Don’t. Don’t not read them to make a point.
Okay, that is one thought.
I follow a handful of pages on Facebook that share foster care stories, and many of them are lovely. Every now and then, I see one that is seemingly lovely, and may even hype up the inspirational side of things, but that leaves me with an awkward feeling at the end of it. Most recently, the story was about how the parents refused to read their children’s file until finalization, for fear they would back out.
To some extent, I get it. I really do. My children came to me from a previous placement and the things the previous placement told me about them proved to be untrue but they made me want to turn around and run the other way. These things were not even necessarily bad, but hit on a few areas that I did not think I could deal with, due to my situation and personality. The fear that came from their careless and ignorant words was enormous. And I acted on that fear and initially said no. Fortunately, I got another (multiple?) changes to say yes. By the time we reached adoption paperwork, there was nothing in the file that was really news to me.
My memories of the adoption process are blurry. It flew, absolutely flew, and was a flurry of documents signed and scanned back and forth. I skimmed the wording of some of them the other day, after that story bothered me. Hadn’t I legally stated that I had read their contents? It was a very brief skimming and all I found was that maybe I had only signed that the agency had provided me these things, in writing. To be honest, I didn’t care enough to go through them with a fine tooth comb to determine the legality of signing and not reading. The story shared was likely not even in my county.
Also, regardless of any legal language, and regardless of all the fuzzy feelings a story like this invokes, I’m not on board the fauxspirational train that thinks this is impressive. I don’t think ignorance is impressive or touching. By the time we approached legalization, there was nothing that would have deterred me. After two years together, the paperwork likely isn’t going to tell me anything new, and at that point, it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. Our situation was different. And I know every situation is different.
But I don’t think it shows dedication or commitment to ignore a case file until it’s “too late.” I don’t think it is commendable. In my mind, feels more commendable, though not as appealing or easy to tie up in religious language, to stare everything in the face and say yes.
Your children didn’t have the option of not reading it (they lived it). Your children didn’t have the option of choosing your family. This just feels so complicated and problematic, in a situation that is already that way. I’m trying to sort out all of the reasons it bothers me and I’m not sure I can’t. but I keep coming back to, if it wouldn’t have changed anything, why not?
I understand being afraid of fear. I get it. I have anxiety about my anxiety. But something about this just rings so false to me. I can’t like it. I can’t find it impressive. I’m not touched by the story. I find it unsettling.
I had to sign some paperwork that hit right up against things that aren’t true. I literally had to sign a paper that said, no, I cannot adopt without a subsidy. And while that may be financially true because that is the only way I’m affording childcare, nothing about that statement is accurate. Given no other choice, I absolutely would have adopted without a subsidy. We would live in a box. We would live with my parents. We would eat ramen noodles. But we would do it. The alternative would have been worse.
I could have made a point with that box. I could have checked yes, never mind, we’ll eat ramen noodles, who needs daycare?, it’s a leap of faith!… but my family is worth more than that. It was a greater leap of faith for me to trust the (often very broken) process and believe everyone who told me everything would still move forward and this way, I would afford daycare. That no one would sit in an office and shake their head at me and say, “never mind, we’ll find someone else who isn’t this greedy. NEXT.”
I don’t believe it is worth it to make a point.
Our story has enough inspiration and enough beauty without manipulating it to create more. I have actively fought against some of it because I see how these things are crafted and manipulated to have meaning and a sense of “meant to be.” I have refused to say those words. I have refused to say those words only to have other, more unlikely individuals say them. I have told factual accounts of “on this date, this thing happened!” with as little emotion and as much flippancy as I could muster because I do not want to be manipulating anybody into thinking this is some beautiful and epic Hallmark movie. And they’ve still gotten chills. It makes me super uncomfortable. I was not trying to invoke them.
So I guess this is what I am saying:
Don’t not read your children’s history.
Let the thing be as beautiful and broken as it is, without artistic license, and trust that that is enough.