Thursday, April 16, 2009

Adoption Meeting

The blog is going slowly, I know. I'm trying to stick to adoption issues and, occasionally, work stuff for filler. Otherwise, I'd be putting up lots of posts about politics, links to things like this video of a robot which solves Rubik's Cubes in which the newscaster asserts that a cube has five sides and that the robot's best solve time (26 seconds) is "almost double" the fastest human time (10 seconds). I weep for humanity.

Or, I would be linking other videos like this one, which I've watched a dozen times today and it makes me cry and smile and I love it. I'm still weeping for humanity, but in a completely different way.

We had a meeting at the adoption agency yesterday. We went back over our opening checklist. The difficult part is that the goal is to be "open" with the agents, but it felt like everything we said just opened us up to misunderstanding. It went like this:

Agent: You've signed the agreement not to use corporal punishment, and you've been to the classes that have talked about discipline methods. Could you talk about how you were disciplined growing up and what your philosophy is with regards to discipline?

Me: I remember when my father announced that he'd decided that spanking was just teaching children that it's acceptable to hit when you're angry, and he wasn't going to do it anymore, and my first thought then was: "why did he wait until now, when I'm eight and too old to spank anyway, to figure that out?" I can see the rationale for a corrective light swat on a pre-reasoning bottom, but I think that, even if there weren't all the other reasons for not using corporal punishment on a fost/adopt, spanking a child over the age of reason is correction through humiliation, and that's a bad idea under any circumstances.

When we talk about discipline, the thing that I keep in mind is that it isn't possible to really "control" a child. A teenager, especially, is going to hit a moment when it occurs to him that there's not really a lot their parents can do to them, and what they can do might be a small price to pay for whatever it is the teen wants to do (I remember clearly when I had that delicious revelation). Children are autonomous beings, and it's up to parents to guide them by building a relationship in which parents' guidance and opinions are valued (or at least complied with because it's such a hassle otherwise...) And that works and it lasts - I still can't stand the idea of disappointing my dad. The important thing is to avoid overreaching the bounds of parental authority, because the inevitable result of that is that the parent either becomes a tyrant or a figure of ridicule or both.

And we have theories, not children, and we'll probably laugh our asses off a year from now at these theories, but for right now, that's where we're coming from. Use a light touch, build the relationship, horse whisperer stuff.

Agent: OK, but you understand that these kids might be 15 years old but emotionally aged 4, so they can't really make good decisions for themselves?
And everything was like that. Except for the part when we told them that what we really wanted was a kid with ropy muscles, good for "working the farm." They asked about what experience we had with kids and one of the things we told them about was the open houses we did in 2003-2006. I was going back to school at VCU and we made dinner for whoever showed up one night a week. Told a few kids at school about it the first time, and they came, and then they told two people, and they told two people, and it went on like that. There was somebody every week who we'd never met before, and we still keep in touch with some of the regulars. Met their parents when the 'rents were in town. Good kids, for the most part. We enjoyed having them around.

Still no firm news on the house situation. The house we'd like to buy has been re-listed at the same excessive price. We're getting close to the point where we're ready to make an offer, but we're not quite there yet.

1 comment:

  1. i think you'll appreciate this. tonight i got home after drinking a little too much, collapsed in bed, read a couple blogs including balloon juice, started reading the comment section and was intrigued by a couple of comments someone made so i clicked on the link.

    It took me to your blog and i read your this post and clinked on the link that you've "watched a dozen times today." And it was really really sweet. It put me in a very nice mood as i was about to fall asleep. But i had CNN on and i heard David Gergen comment on the release of the memos today. And he talked about, well, how, you know, the US hadn't a terrorist attack like 9/11 before and people were scared and the government had to protect them... and so, you know, it's understandable that they tortured people....

    So i lost my nice mood.... too bad.

    thanks for the link though....really.