The Stauffer family has recently come under the media’s attention after they announced on their YouTube channel that they had chosen to rehome their adopted son. People on social media expressed their pushback, flooding the channel with comments expressing their anger and shock.
People had no idea rehoming existed.
Rehoming is a process where a child is adopted by a different family after the initial adoption is deemed as failed. So how does this happen?
Adoptive parents place expectations on the adoptee and whether these are conscious or subconscious, these expectations are often hard for child to meet. Imagine being thrown into a foreign home and new environment and be expected to mesh with the rest of the family with ease.
Easier said than done.
When this transition doesn’t go as smoothly as planned, adoptive parents often become frustrated, exhausted and disconnected with their child. As a result, some decide to pursue the rehoming process.
There are organizations dedicated to finding children their new forever homes, such as Second Chance Adoptions. Children’s pictures are displayed like a want ad where people scroll through photos and press the like button to show their interest. It feels like a dehumanizing operation with a stark similarity to perusing an adoption website for animals.
The language used by adopters when making the decision to rehome, removes the responsibility off of them and places it onto the adoptee.
“We can’t provide everything that this child deserves.”
“We have done everything we can and have agreed a new home will be better.”
“There are unforeseen behavior issues that we don’t have the capacity to take care of.”
Parents feel discouraged or stuck. They believe there is no other way out than to find a different family for the child: they have given up.
Rehoming is necessary in rare circumstances when the child’s wellbeing is at stake. But, apart from the few justified cases, it is synonymous with giving up. Rehoming is a tragic practice within the adoption world that perpetuates irreversible trauma for the adoptee. It reiterates to the child that they are unwanted, unlovable and a burden.
Adoptees are human beings and not commodities to just dispose of when it becomes inconvenient. Each child deserves a family that will not walk away when things get hard and uncomfortable.
We are not your regret or your mistake.
In order for rehoming to decrease, there is need for significant change. Support groups, extended trauma education for adoptive parents and forums that involve adoptees and former foster youth are all ways to bring more awareness to the complexities of adoption. Everyone needs to work together. Adoptees and adopters need to listen, learn and advocate as one, for the betterment of the child.
Adoption is hard. It is complicated. Adoption always begins with loss and trauma, even though it may appear beautiful and full of hope. As we know, children don’t come with a handbook for navigating through the unknowns. It is scary and frustrating trying to figure it all out. It is okay to ask for help and it is okay to feel hopeless, but it is not okay to give up.
Don ‘t let go of us.