Would it be a possibility for you to adopt Gary (providing him with a mother figure) but not Roland (given that he already has some semblance of a father relationship--that has at least the potential of improving over time)? I guess this route would be the reverse of your proposed plan with Evan?

  2. I don't know much about his mom, except that she was very young when he was born (15 or 16) and that she either left or was thrown out when he was two. Since then he has had contact with her a couple of times.

    My adopting him but not Roland is an idea that I would present to him as an adult. I don't think a family court judge would agree to it while he is a minor.

    And I wouldn't want it either as it would put me into an uncomfortable co-parenting role with his dad. I'm comfortable with open adoption, but that is deeper than I am willing to go.


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