Somehow I missed this story about Anita Tedaldi until my friend Michelle mentioned it to me last week. Now I can't stop thinking about it. Ms. Tedaldi adopted a boy who was estimated to be under a year old, and was his mother for 18 months before she gave him up for adoption again. It is clear that he had special needs, the situation was difficult and her decision came at an emotional cost to her. I believe that. A lot of people think she is brave and admire her honesty. I am not among them.
There are several things about this story that are disturbing to me. Ms. Tedaldi and her husband have five biological daughters. Her military husband was also deployed, leaving her as the main caregiver to these 6 children. I question the adoption agency's decision to approve this adoption, given that D's special needs would require a lot of this mom who seemed to have her hands full already.
She admits that his physical and developmental problems (she tells us that his neurologist, social worker and pediatrician all told her he had come a long way) were not the real issue. She says he wasn't attaching to her.
According to Ms. Tedaldi
"I sought help and did some attachment therapy, which consisted of exercises to strengthen our relationship, mostly games because of D.’s age. He fell in my arms many times throughout the day, we sang songs, read books, repeated words while we made eye contact. We built castles and block towers and went to a mommy and me class"
She tells us that D's attachment problems were only half the story. As she explains.
"I also knew that I had issues bonding with him. I was attentive, and I provided D. with a good home, but I wasn’t connecting with him on the visceral level I experienced with my biological daughters. And while it was easy, and reassuring, to talk to all these experts about D.’s issues, it was terrifying to look at my own. I had never once considered the possibility that I’d view an adopted child differently than my biological children. The realization that I didn’t feel for D. the same way I felt for my own flesh and blood shook the foundations of who I thought I was. "
That is the part that kills me. That paragraph is what makes me cringe when people applaud Ms. Tedaldi for her courage and honesty. She is telling us that she gave up her son because she didn't feel for him what she wanted to feel. He was making progress. He was making eye contact and falling into her arms with the attachment therapy. He was a tiny boy, probably two years old at the time and he was doing his part. She was a grown woman and more importantly, his mother and she refused to do hers. If this exact same situation involved her biological child, would anyone talk of her honesty and admonish those who would judge her? Are adopted children optional in a family if they aren't working out as planned?
Leaving his home for the last time she shares the scene where his sisters would say goodbye their brother forever:
"My daughters were watching SpongeBob and said goodbye to their brother almost nonchalantly, as if he was just going out for a bit and would soon be back."
He was their brother. How could that have been goodbye?
When she said goodbye to D as he was going to his new family she writes this.
"I explained to him that he’d be joining his new family and that we loved him very much — that he had done nothing wrong"
If she loved him very much she should have fought harder, dug deeper, worked harder and continued to fight for this child. She should have put him before her feelings. She shouldn't have considered him optional. And if couldn't do those things, she should have, at the very least, shut off 'SpongeBob' and had his sisters say a proper goodbye.