As an adoptive parent and an adoption professional who works in the foster care system, I have been very interested in the case of "baby" Veronica since it's inception almost four years ago. I have followed the ins and outs, ups and downs. I've read articles, court briefs, and blog posts. I don't watch TV news and in a way I think that may be a good thing here. I have no preconceived notions about either party based on their demeanor or media slant based on what network aired the interview(s).
It has been a challenge, even without TV, to get an unbiased synopsis of the case from day one. Folks on both sides elicit sympathy from many. The Capobiancos lost a child they thought of as their daughter after raising her for almost two years. Dusten Brown is now faced with the same fate. Yet, at the heart of all this is a small girl. An innocent child. Who speaks for her?
As far as I can tell, there has been very little to this point which alludes to Veronica's best interest. What are her rights here? Who speaks for what is best for her?
When we become parents, no matter whether through natural birth or adoption, or even when a grandparent or other relative raises a child, our lives are turned completely around. Suddenly life is no longer about us. It is all about the child we have now been gifted with to raise, cherish, and care for. The saying, "it's like walking around with your heart on your sleeve," could not be more true. As I watch my own children grow and live their own lives I can't help but want to follow them everywhere and make every decision for them. Any hurt that may come to them makes me want to run in to rescue them. I suddenly become more like a crazed irrational animal than a human mother. It can get scary, I tell you.
Perhaps this is why it has been so hard for me to understand why Veronica's hopeful adoptive parents have taken things as far as they have. At what point do you do what is in a child's best interest and sacrifice your own heart? As an adoptive parent I understand their pain. I know what it's like to wait... and wait. To long for a child in your home. To literally ache waiting for someone to fill the tiny crib you've so painstakingly assembled. I too, know what it's like to love a child not born to you. I know that my heart, even if not pumping with blood laced with the same DNA as my children's, is all theirs. I wouldn't stop from running in front of a million bullets or ten million charging bulls to keep them safe and happy.
No matter what "the law" may say what is actually the right thing to do? Is it about "winning" or is it about what is best for a child? I cannot imagine the torment of being without either of my children. But I also cannot imagine exposing them to further trauma. It is a verifiable fact that moving Veronica from one family to another will be nothing less than traumatic for her. No amount of "transfer planning" or love will diminish this fact.
Years of research and of following children who have experienced the loss of family and multiple moves have shown us that these kids live with the scars for years and years. (I could cite a bunch of studies here, but just do a basic search for adoption grief or multiple placements in foster care.) It is important to note that "multiple moves" does not have to mean a certain number. Each and every move from a child's "home" has an effect on them. I am certain that Veronica experienced this trauma with her first move from the only home she had known. But this cannot be undone now. Is it right to subject her to further hurt?
I do not claim to know every single facet of this case. What I do know is quite a bit about child welfare and adoption. I am no expert. I do not claim to be. I don't want to debate who did what wrong and when. There have been errors and mistakes committed on both sides. There is no doubt that people on both sides of this debate (or debacle) love this child.
So what is my point? My point is that there needs to be some element of what is best for Veronica interjected into this debate. She is a person, not a plaything to be tossed back and forth. She has needs and wants. She has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness just as we all do. She needs someone to put her first. She deserves a best interest hearing at the very least.
I beseech the Capobiancos to search their own hearts, too. If you love this child will you make the choice to let her go? Can you imagine doing what may actually be best for her which is leaving her right where she is? There has been no proof that she is not healthy, happy and well cared for. Is there a real reason besides your happiness that would prevent her from being raised by her biological family? Just because we can do something doesn't always mean that we should. Another trauma in this child's life does not serve her best interest.
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