Shattered Dreams--Lonely Choices: Birthparents of Babies with Disabilities Talk about Adoption

Shattered Dreams--Lonely Choices: Birthparents of Babies with Disabilities Talk about Adoption

Shattered Dreams--Lonely Choices: Birthparents of Babies with Disabilities Talk about Adoption

Shattered Dreams--Lonely Choices: Birthparents of Babies with Disabilities Talk about Adoption

Synopsis

Joanne Finnegan shares her personal experience and that of several families she interviewed who, like herself, explored options other than raising their child with a disability. Parents express with candor the overwhelming pain they felt when receiving "the news," the frustration when searching for options, the "no-win" feeling of decision making, the resolve with a final decision, and finally, life after the decision. Parent quotes also address issues such as spiritual dilemmas and interactions with friends, family, their other children, and medical professionals. Words of advice for new parents include how to build support systems and gather information, how to search for an adoptive family, and arranging the details of communication between adoptive and birth parents. Interviews with adoptive parents, poetry, and extensive resource lists complete the book.

Excerpt

In April 1988, my husband and I gave birth to a son with Down syndrome. At one time the doctors would have told us to institutionalize him, but now it was implied that we had only one choice -- to take him home and love him. My husband asked about adoption. The responses from the medical personnel varied from helpful to condemning. In my state of devastation, I felt that I wouldn't be able to face friends or family if we "gave away" our baby.

We took Brian home because that seemed to be what we were expected to do. Our pediatrician put us in touch with parents raising children with Down syndrome, but we found it difficult to "buy" the rosy pictures these families painted. We had both grown up with siblings with disabilities. We had a toddler at home. We knew patenting was not the bed of roses that these parents seemed to portray.

We arranged for counseling about adoption. We kept asking to talk to others like ourselves who had considered adoption, but we were told time and time again that there were no others like us and "even if there were, they probably wouldn't want to talk about it."

I wanted desperately to help our son fit into our family, but I had grave doubts about the future implications for us as individuals and as a family. I searched and searched for information about adoption. I wanted questions answered. Do parents -- good parents -- "give up" babies? Do marriages survive afterwards? How do you explain to your other children? How do you explain to other people? Were we the "only" parents in the world who didn't think we could parent our baby?

I remembered reading a magazine article about a family who had adopted a child with Down syndrome. If there were families who adopted these children, then there must be parents out there somewhere who had made an adoption plan for their baby. Finally, after . . .

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