I received an email from a reader asking me to address the problem of school aged adopted children stealing. My first question was: “Is theft more prevalent among adopted children than non-adopted children?
A close friend of mine who has worked in the education field for over 30 years told me that it is a ‘known fact’ that adopted children steal. This sent me on an internet search for studies supporting this theory. It was not to be found.
However I discovered a great source in Patty Cogen, adoption expert and author of “Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child,” explaining why an adopted child may steal:
Internationally adopted children feel more strongly and dramatically than other children the pressure to be good and do what is right; because deep down they still fear they did something wrong that resulted in their relinquishment. A child at this age cannot imagine an adult making a mistake, so the child concludes that he did something wrong and was indeed responsible for his own relinquishment. At this cognitive stage the child first blames the victim — himself. The weight of such a claim, and the shame that follows from it, is hard to bear, and so some children try to hide it by becoming perfectionists or “know-it-alls.” Or they resort to acting out their shameful image of themselves, engaging knowingly in lying, stealing, and disruptive or disrespectful behavior to prove they are really as bad as they feel.
During a service trip to Guatemala two years ago, I met Gersi Ordonez, a young woman whose face was disfigured and one eye blinded sometime during childhood, and who grew up with her twin sister in a Guatemalan orphanage. A team of physicians in Dallas will perform a series of surgeries over the next six months to reshape her face. Most of the work is being donated; other costs will be covered by the non-profit agency Orphan Outreach.
The recent large influx of young migrants from Guatemala has been the subject of heated debate among adoptive parents on one of the adoption chat boards to which I (and Lisa S.) belong. Someone posted a link to this article by Saul Elbein in The New Republic, “Guatemalans Aren’t Just Fleeing Gangs: The media misses what life there is really like.” The article is one of the best I’ve read anywhere. The piece encapsulates sentiments many of us have heard said by Guatemalans, from all strata of society.
Related to the Washington Post article about the documentary "When the Mountains Tremble," posted on July 8: I recently read a memoir titled Escaping the Fire that I recommend to anyone interested in Guatemala's armed conflict. It's a testimonial by an Ixil Evangelical pastor, Tomas Guzaro, as written by an American who has lived with her family for many years in Guatemala's Ixil region, Terri McComb. David Stoll contributed the book's Afterward.
A few months ago, a friend told me about a phenomenon founded by Ann Img called Listen To Your Mother, in which writers submit essays about any and all facets of motherhood or mothering, and read the pieces aloud on stages in 32 cities across the country. The official description is "A national series of orginal live readings shared locally on stages and globally via social media."
I submitted an essay about my mom, “My Mother, the Rockette,” and was thrilled when the organizers in my region, Kim Thompson Steel and Kirsten Nicholson Patel, chose me to read it for the May 2014 performance at the Brava Theater in San Francisco. The evening’s show, including my reading, is posted on on the Listen To Your Mother YouTube channel.