Tuesday Terms: Child Collector
This column will be the discussion of a term that is used in child welfare or adoption.
Child Collector is a provocative term that is used to label a person based on his or her behaviors, not the size of their family. In other words, parents of large families do not get labeled in this manner unless they are exhibiting these behaviors. Child Collectors endanger children by putting them at risk for neglect and abuse. This definition is important to understand before we delve into the subject of dealing with difficulties of adoptive parenting and the help some adoptive parents are seeking (and that many adoptive parents should be seeking, but aren’t). Sometimes, adoptive parents reach out to a child collector as the last resort to provide respite or re-home when no other support option is available or affordable.
Focuses on adding to the family above stabilizing and effectively rearing the current children in the family. Purposefully adding to an adoptive family when the family dynamic is not stable or effective will harm both the current and new members. This behavior includes spending umpteen hours online looking for another child instead of tending to the ones already in the house. The child’s needs should be the focus, not the collector’s desires.
Expects older children to assume the primary care of the younger children when either the older or younger children are not stabilized. Asking a child to assume the bulk of therapeutic parenting skills is unconscionable.
Allows children with known traumatic and abusive backgrounds or those at risk of having traumatic and abusive backgrounds to share bedrooms with other children. Physical and sexual abuse can and will occur. When it does, families are destroyed and children further harmed.
Has a number of adoptees in the household that exceed the capacity of the parents to individually attend to the stabilization and treatment needs of the adopted children. Most foreign countries and many foster care agencies have limitations to the number of children in the household for a reason. They want a good outcome for the already at-risk child that they are allowing you to raise.
Does not consider the size of their home relative to the number of children they are raising. These families think it is just fine to put children on a porch or other room that is not an actual bedroom just so they can accommodate more children.
Does not concern themselves with adopting out of birth order. The old concern about this was whether or not the older child would feel strange being placed in a home with younger kids or whether or not the current elder child would feel bad having that position in the family change. The new concern involves the risk of older children that have a traumatic and abusive background being adopted, thereby giving them a dominating position to abuse the younger children. Again, this has happened manytimes and devastates the family and community. This is a taboo subject that we will have a lot more to say about.
Has a martyr/savior complex. This means that the adoptive parent feels that they can handle any number of children with any amount of issues because they are “saving” the children. The idea of “saving” is put ahead of the actual responsibility to the child.
Does not seek to understand or deal with racial issues because she is focused on her feelings about being a large “rainbow” family rather than how the child feels ina large “rainbow” family.
Excuses or discounts any reports of unethical behavior or trafficking of children in various countries from which children can be adopted, as the act of collecting is more important to the collector than whether or not the child is a legal orphan.
For those that exhibit the above behaviors, there are some additional characteristics that put children at risk:
Home-schooling the children. This keeps the prying and concerned eyes of school officials and child protective services away from any problems in the home. This is not a sweeping judgment of home-schooling, only its use as a tool to keep children isolated, as well as to keep neglect and abuse hidden.
Living in a rural or isolated area. As with home-schooling, this living situation makes it more difficult to have any oversight over the family or identify abuse or neglect that may be occurring.
Moving from county to county or state to state. Collector families have been known to move once child welfare officials begin to investigate.
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