Joyce Pavao. Handbook of Adoption: Implications for Researchers, Practitioners, and Families. Editor: Rafael A Javier, Amanda L Baden, Frank A Biafora, Alina Camacho-Gingerich. Sage Publication. 2007.
With the media focusing more and more on adoption—and often sensationalizing it—the public’s impression is often that an adversarial relationship exists between the birth family and the adoptive family. In many of the contested cases in the media, it looks like neither set of parents can do what is in the best interest of the child. Most certainly, in these cases, the professionals (lawyers, judges, therapists) do not seem to understand the systemic problems for the families, and the dysfunction these problems will eventually cause the child who is placed in this adversarial arena. The media’s misinformation about adoption often causes continued pain and pathologizing for adoptive parents, birth parents, and adopted people in this country and in the world.
Adoption can be a very positive way to create or expand a family. It is estimated that adoption affects the lives of 40 million Americans (Henderson, 2000). Given these numbers and the fact that adoption is becoming more prevalent in the current era (Encyclopedia of Adoption, 2006; Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, 1997), it will be increasingly important for clinicians and other professionals to be skilled in working with the unique issues and challenges that face adoptive family systems. Professionals with a “family systems” perspective can be of particular help to these complex families. The therapist can normalize and demystify the process of adoption, so that the family involved can be treated with respect, and they can be prepared to handle the complex challenges that should be considered normal under the circumstances of adoption. Adoption issues are often magnified in the adoptions of older children and in transracial or international adoptions.
Child welfare professionals should, of course, continue to focus on family preservation, whenever possible. In many instances, some form of open adoption that keeps a child, especially an older child, attached and not cut off from all of his or her past is recommended when it is safe and when parents, both birth and adoptive, are aware of their roles and responsibilities. Open adoption is itself a form of family preservation. It provides the legal transfer of the ongoing parenting responsibilities from the birth family to the adoptive family and, thereby, creates a new kinship network, which connects those two families forever through the child or children that they both share. A preventive approach and a normalizing focus to consultation around adoption issues and to the welfare of the children involved is recommended if we, as professionals, are to treat the whole family and community system and take care of the many individuals living in the world of adoption.
Pavao’s Brief Long-Term Therapy Model
What do families need? Maybe they need an inclusive, intergenerational, developmental, systemic approach that normalizes the stages of development and includes many extended family members. While the first crisis may be about the decision to adopt or the decision not to parent, other crises often follow after adoption. In Pavao’s therapeutic model, called “brief long-term therapy” (Pavao, 1982; Pavao, Groza, & Rosenberg, 1998), a family and various constellations (different family subsystems) are seen during the crisis. The work then involves transforming that crisis into an empowering experience. If families come back for further therapy or consultation at a later stage of development, this return is not seen as a failure. Rather, it is seen as a success in working through yet another stage of development. There is a completion of each stage of therapy, or consultation, but no “termination”; the word terminate is too loaded for those who have suffered the losses associated with adoption.
The therapist (or team of therapists) remains available for consultation and for therapy. This avoids the emotional cutoff and loss issues that are primary issues in adoption. Therapists who take a systemic view and encourage empowerment—rather than pathologizing the very normal and complex problems of adoptive families and birth families—are best equipped to help these complex blended families. By complex blended families, we refer to families by adoption, fostering kinship care, remarriage, or alternative reproductive technologies, whereas root families are families where the mother and father who gave birth to the child are also parenting the child together. By working with all the family members, along with the agencies, courts, and schools, the family systems therapist can spread understanding and healing.
The Birth Family
When women and their partners deal with an untimely pregnancy, the decision about whether or not to surrender a child for adoption should be made with all options having been presented. When children are removed for abuse or neglect reasons, the birth parents are very often unable to parent, but it does not mean that they do not love their children. The birth parents’ psychological and emotional connection is important for the child and can be honored through a careful plan for some level of appropriate openness. (This openness will vary from case to case and, in some cases, will not be appropriate at all for the safety of the child.)
Family preservation and kinship arrangements should be explored prior to any discussion of adoption. The more we work to explore the connections that are safe and in place for a child or children, the more we avoid the possibility of attachment disorders (Hoksberger & Loenen, 1985; Pavao, 2005). Therapists should discuss with potential birth parents the kinds of adoption plans available, the posttraumatic effects that the parents will encounter over time, and the effects that the children will encounter as well. We are using “potential parent” and “birth parent” here, and it is important to remember that until an adoption plan is made and finalized, the birth parents are the parents of the child. It is only after the parental rights are terminated and the adoptive parents are legally and emotionally installed as the “forever” parents of the child, that the term birth parent is appropriate.
Preparation Often Leads to Prevention
There are many kinds of adoption, but people think that if they have experience with one kind of adoption, then they understand the whole world of adoption. Potential birth parents need to be educated, as do all people approaching adoption as an option. There are public and private agencies. There are closed and open arrangements for adoption, with many shades between very closed and very open. Birth parents who feel they are being good parents by making a plan that will be best for their child feel more empowered than those who feel like victims. There is not just one kind of adoption option for the birth parents who are either in public or private situations. These options must be clearly defined and presented to the birth parents so that they can make a decision that is, first and foremost, best for their child and, in turn, best for them.
The pain of loss is great, but the reasons for considering adoption indicate that parenting this child might also prove extremely difficult. If possible, birth parents need to speak with a knowledgeable professional at the beginning of their decision-making process, preferably with someone who is not connected to a placement agency. Once they have had adequate psychoeducation (a term used to describe the education about psychological and developmental issues that are normal under the circumstances in adoption) and counseling, the probability for a good and healthy adoption plan is very high.
Without proper counseling for both birth parents, as well as their extended families, there is a greater chance that there will be ambivalence, contested adoptions, or other problems later. This is most true in older child placements, where the attachment to the birth family is even greater than a psychological and emotional tie; there are real memories and real relationships in place. In these cases, it is important to explore some options for an open adoption to maintain healthy connections in the birth family and, possibly, in fostering families as well.
Open adoption cannot be mandated, as you cannot mandate people’s relationships. Families thinking of parenting a child who has had many emotional cutoffs and moves from family to family should consider keeping some of the attachments that have been beneficial to the child, as a way of avoiding potential “attachment disorders,” and managing them in the child’s best interests. For example, it may not be safe or sane to allow a child to continue a relationship with a birth father who is an abuser and a violent person, but if there is a grandparent or an aunt who has been a safe haven for that child, a supervised clinical visit to keep that relationship—and to develop one between that person and the new family—may be just the thing to keep that child from feeling isolated and cut off once again.
Currently, in this country, many potential birth parents want to be involved in the selection of adoptive parents for their infant child. This is evidenced in the increase in the number of independent adoptions (Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, 1997). Most birth parents want to know something about where the child is going and who will be caretaker and parent to that child. Meeting the preadoptive parents before a decision is made is not uncommon. However, the general trend appears to be toward semiopen adoption rather than toward open adoption.
In semiopen adoption, there is usually a one-time meeting of the birth and preadoptive parents. Often, first names are all that is exchanged. The parties make an emotional connection and agree to have the agency or adoption professional act as an intermediary in the yearly (or as otherwise decided by the parties or courts involved) exchange of letters and pictures and updated medical information. Semiopen adoption allows the birth parents to feel more of a sense of connection to the parents who will care for the child that they cannot parent. This is the birth parent’s last act of parenting—making a plan that will give their child a safe and secure family for a lifetime. We call this semiopen because it is not open to the child. The plan is not necessarily for an open relationship that includes the child and the birth parents, but an open beginning with the adoptive and birth parents. This is a fine and trusting way to begin a relationship, but if it is called open, the child will eventually protest against this untruth.
Open adoptions can vary a great deal, including arrangements from regular meetings to occasional written contact and picture exchange. In all forms of adoption, birth parents terminate parental rights, and the adoptive parents become the only “parenting” parents. Open adoption is not joint custody, and it is not guardianship.
The permanent plan for parenting of the child is that the adoptive parents parent the child, and the birth parents’ roles change from parent to extended family. That role should be negotiated early on and clearly defined to ensure that everyone is clear and understands the family relationship. The birth mother and birth father will always be the ones who created this child; but at the time of adoption, their role changes from that of “parent” to that of extended family. A knowledgeable therapist or other professional can help in the mediation process and can help avoid future confusion and inconsistency by having the families discuss roles and responsibilities early on in the adoption proceedings.
Closed adoption has been the traditional form of adoption in the United States since the 1930s. It offers no identifying information, or very little nonidentifying information, and no agreement for future meetings. Closed adoption was created about 80 years ago, and so it is relatively new. Although some people think it guarantees anonymity, it does not. Closed adoption was created to protect children from the public’s bias about illegitimacy. It was thought that if a new birth certificate were created (rather than an adoption certificate), which had a mother and a father, and if the original single parent certificate were sealed away, then the general public would not chastise the “illegitimate” child. This was not done to protect the birth parent from the adoptive parent or vice versa. It is outdated at this point in time because we have many single parents, even single fathers: An adoption-altered birth certificate can now say that John Brown gave birth! Its a miracle!
Many adult adopted people, adoptive parents, and birth parents are quite upset about the falsified document—the “illegal” legal document that is a false birth certificate, a legal fiction. It is the only situation in this country where an adult does not have access to information about himself or herself. It is a civil right to have that access, and adopted people are somehow still not granted that American right in most states.
It is believed that the secrecy and lies surrounding the system of adoption, more than any other contributing factor, are what have caused many of the problems, issues, and challenges that have evolved in adoptive and birth families over time (Henderson, 2000). The shame and guilt that secrets and lies engender have a negative effect on the lives of the people involved and result in a dysfunctional situation in many cases.
In all of these forms of adoption, it is important to know that the emotional and psychological connections between the birth parents and the child are never terminated. To avoid the cutoff that children have experienced in their many moves in and out of foster homes and “relative” or kin placements, it is important to work with families to keep the positive connections that exist, even if they are only the psychological and emotional connections, with no contact. Many older children are separated from their siblings as well, and it is essential that visits between siblings continue after the adoption is finalized.
Relationships between the adopting or foster families and the birth family must often be developed and supervised, in the initial stages, by professionals. The same is true of grandparents who cannot take on the parenting but would like to continue to be the grandparent and have visits. In all these situations, the role of the professional is to develop real and healthy working relationships and to make roles and responsibilities clear to the adults so that they will be clear for the children.
We can help families understand that, while trying to integrate a child with trauma and resulting challenges into the family, even though it is much work to deal with additional people (birth family or foster family), it will pay off in the long run, in that this will integrate the child’s sense of self and sense of reality. In some cases, the adults may have to put their egos aside to heal the child.
We often find that especially the oldest, “parentified” children do not have the tendency and need to run to find out how their birth mother/siblings are if they have regular visits and correspondence and know that they are all right. It gives the children “permission to be where they are” and to be healthy and happy as well. Indeed, about 40% of older children have contact with the extended birth family, including siblings in other placements (Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, 1997). This is a prerequisite for their continued attachment and well-being.
Older child placements, especially domestic, require mediation and discussion among the adults, to give children the understanding that parenting is more than just giving birth. In the best of all worlds, a person who gives birth can also parent, but, in many cases and for many reasons, that is not always true or possible.
Childhood is very short. Children cannot wait years for parents to be rehabilitated, to be freed from jail, or to be fit to parent. Children must be parented consistently and caringly. It is hoped that this can happen in the extended family or community, but when it cannot, adoption is a very good option, and some open arrangement, with the permission of the birth family for the adoptive parents to be the parents, helps an older child to feel that he or she is not being disloyal.
Understanding what precedes the adoption, whatever type it may be, is important. A majority of preadoptive couples have struggled with issues of infertility for years. The pain and loss that results from constantly hoping for a child and undergoing invasive medical, pharmacological, and surgical procedures (which can strain a couple’s relationship) make the process of adoption seem like additional hoops through which to jump in the process of becoming parents. Like birth parents, adoptive parents feel they are victims of the “process.” For them, it is the process of the home study, the scrutiny, and the inclusion or exclusion that is a part of the procedure. They become angry at the “hoops,” and they sometimes cut themselves off from the very useful education and supports that might be available to them in the process. Finally, preadoptive parents often suffer from a lack of understanding on the part of some of their own extended family, friends, and community as well. Individuals who adopt confront their own set of prejudices from the world around them.
People sometimes don’t understand why you would adopt, especially an older child! “Why would you want to deal with all the problems that are inherent in this kind of family?” they ask. This can result in a subtle, but lifelong experience of pain, guilt, shame, and loss, if it is not discussed and normalized. Most adoptive parents become adoption educators and learn that they have to educate all their extended family and community to help them understand what it is that they are doing and why. These parents work to help people in their schools, churches, and communities to understand some of the very common and expected problems that a child—especially an older-placement child—encounters due to early trauma and many moves.
The belief, in days of old, that the panacea for infertility was adoption is one that people may still believe. We know now that adoption does not “fix” infertility. It “fixes” the loss of parenting, and adoption is a wonderful way to become a parent and to create a family. However, the issues of never seeing a child of “one’s own” continue to exist. These issues exist for extended family members as well, grandparents in particular. Therefore, parents and other extended family members of the adoptive individual or couple can benefit a great deal from being included in psychoeducation and counseling around adoption and its many facets prior to and after the adoption.
This was not simply a “wicked” grandmother (although both her daughter-in-law and granddaughter were devastated by her comment). This grandmother was, herself, an aging mother who suffered from the loss of never seeing her very own birth grandchildren. She had no way of processing her own grief and loss about the infertility of her son and daughter-in-law, and it all came out in this one sentence.
Case Study: Louise’s Grandmother
Once, in a therapy session that I did many years ago, 30-year-old Louise, who had been adopted as an infant, clearly remembered and recounted a day soon after her eighth birthday. Louise was, and continued to be, very close to her adoptive mom. They were making her room into a “big girl’s room” for her eighth birthday. They chose flowered wallpaper, a canopied bed, bright colors for paint, new fabric for curtains, and other new furnishings. They did this whole project together, and had the best of fun. Louise’s grandparents came for dinner to celebrate her birthday after the project’s completion.
When dessert was done, Louise and her mom took “Grandma” by the hand and led her, with eyes closed, to the door of Louise’s newly designed “big girl” bedroom. They gleefully opened the door and told Grandma to open her eyes! Grandma opened her eyes and looked around the room, and looked again, and said, “What a beautiful room for someone else’s child.”
Adoptive Families: Ongoing Issues
For adoptive parents who adopt older children—domestically or internationally—there is the added issue of trauma and the posttraumatic problems that the family will often encounter. Without the proper preparation and training, and without open discussion prior to placement and during the transition of the child or children to their new home, there is the possibility that these adoptions will become more challenging and complicated. There is also the grave possibility that the child will be considered attachment disordered or reactive attachment disordered. Adoption should provide permanence. When an adoption is not done in the best interests of all included (especially the child), and when there are no post-adoption services available with competent well-trained professionals, many families find it hard to stay together, and the adoption can actually disrupt or dissolve. Adoptions should be forever. We should provide all the services that we can to keep families whole and together. Even death does not them part.
We all want adoption to be forever, and it is. The challenges remain, but they can be diminished over time. We want permanent plans for all the children who are in the situation of needing parents other than those who gave birth to them, and we want these children to feel whole, to integrate their past and their present—their birth family and birth culture and their adoptive family and adoptive culture—to be integrated and to be whole.
Case Study: Trevor/Ricardo
One of the stories that touches my heart most is that of a young man who was adopted at approximately age 5 from an orphanage in Colombia. His adoptive parents went to Colombia and stayed in a hotel while they awaited the processing of papers. They finally got their little boy and brought him back to their home in Dover, Massachusetts. They decided to name him Trevor, a family name. (Names and places have been changed.)
Trevor did quite well. He adapted swiftly and fit in. He did have the expected language problems, which slowed him down in school, and he got extra help for those. He was an athlete and was very busy, and he seemed quite happy during his childhood. However, at approximately age 13, he attempted suicide. On his release from the hospital, the family was referred to me for family therapy. I sat in a room with a severely depressed young man and his very worried parents who were nervous and distraught. I asked them to tell me, first, the story of Trevor’s adoption. I then asked what was going on around the time of the suicide attempt. The parents both said “nothing,” “everything seemed fine.” I probed some more and the dad said that they were in the process of having Trevor become a naturalized citizen, but that, of course, couldn’t be the problem! I asked the parents to wait outside while I spent time alone with young Trevor. Trevor was deeply depressed. I asked if he could think about anything that would make him want to live. Would he want to go back to Colombia? Would he fantasize about what would make him have the will to live? He looked at me candidly and said, “Joyce, you do not understand. I do not live. I died when I was 5 years old. I had another name, another language, another family, and I became this person that I am trying to be. I can no longer try.” I sat and listened. I asked, “What do you call yourself in your head? When you talk to yourself?” and he answered, “Ricardo.”
I asked if we could ask if his parents would give him back his name and he responded, “Joyce, you don’t understand. I love my parents. I don’t want to hurt them.” I suggested then that the suicide attempt had hurt them, but that they would probably be able to withstand a name change! I asked him what else he would like. He said, “I’d like to be around people who look like me… I am in a White family, and an all-White school and neighborhood, and there is no one like me.” I asked “what else,” and he said that he didn’t want to be a citizen of the United States. “I lost my country, my language, my people and I don’t want to lose anything else. That is all that I have left.”
I asked if we could invite his parents back in and tell them what we had talked about and he said, “You tell them,” and so I did. When his parents heard about his name, they cried. His mother said, “I wanted you to have our family name so that you would feel that you belonged.… I never wanted to make you feel bad.” Ricardo then put his arm around his mom’s shoulder and told her that it had been hard for him to get used to a new name, and he knew she would slip sometimes and call him Trevor, but that it was okay. He said he would like to keep Trevor as part of his name.
We then talked about the citizenship issue, and his dad explained how important it would be. He suggested that if Trevor got his name back, he could have something from his past and that at age 21 he could choose to be a citizen of anywhere. They extended the discussion. We then talked about Ricardo being the only minority person in his world. I asked if the parents would consider moving to Jamaica Plain, a racially and culturally diverse neighborhood in Boston. (I was stretching things a bit, but just checking it out.) The dad said the market was bad … after all they had a huge property in Dover with stables and all. Why would they move to Jamaica Plain? I then suggested that they look into private schools that had a commitment to diversity: not just diversity of students, but with faculty and board that would be “mirrors” for Ricardo as well. I asked Ricardo if this would do. He said, “I guess so.”
To make a very long life story short, Ricardo lived. He went on to high school and he had a great experience. He studied and relearned Spanish. His dad took him on a bicycle trip through Colombia when he graduated from high school, and they went back to visit the orphanage where Ricardo had lived and tried to find out if there was any information about his birth family. There was. Ricardo did nothing about this on that trip. He went on to college and he decided to spend his junior year in Colombia; he wanted to be in an American program, but in Colombia. He felt worried that he wouldn’t fit in there either.
While in Colombia, Ricardo did find his birth family. He found difficult things. There had been violence and death and poverty. Ricardo had “known” this on some level and had memories that he thought were just “bad thoughts.” He thought he was a “bad person,” when in fact he had witnessed violence and had been subjected to it. Finding out this very tragic information actually freed him to be in the present. Ricardo went on to law school, and he majored in international law and human rights. He is a champion for the children of the world. Children like him.
I love to tell Ricardo’s story because he is an example of the danger and fragility of moving a child without thinking of the long-term consequences. Ricardo felt dead. He was almost dead when I met him, after his suicide attempt. He needed to have his past brought back to him, to integrate with his present, to feel that he might have a future.
Ricardo calls me at intervals. He likes my “brief long-term therapy” model. His most recent call was about commitment. He was in love. The woman is White. He feels that he will be repeating his own life in the lives of his children. He feels the same old divided loyalty. Should he be with a dark-skinned woman? His identity confusion continues. He feels that he loves her and will probably marry her, but he wonders what all this means.
Psychoeducation, even many years after the legal act of adoption, can and does help entire families. Psychoeducation and counseling, prior to adoption, for the parents of the couple or individual adopting (the grandparents) and the extended family or community will lead to more support for the adoptive family, along with greater understanding of the participants’ own feelings.
A knowledgeable and competent adoption therapist can help families to discuss and make sense of these issues in the preadoptive process. Single parents and gay and lesbian parents who adopt will also benefit from adoptive psychoeducation about the added complexities that their families will face.
The Pavao “normative” model proposes that a systemic approach is needed to work with the adoptive family (which includes the birth family, foster family, and adoptive family). There is no identified patient in this model. The whole system—from the wider context of adoption practices to the intricate relationships in the adoptive and birth families—is regarded as the client. Crises can be normal, and they can even lead to transformation. Clinicians must be familiar with, and empathic toward, each member of the adoption circle, including the birth family—whether they are known or unknown to the adopting parents.
If the professionals who work with these families are not fully trained to understand all aspects of adoption—intergenerational, systemic, and developmental—and if they are not trained to understand that adoption is not just one thing, then they are not providing what the family truly needs. They are not adoption competent.
Adoption is so many things: It is public and private; domestic and international; open, semiopen, and closed. It is inracial and transracial; it involves infants and older children; it is about foster care, kinship, and guardianship. It is a mistake for professionals to think they understand the wider world of adoption because of their own adoption experience; that is a case study of one. If professionals do not have the training and do not understand these complexities, and if they have no experience with trauma work, then they can actually harm the family, rather than heal them.
The Adoptive Family: Continued
There are ongoing issues for the whole family: how to tell the child; what to tell the child; when to tell the child; how to deal with extended family members and neighbors; how to work with schools and professionals who have little or no experience with learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, attachment difficulties, and emotional difficulties in adopted children; and how to discuss adoption in general. Some of these difficulties may be more pronounced with certain kinds of adoptions, such as older-child adoptions, special needs adoptions, international adoptions, and sibling-set adoptions.
Things that birth families take for granted may pose serious dilemmas for adoptive families. One example is medical history. Physicians say that dealing with an adopted person can be like dealing with a coma victim, in the sense that critical and current family history information is often missing (and impossible to get in a closed adoption). The surgeon general has strongly urged that all individuals have a full and complete medical history. What about adoptive families? What about adopted people?
For older child adoptions, there are the recurrent posttraumatic symptoms and an ongoing need to understand the early life experiences, cognitive or precognitive. (All children placed at an older age have been involved in removal from their family by authorities if adopted in the United States, and all have suffered some abuse or neglect that led to their removal. Many internationally adopted older children experience similar abuse or neglect prior to adoption.) In adolescence, a variety of issues emerge for the adopted teen and the adoptive family. Adopted teens, like all adolescents, begin to scrutinize themselves more carefully. For the adopted person looking into the mirror, this may lead to the realization that he or she does not know another human being in the world who is genetically related to him or her. The fact of adoption complicates the issues of identity, sexuality, trust, self-esteem, and individuation, to name a few (Pavao, 1998, 2005).
As adolescence includes a search for identity, adoptive parents are often faced with the confusing task of how to help the child to integrate a complete sense of self when pieces of his or her heritage may be elusive, problematic, or even entirely missing.
Simultaneous with the adolescent’s search, the adoptive parents are often, subconsciously or consciously, dealing with issues of loss, wondering what their birth children would have been like, and about their preparation for their adopted child’s move toward adulthood, along with the intense and very normal but disturbing feelings about the loss of this child who will soon be an adult.
There are also effects on the adopted person and the family when the search for birth parents is undertaken. The search brings up issues of conflicting loyalties for the adopted person between the adoptive and birth parents. It also brings up fears and fantasies that are often difficult to manage for all involved.
It is important to note that although the search brings up difficult and painful issues, it is an integral part of the healing process of identity and intimacy, which is essential to making all these broken connections whole. Clinicians must understand the importance and the intricacies of the search and must recognize that it is a healing journey no matter what is found.
Adoption is an ongoing challenge, throughout the life cycle and beyond, affecting not only the past generations, but the ones to come as well. We are now learning that when adopted people choose not to search, their children—the next generation—often show patterns similar to an adopted person, and they often do the search on their own for their birth grandparents.
Let me conclude with a poem I wrote for adoptive parents that I give to them as a token of my love and care for the children in adoption and all their families by birth and by adoption.
You cannot change the truth
these are your children
but they came from somewhere else
and they are the children of those places
and of those people as well.
Help them to know all about their past
and all about their present
help them to know that they are from extended families
that they only have one parent or set of parents
but that they have more mothers and fathers
they have grandmothers, godmothers, birthmothers, mother countries, mother earth
they have grandfathers, godfathers, birthfathers and fatherlands
they have family by birth and by adoption
they have family by choice and by chance.
Childhood is short
they are our children to raise
they are our children to love
and then they are citizens of the world.
What we do to them creates the world that we live in.
Give them life.
Give them their truth.
Give them love.
Give them all that they came with.
Give them all that they grow with.
Your children do not belong to you
but they belong with you
you cannot keep them from what is theirs
but you can keep loving them.
You do not own your children
but they are your own
… with love to adoptive parents
From Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao