So far, comments from 140 readers have appeared on my recent post about the adopted Ethiopian daughters of author Joyce Maynard. After 14 months, Maynard recognized that the adoption had failed and found a new home for the girls, ages 6 and 11.
Readers have expressed both condemnation and compassion after reading my article about Joyce Maynard's failed adoption. Some criticized me for my reference to "cutting her losses" in this passage:
As with many things in life (marriage/divorce for example) it is hard to know when to cut your losses. I don't mean to be glib about this, but it was apparently clear that she had made a horrible mistake, in which case I salute Maynard for recognizing that.
Below are selected readers' comments. In some cases I have pared down comments; in some others I have made minor spelling and grammar edits.
As always, I welcome further comments.
- I gave up my first-born child when I was 18, and this situation is far more similar to my own than it is different. As a young birthmother, though, I had 9 months to come to know that my child would be better off in a well-established, 2-parent family. There was no way for me to be a good parent when I was 18. Joyce Maynard did an amazing and courageous thing by going to Ethiopia to try to help two girls who, in all reality, faced the same fate as their mother. I applaud her selflessness and recognizing the reality that faced her. Whether or not the adoption was successful should not be judged based upon whether or not she became the "forever family" for these girls. The girls are with another family, they are together, and Joyce was instrumental in helping their lives to drastically improve. Why look for the negative here? I've read Joyce's books and she is a strong, intelligent, independent woman; there is no reason why she should have thought she was anything less than capable of caring for these sisters whose father no longer could. Moreover, I envy Joyce's willingness to live her life out loud - to subject herself to the opinions of others and allow them a voice regarding her actions.
- I am continuously amazed by the antics of American women who feel like they need to save the world by adopting a foreign child. Why not look around your own home town and give that love and nurturing care to someone who was born in this country?
- I think she did the right thing and it must have been hard to do. She had to know she would be judged. But until people actually know what occurred to make her decide to give up those girls, NO ONE should judge and criticize her. . . . So for those of you that judge so harshly, take the time to learn the facts first. You never really know how you might handle certain situations, until you are actually living in that person's shoes.
- I think that adoption is not like buying a car, you just don't trade them in because you're not happy.
- So in other words, the person who translated to the girls that Maynard was going to adopt them then sell them wasn't wrong.
- I've worked in the foster care system and I'm now an adoptive mom, so I understand the incredible challenges that can come with adoption. Ethically-sound adoption agencies prepare potential adoptive parents for the reality that adoption is PERMANENT. They also provide critical support and resources to parents during and after the adoption placement. I wonder if Maynard would've chosen to relinquish her biological children had she faced such challenges with them. Legally and morally, her adopted daughters are every bit as much her children as those she birthed.
- I also adopted a child and realized it was a grave mistake. My family did not bond with her. I was the only one who felt any attachment. I could not allow her to grow up in such a dysfunctional environment. I sought and found a beautiful large bi-racial family whom she bonded with and is adored and pampered as the baby of the family. I speak with her often and she is happy. I felt like a failure for a while and then realized I had done a beautiful thing for her. I was part of the larger picture. I helped get her out of her situation and found a wonderful family for her. I do not feel any shame anymore. I am proud of my role in her future. A future she did not have before.
- As an adoptive mom, I cannot judge another adoptive mom. I have read way too many stories & heard first hand on children with Reactive Attachment Disorder and the havoc and utter chaos they bring into a family. RAD doesn't get better without extensive therapy and even then, it may not work because some kids are too damaged. It is quite common for people outside the family to only see this charming sweet child while that 'sweet child' may actually be killing the family pets and threatening to kill the family. People, read up on Reactive Attachment Disorder!!!
- Hey it's the "in" thing amongst leftwing celebrities to adopt a black child from Africa. This one didn't work out and apparently she didn't want to pay a nanny to bring them up for her like other celebrities do when they don't want to care for them any longer.
- So, what went wrong? No time for the kids? In the way of her lifestyle?
- But honestly, there is a reason that women are most fertile in their teens and 20's. I'm 46 and I have a 13 year old and a 6 year old and I see a big difference in the level of energy I had with my oldest than I do with my youngest. I don't think this woman knew what she was in for in the best of situations, and then combine the issue of the daughters fearing that she was going to sell them is just a recipe for trouble. Some kids cannot bond with the adoptive parent and it can be a horrible situation for everyone involved. I think this woman tried to do a good thing but wasn't prepared for how difficult it was going to be.
- My husband and I adopted a child who was only 17 days old from the United States and raised him in an upper middle class home. We treated him as if he was our blood and when he became a teenager he put us thru hell and back. When he was 15 and going thru psychological therapy we found his family only to discover that his two biological brothers were just like him. Other people have wonderful experiences with adoption and then there was our case. We still love him and care for him but if we would have known back then how his genetics were we would not have adopted him. We are now raising his two sons that he and his ex-girlfriend left behind when they separated. Whether you adopt from out of the country or in the United States genetics plays a big part in your relationship. Sometimes there are attachment disorders that happen with adoptions and no matter what you do the connection of the parent to child will never be there. I think she did the right thing by finding a different family and don't blame her at all. Keep in mind also that the older children remember a lot and have what we call "baggage" that they carry with them.
- Despicable. She should have made preparations before she adopted. Instead she went with her unthinking, bleeding heart, and in the end she callously hurt the very people she was trying to help. And to the writer: Cutting her losses? We're talking about people here, not a poker hand. Don't gamble with kids' lives. Did she think she was adopting dogs?
- You don't know what behavioral problems she confronted - at least give her credit for not outing these kids as undesirable....
- I believe she did what she thought was best for her children. As a foster parent, I applaud her. You never know what REALLY goes on in a home. If she didn't think she could hack it, it's HER business!
- She could have chosen to support the family financially or arrange support otherwise (since the girls had brothers and a father) instead of traumatizing all of them further.
- If they were dangerous I doubt she would just be able to find them another home. "Here, can you please take my destructive, angry, emotionally detached children?" I do know that one of the reasons I didn't have children is because I knew that you don't get a warranty and can't just give them back if it doesn't work out for you. We do have a disposable culture and it's very, very sad.
- Joyce Maynard Adopted Two Girls From Ethiopia Then Gave Them Up
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- See my bio for links to my relationship articles, healthy recipes and more as well as to my blog, "Confessions of a Worrywart."