Monday, October 5, 2009


Last week, I saw this article about a woman who was on the Today Show, who adopted a child and later terminated the adoption here. The woman and her husband had five biological children and then adopted a baby boy. However, because the mother felt that she couldn’t bond with him like she could her biological child…..after 18 months they disrupted.

The subtitle on this article was “Of human bondage” and there are five pages of editorial comments on both sides of this story.

I have struggled with the idea of disruption for many years. When a child is born into your family, whether the child has “issues” or not, that child is yours. You don’t have an option to hand that child back. I know that this is a very complex subject, however, and with my motto being “Compassion before judgment” I try very hard to understand disruption when it happens in adoption. In our own extended family, there was a disruption of a child that I knew well….so I have seen this with my own eyes.

What are your thoughts on disruption? Is there ever a time that it is acceptable? In the end, was it better to have a family that will truly cherish this child or would it have been better for this family to fully commit to the child and work on bonding?

Karen Maunu

Changing the Lives of Orphans in China


  1. I think this mother found herself overwhelmed and she did not know what to do. In many adoptions, there is a period of time where it is nothing more glamourous than nose to the grindstone work while carrying faith in your heart that it will get better, easier, more rewarding. The same thing happens with biological children, but it is not culturally acceptable to disrupt. We don't even have a word for it exactly, which means it is not something our culture has explored. I think this disruption was a combination of a woman trying to care for many small children and a lack of education and support. Adoption was not the bed of roses she expected at that point in her experience.

  2. I know this is probably not the answer you were looking for
    ..but I try not to think of it at all. It hurts my soul and it makes me feel helpless.
    You can't fix it for the family & you can't fix it for the child.
    It is heart- breaking on so many levels.
    I do think that it is the agencies responsibility to counsel properly BEFORE the adoption and then follow through after the adoption. This very rarely happens.
    I also find myself siding with the matter what the situation.
    These parents made the choice to adopt these wasn't the other way around.
    Wonder how parents would feel if the kids could disrupt the adoptions because they weren't bonding with us, weren't satisfied with our behavior, or thought Mom or Dad was messing with families harmony.......just a thought.

  3. Yes, I think disruption might be warranted in some situations -- but I don't think this person should be the poster child for disruption. Her confessional provided no information, no guidance, no help for any family struggling to parent. I would have liked to see serious journalistic treatment of disruption instead of this media sideshow.

    Did anyone reading this/seeing this get any idea of how common/uncommon disruption is? What kind of issues commonly lead to disruption? How attachment works in adoption? What happens when it doesn't work? What resources are available to struggling families?

    Giving Anita Tedaldi her 15 minutes of fame (she's got a book coming out -- a parenting manual, believe it or not!) helps no one but her.

  4. i have had 6 biological children and i found place in my heart to adopt and love our adopted son. it was our choice to adopt and we love him as if he was our own. our older children would say we spoil him. he is one of our family

  5. I have very strong feelings on this topic. I believe disruptions happen for many reasons. I think we usually hear about the disruptions that happen due to attachment issues but there are other reasons.

    I am very close to a family that disrupted because of reasons that had nothing to do with attachment or medical issues they felt they couldn't handle. They had commited to a SN child whose file was due to be returned the CCAA. This little one had been on a couple of agency lists and no one chose her. This family did. Unfortunately the family started to fall apart prior to traveling. They commited to bringing this child back to the states but knew their home was not the best place for this child to start a new life. They disrupted. They are devastated and still grieving for the child they lost. Fortunately the child is thriving in the new home. Disruption happens to good people with big hearts. It's not as black and white and a lot of people make it out to be.

  6. I cannot even imagine how anyone could give up their child - ever, and especially after such a long period of time. With that said, if she didn't love the child and wasn't going to be the mother that the child deserved, then in the long run I can only pray that a better family comes along to take care of him! How terrible for that sweet child to grow up thinking that not only did his biological parents "not want him" but neither did his first adoptive family. It's truly one of those things in life that makes my heart so very heavy and sad. It's almost too hard to think about, especially when there is nothing I can do about it.

  7. I don't know. It is hard and each situation is different, but I heard she had 2 of her 5 birth children AFTER the adoption. That is what really bothers me. If she truly knew it was not gong well from the start (as she admits), then why did she have 2 more children? Why not try and focus on the ones she had already?

    Something does not add up for me in this particular story. I personally cannot imagine every doing this and after 18 months home? But, I too do not want to judge when I have not walked a mile in someone else's shoes. BUT our daughter fiercely rejected me the first 6 months home. It was VERY HARD but I expected this might happen and we worked through it. Bonding/Attachment is not a destination but a continual action of love, sacrifice, fulfillment and commitment just to name a few.

  8. I have a very hard time with the whole idea of disruption personally. Being adopted and now a mother through adoption as well as biologically, I do know that every parental relationship takes time, work and great love. They ebb and flow and no parent-child relationship is exactly the same. At least that's how it is with my three children. Two are biologically mine and one through adoption and yet they are all heart and soul, MINE. I love them all and could not fathom giving one up. I know how important that feeling of security and trust is and yet the bond with some is not without some testing- at times even extreme. Others may never test it as we are all individuals. Growing up I would go through various periods of wondering why I was adopted and whether I was truly loved. Other times, I knew it without a doubt. I was an A/B student that always tried to excel at whatever I worked on. And yet, I tested boundaries at times as any child does. My mother now says I was the one she worried most of out of my other two adopted siblings as I didn't communicate as much. Who knew? Thank goodness she didn't give up on me or any of us. I love the comment above that states "Bonding/Attachment is not a destination but a continual action of love, sacrifice, fulfillment and commitment just to name a few." This is SO true! While I do not want to judge as I have not walked in her shoes, it seems that the story reflected on HER needs rather than that of the child... She appears to have done what was best for her and I pray that sweet child finds someone that does even more for him.

  9. I agree with Malinda and Wife of the Pres. Disruption is awful, heart-wrenching and sad. But sometimes it is in the best interest of the child/family/etc. However, in this case, none of the numerous articles, interviews, and so on that I have read have given me any sense that this was about that little boy. It all felt as if it was about HER and HER struggles. While I sympathize greatly with her struggles (depression, single-parenting while husband was deployed, income issues, etc.) I do think that there were things that her support systems missed. I have no desire to judge, but it seems as if there were adults involved who could have/should have done more. That might just be my sense of helplessness and grief for that poor little boy talking.

    I do know this: since all the furor has started for this story, I've been praying OFTEN for his new adoptive mom and dad. For wisdom, unconditional love, and for overflowing vessels of patience and compassion as they nurture him through this season. May the Lord of ALL healing do a miraculous work in the innermost reaches of his little spirit!

  10. The only disruption I am personally familiar with was a domestic adoption where something similar occurred. The wife just never bonded with the child to the point that the discord was leading to divorce over one of the two adopted children.

    Just like marriage, you should never go into an adoption with the thought of ever giving up on it, but in some situations, it is ultimately the right thing for child to be moved to a family that does want them and can care for them. In the case above, the lovely little girl now has 4 older brothers and 2 younger sisters (also adopted) plus the true love of both a mother and father.