Once again, my inspiration comes from a television program. I really don’t watch that much TV but I’m sure it looks like I do. It is interesting to see how child welfare is portrayed on television, especially in prime-time television. It provides a snapshot of society’s view of issues surrounding child welfare. More vocal responses from advocates would be a good thing, in my opinion.
This time, it’s the program, ‘Brothers & Sisters‘ that caught my attention. I’m pleased that they have incorporated foster care and adoption into their story line. Well, mostly adoption. The episode that prompted this entry is the one where Kevin and Scotty adopt an older child from foster care.
There are many layers to consider; I won’t go into all of it. It is noteworthy that the writers chose to include the adoption of an older child (by that I mean a child above toddler age). There are so many older children and youth out there that need adoptive homes. Often they get a bad rap in television and movies, with images of damaged, aggressive, and at times, evil children out to destroy anyone who tries to get close.
In this case, the writers get points for including some ‘bumps’ along the way; including some challenges that might occur, albeit ‘soft-pedaled’ in their story line. There is the changing of schools. Yes, kids often have to change schools, unfortunately. And yes, this can cause some anxiety and acting out (or ‘acting in’; in the form of depression, isolating behaviors, etc.). In the ‘Brothers & Sisters’ version, the adoptive parents identify the problem and have a conversation about it, quickly resolving it with minimal drama. Ah, if life should be so easy! And the building of a fortress, creating a sense of security, is also quickly addressed and resolved with smiles and hugs.
Overall, I will give kudos to the program for trying to include some challenges that might be encountered. I do hope they plan to follow-up with more about the development of the parent/child relationship and a realistic portrayal of the behaviors and emotions that accompany the adoption of any child. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say that adoption of older children is always rocky. But raising any child has ups and downs and it is no different with adoptive families. In fact, there are some additional challenges that can test the patience of any parent. That is why adoption agencies insist on thorough evaluation and training before potential adoptive parents are considered in placing a child. A good adoption agency also provides follow-up support and services.
I suspect most adoptive parents would agree, though, that the extra effort is worth it. Anyone who has been through an emotionally charged situation with another human being can attest to the toll and/or joy that can break or cement a relationship. The adage, ‘what does not destroy us makes us stronger’ is known well by any parent. Adopting an older child has its challenges, and more importantly, rewards.