Monday, November 3, 2014

Giving them up?

Then said the king, The one saith, This is my son that liveth, and thy son is the dead: and the other saith, Nay; but thy son is the dead, and my son is the living.
And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king.

And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.

Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it.

Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof.
I Kings 3

I often read the blog "Red Thread Broken" because, as I think I've mentioned, I find her posts thought-provoking even when I don't (ahem) entirely agree with her.

Consider the case of siblings (even twins) separated and adopted to different families, perhaps in different countries*.  At some point, the families find out what happened: "Hey!  Our child has a brother / sister living in ---!"

What ought the parents to do?  Should they:
1.  Keep mum about it and never let their child know about the other sibling(s)?
2.  Tell the child about the sibling(s)... at some point?
3.  Take immediate steps to put the children into regular contact with each other including such frequent visits as can be arranged?
4.  Decide which family gives up their child(ren) to the other family so that all the siblings can live together?
RTB and several of the commenters on her site choose option (4).

Needless to say, I don't agree.  Is this... um... disinclination... to be (hypothetically!) parted from my daughter mere selfishness on my part?  I don't think so, unless one chooses to consider love as nothing more than a special brand of selfishness. 

I have come to understand why a parent may feel compelled to give up a child for the child's own good.  For example, a parent may be faced with the reality that he can't afford vital medical care or even food for a child and determine that giving the child to somebody who can afford it is in the child's best interests.  However, is it in the child's best interest to live with his / her sibling(s) even if this means severing ties with yet another set of caregivers?  When dealing with the immediate health of the child, best interests are pretty clear.  But when dealing with long-term, more nebulous emotional issues, I think that the situation is a great deal more opaque.

While I think that it would be best for sibling groups NOT to be split up, this can and does happen.  Expecting people to give up their children in order to reunite siblings, it seems to me, is not only asking the impossible of the parents, but is also harmful for the children.  By all means, the children should know about and communicate with each other.  They should see each other as often as possible.  But re-adoption?  No.


(*) For example:

Samantha Futerman and Anais Bordier

Anna Kandl and Ella Cuares

Lily MacLeod and Gillian Shaw

Emilie Falk and Lin Backman

Bao Lulin and Yang Yangfei

Meredith Grace Rittenhouse and Meredith Ellen Harrington


  1. To be honest, when I started reading your post, option #4 never even came to mind. I shrink back even at the thought of a parent giving up their child so that siblings can be together. That's placing the relationship of sibling above the relationship with parent. I would think that causing added abandonment issues to a child so that they can keep a sibling (that they may or may not have even known in the orphanage!) is a disservice to the child. I've read some children's files who state they have siblings in the system but rarely see the siblings or never see them. This is probably the case with a lot of the children who have been adopted. Why cause additional trauma of separating the child from the parent they've attached to?

    1. That's much how I see it, too.

    2. They didn't have to be removed from the home after a connection had been formed. The families thought the girls were twins before the adoptions were finalized. Of course that sibling bond that existed before birth had a greater hold on the girls while their parents were still strangers to them, and that sibling relationship should have been respected. Additionally, a split custody arrangement could have been made. Of course these aren't convenient for the parents, but that is the sacrifice the parents should have been willing to make since, after all, adoption is about the children NOT the parents.

    3. I don't think it's that easy. What were the parents to do? They kept in touch, they did a DNA test. It was six months before they knew for certain. And then what follows? Should one family give up a daughter? Which one? Who decides? On what basis? And if not outright give up, then what? Should parents ship their very young daughter off to a foreign country to live for months at a time with people who are effectively strangers to them? Most parents are a bit wary of sending their child to a sleepover three streets over. What do the Hansens and the Hauglums really know about each other? Their values? Their views on the care and discipline of children?

      I'd say that the parents did - are doing - all that can reasonably be expected.

    4. I respectfully disagree that adoption is only about the children. I think it's about both parents and children, bringing them together into a family unit. I think both parents and children should be considered when making decisions.