As an adoptee, the news about the Hart mothers driving themselves and their 6 adopted kids off a cliff last week hits really close to home.
So much about this situation grieves me:
- An authority decided these mothers were the best placement for 2 separate groups of vulnerable children on 2 separate occasions. The second placement happened AFTER allegations of abuse were found to be true.
- The women isolated themselves and removed their family from the public eye as much as possible.
- They placed themselves and their family in positions that held up their facade of being a social-justice-driven, happy clan.
- Their friends, acquaintances, and neighbours felt like something was off, but most of them avoided pursuing it because it didn’t align with their idea of who they believed the Hart mothers to be.
- The children were regularly showing signs (and in some cases, even verbalizing it to people they thought might help) of abuse and neglect.
But the thing that gets to me the MOST, is the facade they kept up, and how that facade is what prevented so many people from coming forward. “But they were such a nice family. They adopted those poor kids and saved them from drug-addicted moms. They grew their own vegetables and attended political protests in the name of love!”
And that is exactly the problem with the saviour complex in adoption. We’re so busy praising these “selfless” adoptive parents that we’re missing the abuse. The lenses we’ve put on that positions adopters as sacrificial do-gooders is the very lens that is allowing warning signs to be missed.
I’m an example of this.
My mom abused me physically and emotionally. She regularly hit me on the bare bottom with a belt when I misbehaved. She ignored me. She didn’t play with me or volunteer at my school or take me to the library even though she was a stat-at-home-mom. She neglected guiding me about hygiene and reproduction. She lied about my past, my birth family, and my heritage and kept vital information hidden from me. She gaslights me continuously. She plays the victim if I try to approach her about anything. She uses her facade of sickness and fragility to garner an army of soldiers around her who will defend her and her lies, and who threaten and attack me for speaking out about the abuse. And my dad? He has stood by for the entirety of my life and let all of this happen. (She has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which is devastatingly common in adoptive mothers.)
But no one knew about the abuse and neglect, because all they chose to see was what a “nice” family we were from the outside, and surely someone doesn’t selflessly adopt a child and then abuse and neglect it.
Actually, they do. Lots of people do. More and more adoptees are speaking out about being abused in the very homes that were supposed to protect them and help them heal.
Many adoptees were taken from abusive situations, only to end up in another abusive situation.
But see, our lenses are adjusted to see abuse when it’s a young, single, alcoholic mother. Her children should be taken from her. She’s not a fit mother.
We don’t see the abuse when it’s a nice, white, Christian, married couple who “lovingly” opened their home to an unwanted child. Oh, that’s so nice! John and Martha adopted that poor little baby girl. You know, I heard her birth mother was a drug addict. Oh, she is just so lucky to have a nice family now.
You’ve heard it. Maybe you’ve thought it. Maybe you’ve said it.
We need to change our lenses. Kids who are already vulnerable are being hurt. Kids who were already abused are being abused even more. Kids who deserve a home that will protect them and help them heal are being put in homes where they are being victimized further. Kids with trauma and wounds are being placed with people who not only ignore those things, but deny their existence.
We can’t prevent it all. But this heart-wrenching story tells me we can do more. We can do better. And we must.