A few days ago I took some time to watch the movie Losing Isaiah. There was a certain sense of urgency as Netflix was about to take it off in order to make room for more movies. I first saw the movie at my grandparents house in Michigan. I remember renting it with my very own library card when I was 9 or 10 and watching it in the living room sprawled out on the very comfortable carpet. I remember being happy in the end that the baby was returned to his biological mother. However, this time I watched the movie with a different perspective. One that’s been informed by several years of being a social worker and working with families and kids. The movie brings up some interesting questions that are still relevant today. A mother abandons her baby in a trash can. The baby is born addicted to drugs because she used substance while pregnant. A kind social worker at the hospital he is transported to adopts him. She and her family raise him as her own. Meanwhile, the baby’s mother gets her life together after finally becoming sober and decides that she wants him back because he’s her child and she never received notice that her parental rights were being terminated. So there’s a lengthy court battle where bio-mother’s lawyer insists that black babies need to be with their black mothers. However, there is a marked difference between the income of biological mother versus that of the family that has adopted the child. The life that he lives with his adopted family is vastly different than the one that his bio-mother can finance. The movie ends with full custody being given to the bio-mother who soon realizes that she needs additional support so she reaches a hesitant agreement with her son’s adoptive mother. There are certain situations where I don’t think people should be allowed to have a do over. I don’t think that any child should be denied access to their family of origin but primary custody should have remained with the adoptive parents until the child was old enough to make a decision. I’ve met a good amount of parents who have adopted kids and then decided that they were too hard as a result decided to relinquish custody back to the state. I’ve worked with parents who have voluntarily given up custody of their children because they felt powerless and felt that their lives or the lives of the other children in the home were at risk. It’s a hard decision to make. My whole point is that kids shouldn’t be taken out of a loving, stable, and safe environment because their bio-parent decides that it’s for the best. There were other options that would have allowed Isaiah to stay where he was happy. Yes, children can be resilient and they can recover but there’s no need to inflict that trauma on a child and mess up his primary attachment so that he can be with a black parent. No reason. It’s cruel and unnecessary.
This is an article I came across recently that was fairly thought provoking to me. As a therapist, I’ve learned how to roll with the choices people make even if I may not personally choose to make those exact choices myself. No judgement. However, one thing I have not personally grown mature enough to understand (and maybe I’ll never be) the decisions that some people make when choosing the person they make a baby with and not make a judgment on their mental capacity. That being said, working at a job where I interact with children who have been abused has convinced me without a doubt that there are some people who should never ever ever be parents. I am of the opinion that some men make great fathers and other men make great husbands and that sometimes these two things do not go together. Don’t get me wrong, I think that there are some characteristics that both fathers and husbands should have that overlap with each other. But I think that the roles of a husband and that of an engaged, aware, and mature parent are different. The article is a little on the humorous side but it does make you think about the difference between a spouse and a parent. While selfishness in a marriage can cause problems, a selfish parent can negatively impact the life of the next generation. Communication between adults is different than communication with children. It’s not healthy to be enmeshed with a child in the same manner you are with a spouse. Totally different ballgame. Raising a child successfully without messing them up for life requires a different set of skills than having a relationship with another mature adult. It’s nice to have a great husband and it’s wonderful if a man is a good father, but it’s even better when a guy can be both at the same time.