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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I need some advice from adoptive parents. I have a very close friend who is about to adopt a newborn (due any day). They have been trying to have a baby or adopt for the last 5 years and are overjoyed..as am I. The only thing is that the biological father has requested that the baby be circ'd so he will "look like him". I know my friend does not want to circ...but she also does not want to "rock the boat" as the parents have a grace period in which they can change their minds about giving their son up for adoption. They are covered by Medicaid and in the state they are in circ is covered. Does anyone have any advice for ways they may be able to approach the bio parents in a respectful way letting them know they don't want to circ?
 

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Being a part of the adoption triad (child, first parents, and adoptive parents) is nuanced and important and hard work.<br><br>
Conversations about expectations can be tough but are valuable, and the foundation can be placed in this conversation for the future of how disagreements in the relationship will be handled. I personally prefer an open and honest relationship. Though our adoption was through foster care, we were in conversation with a couple about two years ago (ds was already with us in foster care as a pre-adoptive placement), as they were seeking an adoptive placement for their baby. They did not want their child to be vaccinated. I have never been 100% on board with all vaccinations (I grew up with Mothering magazine...what can I say), but I wasn't sure yet that I could commit to no vaccinations EVER. But even though I knew this might be a bottom-line deal breaker for them, I was honest and told them so. I said I needed more time to research all vaccinations before making decisions about each one. I said I was committed at minimum for a delayed vaccination schedule, and that they could be assured I would make an informed and thoughtful choice.<br><br>
Looking back, I can be sure I would not have vaccinated their child (after ds' adoption, we stopped all vaccinations and haven't done any yet since that time), but I felt it was important to be clear at the time on where I stood. They deserved my loving communication of my honest intentions. In the end they said they wanted us as their baby's parents but then decided to choose another couple but, at least in terms of how they explained it, for other reasons (they didn't mention the vaccine issue when they told us about their change of mind).<br><br>
One way to start the conversation might be, "I know you have mentioned circumcision, and I have been thinking about it and researching it. I am feeling really uncomfortable with the idea" and explain as gently and non-judgmentally and honestly as possible the reasons: "I am uncomfortable with the idea of an elective, cosmetic surgery for such a little baby," or "I have been researching the matter and have some concerns," or "I worry about the risks of electing for an optional surgical procedure for a little baby," or "I don't feel like we should make this decision for the baby. I am hoping he will make the decision for himself when he was older," or "I’d like to discuss this more with his pediatrician once he is born and we are sure he is healthy and doing well," or "my husband is not circumcised and I think it will be less confusing for him if they look the same," or whatever.<br><br>
It is important to have this discussion now, to avoid misunderstandings, confusion, hurt feelings, etc. in all the emotion post-birth. This isn't going to get simpler in the hospital. The timing of the circumcision may or may not mean that the paperwork will have been signed, that the birthmother will still be in the hospital, that the period for changing minds has passed. But avoiding difficult conversations until they arise and decisions are necessary will be much harder on everyone.<br><br>
Now I want to say something that is difficult to say, and even more difficult to hear. Before I say it, let me say that I am a mommy who waited a very long time for my children. There were many, many heartbreaks along the way. So I have such tremendous compassion for this couple, and mean the following in the most loving sense possible:<br><br>
This baby is not theirs yet. Until the adoption is finalized, the parents of this baby are his biological mother and father. As unfair as it may be, five years of trying and heartbreak do not entitle the adoptive couple to *anything*...not even to this baby who they are expecting. It is really, really important that adoptions not be coerced in any way, including by with-holding information that the birthparents consider important as they make their decisions. It is important to give space for the possibility of mind-changing, to refrain from pressure of any kind, and to respect them enough to give them the time they want with their child as they face the finality of the decision before them. As hard as it is, your friend needs to know that she may or may not be having a baby. Yes, she is expecting. Of course she is thrilled and invested. But right now, she is expecting a child that is not hers. It may be a cruel truth for her, but it is the truth. And here's the thing: lack of circumcision by itself would not be the kind of thing one might expect to push a child's parents to reject an adoptive placement for their baby. If the boat can be rocked this easily, then perhaps there are other reasons the baby's parents are considering parenting their own child or choosing another placement. If this is the case, to manipulate the situation is only a form of coercion. And coercive adoption-- except when parental rights are terminated by the courts to protect a child from danger-- is not good for babies, and ultimately not for either first or adoptive parents.<br><br>
Your friend is probably feeling very vulnerable right now, and I don't blame her. This is one of the hardest times to come up against the realities of adoption. I don't know if she could hear this right now or not. But it is no less important even if it is difficult to face.<br><br>
With a loving heart,<br>
Sierra<br>
(Foster mom and mom to ds, who was adopted at 13 months after 13 months with us in foster care, and to dfd, who we may be adopting)<br><br><br>
Edited to add P.S. ds is not circumcised. It was strange because even though we had no legal right to make the decision (he was still our foster babe), we were asked by three different docs (two in the special care nursery, and ds' first ped) if we wanted to circ him. We said "no, we don't" and also explained that it would probably require a court approval to do so since it was a medical procedure.<br><br>
ds' birthparents did not seem to have a preference either way, and both have seen me change plenty of his diapers over the last few years (and also changed a few on their own), neither ever commenting on it. ds' first social worker and at least one of his (biological) grandmothers, however, seemed to have a crazy attachment to the idea of him being circumcised, but it never came to them getting involved in that decision. Both grandmothers still were two strong supporters of us adopting ds. And now, the grandmothers are way over the whole circumcision thing <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">.
 

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I think the prior poster had some great ideas on communication. Frankly, for me this would be a deal breaker. I could not spend the rest of my life knowing I had allowed a child to be mutilated. Perhaps this would mean I could not raise this child. That would be something I would have to live with. Maybe if the bio parents saw how adamant I was about this issue, it would help them understand the gravity of the procedure. Maybe it wouldn't. But I could not live with it knowing what I had allowed to happen.<br><br>
There are some good articles here about all the consequences to "amputating the foreskin" Perhaps if these articles were shared with the biological parents they may be enlightened. Especially if the dad reads about the negative sexual consequences. I know of a baby that lost all sexual function because of this. There are documented cases of babies losing the entire penis and, in very rare cases, of dying. These extreme incidents may be rare, but even one is beyond criminal.<br><br>
I used to work in the ICU nursery. We did a lot of horrible things to babies to keep them alive. Although I always refused to participate in elective mutilation, the screams of the babies filled the halls and were worse than any of the painful things we did to keep them alive. Back then babies were very rarely given anesthetics when the foreskin was peeled off. The screams were worse than anything I have ever heard.<br><br>
Every job I ever had in a nursery I always got dinged on my performance evaluations for refusing to participate in these events. Good for me. I also talked a lot of people out of doing them. What is important is to not use the pointed language I have here (at least not at first.) I consider this to be child abuse and human rights violations. Using those terms doesn't do much to convince people not to do it. However, giving them a long list of facts about the negative consequences usually does. If the dad still wants him to look like him (the most selfish reason out there,) perhaps asking if he lost his arm in an accident would he want that to be done electively to the baby. Probably not an effective question, but a valid one.<br><br>
Do research the articles here. Be careful which ones you choose. Some are so strong that even I was overwhelmed by them. I mean the language. They were more pointed than I've been.
 

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If the baby is being born in the hospital, the adoptive parents don't get a say. Until the birthparents sign relinquishment papers, the child is fully legally theirs. And, relinquishment papers are typically signed at the END of the hospital stay.<br><br>
The hospital staff will ask the birthparents whether they want the child circ'd or not. When they say yes, he will be.<br><br>
Rather than the adoptive parents trying to explain to the birthparents why they don't want to honor their request, they need to understand that on this one, the power is on the other shoe. They need to request the birthparents NOT have him circ'd or accept that until he is their own, they can't make the decisions. I don't necessarily mean theirs as in a judge signs the papers, or even that the revocation period is over. I mean that at birth, the child is not theirs and the parents are not yet birth-parents. In the hospital, the child legally belongs to the couple who gave birth and whose names will go on the original birth certificate. ALL medical decisions are at the descretion of the birth-parents in the hospital. If they are gracious enough to allow the potential adoptive parents have a say and voice, then that is more than most birth-parents provide.<br><br>
The potential adoptive parents need to have an honest and encouraging discussion with the potential birth-parents on why they do not want this child circ'd. But, when its all said and done, they are going to have to accept that this is one of the issues you face when you adopt. There are things you don't get to decide for yourself and this is one of them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I think my friend is very aware that this baby is not "hers" yet...and believe me - they feel anything but entitlement towards this baby and situation. The bio parents did not want to give the baby up, but are in a position that is forcing them to make the enormous and difficult decision. My friend is not coercing them in any way. They are going through an agency and were chosen by the bio parents to adopt their son. I completely understand how difficult it must be on both sides...but I also feel like my friend should also not be pressured into circing when she disagrees with it just for the vanity of the bio father. I do agree with being up front and as honest as possible. It seems to me that if the bio parents do change their mind about the adoption that they could choose to circ then. But...I am approaching this from a humble place because I do not have the experience that you all have with the adoption process...and I don't know the details of how it works with handing the baby over, when it happens after the birth, and how it's done. I was just hoping there could be some way to bridge the gap and have some clear discussion about such a contentious topic and decision.
 

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I think you have misunderstood what I am saying. Circing is done in the hospital. The hospital will ask the parents when the child enters the hospital. Unless the parents have stated they would prefer for the adoptive parents to make the choice, the parents who give birth to the child will make the choice on whether to circ or not. Unless the potential birth-parents concede to what the potential adoptive parents want, legally there is NO choice for the adoptive parents to make. The hospital will follow whatever choice the birthparents make and sign for, regardless of the desires of the adoptive parents.<br><br>
Usually, there is a relationship where the birth parents are looking to take into account what the adoptive parents want when the child is born. But, not always. And, if there is conflict and disagreement on any medical decision which occurs in the hospital before the discharge, the final decision is always made by the birthparents.<br><br>
Its a matter of the law, not entitlement.<br><br>
Unless your friends can convince the birthparents why to NOT sign for circ'ing, its really not going to be a matter of what they want or what they sign for. Its going to be what the birthparents choose.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Ah...see I was writing my reply before you had posted your Cornelia. Those were some of the issues I didn't understand. I was responding to the idea that my friend feels entitled to this baby. Thank you all for giving me some more information and understanding of the situation. I'll pass it along to my friend.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>jumpincholla</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/11590670"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I completely understand how difficult it must be on both sides...but I also feel like my friend should also not be pressured into circing when she disagrees with it just for the vanity of the bio father.</div>
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I think the discussion has been clear and rational, so far. It just might not be what you were expecting. It's a learning experience for all involved.<br><br>
You said that your friend shouldn't be pressured into anything. It's not being pressured. As previous posters have said, the ball's in the parent's court. They can decide to have the baby circumcised, possibly jeopardizing the adoption. They can decide to not circumcise the baby, and have your friend adopt. They can decide not to circumcise the baby and choose another adoptive family. Or they can choose, at any time, to parent the baby.<br><br>
All your friend can do is share information with the prospective birth family.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yes...I understand this now...what I hadn't understood, as I stated above, is in what order all of these things happen. From what I understood from what my friend had told me the request came from the parents as though she would be responsible for making it happen. That was why I had the initial confusion about what comes when...and that they would be circing after adopting as opposed to before. I'm pretty sure by the way it's sounding to me that neither my friend nor the bio parents are clear about the process around this. I know my friend will not jeopardize the adoption by not taking the baby if he is circ'd.
 

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Not all circumcisions take place in the hospital. For example, in the Jewish faith (which circumcision a religious tradition,) circumcision takes place at the family's home on the eighth day after birth.<br><br>
Not saying that this is the case in this instance, but food for thought.
 

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Since the decision is out of your friend's hands maybe she could put a positive spin on it. Rightly or wrongly this is obviously something that's important to the father. He doesn't want to give up the child for adoption and this is one way he can feel some connection to his son. Years in the future when the boy asks about circumcision the boy will learn that his birth parents made a choice for him that will be with him always.<br><br>
I guess it wouldn't be something I'd worry to much about (and I'm anti-circ). I'd do my best to put a positive spin on it so everyone could be comfortable with the choice.
 

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Unless the birthparents have given birth to a boy before, its unlikely they would realize that the choice to circ will be theirs. If your friend would refuse to adopt on this issue, then she should tell them so. If not, then she can only express her personal desires and hope that the birthparents will at least consider her preferences.<br><br>
That said, your friend need not fear she must compromise her principles for what she sees as a vanity issue in the birthfather. Ultimately, this will most likely be the birthparents decision and their decision alone. Your friend is fully free to discuss her preferences and why. She might even find them able to hear her and change the outcome of their decision. But, if they do so anyway, she can know she at least let them know what SHE wanted done. And, in the future, after he is placed in her arms, those decisions will be hers to make. This time, it won't be. And, there's just nothing she can do about that reality.
 

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I wish my foster daughter, who I will probably end up adopting, had never felt the pain of physical or sexual abuse or the misery of neglect. I know she is from the foster care system, so that changes the control I have over her past. But really, I don't see how an event that they have no control over should stop them from being great parents to this boy. There are a thousand good reasons not to circumcise, but I don't see how circumcision would be a reason not to parent.<br><br>
Could there be an element of vanity in the adoptive parents' side - not wanting to have to explain that they were not the ones who made this choice? I have children with PTSD, and sometimes I wish I could clarify that I was not the cause of their trauma.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
No...please don't misunderstand me...my friend wants to adopt this baby no matter what. That is not the issue. The way it was presented to me I believe there is some confusion in who gets to choose it and who is responsible both from the bio parents and from my friends understanding. I was under the impression that the bio parents told my friend that they would like to circ as though it was my friend's responsibility to make sure it happened...not that they would be doing it before handing the baby over. I think it is just a misunderstanding about the order of events as they take place between the birth and the hand-over.<br><br>
I really appreciate all of your help and advice. It's made the process a lot clearer for me, and I feel as though I can pass it along to my dear friend in a way that allows her to understand the process more clearly as well. This is so complex and there are so many people and emotions involved I am just trying to be the best friend I can. This is a dear dear woman who does not feel entitled to this child, and wants to do right by the parents and the baby while knowing that it could all fall apart right at the end due to no fault of her own. As we all know circ is a heavy and loaded issue with people feeling strongly on both sides. I am not trying to put undue pressure on an already intense situation I just wanted to know how my friend could approach this issue respectfully.
 

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It could also be that the parents know that it could be done earlier, but would prefer an adoptive family have it done after relinquishment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I thought it might be a matter of cost - in which case I thought my friend might have a straightforward means by which to say they are already out of pocket by so much that the two or three hundred dollars for circ isn't just isn't financially feasible...but it is covered by Medicaid where they live which the bio parents have...I don't know how much of that comes out of pocket by those covered...but I think it means it wouldn't actually cost that much in the end.<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad">
 

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Is there someone within the agency that can help discuss this with all parties involved? We adopted through the foster care system, so I'm not sure how agency adoptions work. Maybe if your friend feels uncomfortable about asking, the social worker from the agency could bring it up? Hope everything works out.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>jumpincholla</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/11590924"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">From what I understood from what my friend had told me the request came from the parents as though she would be responsible for making it happen.</div>
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and maybe they are planning to ultimately leave the decision up to her, but I wouldn't count on that if I were her, because once they get to the hospital, THEY will be asked, and they will likely make the request to circ.<br><br>
If it were me, I'd bring in a stack of gentle literature about the dangers of circing, the fact that most/many kids are not circ'd these days (to eliminate the locker room teasing argument) and directly address the issue of the biofather wanting his son to look like him. I'd probably feed that a little and say "he'll look like you anyway, but potentially damaging his penis so that it looks like yours maybe isn't in his best interests" or something like that... I agree that maybe having a social worker present would be a good idea. I would present it from the viewpoint of "thank you for leaving this decision to me, here is why we don't want to circ -- how do you feel about it?" and keep talking until they agree that not circ'ing is the best plan, because once in the hospital, the decision will likely be theirs, and if they feel respected and honored, they will be more likely to follow the adoptive parents' wishes.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>mamarhu</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/11591562"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">But really, I don't see how an event that they have no control over should stop them from being great parents to this boy.</div>
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It was another poster who said that they were unsure they could parent a circ'd boy, or maybe that they would potentially pull out of an adoption arrangement with birthparents who were intending to circ, as a matter of showing how strongly she felt about not circ'ing. I would also do my best to talk the birthparents out of circ'ing, but I agree with you, mamarhu, it's a trauma that the child has had to endure, and all you can do is be an amazing parent to them!!
 

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I just want to say I am sorry if my use of the word "entitle" was confusing or muddled things, or caused defensiveness. Not my intent.<br><br>
By the way, when the papers are signed, etc. may vary quite a bit by location. Also, depending on the attitudes and practices of the hospital and its staff, the first parents may be asked if they want to circ, but it may also be that the adoptive parents are asked (again, in my case, we were asked *three* times by three different doctors, though we had no legal rights to make that decision yet). But like I said, no matter what, to be prepared whatever the case may be, I think it is important for everyone to have similar expectations before at the hospital.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Cornelia</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/11590727"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I think you have misunderstood what I am saying. Circing is done in the hospital. The hospital will ask the parents when the child enters the hospital. .</div>
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Not here it isn't!!!!! If you want your baby mutilated here you have to take them to the ped's office for it. So it may be a moot point if they aren't using a hospital that does it.
 
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